Doctoral School

Postgraduate Research Experience Survey: Why bother?

We’re sure by now you will have seen one of our (many) requests to complete the Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) run by the University in association with the Higher Education Academy (HEA). There’s still time to complete the survey, and claim your £5 catering voucher- the survey is open until Thurs 14th May.

The survey asks about things like supervision, resources, research culture, progress and assessment, research skills, professional development, opportunities and overall experience.

The survey is really important for us as it helps to identify what we are doing well, but also highlights areas for improvement and informs our planning to enhance your doctoral experience at Sussex.  It is also the only national survey gathering feedback from postgraduate research students, and the HEA will make recommendations to the whole sector and research funding bodies as a result of your feedback.

The survey is open for another 2 weeks, many thanks to the 31.6% (438 respondents) of you who have completed it so far.

We received a response of 34.4% in 2013, whereas the average amongst participating universities was 40.4% - so we’re aiming for at least 40% this time. So if you haven’t completed it yet, please take a few minutes to do so.

Once you’ve completed the survey, you’ll be given details of how to collect your £5 catering voucher which can be spent on campus, or can choose to donate to the University’s Hardship Fund for Students.

Many thanks for your help with this; you can read on below for actions we took as a result of feedback in PRES 2013.

Paul Roberts & Helen Hampson
Doctoral School

We last ran PRES in 2013 and as a result of feedback:

  • Over forty-five thousand pounds was allocated to improving the space and facilities for doctoral students, with an allocation to each School. The funding is providing new computing equipment (e.g. replacing PCs that are over 3 years old), improved storage provision (e.g. lockers) and replacement furniture.  In two Schools, the funding is supporting the provision of new space for doctoral researchers.
  • Our new Research Administration Office has been established since PRES 2013, and is working on how we communicate requirements, expectations and deadlines for progress and assessment, as well as reviewing all our processes from admission to graduation. 
  • One area highlighted in PRES 2013 was the need to support the understanding of research integrity amongst Sussex research students.  In response we commissioned some additional training through our Researcher Development Programme; the University has now published a Research Integrity statement and our commitment to promoting and upholding the highest quality academic and ethical standards in all research activities; and changes have been made to our progress and assessment procedures to ensure that issues of research integrity are addressed robustly.
  • Induction for new doctoral researchers was highlighted as an area needing improvement, and since 2013 we have held a number of Doctoral School welcome events in October and February for new research students involving support services across campus; and our researcher development colleagues have developed a new online module ‘Starting your doctorate at Sussex’ and webpages from new starters.
  • We have also taken action to improve the communication of the Researcher Development Programme, by developing our webpages and guidance on training and development opportunities; producing an annual brochure promoting the programme; and increasing our use of social media. We have also taken steps to increase our provision for part-time and distance researchers (additional online modules, webinars, and part-time conference).
  • PRES 2013 also highlighted you would like more opportunities to get involved in the wider research community, and we are working within our Research & Enterprise Division to develop a central Research Events webpage, coordinating the range of events open to researchers across the university. The webpage will be hosted on the Research & Enterprise site, and will have an advanced search option capturing seminars, lectures, conferences, and training and development activities. Doctoral Connections has also been developed to coordinate our communications to you, and highlight the breadth of opportunities open to our doctoral community.

Doctoral School