Report on Student responses to “Formal Training in Postgraduate

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					Report on Student responses to “Formal Training in Postgraduate Research
Programmes and ESRC Recognition

Following discussions at RDC and RDVC all successful PhD students from the
period October 2002 to June 2004 were contacted and asked their views on the
proposals in the document “Formal Training in Postgraduate Research Programmes
and ESRC Recognition”. They were asked specifically for their views on the
suggestions for:

          generic skills training
          the more subject specific aspects of the PGR student experience and
          ESRC recognition

The students were also asked whether there were any other aspects of research
training which the University should be considering and whether in the summary of
training requirements given in the Joint Statement of the Research Councils/AHRB
the various suggestions:

          were generally appropriate
          would have been appropriate in their individual circumstances
          whether they had undertaken any such training and, if so, whether it had been
           helpful, whether it made a difference to their ability to succeed in their
           research and whether it was felt it would have any lasting effect.

Students were also invited to make any additional comments.

35 students were contacted and 6 replies were received. Although this was a
relatively small response all students gave thoughtful and consider replies.

Only one respondent expressed significant reservations over the proposals. Whilst
indicating that he might be “a rather untypical research student” he emphasised a
view of the greater importance of support which assisted in completion of the
research project itself and the quality of the research output. In this he felt that the
Research Council/AHRB approach was “too bogged down in detail about the
researcher, rather than focussing on the research” there being far more important
issues such as the skills of the supervisory teams, the ability, skills and motivation of
the researcher and the validity of the research project.

All other respondents welcomed the broad thrust of the proposals. One reply was
based on a previous, positive experience of a substantial exposure to such a
programme in the US which was judged to have assisted in the success of the
research and to have had a lasting effect.

There was support for credit rating of training but with a plea that unless flexibility of
delivery could be built into a programme that it should not be made compulsory (a
particular issue for part-time students). There was also a recognition that much of
the material needed was currently available, including subject-specific activities
within Research Institutes, but in a relatively “ad hoc” way with insufficient monitoring
of students’ participation.

Amongst the points raised and conclusions which could be made from the comments
it was clear that the university should :

   (i)        re-invigorate the forum set up for research students to meet together
   (ii)       build on existing strengths
   (iii)      retain a reasonable level of flexibility in any skills requirements
   (iv)     encourage the sharing of training, seminars and other research fora with
            other institutions
   (v)      make attendance at conferences/seminars a compulsory part of PhD
   (vi)     develop an e-forum for research students
   (vii)    clarify the entitlement of research students
   (viii)   increase the training in viva preparation and presenting papers
   (ix)     increase the frequency of PGR student conferences at London Met
   (x)      consider the clustering of some training around cognate discipline groups
   (xi)     develop training needs partly around a portfolio/needs analysis model
            rather than a high quantity of compulsory material
   (xii)    ensure that annual monitoring/annual progress reports and discussions
            with supervisory teams include a section on skills acquisition
   (xiii)   develop and publicise a database of seminars, colloquia, etc available in
            London Met and other institutions

Ian Haines
January 2005
2 July 2004

Dr Stephen Farrier
40 The Ridgeway
NW11 8QS

Dear Dr Farrier,

I am writing to you as a recent, successful PhD student to ask for your help.

You will probably be aware of the interest of the Research Councils, Arts and
Humanities Research Board, the Quality Assurance Agency and others in the
development of the content of research degree programmes. As Director of the
Graduate School, a new concept for London Metropolitan University, I am keen that
we keep ahead of the developments and as a result presented the attached paper to
our research committees and to the recent meeting of Academic Board. A small
group has been convened to further develop our approach to formal training in
postgraduate research programmes (and ESRC recognition).

The purpose of this letter is to ask if you have any views on this issue. Firstly:

    do you feel that the proposals in section 5.1.1, 5.1.2 and 5.1.3 are appropriate
     for the university?
    are there any other aspects of research training we should be considering?

Furthermore, taking, for example, the summary of training in section A to G of
Appendix 1 of the paper :

    are these appropriate?
    would they have been appropriate in your case?
    if you undertook any aspects of such training when you were here was it
    did it make a difference to your ability to succeed in your research?
    do you think it will have any lasting effect?

Any other comments or thoughts you may have about this would be gratefully
received (including any other comments related to your time here, supervision,
support, etc).

You will appreciate that the national picture, and particularly the university’s wish to
ensure that its research degree programmes are enhanced, mean that we will
definitely be increasing substantially the amount of “training” of this kind in research
degrees so your input at this planning stage would be most useful.
If you can give any comments at all you can email them to my office (preferably to
Doreen Henry,, send them by post or we can talk over
the telephone or meet in person if this would help. It would be helpful to have your
comments by the end of August.

Thanking you in anticipation.

Yours sincerely,

Professor Ian Haines
Director of the Graduate School
London Metropolitan University
      Formal Training in Postgraduate Research Programmes
                      and ESRC Recognition

1.      The purpose of this paper is to raise issues relating to the extent of formal
        training in research and generic skills which the university should make
        available for all its research students and to consider the challenge of ESRC
        recognition. It attempts to contextualise the position in relation to the external
        environment (Section 2), make some specific observations about the
        expectations of the Arts and Humanities Research Board and the Economic
        and Social Research Council (Section 3), summarise London Met’s position in
        relation to ESRC requirements for recognised outlets (Section 4) and to make
        some specific proposals for consideration (Section 5).

2.      Background

2.1     The original CNAA research regulations under which the former institutions
        operated until 1992 defined minimum levels of support for PGR students.
        From 1992 these regulations were adapted by both institutions to suit their
        status as new universities. They have recently been fully revised and
        published as the Research Degree Regulations1 of London Metropolitan
        University. In support of the formal regulations the Graduate School has
        produced two other related documents, one specifically for research
        supervisors2 and another for supervisors and students3. These publications
        lay out the formal requirements for the conduct of a research programme and
        clarify the need for the completion of an associated programme of related
        studies and research training. Such requirements are addressed when a
        potential research student is interviewed. They are also considered by the
        appropriate Research Student Progress Group (acting as a Sub-Committee of
        the Research Degrees Committee) when deciding whether a student should
        be allowed to register her/his research project.

2.2 Both universities ensured relevant supportive frameworks for research students
       including provision of additional taught elements (e.g. through availability of
       attendance at taught postgraduate and short courses), exposure to research
       methodology and attendance at colloquia and conferences in house and
       externally. They also developed non-subject specific activities such as
       training in thesis writing, practice in written and oral presentation skills, etc,
       though such work has been a very recent innovation in many other

2.3 1996 saw the publication of the first major national investigation of postgraduate
       education4 since the Robbins’ Report5. The Harris Report, although
       proposing the creation of a code of practice for research degree programmes
       including clear minimum requirements for a research infrastructure (including

  Research Degree Regulations, The Graduate School, London Metropolitan University, April 2003
  Handbook for Supervisors of Research Students, The Graduate School, London Metropolitan
University, June 2003
  Handbook for Research Students and Supervisors and Code of Practice, The Graduate School,
London Metropolitan University, June 2003
  Review of Postgraduate Education, Martin Harris, HEFCE reference M14/96, May 1996
  Higher Education Report of the Committee appointed by the Prime Minister under the Chairmanship
of Lord Robbins 1961-1963
        a minimum research grade 3 – 1996 RAE) contained no recommendations for
        the development of non-subject specific research skills (this in spite of the fact
        that an earlier discussion document6 had begun to separate the learning of
        specific skills from the development of broader understanding and capability).
        Individual Research Councils and other bodies were also developing ideas
        around formal training beyond the skills required for the specific research
        project being undertaken.

2.4 One of the early attempts to describe national minimum requirements for
       postgraduate research programmes was the QAA Code of Practice7. Precept
       8A of the Code states:

                 Research students should have access to training sufficient to gain
                 the skills they need to design and compete their programmes
                 effectively and to help prepare themselves for their subsequent

                 In considering the provision of skills training, institutions will wish to
                 consider the development of:

                       a broad understanding of the context in which the research takes
                       analytical and research skills, including the understanding of
                        project design and research methodologies, appropriate to the
                        subject and programme of study;
                       general and employment-related skills including, for example,
                        interpersonal and team working skills; project management,
                        information retrieval and database management, written and oral
                        presentational skills, career planning and advice and intellectual
                        property rights management;
                       language support and academic writing skills;
                       training and support for those researchers who may be involved
                        in teaching and demonstrating activities.

