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Independent working

Research Skills required by PhD students D7: Show initiative, work independently and be...

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9 March 2010

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By the time students complete a PhD, they should be able to answer ‘Yes’ to most of these questions.

  • Are you able to manage the basic, every-day organisation of your research without having to be nagged or reminded?
  • Can you resolve minor problems on your own?
  • Can you make autonomous decisions about the design and conduct of your research?
  • Do you know when to ask for specialist help?
  • Can you give an example of when you pro-actively sought specialist help, and reflect on the outcome?
  • Can you justify research decisions through reference to the literature or previous work?
  • Can you identify research situations in which you need detailed guidance?
  • Can you give examples of research decisions you have made independently?
  • Can you identify which decisions you need to make?
  • Can you identify which of those decisions you feel competent to make independently, and for which you need help?

Evidence of this skill

These are examples of documents you can collect. Each implies a piece or work, which may be a good way for you to develop this skill.

  • Your probation assessment.
  • Reflective notes on how you resolved a minor problem.
  • Records of every-day organisation (such as ordering equipment, sorting out expenses claims, negotiating access to a specialist library).
  • Record of getting specialist help, based on your own initiative).

This page is based upon material produced by The Open University’s research school to support doctoral students.

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