Action Plan in response to 2019 ISSE Postgraduate Research Survey

School of Law

Method  Tables relating to the different indicators have been extracted from the ISSE report and presented separately.  The SoL average for each indicator is compared with the overall University average.  Figures for 2019 and 2018 are provided for the purposes of cross-comparison.  For the 2019 figures, the SoL figures are highlighted whenever they are 5 or 10% points above or below the University average.  The key is as follows:

Red: ˃10% BELOW University average

Yellow: ˃ 5% BELOW University average

Purple: ˃ 10% ABOVE University average

Blue: ˃ 5% ABOVE University average

Only metrics that indicate that the SoL is 5% points or more below the University average are actioned in this report.

Research Infrastructure and Facilities

 

2019

2018

Research Infrastructure and Facilities

NUIG

SoL

NUIG

SoL

I have a suitable working space

81.3%

94.7%

84.7%

85.0%

There is adequate provision of computing resources/facilities

69.3%

61.1%

72.9%

52.6%

There is adequate provision of library services

82.1%

88.9%

80.2%

63.2%

I have access to the specialist resources and facilities that I need

70.1%

76.5%

71.9%

73.7%


Overall, there is a high level of satisfaction with the research infrastructure and facilities, owing perhaps to more accommodation in the Hardiman Building.  There is a below average (albeit improved from last year) percentage for computing resources/ facilities.  Whether or not a research student is provided with these facilities is a function of the terms of their scholarship (if any) and whether the supervisor has a research account that can pay for such resources.  Accordingly, this is deemed not to be a priority.

Action: No specific action required

Supervision

 

2019

2018

Supervision

NUIG

SoL

NUIG

SoL

My supervisor(s) provides the appropriate level of support for my research

80.2%

73.7%

80.2%

70.0%

I have regular contact with my supervisor(s), appropriate for my needs

83.1%

78.9%

83.1%

63.2%

My supervisor(s) provides feedback that helps me to direct my research activities

81.3%

68.4%

81.3%

78.9%

My supervisor(s) help me to identify my training and development needs as a researcher

69.2%

63.2%

69.9%

57.9%

 The SoL scored below average on all indicators relating to supervision and is more than 10% below the University average when it comes to receiving feedback that helps students to direct their research activities.  What this signals, in the SoL, is the need for better training for staff on postgraduate supervision, especially at the PhD level.  This training has been offered several times the uptake has been low.  Therefore a different approach is warranted.

Action:

  • Develop series of short videos for PhD supervisors in the CBPPL to include:
    • How to set reasonable expectations with students about support and feedback
    • How to assist students in identifying training and development needs and drafting a personal development/training/career plan (VDGS, Adrian Larkin)
    • Include a section on setting expectations with supervisors in the PhD induction (VDGS)
    • Encourage/incentivise all colleagues undertaking PhD supervision to engage with Graduate Studies supervisor workshops (HoS, Directors of ICHR and CDLP)

Research Culture

 

2019

2018

Research Culture

NUIG

SoL

NUIG

SoL

My department provides access to a relevant seminar programme

70.6%

84.2%

70.9%

78.9%

The research ambience in my department stimulates my work

63.3%

72.2%

64.1%

55.6%

I have frequent opportunities to discuss my research with other research students

63.8%

63.2%

64.2%

50.0%

I have opportunities to become involved in the wider research community, beyond my department

56.1%

63.2%

58.9%

33.3%

 All measures relating to research culture are up significantly on 2018 and the SoL scored more than 10% points above the University average on providing access to relevant seminar programmes. Within the SoL, there is a number of opportunities for PhD students to present their work, participate in conferences and engage with other research students. 

Action: No specific action required.

Progress and Assessment

 

2019

2018

Progress and Assessment

NUIG

SoL

NUIG

SoL

I received an appropriate induction / orientation to my research degree programme

69.8%

73.7%

68.6%

42.1%

I understand the requirements and deadlines for formal monitoring of my progress

82.2%

89.5%

82.4%

72.2%

I understand the required standard for my thesis

72.4%

94.7%

76.8%

66.7%

The final assessment procedures for my research degree are clear to me

71.6%

94.7%

73.3%

72.2%

 All indicators relating to Progress and Assessment in the SoL are above or significantly above the University average and also up on last year.