2.5     The Research Councils’ interests also began to be defined in terms of
        requirements for a broader training (led by ESRC’s training requirements and
        EPSRC’s requirement that all sponsored students attend a Graduate School
        or equivalent training programme) and the first Roberts’ Review8
        recommended a significant boost to the widening of PhD training in its
        recommendation 4.2:

             PhD training elements

             Despite the welcome current moves by the Funding Councils to improve the
             quality of PhD training, institutions are not adapting quickly enough to the needs
             of industry or the expectations of potential students. The Review therefore
             believes that the training elements of a PhD – particularly training in transferable
             skills – need to be strengthened considerably. In particular, the Review
             recommends that HEFCE and the Research Councils, as major funders of PhD
             students, should make all funding related to PhD students conditional on

  The Nature of the PhD : A Discussion Document, Advisory Board of the Research Councils/OST,
  Code of Practice for the Assurance of Academic Quality and Standards in Higher Education:
Postgraduate Research Programmes, QAA, January 1999.
  SET for Success. The supply of people with science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills,
Sir Gareth Roberts, April 2002
             students’ training meeting stringent minimum standards. These minimum
             standards should include the provision of at least two weeks’ dedicated training a
             year, principally in transferable skills, for which additional funding should be
             provided and over which the student should be given some control. There should
             be no requirement on the student to choose training at their host institution. The
             minimum standards should also include the requirement that HEIs and other
             organisations in which PhD students work – reward good supervision of PhD
             students, and ensure that these principles are reflected in their human resources
             strategies and staff appraisal processes. Furthermore, in order to assure
             employers of the quality of PhD students, as part of these standards the Review
             recommends that institutions should introduce or tighten their procedures for the
             transfer of students to the PhD. In particular, the Review believes that HEIs must
             encourage PhD projects that test or develop the creativity prized by employers.

2.6     All these developments together with the formalisation of the Research
        Councils’ Graduate Schools Programme (now UK GRAD Programme) meant
        that the parts of the consultation produced by the Funding Councils9 in 2003
        on the improvement of PGR programmes which dealt with skills training were
        in part already superceded by what was already delivered or under
        development in many institutions. As of 31 December 2003 the final
        proposals, following the end of the formal consultation period, are still awaited
        from the Funding Councils but are likely to require, as a minimum, the skills
        training requirements described in the joint statement10 of the Research
        Councils and AHRB (see Appendix 1). An analysis of this in London Met
        suggests that the university achieves the requirements in what is made
        available to PGR students but there is a need to consider the extent to which
        every doctoral student achieves each and every aspect at an appropriate
        level before being awarded a research degree.

2.7     Encouraged by Government commentary on the need for better a skills base
        for doctoral students11 research funding bodies have developed much more
        detailed guidance on their expectations for research training. Of particular
        interest to London Met are the statements made by AHRB and ESRC,
        though, of course ESRC has made detailed guidance available for several

3.      AHRB and ESRC Requirements

3.1     Following a detailed consultation exercise AHRB has recently published a
        statement12 on its expectations for research training (Appendix 2). The
        requirements could be considered as relatively straightforward as they take
        as their basis the Research Councils’/AHRB joint statement of skills training
        requirements for research students10. Specific requirements for AHRB
        studentships will include:

  Improving standards in postgraduate research degree programmes. Informal consultation, HEFCE,
Improving standards in postgraduate research programmes. Formal consultation, HEFCE, 2003/23. 2003/03_23.htm
   Skills training requirements for research students: joint statement by the Research Councils/AHRB.
   See, for example, Investing in Innovation. A strategy for science, engineering and technology,
dti/HM Treasury/DfES, July 2002
   Guidance on AHRB’s introduction of a framework of research training requirements from summer
                a clear explanation of the research and key skills training which will be
                a requirement that the training continues throughout the period of
                 doctoral study (not concentrated only in the first year)
                a needs based approach based on each individual research student
                annual evaluation of individual needs and their delivery.

        AHRB intends to make further information available over the next few months
        though the requirements comes into force this year (2004). As yet the Board
        has no plans for institutions to undergo a formal recognition exercise for their
        research training.

3.2     As members of the Committee will be aware ESRC does have a detailed and
        rigorous approach to recognition. The documentation13 describing this is
        considerable and is about to be revised (though it is unlikely to be altered
        substantially). There have been two distinct types of recognition: the
        recognition of a (Masters) course as having the appropriate content for a
        graduand to be eligible for an ESRC award (for entry to a 1+3 or +3
        programme) and the more demanding exercise as a “recognised outlet” for
        eligibility for ESRC funding for 1+3 or +3 programmes. This paper
        concentrates on the “recognised outlet” route.

4.      London Met’s Position with Respect to ESRC Requirements

4.1     Accreditation as a recognised outlet has only been achieved by only about
        half of the new universities (usually in only one or two “departments”).
        London Met has such recognition in one area (STORM – the Statistics,
        Operational Research and Probabilistic Methods Research Centre)

4.2     The general criteria for ESRC recognition are :

        (i) the adequacy of provision of formal, broadly-based and subject specific
                training for students in research methodologies and transferable
                employment-related skills;
        (ii) the adequacy of the arrangements for the supervision of students;
        (iii) the presence of an active research environment, where students may
                 benefit from interaction with experienced researchers and current
                 research projects;
        (iv) an adequate critical mass of students so that they can benefit from
                 interaction with their peers;
        (v) satisfactory submission rates for students' theses which demonstrate that
                 the majority complete their research within the expected time

4.3     To become a recognised outlet for a 1+3 programme all criteria must be met
        whilst for a +3 programme all but the first must be achieved (it is assumed
        that the first criterion is met by the prior Masters course). Applications for
        recognition are considered by one of 16 Subject Area Panels who have each
        apply their own subject specific requirements. The next dated for the ESRC
        recognition exercise has recently been brought forward from 2006 to 2005.

  Postgraduate Training Guidelines 2001, ESRC
4.4        The generic requirements for recognition and the university’s current position
           may be briefly summarised as follows:

           (i)    The adequacy of provision of formal, broadly-based and subject
                  specific training for students in research methodologies and
                  transferable employment-related skills

                  Since this relates very much to the content of the Masters programme
                  the university’s PGT regulatory requirements should ensure that
                  research methodology is appropriately covered. There might be more
                  debate about the extent to which employment related skills are dealt
                  with but almost all Masters courses have been designed and developed
                  to satisfy the needs of one or more sectors of employment. It should
                  also be noted that whilst concentrated in the Masters programme this
                  formal training provision would be expected to penetrate the whole of a
                  1+3 or +3 programme.

           (ii)   The adequacy of the arrangements for the supervision of students

                  The expectations here are similar to those defined, for example, in the
                  QAA Code of Practice7. It is believed that the university’s policies14 and
                  their implementation measure up well to these criteria. Notwithstanding
                  this the recent monitoring of research student progress showed up
                  some variability in supervisory practice.

           (iii) The presence of an active research environment, where students
                 may benefit from interaction with experienced researchers and
                 current research projects

                  Whilst many research groups arrange research seminars and colloquia
                  and support students to attend external research meetings and present
                  their work, this areas is one where a higher level of consistency of
                  approach for all students (especially part-timers and international
                  students) needs to be considered.

                  In recent years interpretation of terms such as “active research
                  environment “ have taken on a quantitative (as well as qualitative)
                  meaning. There is still a significant possibility that the use of RAE
                  ratings whether overtly or covertly will make it increasingly difficult for all
                  but the most research active groups to overcome this hurdle. It is
                  essential that the beneficial effect of the merger is now used to good
                  effect in developing substantial interaction across as well as within

           (iv) an adequate critical mass of students so that they can benefit from
                interaction with their peers

                  The university’s strategic plan for the increase in the number of research
                  students is critical to the achievement of this criterion, particularly if we
                  were to seek ESRC accreditation in more than one or two areas.

     As summarised in references 2 and 3.
      (v)       satisfactory submission rates for students' theses which
                demonstrate that the majority complete their research within the
                expected time

                The current broad expectation is for submission of a thesis within 4
                years for a full-time student and 7 years (part-time) and ESRC’s
                “sanctions rate” is set at 60% (institutions with completion rates below
                this figure receive no new ESRC studentships for the following one or
                two years). Data for London Met is currently being collated, though the
                measure used previously at North Campus was the time taken up to the
                award of PhD, not submission of the thesis.

4.5   Although the above analysis might suggest that London Met does cover the
      generic skills requirement of ESRC within a 1+3 or +3 programme there are a
      number of areas where some attention would be needed including :
      exploitation and IPR, personal development and employability,
      writing/dissemination particularly in respect of media skills (ESRC has
      developed two publications in this area – “Writing for Business” and “Pressing
      Home Your Findings”), team-working skills and the creation of a more
      consistent research enriched environment for students and staff.

