First steps

Tips for the initial actions you need to take in the early stages of your PhD, and getting the support you need from your Supervisor and School.

Actions you need to take in the early stages of your PhD.

Setting milestones

These are the sorts of actions you will need to consider taking in your first year .

Getting started:

  • attend your school and college level induction
  • meet other researchers in your area
  • find out about local research seminar series, and research student societies / clubs
  • plan family, work or other commitments, and how your research will fit around this
  • plan what seminars and conferences you may need to go to
  • ensure you read and understand the appropriate guidance notes and policies (see link below)

Your supervisor:

  • set a meeting schedule with your supervisor(s)
  • agree a supervision process with your supervisor(s)

Your research:

  • write a research plan
  • start/complete literature review
  • define methodology
  • begin data collection
  • complete your first year report

Your development:

Remember to add your own additional actions that relate to your own personal circumstances and project

Support from your Supervisor

Your supervisor is usually with you throughout your PhD. It is vital that you meet with them early as they will be your first point of contact on any academic and research matters.

In the first weeks discuss:

  • your project and research methods you might use
  • topics, skills or techniques you might need to learn
  • equipment you might need to build or access
  • research ethics and intellectual property issues including keeping research records

It's also good to discuss generally how you are settling in and any concerns or difficulties you might have.

Support from your School (and the University)

Your School will be your academic home for the next few years. They are there to support your throughout your PhD and manage the administrative aspects of your doctoral programme.

It's important to attend your School's induction session for new postgraduates as it will include information about:

  • the nature of postgraduate research in your field
  • the facilities available within the School
  • health and safety issues
  • the School programme of graduate seminars and training courses

The responsibilities of the University and Graduate Schools to PhD students are set out in the Code of Practice for Supervisors and Research Students: