Postgraduate Research Experience Survey 2013

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Thank you to everyone who completed the 2013 Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES); we received a response rate of 34.4% with feedback from over 450 doctoral students at the University of Sussex.

This is a national survey with results feeding into decisions on policy as well as practical issues. At Sussex, the results are reviewed by the Director of Doctoral Education, Directors of Doctoral Studies, the Doctoral Studies Committee, and other relevant groups.  Your responses will inform our action plans (at Department, School and University levels) and overall  implementation is monitored by the University’s Doctoral School Board.

Summary of 2013 results

Overall Satisfaction
77% of 2013 respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they are satisfied with the experience of their research degree programme overall.

This is an area in which Sussex performed well with 91% satisfied that their supervisors had the appropriate skills and knowledge to support their research.

Working space and resources
The results were mixed in relation to working space and resources. There was specific praise for the provision of library facilities and access to specialist resources, but concerns were expressed around the provision of computing resources and related facilities; in some Schools, there are particular concerns around access to suitable working space.

Research culture
There was very strong satisfaction with seminar programmes (Sussex is leading on this in the UK); there was also strong satisfaction expressed in relation to opportunities for presenting and discussing work within your research groups/departments. However, over 50% of you would like more opportunities to get involved in the wider research community and we are actively looking at how we can help with this.

Progress and roles / responsibilities
From survey results and text comments, we can see that we need to improve on how we communicate requirements, expectations and deadlines for progress and assessment.   The University has already taken significant action in relation to this area by re-organising its professional service support for postgraduate research students.  In particular, a new Postgraduate Research Administration Office will be established at the start of January 2014 to address some immediate improvements as well as reviewing all our processes from admission to graduation for postgraduate research students. 

Research skills and professional development
Satisfaction with research training was strong, although there were some specific problems highlighted. One area was the need to support the understanding of research integrity amongst Sussex postgraduate research students.  In response we have commissioned some additional training and are making changes to our progress and assessment procedures to ensure that issues of research integrity are addressed robustly.  We have also taken action to improve the communication of the Researcher Development Programme. The Doctoral Studies Committee will be using responses relating to training to develop the researcher development programme for 2014-15.

Teaching opportunities
55% of respondents had participated in teaching or demonstrating during their research degree. Satisfaction with support and guidance for teaching was strong and it was particularly pleasing to see that over 83% of you had received formal training to support your teaching and demonstrating duties.

Paul Roberts,  Assistant Director of Doctoral School



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