4.6   Additional to all generic skills ESRC has defined 16 individual
      subjects/disciplines (Appendix 3). The subject specific requirements of two of
      these are appended to this paper for illustration (Appendix 4).

5.    The Future

5.1   The issue of quality of postgraduate research programmes has already been
      a topic of discussion and action within London Met and there are clear
      guidelines and activities to support the development of the generic and
      subject specific skills of research students. The particular needs of individual
      research students are considered at interview, at enrolment and registration
      and they are strongly encouraged to seek the support and opportunities which
      exist. There is room for improvement in monitoring the extent to which all
      students follow the requirements, the evaluation of their usefulness and
      ensuring a more consistent PGR student experience. If the university is to be
      able to bid for research funding for many kinds of projects in the future it will
      need to meet increasingly stringent requirements by research councils and
      other funders. It is there proposed that :

      5.1.1      for generic skills training

                the guidelines for skills training published jointly by the Research
                 Councils/AHRB10 and by ESRC13, AHRB12 and others (including the
                 final version of such requirements expected to be published Summer
                 2004 within new QAA Code of Practice/Research Council’s
                 guidelines) should be treated as “good practice” rather than hurdles
                 intended to exclude the less research intensive universities from
                 competing for research funds and the university should seek to
                 emulate them for all research students
                a full range of activities and mechanisms should be developed which
                 will deliver such training. This training will include both generic and
                 broader subject-related skills. This should lead to the production of a
                 “research student prospectus” from which students and supervisors
                 will pick appropriate parts. The university should consider whether it
        wishes to collaborate with other institutions to deliver any or all of the
       the university should consider the extent to which it might wish to buy
        into national support arrangements, (e.g. the UK GRAD programme),
        or work in association with a regional hub as it develops or to press for
        separate development of non-research council provision through the
        UK Council for Graduate Education or other organisations
       Research Degrees Committee through the Research Student
        Progress Groups should monitor each student’s progress/completion
        of the required training including annual updating of needs
       a mechanism should be created for evaluating the usefulness of the
        generic and subject specific training elements including inviting
        comment from past postgraduate students and introducing exit
        interviews for current students after they have obtained their award
       the need to complete skills training (except where exempted by
        AP(E)L procedures) should apply equally to all full-time and part-time
        research students
       consideration should be given to the possibility of credit rating the
        training and setting a specific minimum completion requirement. This
        could be staged, for example, requiring part of the requirement to be
        achieved before MPhil to PhD transfer is permitted.

5.1.2   for the more subject specific aspects of the PGR student experience –

       consideration should be given as to what constitutes a critical mass of
        research, of research active staff and of research students
                where a critical mass is deemed not to exist consideration
        should be given as to whether it could be created by better use of
        multi- or inter-disciplinary associations of researchers within London
        Met or by external collaboration
                every research student should be allocated as a “member” of
        (at least) one research group which has the defined critical mass
                each “critical mass group” (which might be a Research
        Institute, Research Centre or other grouping) should indicate how it
        ensures that research students are immersed in an appropriate
        research environment (via seminars, colloquia, etc, etc)
                the Research Student Progress Groups and Research
        Degrees Committee should ensure that the policies for subject specific
        development of PGR programmes are fully implemented for each and
        every research student
                the more formal subject specific training which is available
        (which could include attendance at Masters level taught modules)
        should be included in the “research student prospectus”.

5.1.3   for ESRC recognition

       the university should seek ESRC accreditation as a recognised outlet
        in one or more of the Council’s individual subject areas/disciplines
       ESRC officers or other well qualified individuals should be invited to
        offer guidance on an approach to this
       academic departments, research centres and research institutes
        should be invited to indicate how they might be able to present a
             suitable case for recognition alone, or in collaboration with other
             groups in, or external to, the university
            decision on which area(s) should prepare cases for recognition should
             be based on their appropriateness in relation to the university’s
             Strategic Plan, the qualitative and quantitative nature of the research
             and the likelihood of success of the bid(s)
            whether or not recognition as an accredited outlet is sought in a
             particular area/discipline, subject specific training should be part of the
             experience of all research students in the university.

Ian Haines
May 2004
                                                                            Appendix 1

Skills training requirements for research students : joint statement of the
Research Councils’AHRB


The Research Councils and the Arts and Humanities Research Board play an
important role in setting standards and identifying best practice in research training.
This document sets out a joint statement of the skills that doctoral research students
funded by the Research Councils/AHRB would be expected to develop during their
research training.

These skills may be present on commencement, explicitly taught, or developed
during the course of the research. It is expected that different mechanisms will be
used to support learning as appropriate, including self-direction, supervisor support
and mentoring, departmental support, workshops, conferences, elective training
courses, formally assessed courses and informal opportunities.

The Research Councils and the AHRB would also want to re-emphasise their belief
that training in research skills and techniques is the key element in the development
of a research student, and that PhD students are expected to make a substantial,
original contribution to knowledge in their area, normally leading to published work.
The development of wider employment-related skills should not detract from that core
objective. The purpose of this statement is to give a common view of the skills and
experience of a typical research student thereby providing universities with a clear
and consistent message aimed at helping them to ensure that all research training
was of the highest standard, across all disciplines. It is not the intention of this
document to provide assessment criteria for research training.

It is expected that each Council/Board will have additional requirements specific to
their field of interest and will continue to have their own measures for the evaluation
of research training within institutions.
(A) Research Skills and Techniques - to be able to demonstrate:
1. the ability to recognise and validate problems
2. original, independent and critical thinking, and the ability to develop theoretical
3. a knowledge of recent advances within one’s field and in related areas
4. an understanding of relevant research methodologies and techniques and their
   appropriate application within one’s research field
5. the ability to critically analyse and evaluate one’s findings and those of others
6. an ability to summarise, document, report and reflect on progress

(B) Research Environment - to be able to:
1. show a broad understanding of the context in which research takes place
2. demonstrate awareness of issues relating to the rights of other researchers, of
     research subjects, and of others who may be affected by the research, e.g.
     confidentiality, ethical issues, attribution, copyright, malpractice, ownership of
     data and the requirements of the Data Protection Act
3. demonstrate appreciation of standards of good research practice in their
   institution and/or discipline
4. understand relevant health and safety issues and demonstrate responsible
   working practices
5. justify one’s own research and contribute to promoting the public understanding
   of one’s research field
6. understand the process of academic or commercial exploitation of research

(C) Research Management - to be able to:
1. apply effective project management through the setting of research goals,
   intermediate milestones and prioritisation of activities
2. design and execute systems for the acquisition and collation of information
   through the effective use of appropriate resources and equipment
3.    identify and access appropriate bibliographical resources, archives, and other
     sources of relevant information
4. use information technology appropriately for database management, recording
   and presenting information
(D) Personal Effectiveness - to be able to:
1. demonstrate a willingness and ability to learn and acquire knowledge
2. be creative, innovative and original in one’s approach to research
3. demonstrate flexibility and open-mindedness
4. demonstrate self-awareness and the ability to identify own training needs
5. demonstrate self-discipline, motivation, and thoroughness
6. recognise boundaries and draw upon/use sources of support as appropriate
7. show initiative, work independently and be self-reliant

(E) Communication Skills - to be able to:
1. write clearly and in a style appropriate to purpose, e.g. progress reports,
   published documents, thesis
2. construct coherent arguments and articulate ideas clearly to a range of
   audiences, formally and informally through a variety of techniques
3. constructively defend research outcomes at seminars and viva examination
4. effectively support the learning of others when involved in teaching, mentoring or
   demonstrating activities

(F) Networking and Teamworking - to be able to:
1. develop and maintain co-operative networks and working relationships with
   supervisors, colleagues and peers, within the institution and the wider research
2. understand one’s behaviours and impact on others when working in and
   contributing to the success of formal and informal teams
3. listen, give and receive feedback and respond perceptively to others

(G) Career Management - to be able to:
1. appreciate the need for and show commitment to continued professional
2. take ownership for and manage one’s career progression, set realistic and
   achievable career goals, and identify and develop ways to improve employability
3. demonstrate an insight into the transferable nature of research skills to other
   work environments and the range of career opportunities within and outside
4. present one’s skills, personal attributes and experiences through effective CVs,
   applications and interviews
                                                                                          Appendix 2

    Guidance on the AHRB’s introduction of a framework of research training
                      requirements from summer 2004

