The task of completing a reflective application, like that required by the Research Supervision Recognition Programme, is significantly different in style and content to other academic writing.
To help you through the reflective writing process, this short guide – based on Stan Taylor‘s & Gill Houston’s Guide for Reviewers – illustrates the type of evidence of practice that is required and the writing style that is expected in applications to the Recognition Programme.
Address all Criteria
You must – where able – address all the criteria of the Good Supervisory Practice Framework.
If you are unable to provide evidence for a criterion — for example, because an institution policy prevents them from sitting on candidate selection panels — you must state this on your application with supporting evidence of your claim — for example, a link to an institutional policy.
The evidence must be personal to you. It is your practice that you are reflecting upon, not your role in your school or department or institution.
For example, a statement to the effect that you have successfully acted for their school as a selector of research students for many years is not enough to evidence the ‘Recruitment and selection’ criterion. Instead, you should write a short personal case study of how this function has been undertaken and what you have done to make it successful.
The evidence must relate to your recent experience, usually defined as being within the previous five years.
Older experience may be referenced, for example if you to your own experiences as a research student to explain the origins of your practice, but the substance should not be of the dim and distance past but relate to more recent experiences.
Evidence must be presented in a way that is reflective rather than purely descriptive.
For example, a statement that ‘I have always enjoyed positive relationships with candidates’ would not be enough to evidence the ‘Supervisory relationships with candidates’ criterion. You should provide evidence of why you think such relationships are vital, how you have gone about establishing them, how you have monitored their continuing efficacy and, where appropriate, how you have changed strategies for supervision and with what results.
For each of the criteria, you must provide evidence in the form of, at least, two concrete examples derived from their practice.
So, a general exposition of the three main methods (self-review, peer review and student review) would not on its own be acceptable to evidence the ‘Reflecting upon and enhancing practice’ criterion. You must provide actual instances of how you have employed one or a combination of these methods to enhance your practice.
Your evidence should be supported by the scholarly literature on supervisory practice.
If you apply for recognition of your supervisory practice, there is an expectation that you will have an awareness of that literature and that it will have changed or reinforced your practice.
An application which makes no reference to the scholarly literature is not acceptable. It is expected that evidence will be provided in relation to at least some of the examples you provide. However, you are not expected to cite literature in defence of every aspect of your practice.
For more on research supervision literature, see The Research Supervisors’ Bibliography 4th Edition Taylor, S. (2020).
Finally, there is an expectation that you will take a systematic approach to developing your expertise in supervision.
For example, an entire account which provides no evidence of development would be unlikely to meet the ‘Reflecting upon and enhancing practice’ criterion. It is expected that you will provide evidence of taking appropriate opportunities to systematically develop your expertise in relation to at least some of the criteria in the Good Supervisory Practice Framework. Methods can range from informal conversations with other supervisors through to being mentored or mentoring and attending workshops or completing accredited programmes.