Action: No specific action required.

Development Opportunities

 

2019

2018

Development Opportunities

NUIG

SoL

NUIG

SoL

Agreeing a personal training or development plan

39.3%

31.6%

41.2%

38.9%

Receiving training to develop my research skills

72.9%

84.2%

76.0%

83.3%

Receiving training to develop my other transferable skills

54.5%

68.4%

54.9%

61.1%

Receiving advice on career options

35.0%

10.5%

35.5%

16.7%

Taking part in a placement or internship

23.0%

15.8%

23.2%

22.2%

Attending an academic research conference

82.3%

94.7%

83.7%

88.9%

Presenting a paper or poster at an academic research conference

76.7%

89.5%

74.8%

89.5%

Submitting a paper for publication in an academic journal or book

53.4%

63.2%

53.5%

44.4%

Communicating your research to a non-academic audience

47.4%

33.3%

44.3%

57.9%

Receiving training in entrepreneurship and innovation

25.2%

21.1%

23.7%

22.2%

Putting training in entrepreneurship and innovation into practice e.g. submitting an invention disclosure or filing a patent appl.

10.3%

5.3%

7.7%

11.1%

Working as part of a team

71.6%

57.9%

72.7%

72.2%

Working collaboratively with industry

24.9%

5.3%

23.4%

5.9%

Working collaboratively with a civil society organisation or public organisation

23.6%

36.8%

26.5%

55.6%

Spending time abroad as part of your research degree

25%

42.1%

25.1%

44.4%

Taught (or demonstrated) at your institution during your research degree programme

76%

63.2%

78.2%

63.2%

The teaching / demonstration you delivered enhanced your overall research experience

58.3%

66.7%

59.0%

76.9%

You were given appropriate support and guidance for your teaching / demonstration

47.1%

46.2%

43.9%

38.5%

 Students are only moderately satisfied with the development opportunities afforded to them during their PhD programme.  Notably, the SoL scored over 10% points above the University average on seven indicators and over 5% points above the University average on one indicator.  However, students report below average levels of satisfaction with: agreeing a personal development or training plan; taking part in an internship or placement; and putting training in entrepreneurship and innovation into practice.  The first of these can be remedied but the final two would not be usual in legal research at the PhD level.  Of greater concern still is the fact that the SoL is more than 10% points below the University average on: receiving advice on career options; communicating your research to a non-academic audience; working as part of a team; working collaboratively with industry; and teaching at your institution during your research degree.  With the exception of working collaboratively with industry, which tends not to be relevant to the legal field, the other indicators deserve attention.

Action:

  • Develop series of short videos for PhD supervisors in the CBPPL to include one on how to assist students in identifying training and development needs and drafting a personal development/training/career plan (VDGS, Adrian Larkin)
  • Liaise with Researcher Development Centre to explore joint initiatives and/or participation of CBPPL students in the Centre’s activities (VDGS)
  • Send questionnaire to all PhD students in the SoL on what they are teaching/have taught to date (PhD Director). Devise plan to remedy gaps (PhD Director, HoS, Directors of ICHR and CDLP)

Research Skills

 

2019

2018

Research Skills

NUIG

SoL

NUIG

SoL

My skills in applying appropriate research methodologies, tools and techniques have developed during my programme

86.9%

66.7%

88.5%

73.7%

My skills in critically analysing and evaluating findings and results have developed during my programme

87.6%

72.2%

88.0%

73.7%

My confidence to be creative or innovative has developed during my programme

71.5%

72.2%

72.0%

73.7%

My understanding of research integrity (e.g. rigour, ethics, transparency, attributing the contribution of others) has developed during my programme

85.2%

70.6%

82.2%

73.7%

 The SoL scored over 10% points below the University average on three of the four metrics related to research skills.  These figures may be reflective of the discipline as research and methods training for law lags behind other disciplines.  It is also the case that law students may not understand the ethical implications of their research.  Some of these research skills have been developed as part of the PhD seminar series but there is clearly more to be done.

Action:

  • Include a seminar on legal research methodologies in the PhD seminar series (VDGS)
  • A seminar on research integrity was provided in Semester 1 as part of the PhD seminar series.  Repeat this next year (VDGS)

Personal Outlook

 

2019

2018

Personal Outlook

NUIG

SoL

NUIG

SoL

I am satisfied with my life nowadays

76.5%

84.2%

N/A

N/A

I am satisfied with life within my institution

70.1%

68.4%

 

 

I am satisifed with my work-life balance

57.3%

42.1%

 

 

There is someone in my institution I can talk to about my day-to-day problems

58.8%

47.4%

 

 

I feel that my research degree programme is worthwhile

77.7%

84.2%

 

 

 The picture under the ‘Personal Outlook’ indicator is mixed.  The SoL scored more than 5% points above the University average on two of the metrics related to personal outlook but, conversely, scored more than 10% points below average on the issue of work-life balance and having someone in the institution to talk to about day-to-day problems.

Action:

  • Seek feedback through the PhD reps group (PhD Director, VDGS)
  • Develop series of short videos for PhD supervisors in the CBPPL to include one on how to broach work-life balance with students and help them to develop a support network to deal with day-to-day problems (VDGS, Adrian Larkin)

 Other Transferrable Skills

 

2019

2018

Other Transferrable Skills

NUIG

SoL

NUIG

SoL

My ability to manage projects has developed during my programme

81.7%

61.1%

77.8%

52.6%

My ability to communicate information effectively to diverse audiences has developed during my programme

79.7%

63.2%

78.3%

68.4%

I have developed contacts or professional networks during my programme

73.8%

73.7%

71.4%

68.4%

I have increasingly managed my own professional development during my programme

78.9%

72.2%

79.0%

73.7%

 The SoL scored below, and in some cases, significantly below average under the heading of ‘Other Transferrable Skills’.  How students in the SoL understood the question related to project management needs to be examined.  As for the development of communication skills as an overall graduate attribute, the figure suggests that those from the SoL are not given (or aware of) opportunities to engage in the public sphere that would allow them to develop communication skills for both a disciplinary and general audience.  These opportunities do exist, not just within law (conferences and PhD forums) but outside but clearly that link is not being made.

Action:

  • Develop series of short videos for PhD supervisors in the CBPPL to include one on how to assist students in identifying training and development needs and drafting a personal development/training/career plan (VDGS, Adrian Larkin)
  • Liaise with Researcher Development Centre to explore joint initiatives and/or participation of CBPPL students in the Centre’s activities (VDGS)

Responsibilities and Supports

 

2019

2018

Responsibilities and Supports

NUIG

SoL

NUIG

SoL

I understand my responsibilities as a research degree student

91.6%

94.7%

90.5%

78.9%

I am aware of my supervisor(s)' responsibilities towards me as a research degree student

84.8%

84.2%

84.8%

68.4%

Other than my supervisor(s), I know who to approach if I am concerned about any academic aspect of my research degree programme

73.1%

63.2%

71.0%

63.2%

How aware are you of the various student supports available? (Recreation, healthcare, counselling, etc)

 

 

 

 

Very little

12.6% 

21.1%

15.7%

21.1%

Some

43.9%

31.6%

41.7%

52.6%

Quite a bit

30.6%

42.1%

32.7%

15.8%

Very much

12.9%

5.3%

10.0%

10.5%

My institution values and responds to feedback from research degree students

45.0%

37.5%

45.9%

47.4%

 The SoL scored in the average range for most metrics related to ‘Responsibilities and Supports’ with the exception of knowing who to approach if the student is concerned about any academic aspect of the research degree programme (more than 10% points below the University average) and the perception that the institution values and responds to feedback from research degree students (more than 5% below the University average).

Actions:

  • Address the respective roles of the following at induction: the supervisor, the GRC, the PhD Director, the VDGS (VDGS)
  • Organise a meeting with the PhD students in the SoL to feed back this action plan to them (PhD Director, VDGS)

Overall Experience

 

2019

2018

Overall Experience

NUIG

SoL

NUIG

SoL

How would you evaluate your entire research experience at this institution?

74.9%

68.4%

77.0%

57.9%

I am confident that I will complete my research degree programme within my institutions expected timescale

71.7%

66.7%

69.3%

47.4%

 The overall experience of research students in the SoL is more than 5% points below the University average on both metrics related to overall experience, although both show a greater than 10% improvement on last year. 

Action:  All the above actions.