Introduction and background

    1. Research training is an issue that is very much on the current agenda for higher
       education. The UK’s four higher education funding councils are developing a
       framework of threshold standards and good practice in postgraduate research degree
       programmes, which focuses on the assessment of needs and provision of training in
       order to help research students develop research and other skills. Sir Gareth
       Roberts’ review ‘SET for Success: the supply of people with science, technology,
       engineering and mathematics skills’ (April 2002), and the Government’s response in
       ‘Investing in Innovation’ (July 2002), both emphasised the need for doctoral students
       to receive training in transferable skills in order to prepare them for future
       employment. The Research Councils have been given additional funds to enhance
       training in research and broader skills for doctoral students.
    2. A framework of research training requirements is, however, a new development for
       the AHRB. The Board issued with the Research Councils a Joint Statement of the
       Skills Training Requirements for Research Students, which sets outs the research
       skills and techniques as well as the wide employment-related skills that research
       students holding AHRB and Research Council doctoral awards should be expected to
       develop during the course of their study.
    3. The Board undertook a wide-ranging review of its postgraduate programmes in 2001.
       This involved several stages of consultation with the academic community and with
       the AHRB’s Postgraduate Committee and Board of Management. The outcomes of
       this process were published in December 2002, along with an outline plan for
       implementing the recommendations. Details of the review and recommendations are
       available on our website.
    4. One of the recommendations of the review was that the AHRB should develop a
       framework of research training requirements. The review recommended that the
       framework should be founded on a needs-based approach to the provision for
       individual students, and that it should be sensitive to the needs and requirements of
       the arts and humanities while also taking full account of the wider demand for the
       development of key transferable skills and competences.

Aims of the new framework

    5. The new framework is intended as a means of enabling institutions to reassure the
       Board that the doctoral students it funds are well supported and are receiving
       appropriate and relevant preparation and training to enable them to complete a high-
       quality doctoral thesis* and to develop a range of knowledge, understanding and
       skills necessary for their future employment. The framework sets a minimum
       threshold of expected provision, and the Board has supplemented this with examples
       of good practice in order to encourage institutions to enhance and improve their
       existing provision.

*    The term ‘thesis’ is used throughout to denote the work submitted for the degree of PhD
     and should be understood to include practice-based doctoral research as well as text-
    Summary of the new system

    Application and assessment process

   6. With effect from the 2004 competition, departments (or equivalent) will be asked, as
      part of the assessment process for applications for postgraduate awards, to provide
      information on the systems for research training provision in the arts and humanities
      they have in place. Each department will have to provide this information just once a
      year, and AHRB staff will forward each department’s statement to the Board’s
      assessment panels along with all the doctoral application forms submitted.
   7. Departments will also be required to provide information on research training for each
      doctoral application they put forward for an AHRB award. On each application,
      departments will be required to explain the research and key skills training and
      support that is likely to be required, and to describe how those needs will be met.
      This should be done with reference to the Board’s framework of research training
   8. As is currently the case, the AHRB’s assessors will award the highest grades to the
      highest quality applicants studying at a department that will provide a good standard
      of supervision, preparation, development and support relevant to their subject of


   9. The continuation of each year of a doctoral award is currently dependent on the
      Board’s receiving a satisfactory annual progress report completed by the doctoral
      award holder and their supervisor. This system will be extended from the academic
      year 2004–05 so that both student and supervisor are asked to provide information
      on the research training provided during the year, on what further training and
      development needs have been identified, and on how these will be met.

AHRB information days on research training

   10. The AHRB will be holding a series of information days around the UK in February
       2004 to explain in greater detail its new framework of research training requirements,
       and the implications for those completing application forms on behalf of candidates
       for an AHRB doctoral award in 2004. These events will also include opportunities for
       discussion and workshops designed to help HEI staff share good practice in
       assessing, providing and monitoring research and other skills training. These events
       are being organised for the AHRB by the UK GRAD Programme.

Useful references

   11. In developing this framework the Board has been guided by the following work on
       research training:

      the Research Councils’ and AHRB’s joint statement of skills training requirements for
       research students (
      the work of the UK GRAD programme (
      the reports issued by the UK Council for Graduate Education (UKCGE) on Research
       Training for Humanities Postgraduate Students (2000) and Research Training in the
       Creative and Performing Arts and Design (2001)
      the recommendations arising from Sir Gareth Roberts’ review SET for Success
      the joint UK higher education funding councils’ consultation on Improving Standards
       in Postgraduate Research Degree Programmes (2003)
   The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education’s code of practice for
    postgraduate research programmes
     Principles of the AHRB’s framework of research training requirements

a) The aim of the Board’s framework of research training requirements is to ensure that
   its doctoral award holders are provided with a good standard of training in research
   skills and other key skills, in order to enable them to complete in due time a thesis
   that is a high-quality contribution to knowledge and understanding in their field, and
   also to help them develop key transferable skills necessary in their subsequent
   careers, whether in academic employment or in other areas
b) The two UKCGE reports on research training in the humanities and in the creative
   and performing arts and design form a sound basis for the Board’s framework,
   covering both subject-specific and generic skills training, and providing guidance on
   good practice rather than being too rigid or prescriptive.
c) The framework is based on a needs-based approach to the provision of research and
   key skills training that is sensitive to the distinctive characteristics of research in the
   arts and humanities, and that also reflects the state of preparation, the developmental
   needs and the research subject of the individual student.
d) The framework requires that research and key skills training should continue
   throughout the period of doctoral study rather than being confined to the first year,
   and that students’ needs should be reassessed at least annually. Certain subject-
   specific training, such as epistemological and conceptual issues, or advanced
   technological skills, may be more appropriately covered in the second year of a
   doctoral programme, for instance.
e) Institutions are expected to provide a ‘menu’ of research training provision from which
   the relevant elements for an individual student’s needs could be selected. In some
   cases, inter-institutional collaboration may be the most appropriate way to provide
f)     AHRB wishes to facilitate collaborative initiatives, among department or institutions,
       which would encourage and develop the provision of research training of various
g) Meeting the requirements of the Board’s framework should not be onerous for
   institutions in terms of paperwork: there will no formal recognition exercise by which
   institutions’ research training provision is assessed. Rather, institutions will have to
   demonstrate the quality, flexibility and relevance of their research training provision in
   the doctoral applications they submit to the Board.
h) The delivery of research training will be monitored via the Board’s existing system of
   annual report forms for award holders and submission rate surveys for departments.
   Institutions will be expected to have their own monitoring procedures in place for
   research training provision, and the AHRB will aim for a ‘light touch’ in its own
   monitoring of this.
i)     The Board may wish to review in future years the requirements of the framework and
       the degree to which institutions are able to meet them, considering whether it may be
       appropriate to review the threshold requirements as provision improves across
         The AHRB’s framework of research training requirements

The importance of research training

12. The AHRB is committed to supporting the provision of high-quality research training
    for research students. The Board’s framework of research training requirements aims
    to ensure that its doctoral award holders are studying at institutions that provide
    research training of high quality, which meets at least a minimum threshold standard.
    The framework sets out a range of skills that all doctoral research students need in
    order both to complete in due time a doctoral thesis of high quality, and to succeed in
    their future career, in whatever field and whether self-employed or in employment.
13. The Board expects departments (or equivalent) to undertake an analysis of training
    needs for each doctoral student, and to provide an agreed programme of training for
    each student to meet the needs identified, based on the skills and competencies the
    student has already achieved, and the further training and development they need in
    order to reach an appropriately high level of skills and competencies. The Board
    recognises that there are some skills that all research students need in order to
    undertake research effectively, some skills that are relevant to particular topics of
    study, and some skills that students develop through the process of conducting
    research. Training should always be relevant to the individual student’s experience
    and requirements, and to their discipline and research topic.

New research training support grant

14. In order to assist departments and institutions to meet the requirements of the
    Board’s new research training framework, the AHRB will be allocating an additional
    annual sum of £500 per doctoral award holder with effect from October 2004, paid
    directly to the institution. The Board will expect institutions to use this money to
    develop and enhance their research training provision for all arts and humanities
    students. The Board will retain a small proportion of the £500 allocation for each
    student, and use these funds to facilitate collaborative research training projects.
    More details on this additional allocation will be available shortly.

How should an HEI provide research training?

15. Institutions and departments (or equivalent) are expected to have in place a
    programme of research training from which an appropriate selection is made to meet
    the needs of individual students. The Board will also expect institutions and
    departments to provide a continuing programme of research training throughout the
    period of doctoral study, recognising that some skills are more appropriately
    developed after the first year of doctoral research. In some cases, elements of
    research training may be more appropriately provided through collaboration among
    departments or institutions. The AHRB, along with the Research Councils, offers
    additional funding for its doctoral award holders to attend a three- or five-day GRAD
    School. The UK GRAD schools provide a range of activities focused on developing
    personal effectiveness and communication, team-building and career management
    skills. The aim is to equip and encourage research students both to complete their
    studies successfully and to make a successful transition from doctoral study to their
    future career.
16. The Research Councils and the AHRB have produced a joint statement of skills
    training requirements for research students, which sets out a common view of the
    skills doctoral students are expected to develop during their research training. The
    joint statement is intended as a guide to institutions in developing their own research
    training programmes, to help them ensure that the research training they provide is of
       the highest standard across all disciplines. Many institutions have found it a useful
       tool in shaping their own research training programmes. The joint statement is
       available on the UK GRAD Programme website (

What information will the AHRB need?

