Acknowledging research staff and technicians

Research staff and technicians provide important contributions to research student supervision, ranging from support for planning research projects, to advising on professional development. At the University of Glasgow, we have two initiatives underway to shine a spotlight on these valuable contributions, and how they contribute to our research culture.

Next academic year, the PGR Code of Practice will be updated to reflect that postdoctoral research staff can be named as co-supervisors. This will provide official opportunities and documentation for postdoctoral research staff to develop their supervisory experience. PGRs will benefit from a greater pool of expertise through the appointment of additional co-supervisors.

The UofG Lab for Academic Culture is working with the UK Council for Graduate Education (UKCGE) to develop and pilot a Recognised Associate Supervisor descriptor. The Recognised Associate Supervisor descriptor is based on the Good Supervisory Practice Framework, which sets expectations for supervisors through 10 criteria. The descriptor provides a route to recognition and guidance for those without extensive supervisory experience: those early in their supervisory careers, those with informal supervisory roles, and those whose supervisory experience is affected by fixed-term contracts.

Six UofG postdoctoral researchers and research technicians are participating in the pilot programme, providing feedback to the UKCGE.  The descriptor and route to recognition will launch more widely for the sector in autumn 2021. Applicants submit a personal and scholarly reflective account based on recent examples of their supervisory practice against 5 of the 10 criteria of the Good Supervisory Practice Framework, and also observe and reflect on a supervision meeting with another supervisor and student.

These changes to the PGR Code of Practice and the Recognised Associate Supervisor descriptor align with the University’s Research Culture Action Plan, acknowledging and valuing wider contributions to research projects, both formal and informal. This is also an important strand for us in implementing our Researcher Development Concordat action plan through opportunities for formal recognition of supervisory activities and access to training and support.

Finally, by offering opportunities to reflect on how you are developing as a supervisor, right from the start of your research career, we hope that these initiatives will have a positive impact on the quality of supervision and the PGR experience more generally.

First published: 9 July 2021