Structured Self-Reflection

Supervisors play a critical role in influencing doctoral candidates’ chances of completing on time, in determining the quality of their final outputs and, most crucially of all, in shaping their experiences as early career researchers. The importance of good research supervision is, therefore, hard to overstate.

The Research Supervision Recognition Programme is underpinned by the principle that research supervision is a form of teaching, and as such, supervisors will benefit from reflecting on their practice.

This process of reflection is often a gateway to professional development as it reveals insights and new perspectives on the challenges inherent in your supervision work.

Research supervision doesn’t just happen’; neither is anyone naturally adept’. Effective supervision does not just appear – it evolves over time and it incorporates successes and difficult experiences. I was very pleased to have the opportunity to reflect on these issues. 

What is structured self-reflection?

  • Reflective — Your evidence must be presented in a way that is reflective rather than purely descriptive. For example, you may wish to structure your account by stating not only what your experience has been, but also what is the significance of the experience to you and your supervisory practice, and what you have changed as a result. 
  • Personal — The evidence you provide must be personal to you. It is your practice that you are reflecting upon, not your role in your school or department or institution.
  • Recent — The evidence you provide must relate to your recent experience, usually defined as being within the previous five years.
  • Example-based — For each of the criteria, you must provide evidence in the form of one or more examples derived from your practice.
  • Scholarly — Your evidence should be supported by references to the academic literature on supervisory practice.
  • Systematic — Reviewers are looking for a consistent approach to supervision throughout your account.

You should aim at an overall length of approximately 5,000 words (Full) or 2,500 (Associate).

Further guidance

See examples of structured self-reflection 

Look at fictional examples to help you think through your own practice 
Find out more
Visit the main UK Council for Graduate Education website