17. With effect from the 2004 competition there will be some changes to the application
    form for doctoral awards. The Head of Department or equivalent will be required to
    comment in detail on the preparation and training needs of the individual student in
    Section 3. Departments will also be required to provide a single statement, which
    AHRB officers will copy and attach to each individual’s application for that
    department, explaining what systems they have in place for meeting the Board’s
    framework of research training requirements, and how they ensure that each
    research student is provided with appropriate training to equip them with the skills,
    knowledge and understanding they need to carry out research.
18. The departmental statement of research training should provide full answers to the
    following questions:
       i)        What systems are in place in your department for ensuring that the training
              needs of research students are assessed initially and reviewed annually?
       ii)          How, and at what level (e.g. institutional, faculty or departmental level, or
              through inter-institutional collaboration), is this training delivered and monitored?
              If inter-institutional collaboration is involved, is such collaboration already in
              existence or a planned development?
       iii)       How does your department’s provision of training meet the requirements of
              the AHRB’s research training framework, in terms of:
                         core, generic skills and personal and career development skills, and
                         the development of knowledge and understanding relevant to the
                  individual’s research topic?
19. The institutional statement completed on behalf of the individual student in the
    doctoral application form should provide information about the preparation and
    training needs of the candidate, addressing the following questions:
 i)                                    For students about to begin their first year of doctoral
              study: what specialist needs are likely to arise in connection with the student’s
              proposed research topic? How will those training needs already identified be met
              (both generic and specialist skills needed for their particular topic)?
 ii)                       For students who have already completed one year’s doctoral study,
              what training needs were identified in their first year, and how were these met?
              How will their continuing training needs be identified and met over the coming
              academic year?

How will doctoral applications be assessed?
20. As with the current system, applications for an AHRB doctoral award will be assessed
    on equal terms on the basis of the evidence provided in the application form about
    the candidate’s aptitude, ability and preparedness for their proposed doctoral research
             the candidate’s statement about their intended programme of research, their
              reasons and purposes in undertaking it, and how it relates to the academic or other
              preparation they have undertaken to date
             the statements made by two referees
             the information supplied by the department about the candidate’s proposed
              research, the supervision arrangements, the training the candidate will receive, and
              the support and facilities the institution and department will provide.
          the candidate’s performance in examinations and other formal assessments at first
           degree level and at postgraduate level (from information submitted on the DR and
           PR forms).

   21. In addition, from 2004 the Board’s assessors will also take into account:

          the department’s statement about the procedures in place for assessing,
           delivering and monitoring research and other skills training
          the department’s assessment of the training needs of the individual candidate
           and its description of how its training programme will be applied to meet the
           needs of the candidate in question
          the evidence provided through these two questions that the student will be well
           supported and provided with a good standard of training to enable them to
           develop the necessary skills and understanding both to complete a high-quality
           doctoral thesis on time and to prepare themselves for their future career.

What form should research training take?

   22. The Board’s framework is not intended to be prescriptive about the details of the
       training institutions should provide. It will instead be a guide to the skills, knowledge
       and understanding doctoral students are expected to gain during their studies.
       Institutions and departments will then, through the application procedure described
       above, be asked to provide information to reassure the Board that the needs of
       research students in key skills areas are being assessed, met and monitored. The
       framework thus gives examples of skills and understanding to be developed to an
       appropriate level, rather than, for example, listing specific software packages in which
       students should receive training.
   23. Institutions will be expected to conduct a needs analysis and provide training
       accordingly to ensure students are appropriately equipped with core generic skills
       that are relevant for all research students, and with subject-specific knowledge,
       understanding and skills. Institutions may find the joint statement of skills training
       requirements developed by the Research Councils and AHRB a useful tool in
       addressing these issues.

    Subject-specific knowledge, understanding and skills

   24. Institutions will be expected to ensure that research students are appropriately
       prepared and have opportunities to develop in areas that are relevant to the demands
       of their discipline. These areas of training relate to ensuring students are equipped to
       develop the knowledge, understanding and skills relevant to their field of research.
       Training in these areas must be specifically tailored to the needs of individual
       students and their research topic, and must take account of the differing demands of
       text-based and practice-based research. It is unlikely that much of this training can
       be provided through generic courses for large numbers of students in the way that
       core generic skills training can be, but some of this training may be appropriately
       delivered at department (or equivalent) level.
   25. Examples of key subject-specific knowledge, understanding and skills are:

        i) Understanding theoretical issues, the nature of evidence and argument, and the
           relationships between practice, theory and criticism
       ii) Developing research methods and skills and practical techniques appropriate to
           the project
       iii) Developing knowledge and understanding of the research context of the project,
            and of trends in the discipline
   iv) Developing knowledge, understanding and skills in analysis and synthesis of
       research material
    v) Developing knowledge and understanding of related disciplines where
   vi) Specialist knowledge, understanding and skills such as an additional language,
       methodology or technique

Core generic skills

26. Development of the core generic skills listed below will be a compulsory training
    requirement for all research students. Departments will be expected to assess the
    training students have already received training in these areas, and to identify further
    generic skills training, including training at a higher level, needed by students both
    before and after their first year of doctoral research. The list below describes broad
    areas that the AHRB believes are likely to be relevant to all doctoral students in the
    arts and humanities.
27. The core generic skills that all research students should develop during the course of
    the doctoral study are:

     i)       Written communication skills appropriate for the academic context and
    ii)        Oral presentation skills, including giving research papers and discussing
           others’ research findings
    iii)       Designing and managing a project
   iv)         ICT skills, including appropriate word processing and other ICT skills (such
           as creating and using spreadsheets and databases) as relevant to the research
    v)         Bibliographical skills and contextualising practice-based research
   vi)         Identifying and using web-based resources
   vii)        Record-keeping and record management

    Personal and career development, and broader employment-related skills (such as
    participating in workshops and conferences, or, if students undertake undergraduate
    teaching duties, relevant support and training)

Monitoring and reviewing research training

28. Institutions will be required to explain on the application form what systems are in
    place for reviewing and reassessing training needs, on an annual basis. This is
    necessary not just to monitor the effectiveness of training provision, but also to take
    account of additional skills required as a research project develops (for example,
    training may be necessary in how to develop and maintain a database).

Annual reports

29. The continuation of a doctoral award each year is currently subject to the submission
    of a satisfactory annual report at the end of each year of the award. These forms are
    completed by the student and their supervisor, and signed by the head of department.
    These forms will be amended in the 2004–05 academic year to include new
    questions about how research training needs have been identified, met and reviewed.
    Answers to these questions will be used to inform the development of the Board’s
    research training policy and the monitoring of institutional provision. They will not
    affect the continuation of an individual’s award. Monitoring will be at the level of
    general standards of and mechanisms for the provision of research training, rather
    than of problems with identifying or meeting the needs of an individual student.

