FHMS PRES 2020 Action Plan Updates

Our goal is to provide all our postgraduate researchers with all the support, facilities, training and guidance you need to successfully complete your research degree in a positive environment and graduate as independent researchers. A key aspect of achieving this goal is understanding what we are doing well and where and how we could improve our support for you. Your opinion counts. We seek your opinions through the PGR engagement forum, through PGR involvement in School, Faculty and University committees and through PGR surveys, the biggest of which is the annual the Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES). The PRES helps us to define yearly action plans to continue to strengthen and develop all aspects of the postgraduate researcher experience at Surrey. 

Every year, The Postgraduate Research Directors review the PRES data, together with the PGR Representatives, to develop a School level action plan for the year ahead. At this point midyear, PGRDs provide you with an update on these actions plans, identifying issues resolved, new developments made, and work that will be on-going into the future. These Action Plan Updates help to give you a sense of the work that goes on behind the scenes to ensure your excellent experience, and lead to clear, measurable changes to issues that you have identified. They also provide further opportunity for you to feed ideas for future improvement to your PGR Representative and Directors. Please do take the opportunity to do so.

Dr Ruan Elliott
Associate Dean Doctoral College
Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Action Plan Updates

School of Health Sciences

PGR Achievement Event: This was run very successfully on 25th November 2020. It was well attended and evaluated. Over n=35 PGRs and staff attended. The Building Communities Research Fund (Doctoral College) was used to award prizes for the best presentations. 

Research Training: We have begun to email PGRs on a quarterly basis to identify specific training needs and ways of meeting these. Our PGR Writing Group has been resurrected. This runs on a monthly basis and we have had good feedback from our PGRs. We held a writing retreat, with support from the Doctoral College on 9th February 2021 (9.30-5pm).

Research Culture: An easily digested document on our groups within the school still requires development but the groups are in the process of being re-organised, so this is currently on hold. PGRDs are meeting with our Research Director imminently to discuss ways of developing upon and improving our research culture. A virtual staff shadowing scheme was run and two of our PGRs took advantage of this and have provided good feedback.

School of Veterinary Medicine

Short Term Actions

1. To facilitate access to the available demonstrating sessions, the coordinator (currently Amie Jones) will be contacted by PGRDs at the beginning of September to facilitate that PGRs should be able to register for demonstrating sessions. AvV and GLI

Update: not followed up due to Covid-19 crisis. Problematic access to the Vet School and expectations to Work From Home were factors in this decision. This will need to be reassessed when “normality” may be partially restored.

2. Resources to improve personal wellbeing to be highlighted by PGRs in an email to PGRs in collaboration with the centre of wellbeing. AvV and GLI

Update: not followed up due to Covid-19 crisis. Problematic access to the Vet School and expectations to Work From Home were factors in this decision. This will need to be reassessed when “normality” may be partially restored.

3. Email Jane Steele to ensure all the PGRs at the vet school have access to the series of seminars planned by the School of Biosciences in addition to the ones planned by the Vet School. AvV and GLI

Update: the seminars of Vet School and Biosci Med have been merged. Will need to check whether Vet School PGRs now get these invites.

4. Organise another induction event in January/February 2021. AvV and GLI

Update: Not possible at the moment.

5. Continue to encourage PIs to have regular meetings with their students to let them feel less isolated during their absence from campus. AvV and GLI

Update: Covid-19 and Working from Home make live meetings difficult. Will check with supervisors about meetings.

Long Term Actions

1. Training sessions available to PGR to be well advertised in the PGR newsletter. DC and highlighted by AvV and GLI

Update: None.

2. Encourage PIs to attend training to support PGRs mental health and wellbeing provided by the DC. AvV and GLI

Update: The School is active on this front. Not specific for PGR directors.

3. Send an update to PGRs and ECRs regarding the first floor rearrangements. This might not take place until next year due to restricted access to campus until 2021. DH

Update: PGR rep and PGR directors are involved in the discussions, also via Research Culture Committee of Vet School.

4. Ask DC a revision of forms and provision of a website ad DC page easier to navigate. AvV and GLI.

Update: Nothing done yet. Does not seem to be a Vet School-specific problem, and more something for the DC to act on.

5. Contribute to the Vet School Research Culture Committee work to improve research culture at the Vet School. AvV and GLI.

Update: Done.


Since the publication of the PRES action plan 2020, as a result of the Research Culture findings I have continued to collate and publish our new PsychD Research Newsletter which include news stories on all research activity within the department. This continues to be well received and an increasing number of features are related to our trainees research activity. This newsletter is part of a broader suite of Research Culture initiatives which include the inaugural trainee research conference (which will definitely happen this year after being cancelled due to COVID) and a new research dissemination support fund. As a result of the low Research Skills section we have developed new methods for training online and have restructured the focus of research methods training which is now largely centred around journal club sessions.