In addition to the production of a research thesis, there are three areas of requirements that you need to meet for progression in your research candidature. Fulfillment of these requirements is considered in the Annual Progress Report. This report is completed in conjunction with your Annual Progress Interview with the Postgraduate Coordinator.
The three areas are:
As an MSc or a PhD student your primary requirement is to produce a satisfactory thesis. However the School of Psychology has other requirements that you must complete over the course of your degree. The primary goal of these requirements is to provide you with feedback about your research and your progress towards producing a thesis; and to give the School an opportunity to help you get back on track if your progress has been delayed or interrupted. For this reason, the requirements are concentrated in the early stage of enrolment because we have found that students who start well usually make timely progress towards completing their theses.
1. Submit Research Plan within the first three months of enrolment.
The research plan (not more than 2,000 words), written in consultation with your supervisor should:
a) Define your proposed area of research and central research question.
b) Describe and justify the goals and aims of your research.
c) Summarise relevant background literature.
d) Describe any research that you have done so far and explicitly set out what you intend to achieve in the rest of your first year of study. This will vary between areas of study and specific projects. For example, in some areas a student may be expected to complete multiple experiments in first year, while in other areas the major goals of first year may be mastering, or systematically reviewing, a body literature and securing ethics approval for your research.
e) Give as much detail as you can of your plan leading to the completion of your thesis (though there is likely to be less certain the further into the future you look)
f) Specify exactly what resources you anticipate needing, such as equipment, money, and participants.
We expect that your plan will evolve over time, so you are not expected to detail a 3 year research programme. However you need to have a clear idea of your overall direction and specific plans for the first year. The primary aim of the research plan is to ensure that you make good progress from early in your degree, and that you and your supervisors are in agreement about the proposed research. Note that at the end of each year your supervisor has to indicate whether your progress has been satisfactory, so it is important that you and supervisor are in agreement with regard to what constitutes satisfactory progress.
You should submit your plan to the PG Coordinator for Progress (electronic is ok), your primary and associate supervisor, and a third reader. In consultation with your supervisor, you should ask someone to be a third reader who you think can give meaningful feedback on your research, but who has not been extensively involved in the planning of it, since the aim is to have someone look at your plan with fresh eyes). After you have given your readers your plan, you arrange a meeting between yourself and your readers to discuss it within one month of submission (preferably sooner). There is a feedback form available from the PG website that should be signed by all the readers indicating that your plan is satisfactory. This form should be submitted to the PG Coordinator for Progress.
If one or more readers think your plan is unsatisfactory, then you should identify the basis of the reader’s concerns and what could be done to remedy it. This may involve some revisions to the plan and/or another meeting. If the reader is still unsatisfied, you should submit the feedback form indicating that to be the case and arrange to meet with the PG Coordinator for Progress.
2. Present your research at the PG Research Seminar in your second semester of enrolment.
This is a great forum to receive feedback from staff and peers regarding the early stages of your research. The presentation lasts 20 minutes, with 10 mins for Q&A.
3. Submit the first year research report (3000-5000 words) and meet with your supervisory team and third reader.
Research report feedback forms.
4. Submit the second year research report (1500-3000 words) and meet with your supervisory team and third reader.
All PhD candidates are required to submit Research Reports to the Postgraduate Coordinator (PGC) in their first year (3000-5000 words) and their second year (1500-3000 words) of candidature. These reports should describe the research activities so far completed and outline planned future research. It should have been discussed with the candidate’s supervisor before being submitted to the PGC. This report will be read by the candidate’s primary and associate supervisors and one other knowledgeable party nominated by the candidate and his/her supervisor. A meeting between the candidate and their readers is to take place within one month of the report being submitted. The purpose of the meeting is to provide feedback to the candidate and the opportunity to discuss future research plans. A formal evaluation form (available from the PG website) will be completed by the three assessors of the report, and returned to the PGC.
The reports may include published or submitted journal papers, and should describe the candidate’s progress to date, together with future thesis plans and an associated “timeline”. One of the major rationales for these reports is to provide students with advice and feedback in a timely manner, should their research program require it.
Submissions which are judged to be unsatisfactory must be resubmitted. The student’s readers will make specific recommendations as to what needs to be done and specify a deadline. In the rare cases in which there is a continuing failure to produce a satisfactory report, the school may recommend to the Faculty of Science that a student be required to show cause for why they should remain enrolled.
5. Present your research at the PG Research Seminar in your fifth semester of enrolment
Another great opportunity to receive feedback from staff and peers as you approach completion. The presentation lasts 30 minutes, with 10 mins for Q&A.
Research report feedback forms
5. Present your research at the PG Research Seminar in your fifth semester of enrolment.
Another great opportunity to receive feedback from staff and peers as you approach completion. The presentation lasts 30 minutes, with 10 minutes for Q&A.
The University guidelines specify that you must spend at least 30 hours per week on your PhD studies (15 hours PT). This minimum reflects the fact that students with APA scholarships are entitled to work for up to 20 hours per week, but it should be stressed that experience has shown us that these minimum allocations are insufficient for timely completion. Further, while it is sometimes necessary to work away from the School, it is an expectation that you will normally work here, and notify your supervisor about periods of absence. For this purpose, the school allocates a desk and computer for each F/T research student, and many students also have access to research laboratories.
