Graduate School Handbook Part 9 – Registration of the research project (RD1)

Information about mandatory research degree project registration (RD1).

Purpose of this progress milestone

  • To demonstrate that the project proposed, including the methodology which will be used,  the research governance and the supervision arrangements that are in place are appropriate and viable for study at Doctoral/MPhil level.
  • Professional Doctorate awards may be subject to specific requirements as detailed in the Programme Specification.
  • PGRs must gain RD1 approval from the Faculty Research Degrees Committee (FRDC) to be able to continue with their research degree.

Regulations about research project registration

PGR9.1 Confirmation of project registration (RD1)

PGR9.1.1R Within 3 months for full-time and 6 months for part-time of initial registration, all PGRs must submit their project registration (RD1) for review and approval by the FRDC.

PGR9.1.2R The RD1 to be submitted for consideration and confirmation should include:

  1. a definition of the research project title, the proposed research methodology, and a concise summary of the research literature;
  2. supervision arrangements;
  3. a detailed schedule of work;
  4. an outline of proposed research skills development, training plan and module selection.

In addition, and where applicable to the project:

  1. an indication of ethical approval application;
  2. documentary evidence of a collaborative agreement with an external funder, identifying ownership of research data and/or Intellectual Property contract (IP);
  3. An application for the restriction of access to the final published thesis or critical commentary where this is deemed necessary (see also Part 10 Research Governance).

PGR9.1.3R Consideration of the RD1 proposal by the FRDC has two possible outcomes:

  • Satisfactory – continue registration, or
  • Unsatisfactory – refer for resubmission.

PGRs will have one opportunity to rework and resubmit their RD1 proposal.

PGR9.1.4R The resubmission deadline is normally 4 weeks for full-time PGRs and 6 weeks for part-time PGRs from the date of notification. At resubmission stage, the only outcomes available are:

  • Satisfactory – continue registration, or
  • Fail – registration withdrawn.

There will be no further opportunity for resubmission.

PGR9.1.5R The RD1 must be satisfactory in order to continue on the award and advance to the Progression Exam. Failure at this stage will result in the PGR’s withdrawal from the award by the Research Degrees Award Board (RDAB).

PGR 9.2 Major changes to the research project

PGR9.2.1R Any fundamental or major change to either the overall aims or methodology of the research project requires the approval of the Faculty Research Degrees Committee.

Explanatory note: examples of acceptable reasons for change include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • A change in the PGR’s employment;
  • Lack of successful development of the project;
  • A change to a collaborative agreement or contract, including funding.

Procedures for project registration (RD1)

PGR9.3 Responsibilities of the Postgraduate Researcher

  • To submit the RD1 to the Graduate School Office by the deadline indicated in the written terms and conditions of their award registration;
  • To make an application for ethical approval with guidance from the Director of Studies, where the nature of the project requires this.

PGR9.4 Responsibilities of the Director of Studies

  • To work closely with the PGR in preparation for the submission of the RD1 and provide guidance on the development of a detailed, well defined project specification and associated schedule of work and reading;
  • To ensure that the project proposed is:
    • Within the PGR’s capabilities and interests;
    • Within the expertise of the supervisory team;
    • Practical in terms of available resources;
    • Appropriate in terms of the requirements of the University’s Code of Good Research Conduct and other governance/policy requirements (e.g. IP requirements;
    • Realistic in terms of completion within the permitted registration period;
  • To ensure that any ethical approval required has been applied for and obtained before the research begins;
  • To conduct a training needs analysis with the PGR and develop a training plan which will develop the PGR’s knowledge and skills to be an effective researcher, and will meet the accredited training requirements and any other requirements for the award. This may also include informal or non-assessed elements as appropriate;
  • To advise the PGR on the completion of any further work required by the FRDC in the case of a resubmission outcome, and the incorporation of suggestions for improving the project.

PGR9.5 Responsibilities of the Faculty Research Degrees Committee

  • To consider and confirm approval of the project registration;
  • To provide feedback on the submission and highlight any additional action to the PGR and/or supervisory team;
  • To consider personal circumstances submitted in relation to the RD1 process and requests for extensions to the deadlines and/or suspension of registration as appropriate;
  • In the case of a resubmission outcome, to set a maximum deadline for resubmitted work (up to 4 weeks FT, 6 weeks PT);
  • FRDCs may attach conditions to a ‘Satisfactory’ outcome decision where it has concern about a proposed project plan;
  • The FRDC will communicate the outcome decision and provide feedback to the PGR and Director of Studies in writing (by email from Graduate School on behalf of the Chair). The letter will include confirmation of the module selection, the full supervisory team and the deadlines of all future progression milestones;
  • Where the RD1 is found to be unsatisfactory at resubmission the FRDC will make a recommendation to the Research Degrees Award Board (RDAB) for the PGR’s registration to be withdrawn. This will normally be executed by Chair’s Action as soon as possible.

Further information and guidance

How long should the RD1 be?

  • There is an overall word limit of 3,500 words across specific sub-sections, from the research title to the draft timetable.
  • You should aim to be detailed but concise and ensure that you state clearly what research question or issue your project is going to address and how you plan to address it (i.e. what are you going to do, and your methodology - how are you going to do it).
  • The RD1 is a detailed research proposal; it is not a mini-thesis in its own right.
  • Do include a summary of existing research literature but this must be concise.
  • Do explain how you intend to develop or challenge the existing research thinking in the field, but do not attempt to pad out your proposal with unnecessarily detailed descriptions of other peoples research.
  • Further guidance about the required format and content of the proposal is given in the RD1 form itself.

Will my project require ethical approval?

  • If your research will involve human participants, their tissue or data in any way then you will need ethical approval by the University's Research Ethics Committee (UREC) or one of its Faculty Research Ethics Committees (FRECs) in accordance with the operating procedures set out in chapter 6.3 of the Code of Good Research Conduct.
  • This will be the case even if you plan to use anonymous questionnaires or to incorporate anonymised participant data in your research.
  • Research which involves NHS or Social Care organisations, or involves human tissues, may also require review by an NHS REC or the Social Care REC.
  • You should ask your Director of Studies for advice and guidance about applying for ethical approval. You can also find further information on the University’s research governance and research ethics web pages.

I have been told that I cannot apply for ‘Accredited Leaning’ for all 60 module credits. Why?

  • It is unlikely that the FRDC will permit the full accredited training requirement to be met through the accredited learning process (AL).
  • Postgraduate researcher training is designed to enable PGRs to develop effective and independent researcher skills and attributes in line with the requirements of the doctoral qualifications descriptor and at a more advanced doctoral level than required for a Masters qualification.

Module choices are considered by the FRDC depending on the specific needs of the PGR. The FRDC may recommend that PGRs take the Research in Contemporary Context module which requires the PGR to take a reflective approach to the application their own research.
(See also Part 6 of the handbook which has further information about the RCC module and how to access details of other UWE modules.)

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