The Research Councils play an important role in setting standards and identifying best practice in research training.
This document sets out a joint statement of the skills that doctoral research students funded by the Research Councils would be expected to develop during their research training. These skills may be present on commencement, explicitly taught, or developed during the course of the research. It is expected that different mechanisms will be used to support learning as appropriate, including self-direction, supervisor support and mentoring, departmental support, workshops, conferences, elective training courses, formally assessed courses and informal opportunities.
The Research Councils would also want to re-emphasise their belief that training in research skills and techniques is the key element in the development of a research student, and that PhD students are expected to make a substantial, original contribution to knowledge in their area, normally leading to published work. The development of wider employment-related skills should not detract from that core objective.
The purpose of this statement is to give a common view of the skills and experience of a typical research student thereby providing universities with a clear and consistent message aimed at helping them to ensure that all research training was of the highest standard, across all disciplines. It is not the intention of this document to provide assessment criteria for research training.
It is expected that each Council will have additional requirements specific to their field of interest and will continue to have their own measures for the evaluation of research training within institutions.
One of STFC's major contributions to the national economy is its ability to attract the brightest and most creative of students and to help them acquire the skills and knowledge (for example, in computing, analysis, electronics, and project management) needed for a career in research, industry, commerce or a range of other high-skill sectors.
STFC-funded research students are trained to a very high standard and are therefore highly employable. Computer and business services are the largest private sector recruiters, while surveys of the City's requirements for postgraduate skills have shown that physics specialists are the most highly prized.