Count time away
Students can apply to spend time away from the University as part of their candidature, e.g., to conduct doctoral research in other institutions or settings. A formal application is important to ensure that any time away is officially counted as part of your candidature (affecting earliest and latest submission dates), and is essential for scholarship holders who wish to continue to receive their stipend. A Faculty of Science Variation of Candidature form (“Application for Suspension, Leave of Absence, Count Time Away, Total Discontinuation and Completing Away”), signed by the supervisor and Postgraduate Coordinator, must be submitted to the Science Faculty. For the relevant form go to http://www.science.usyd.edu.au/cstudent/pg/forms.shtml
Face to face meetings with supervisor
Throughout postgraduate research candidature, students are normally expected to meet face-to-face with their supervisor on average at least twice per month, and with both supervisor and associate supervisor at least once per semester. The pattern of consultation will differ depending on the stage of candidature and the particular circumstances of the candidate. University of Sydney policy is that the supervisor and Head of School or delegate must be satisfied with any proposed supervision arrangements.
During your candidature, you will be expected to participate in a range of research-related activities independent of your research project. Coursework of this sort makes an important contribution to postgraduate academic and general professional development by complementing the experience gained from your research project, as well as providing specific skills training. The University is in the process of introducing more systematic training/coursework requirements for all research students including both common and discipline-specific requirements. The first step in this process is completion of a Training Needs Analysis.
Training Needs Analysis
The University has developed a ‘Training Needs Analysis’ to be completed by students with their primary supervisor in the early stages of candidature. All students will be required to complete at least two compulsory training units (a web-based Work Health and Safety module, that is already available, and a Research Integrity module to be provided this year). Faculties and Schools will also be encouraged to develop generic and discipline-specific courses to meet the needs of a broad range of research students. It is also possible, in principle, for students to receive approval to enrol in undergraduate or postgraduate courses offered by other Schools and Faculties. Forms to request such approval can be obtained from the PG Co-ordinator. The University is attempting to alleviate the administrative and financial barriers that have previously impeded cross-Faculty enrolment.
School of Psychology coursework requirements
The School requirements summarized below were introduced to meet the need for discipline-specific generic and specialist coursework in anticipation of the emergence of more formal University-wide arrangements. The aims are (i) to expose you to research-related material not directly associated with your own research project, and in areas you might not otherwise encounter; (ii) to contribute to the development of generic research-related skills and attributes such as critical analysis, experimental design and communication skills; (iii) facilitate cross-pollination of research ideas and skills and identify opportunities for collaboration and skill development; and (iv) encourage you to benefit from and contribute to the scholarly activities of the School.
1. Regular attendance at postgraduate research seminars in the first 6 semesters of your candidature
The research seminars will expose you to a range of postgraduate research projects and models for psychological research. They also serve as a forum in which you can receive and provide constructive input and feedback, and identify links between your research project and those of other staff and students. You will be required to present your research at this seminar in the second semester of your first year (full or part-time students), and in the first semester of your third year (or part-time equivalent). ‘Psychfest’, a day of ‘5 minute thesis’ presentations by students in their second year of enrolment (or part-time equivalent) will be trialed this year to develop students’ skills in concisely conveying the major research question and goals to a generalist audience.
2. A minimum of 30 hours per year, normally 15 hours per semester, of acquisition of research-related skills and/or additional research-related activity not directly related to your thesis. These activities could include a range of options, for example:
- School of Psychology Colloquia (Fridays 4 to 5pm, throughout each semester; see link on School home page
- School of Psychology workshops (offered depending on needs of students). The length and format of these will depend on the nature of the subject matter and availability of expertise. These will be announced as they become available. Students should inform Marc de Rosnay or Ilan Dar-Nimrod of topics they would like to be considered for future workshops.
- External workshops or research groups of interest to students
- Existing journal clubs/reading groups, either within or outside the School organized by groups of students in conjunction with (or without) a member of staff, to address particular interest areas. These could be run for longer or shorter periods of time, and at different intervals, depending on the participants. We strongly encourage you to consult with other students to identify areas of common interest.
- Research-related meetings held as part of your employment responsibilities
Some points to note:
- Conference attendance cannot be counted towards these requirements
- You should discuss activities that would be useful for you with your supervisor.
- We plan to implement a calendar on which students and staff can enter events that might be of interest to other students
If you are not sure whether an activity is appropriate, please discuss with the PG Seminar co-ordinator.
Adherence to these requirements will be noted in your Annual Progress Report meeting, at which your record of activities will be considered. If you are having, or expect to have, difficulty meeting attendance and supervisory requirements due to work or other commitments, you should contact the PG Coordinator to discuss solutions, in consultation with your supervisor.
Keeping records of your research-related activities
To help you maintain records of your research-related activities for discussion at your annual progress report meeting, two methods of recording have been developed.
1. Attendance sheet at the Friday Postgraduate Research Seminars
This core requirement will be recorded by signing an attendance sheet – a procedure that is common in most professional development settings. The Postgraduate Seminar Coordinator will enter your attendance on the Online Activity Record database (see below) on your behalf. If you are unable to attend, you need to communicate this to the Postgraduate Seminar Coordinator by email (email@example.com).
2. Self-recording using the Online Activity Record database
This system allows you to record and reflect on your activities as they occur. You will be prompted to make a separate, dated entry for each activity, to classify it in one or more categories (professional development, statistics and methodology, expanding knowledge in your field, expanding the breadth of your knowledge), and make a brief comment on what you learned and its relevance to your studies. The database will allow you to review the number of hours you have accumulated and activities carried out, so that you can check your progress during the semester.
Important: It is your responsibility to ensure that your participation is documented, so that you can present a summary at your annual progress meeting.