Submission rate surveys

30. The Board, like the Research Councils, will also continue to monitor the thesis
    submission rates of the doctoral students it funds, through the annual submission rate
    survey. Full-time doctoral students funded by the AHRB and the Research Councils
    are expected to submit their thesis within four years of the start of their award (for
    part-time award holders the target date is within seven years of the start of the
    award). Institutions and departments are asked in the annual surveys to report on the
    submission dates of the doctoral students whose AHRB award began four years
31. Departments or institutions at which the number of award holders submitting their
    thesis within four years of the start of AHRB funding falls below a threshold may be
    liable to penalties. It is current policy that departments or institutions penalised in this
    way are rendered ineligible to submit doctoral applications for the following two years.
    Departments may be penalised if the submission rate falls below 50 percent both in
    the current year’s survey and in the aggregate of the current year and the preceding
    two years’ survey. Institutions may be penalised if the submission rate falls below 30
    percent both in the current year’s survey and in the aggregate of the current year and
    the preceding two years’ survey. Departments or institutions at which there have
    been fewer than four AHRB doctoral award holders over the relevant three-year
    period are normally exempt from any penalty.
32. In the 2002 survey the average submission rate for the departments with AHRB
    doctoral award holders whose award began in 1998 was 78 percent, almost 20
    percentage points higher than in the AHRB’s first year of operation in 1998. The joint
    funding councils propose a minimum threshold standard of 70 percent of an
    institution’s doctoral research students submitting their thesis within four years for full-
    time students and eight years for part-time students.
                      Examples of good practice in research training

University of Liverpool – Postgraduate Research Development Programme

The University of Liverpool requires research students to complete a training programme,
discussed and agreed in advance with their supervisor. The programme consists of training
sessions, activities and courses, and each component has a credit value. Doctoral research
students are required to complete a total of 90 units of research training over a three-year
period, 30 of them within the first year. Students may obtain an exemption from some
components, or may undertake additional training, as appropriate to their research topic and
previous experience or qualifications. The university’s Centre for Lifelong Learning provides
an online Research Training Manual, and students can, through the website, build up their
training programme, access details about the training available and the specific training
required by their department, and view the record of the credits they have gained

Liverpool’s Postgraduate Research Development Programme draws on the guidance on the
research and wider skills doctoral students are expected to develop provided by the Quality
Assurance Agency and by the Research Councils’ and AHRB’s Joint Statement of Skills
Training Requirements. The Liverpool programme divides research training into the following
broad headings:
       Research and analytical skills
       The context of research
       Employment-related skills
       Language support and academic writing skills


Nottingham Trent University – Faculty of Humanities Research Training programme
The Faculty of Humanities at Nottingham Trent University has developed a postgraduate
certificate in research practice in the humanities designed to help students at the beginning of
a research programme develop relevant skills. The course is delivered at faculty level, in
order to secure suitable numbers of research students and appropriate resources, and draws
on the inter-disciplinary nature of much of the faculty’s work, providing a regular forum in
which students can discuss their research and share their experiences. The course provides
training and development in generic humanities research issues which is intended to support
the subject-specific work necessary for the individual thesis. There are also occasional
postgraduate day schools, which focus on broader topics such as building a career or
publishing research findings. The training is provided in three modules:
       Introduction to the research process
       Key debates and issues in cultural and social theory
       Methodologies and methods in the humanities

University of Salford – Postgraduate Research Training Programme

The University of Salford’s Postgraduate Research Training Programme provides both
generic and subject-specific training for research students in the European Studies Research
Institute/Institute for Social Research. The training is provided across three years for full-time
research students, and focuses on the skills and understanding necessary to plan and design
research and the doctoral thesis. Some modules are assessed while others are optional.
History students are also given the opportunity to attend subject-specific research training
programmes offered by the Institute of Historical Research, University of London.

University of Sheffield –Research Training Programme

The University of Sheffield runs a Research Training Programme, covering subject-specific
and generic skills, in which units are given a credit value. Doctoral students are required to
complete 35 credits, usually during the first two years for full-time students, and they must
gain 20 of these before they upgrade from MPhil to PhD. Each year the University’s
Graduate Research Office issues a statement of academic progress to students registered on
the programme, to enable them to monitor their progress through the programme. The
programme is structured around four main headings:
       understanding the research context
       general transferable and career-related skills
       analytical and research skills
       appropriate subject-based training
The Graduate Research Office publishes annually a Research Training Programme
Handbook, which is also available online ( Students
are encouraged to discuss their training needs, including any exemptions because of previous
training or experience, and the training requirements of their faculty or department with their
supervisor before selecting the units they will take. In the Faculty of Arts, for example,
students are encouraged to choose units that focus on:
       information handling and acquisition in the humanities (including computer literacy)
       presentation skills (oral and written)
       discipline-specific training in IT and research methods.

                                 Collaborative research training

The North West Centre for Linguistics – Research Training Programmes
The North West Centre for Linguistics, established in 1997, is a collaborative venture
involving the universities of Lancaster, Liverpool, Manchester, Salford and Wales Bangor, as
well as UMIST and Edge Hill College of Higher Education. It offers week-long research
training programmes for Linguistics research students, aiming to cover both methodological
training and broader subject content. Information is available on its website

White Rose Consortium – Research Training Centre
The White Rose Universities (Leeds Sheffield and York) provide through the Consortium’s
Research Training Centre courses in transferable and employment-related skills for research
students at the three institutions. The courses are offered as an alternative to the UK GRAD
Programme’s courses, for those students not eligible for a funded place on the national Grad
Schools courses. The White Rose courses focus on skills such as team-working and
negotiating, communication, including the use of communication technologies, and on raising
students’ awareness of the skills they have. Training resources are provided online
( and students are also encouraged to attend a
short course during the second or third year of their PhD.
                                                                       Appendix 3

List of ESRC subject/disciplines which have defined subject specific
guidelines for recognition

Area Studies and Development Studies
Economic and Social History
Human Geography
Interdisciplinary Studies in Science, Technology and Innovation
Management and Business Studies
Planning, Environmental Studies and Housing Studies
Political Science, International Studies and International Relations
Psychology and Cognitive Science
Social Anthropology
Social Policy, Social Work and Health Studies
Social Statistics, Research Methods and Computing
Socio-Legal Studies and Criminology
                                                                                   Appendix 4
ESRC Subject Specific Requirements for

Management and Business Studies

The Nature of the Area

1.1 Management research seeks to understand and explain the activity of managing, its
       outcomes and the contexts in which it occurs. This involves the study of the origins of
       managing and its ongoing development as both an intellectual field and arena of
       practice. The subject as a whole is concerned with exploring the role of all those who
       contribute to the management process and the forces which shape its character. It seeks
       to produce a broad body of knowledge which will explain the underlying causes of
       given business situations and the means of assessing alternative courses of action. The
       organisation of resources in order to achieve optimal performance in specific settings is
       a preoccupation in certain areas of the field, while in others researchers investigate the
       variety of ways in which managing and organising occurs.

1.2     Its subject matter includes all the possible spheres of management and business activity
        and is conventionally classified around the specialist areas of, inter alia, accounting,
        finance, marketing, organisational behaviour/industrial relations and operations
        research. As an academic field of inquiry it is heterogeneous, utilising frameworks and
        research methods derived from adjacent disciplines, predominantly in the social


2.1 The students entering a research training programme in Management and Business Studies
       will not always possess conventional or recent academic experience. This sets particular
       challenges but also offers the advantage of students who may bring work-related skills
       and the experience of management situations. Students may also enter the Master's in
       Management and Business Studies with a formal background in another discipline.

2.2     Students, therefore, should show that they are capable of the appreciation and critical
        assessment of:

             alternative views of academic issues and management problems
             organising information and constructing a coherent argument
             ordering data and views through the writing, numerical and basic research
              techniques typical of a good final year undergraduate project or dissertation
             using library and on-line information sources
             organising an initial project outline
             individual project management
Subject Specific Domains of Expertise

3.1 Those studying for a master's qualification providing research training in Management and
       Business Studies should be made aware of the breadth of the field, its range of
       constituent specialisms and the resulting spread of research paradigms and theoretical
       positions. Students should also leave the degree with an appreciation of the way
       management research is embedded in the social sciences and in policy and practice.

3.2 Introduction is required to the philosophical and related paradigms, drawn from the social
        and physical sciences, as well as the humanities, which inform research in the
        management area. Training will embrace contrasting epistemological perspectives on
        management and the differing assumptions that underpin specific styles of enquiry.
        The aim is to ensure that students move beyond exclusive reliance on their parent
        discipline or starting point; to appreciate the range of research options available and to
        lay the basis for a reasoned defence of the theoretical traditions and research
        techniques which they ultimately may choose (or reject) during their research in the '+3'

3.3 Given the varied character of Management and Business Studies, training will alert
       students to the similarities and differences between competing orientations to research
       and their strengths and limitations. An appreciation of positivist, realist, interpretivist
       and post-structuralist approaches is required. This will involve exposure to the features
       of each of these approaches, including their: ontological assumptions; scientific
       objectives; cycle of enquiry; methodological preferences; types of data; techniques of
       data collection and the problems of bias inherent in each approach. Training should
       offer examples of the way the specialisms within Management and Business Studies
       select from and adopt such approaches. This might include, e.g. recognising the way in
       which strategic management may draw upon economics and its reliance on positivism,
       giving rise to concerns with general laws and nomothetic methods, rational knowledge,
       deductive cycles of enquiry, and the use of quantitative data and survey–led data
       collection techniques. Conversely, this might include an understanding of the links
       between sociology and organisational behaviour and their frequent association with an
       interpretivist perspective.

3.4     The traditional intellectual contexts of the main specialist areas of management should
        be covered. Students must also be made aware of examples of innovative research
        results from within specialisms that do not conform to dominant preferences and
        which use theories and techniques drawn from another tradition. Explanation is
        required of the potential of trans-disciplinary research, i.e. studies which go beyond a
        single discipline and employ mixed theories and techniques in order to answer
        questions addressed in Management and Business Studies.

3.5 Students should acquire an understanding of the relevance of policy and practice in
        Management and Business Studies. Students will differ in their choice of research topic
        and the consequent opportunities for their research to produce implications for
        management or policy makers. Training should include the way in which management
        research methods and bodies of knowledge may be framed and produced in the
        context of application. Students should appreciate the benefits of research that is
        theory-led and practice sensitive and understand how problems addressed by
        management research grow out of the interaction between practice or policy and

Research Methods Training
4.1 Students should become familiar with the main research methods that are used by
        professional researchers in the specialisms in the field. These will include an
        appreciation of the potential and relevance of: experimental design, action research,
        survey methods and ethnographic approaches. Students should be able to distinguish
        and assess the merits of: questionnaires, interviews, participant observation, textual and
        discourse techniques, simulation and secondary data processing. Training should cover
        awareness of information technology and Internet-based software packages for ordering
        and processing qualitative and quantitative data.

4.2 Understanding the ethical dimensions and epistemological issues in the research process is
       required, including issues of relationships with respondents and stakeholders and
       problems associated with access, confidentiality and publishing. Students should learn
       how to relate the results of data analysis to the relevant field within Management and
       Business Studies and understand what constitutes a contribution to knowledge.

Diverse Emphases in Research

4.3 Students will follow different strands of research according to their disciplinary starting
        point and focal topic resulting in different emphases in their research training. The
        breadth of the Management and Business Studies field is very wide and the following
        provide examples of specialist research areas and training that students are likely to
        receive. These areas are not definitive but they offer a guide to those seeking to offer
        master's programmes in these and other areas. Students pursuing training in these areas
        may also draw on perspectives and insights from other areas of Management and
        Business Studies and the disciplines that underpin them.

4.3.1   Students of accounting and/or finance are likely to require training in one or more of
        the following: finance theory, financial econometrics, institutional finance and/or
        corporate finance; financial accounting theory (including its regulatory, legal,
        economic, social and/or comparative dimensions); information systems design and
        management; theories of management accounting and organisational control
        (including their behavioural, organisational, economic and/or social dimensions); the
        role and functioning of accounting (or one or more major areas of practice) considered
        from technical, organisational, economic and/or social perspectives; and the theory of
        financial management and its application.

4.3.2   Students of organisational behaviour are likely to benefit from an appreciation of the
        range of theoretical approaches that characterise the study of management and
        organisations. These are most likely to include the classical/orthodox approaches to
        organisations, e.g. theory of bureaucracy, human-relations school, functionalism,
        systems/contingency theory, as well as debates and influences such as institutional
        theory, cultural theory, labour process theory, and post-structuralism (e.g. Foucauldian
        analyses or actor network theory). Specialist knowledge may be required of: the
        dynamics of group behaviour, the construction of culture, the nature and exercise of
        power, organisational innovation and the management of knowledge, the implications
        of information and technology, and the range of gender issues in and around

4.3.3   Students of corporate strategy are likely to require training in the way organisations
        determine and implement strategy. In terms of theory, they should have a critical
        awareness of aspects of: industrial organisation theory, institutional economics,
        corporate finance and organisational theory. Students may also need to acquire an
        understanding of markets, culture, organisational change, knowledge management,
        resource allocation, alliances and networks, and public policy.

4.3.4   Students pursuing management research from an economics perspective generally will
        have a first degree in economics or a related discipline or have pursued a conversion
        course. They will require further training in relevant skills, generally microeconomics,
        quantitative methods and econometrics, at a level equivalent to that outlined in F3
        (Economics). This subject specific training may be delivered more appropriately outside
        the Management and Business Studies outlet and it may be appropriate to pursue
        much of the Economics subject- specific training prior to the Management and
        Business Studies programme.

4.3.5   Students of management science are likely to require training in the context of how
        organisations take decisions and the data that they may require to achieve this
        effectively. Students should have a critical awareness of aspects of: mathematics,
        statistics, network theory, decision sciences, operational research and soft systems
        modelling. Specialist knowledge may be required in organisational processes, social
        policy, corporate strategy, decision-making routines, heuristics, resource allocation,
        modelling complex systems, algorithms, and mathematical programming.

4.3.6   Students of operations management are likely to require training in the way
        organisations design measure, manage and control their products/services and
        processes. Students should have a critical awareness of relevant aspects of quantitative
        methods, statistics and economics. In addition, they may be required to have an
        understanding of the contribution that strategy and human resource management
        might make to production systems. Specialist knowledge may be required of sector-
        specific process technologies and systems, research and development and innovation
        strategies, as well as product and process design. Studying the effective operation of
        systems may require an understanding of performance measurement and management,
        control technologies, strategic capability, logistics and distribution.

4.3.7   Students of public sector management are likely to require training in one or more of
        the following: governance structures including hierarchies, markets and networks;
        public policy analysis and evaluation; welfare economics; performance management;
        comparative public services management; and the fields of administration,
        management and organisation as they relate to the public domain.

4.3.8   Following training in the basic technical characteristics of information technology,
        students of information management need to develop a critical appreciation of the
        complex inter-relationships between people, organisations and technology. They are
        likely to require training in several of the following areas: the
        management/organisational context of the development and use of information
        systems; information technology strategy and business strategy; management and
        organisational change; the Internet and e-commerce including intranets, extranets,
        enterprise wide systems; system development methodologies and project management;
        the management of data; computer supported co-operative working; information
        technology management and security issues; social aspects of information systems
        (including issues of privacy, data protection, and surveillance at work).

4.3.9   Students of international business are likely to require training in the context of how
        businesses operate in a global economy. They are likely to require training in aspects of:
        economics, finance and statistics. Specialist training may be required in: international
        trade law, international agencies and policy making, international cross-cultural
        management, comparative accounting and social policy.
4.3.10 Students of marketing are likely to require training in the way organisations
       understand and respond to external and internal customers. Students should have a
       critical awareness of relevant aspects of social theory, economics, individual and
       organisational psychology, statistics, and sociology. Specialist areas might include:
       understanding of markets, consumer behaviour, market research, approaches to
       customer service, market structures, competition, business strategy, advertising and
       promotion. Issues related to human resources management in services marketing and
       relationship marketing may also feature.

4.3.11 Students of human resource management are likely to require training in the context
       of the management and development of people within organisations. Students should
       have a critical awareness of aspects of: industrial sociology, organisational theory,
       labour economics, industrial relations and business strategy. Specialist areas might
       include: strategic human resource planning, labour economics, individual and
       organisational performance, cultural and ethical issues, and international human
       resource management.
ESRC Subject Specific Requirements for

Social Policy, Social Work and Health Studies

The Nature of the Area

1. 1   Social Policy, Social Work and Health Studies draw on a wide range of professional
       and disciplinary backgrounds. Students are expected to use material from a variety of
       disciplines, and to be able to work in a multiplicity of formal and informal research
       settings, with differing relationships to the policy process, often alongside people with
       different orientations to research. Each of the three subject areas has its specific own
       sub-areas with their own needs and intellectual traditions. Each also makes strong links
       with particular other disciplines, including, economics, social history, psychology, law,
       politics, sociology and medicine. This should be reflected in specific training provision.

1. 2   Students undertaking research in these fields study societies, their institutions, and
       processes within them, and the impacts these have on individuals, groups and
       communities. These experiences are characterised by important differences in terms of
       gender, 'race' and ethnicity, physical and mental capacity and disability, sexuality, age,
       culture, beliefs and values, differences which also may be reflected in the experience
       and cultures of students themselves.

1. 3   These subject specific guidelines apply broadly to all three subject areas although
       specific examples are provided for individual subject areas as appropriate and there may
       be differing degrees of emphasis within these areas.


2.1    Social Policy, Social Work and Health Studies benefit from the wide variety of
       expertise and personal and professional experience brought to research by their
       students. Some may have specific qualifications while others may have a non-academic
       but policy-, practice- or user-oriented background and may come with substantial
       professional expertise. Many will have detailed knowledge of a substantive area, and an
       awareness of working with ethical dilemmas in practice.

