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A portfolio on research degree supervision - the evidence section

The contents of the portfolio, as shown on the portfolio structure page in Table 1 are presented in an order useful for a reader or assessor. However from your point of view, having to produce the portfolio, they are most easily understood out of order, starting with Section 9.

This page considers Section 9, ie the evidence could be put into the portfolio.

Itemised evidence in support of the claims (Section 9 of Table 1)

The evidence should consists of examples of your work as a research degree supervisor* or a potential research degree supervisor, and there is a whole variety of documentation that could be used to show this.

Table 2 gives some examples, but they are by no means comprehensive, and you may find alternatives that better suit your particular claims. Your creativity about what to use and why should form a substantial part of the assessment because it will show personal reflection.

Table 2: Examples of evidence to support a claim for competence/excellence
  • Short cv showing your expertise in relating to the work of your student(s)
  • Institutional form or note of some sort showing the division of duties among your supervisory team and how the team interrelates.
  • Institutional forms or notes of some sort recording the progress of your student(s)
  • Records of attendance of your student(s) at supervisions
  • Records of supervisions and ensuing action plans (often created by your student(s)
  • Email correspondence with your student(s) where this relates to your supervision
  • Documents demonstrating input to presentations
  • Email correspondence with course, module or programme tutors
  • Paperwork relating to committee participation
  • Solicited references to be used sparingly
  • Notes of observations from formalised shadowing or informal observation of more experienced supervisors
  • Notes of recollections or short quotations from informal or formal question and answer sessions with other supervisors, staff and/or students
  • Short (no more than a couple of minutes) video or audio clips
  • Extracts from literature.

Make sure to keep every piece of documentation or electronic communication associated with your supervision because it can almost certainly be useful in some way. Even the most mundane email may be useable at some stage to support one claim or another.

If you feel that you genuinely have a claim in a particular area and that someone else could confirm it, there is nothing to stop you asking them to write a reference for you to that effect but do use this sparingly.

Each piece of evidence needs to be itemised, i.e. collated according to a reference code of some sort so that it can readily be located by readers and assessors. Exceptions are extracts from the literature which fit naturally into the arguments in the Claims of section 7.

Where the evidence is hard copy, the reference code is best written at the top right-hand corner of each item, so it can be spotted easily on flipping through.

Where the evidence is electronic, the reference code for each piece of evidence can simply be a file-name. While the portfolio is under development - and possibly once it is finalised - choose descriptive file names, so that their contents can be recognised at a glance, e.g. 'feedback-ProfX'. In due course, once the portfolio is complete, the files should also be numbered in the order in which a reader will want to access them, e.g. '06-feedback-ProfX'.

© Pat Cryer


* 'Supervisor' is a shorthand for 'research degree supervisor', 'advisor' or 'tutor', and applies to varying extents for all research degrees: PhD, DPhil. MPhil, Prof Doc and even undergraduate and masters' projects. In some countries, notably the USA, a 'supervisor' is known as an 'advisor'.