2. 2   There is no expectation that students will come to research training with a common
       knowledge base. However, all students should demonstrate analytical capacity, be able
       to deal with abstract concepts, communicate effectively (verbally and/or in writing as
       appropriate to their personal circumstances), and have the potential for independent,
       critical and original thought. Students will usually have a good honours degree or
       equivalent training or experience, though not necessarily in the cognate disciplines of
       the three subjects. The needs - and experiences - of part-time students, should be given
       specific attention in research training provision.
Subject Specific Domains of Expertise

3. 1   Each subject area is mainly applied as well as being interdisciplinary, focusing on
       problems of the distribution of health, welfare and well-being within societies. Research
       requires the rigorous linking of theoretical analysis with empirical enquiry; the
       identification and understanding of different value positions; an appreciation of the
       interaction and interdependence between theory and the operation and impact of
       social and health interventions and policies. Research in these subjects often involves
       bringing about change and/or investigating ethically sensitive issues such as the
       personal circumstances of individuals, groups and communities. Research which
       focuses on the delivery of services will also require skills in negotiating access with
       service users and practitioners, and for researchers to distinguish between their roles as
       practitioner and as researcher.

3. 2   Given the subject areas' multi-disciplinary basis, students require understanding of the
       epistemological and theoretical debates within the social sciences and how these relate
       to research practice; a recognition of how various philosophical and knowledge bases
       contribute to the understanding and shaping of research questions in one or more of
       the three subjects; and an ability to locate the research process within an explicitly
       socio-political context. Students should develop the capacity to work collaboratively
       with other disciplines, practitioners and users.

3. 3   Students should be able critically to engage with key relevant conceptual debates and,
       where relevant, with important contemporary practice debates. For research in a policy-
       related context, key concepts might include community, dependency, discretion,
       efficiency, effectiveness, equality, rights, citizenship, social justice, living standards,
       social exclusion, inequalities, regulation, freedom, need, risk and empowerment, in the
       context of the provision of health and welfare by the state, the market, the
       occupational, voluntary and informal sectors. For those concerned with research in
       practice settings, issues of participation, user involvement and control or clinical
       effectiveness are likely to be significant. An awareness of cross-national and
       comparative perspectives, as well as national perspectives, will be important. Students
       must also learn how to apply their knowledge to a specific research context within their
       subject of interest and to investigate in greater depth the concepts and issues that
       pertain to their own particular subject area or sub-area.

3. 4   Although the precise emphasis will vary from subject to subject within the three areas,
       and depending on the centrality of policy or practice concerns, research training for
       social policy, social work or health studies will need to be set within some or all of the
       following broad intellectual contexts:

          explanatory frameworks that have played a major part in the study of the subject
          an understanding of the relationship between major social trends (e.g.,
           demographic change and labour market change) and social and health policy and
          an understanding of the importance of institutions and institutional mechanisms,
           including organisational and professional groups, to the delivery of health and
           an appreciation of the relationship between economic, social and health policies
           an understanding of the politics of policy and practice, including the ability
            critically to appraise the development, implementation and outcomes of policy
            change, and practice
           a capacity to evaluate major debates (e.g. about globalisation and convergence)
           knowledge of the cause, development and differential experience of social and
            health problems (such as poverty, family breakdown or illness) among different
            social groups
           understanding of the origins and impacts of discrimination and oppression
           the consequences and impacts of policies, practices and technological advances on
            individuals, groups and communities and the ways in which users understand,
            experience or shape policy and practice

Research Methods Training

4. 1    Students undertaking research in these subjects study and interact with people as
        individuals and as members of groups, communities and societies. Research training
        must give students a clear understanding of the ways in which difference and diversity
        shape research questions, and must equip them with the skills, insights and sensitivity
        to understand and reflect issues of difference and diversity at every stage of the research
        process. It may also reflect a concern with engaging with oppression and working in
        emancipatory ways. The research process itself should generally be reflexive, allowing
        for adjustment in design and methodology(ies) in the light of emerging understandings.

4. 2    Students should be conversant with and work within the guidelines published by the
        appropriate professional bodies, for both the ethical and the safe conduct of research.
        A concern with the ethics of social research will help students to ask why research is
        necessary in their field of study, and whether and how it can most sensitively be carried
        out. Students should also understand the need to incorporate the perspective of
        research users - whether funders, commissioners, policy actors, service users or the
        general public - in an appropriate manner, and to appreciate the tensions this may
        produce within the research process particularly where it is developed within a
        participatory paradigm.

        Research Design

4.3     Research in these subject areas requires the enhancement of some skills in research
        design referred to in the generic research training guidelines, and attention to some
        forms of research design less emphasised in other subject areas. These differences stem
        largely from the philosophical, political, ethical and technical challenges associated
        with the need to investigate and make sense of a range of complex social processes and
        the responses of differing social actors.

4.4 Students should know how to select a research design appropriate to the question being
       asked and to its theoretical and/or empirical nature (these might include, e.g. case
       studies, longitudinal studies, action research, comparative research and experimental or
       quasi-experimental designs). Because of the centrality of evaluating the impact of
       policies, practices and interventions on the lives of individuals, groups and
       communities, students need to be familiar with the relative merits and limitations of
       designs used in evaluation research. This includes both competence in experimental
       methodology and/or the ability to design studies that address appropriate contextual
       factors and different perspectives. They need also to be able to undertake effective
       research in understanding organisational and social processes.

4.5    Decisions regarding research design need to take into account that research in these
       areas is usually conducted in a complex political and social context. Power differentials
       between potential stakeholders, including students themselves, normally dictate that
       the latter should understand and respond to the contexts in which they operate,
       throughout the entire research process. This will require an ability effectively to involve
       or respond to the demands of key stakeholders, particularly users, in research design, in
       identifying appropriate sources of data, and in interpreting the results of studies.

       Data collection

4.6    Students should be able to identify the kinds - and, where appropriate, mix - of data
       needed to address specific research questions. They should be able to recognise
       situations where the multi-dimensional nature of a problem requires them to draw on
       data from a range of sources, and where a combination of types of data and methods of
       analysis are required. They should be familiar with sources relevant to their work of
       existing numerical, textual and pictorial material, research and legislative reports and
       articles, archival and historical data, institutional and agency records (including official
       reports), official statistics, survey data sets and material generated by service users. Skills
       in literature searching and information retrieval should be developed within a multi-
       disciplinary context.

4.7    Students should have a clear understanding of the theoretical and ethical approaches
       to, and the skills required for, carrying out a systematic review, and/or the appraisal of
       existing research and statistical evidence, to map what is already known and appreciate
       different perspectives on that knowledge. Using existing material, students should also
       be able to identify where and why a need to collect new data arises. They should
       understand the different kinds of information available from, e.g. documentary
       sources, observation techniques, ethnographic fieldwork, group discussions, vignette
       exercises, in-depth structured, semi-structured or unstructured interviews, and postal
       and telephone questionnaire surveys. Practical skills in these methods should be
       accompanied by a knowledge of the processes used for data recording and the way the
       data are to be used in subsequent analyses.

       Data analysis

4.8    Students should be competent in handling and managing both qualitative and
       quantitative data from a range of primary and secondary sources. They should be aware
       of the potential and limitations of using secondary data - both qualitative interview
       transcripts and large survey data sets - for analysis, and of the complexities of dealing
       with comparative data. Skills in interpreting data should be developed alongside more
       formal analytical skills.

4.9    Students should be familiar with analytical techniques appropriate to different kinds of
       data and with methods for initial exploratory analysis. For textual and other qualitative
       data, they should understand how to choose appropriate methods for systematic
       analysis. They should be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of using computer-
       assisted packages for data handling, and of techniques for 'cleaning' data prior to

4.10   All students should be competent in the use and interpretation of general descriptive
       and inferential statistics and students in particular subject areas should be familiar with
       more advanced techniques relevant to those areas, e.g. epidemiological and
       longitudinal techniques in health studies, event history and time series analysis in
       social work studies, and linear modelling techniques in social policy. Computer skills
       are essential for statistical analysis of large quantitative data sets. Students should
       understand the underlying principles of the statistical techniques themselves and be
       aware of the social and organisational construction of statistics and the need for their
       careful interpretation.

       Use and dissemination of research

4.11   Research in Social Policy, Social Work and Health Studies can play an important part
       in evidence-based public policy-making and practice. Students should have an
       understanding of the relationship of research to the formation, implementation and
       evaluation of policy and practice. They should be aware of how research is
       commissioned and funded, and the possibilities and problems involved in attempting
       to influence policy and practice change alongside, or on behalf of, research users.

4.12   The definition of 'users' remains an area for debate. Nevertheless, students should
       recognise the forms of relationship existing between researchers and the agencies
       (including government bodies) commissioning or funding research, other agencies
       responsible for dealing with policy change in practice, and the people whose daily lives
       are affected by such change. Students need to develop communication skills to enable
       them to disseminate research findings in a range of formats appropriate to different
       audiences - academics, policy-makers, practitioners, managers, service users and the
       general public and to involve users where appropriate.

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