Reviews of progress and the seven Research Degree Graduate Qualities (RDGQs)



Resource aims

This resource aims to support HDR students and supervisors in completing section A of the Planning and Review of Progress Report in the minor and major reviews of progress, and section 4 of the Final Review of Progress. Section A asks students to list research training activities tied to Research Degree Graduate Qualities under the headings ‘Review of activities’ and ‘Plan of activities’ for a specific time period. Section 4 of the Final Review of progress asks students to document the key competencies linked to each of the seven Research Degree Graduate Qualities developed during the research degree.

Research training refers to all those activities that students undertake during their research degree that contribute to their development as researchers within their field of research. Research training includes but is not limited to:

  • supervision
  • independent research
  • participation in School seminars
  • participation in Divisional conferences and colloquiums
  • participation in local, national and international conferences
  • scholarly publication (conference proceedings, journal articles, book chapters and reviews)
  • participation in scholarly networks (discipline, professional, industry and peer based)
  • preparing funding applications
  • attending formal workshops, workshop series, and courses both face to face and online
  • teaching in the field of research.

Aims of planning, reviewing and documenting the RDGS in the Reviews of Progress

The review process aims to provide a mechanism to ensure that an agreed plan of activities is designed and completed to support a student’s research project. In a similar way to that used in other professional development planning, reviews of progress enable students, supervisors and research degree co-ordinators to judge what needs to be done to ensure the research is on track and that development needs are being met. They also allow everyone concerned to ensure that students will have developed the full range of RDGQs by the time they graduate.

Reviews of Progress also articulate, elaborate, and record demonstrable skills and achievements in the research degree. The Reviews of Progress therefore aim to prompt students to reflect upon, identify and articulate research skills and achievements in such a way as to be useful when applying for employment. They act as a useful aide memoire when a CV is being put together.

What to write in the RDGQ sections of reviews

As is the case for professional development plans and job applications, your reviews of progress should avoid making statements of belief or opinion, and instead detail measurable, observable and demonstrable quantities.

It may be helpful to think about measurable, observable and demonstrable quantities as falling into three categories:

  • activities,
  • achievements or outcomes,
  • acknowledgements and other forms of recognition from others.

Examples of how each of these achievements might be developed are listed below. These are the kinds of points that might be added in the planning sections of the bi-annual reviews and in The Final Review of Progress.

Descriptions of research and research-related activities:

  • supervision (list specific knowledge sharing or other planned activities undertaken with supervisors, their  purpose, the topics covered, and questions discussed)
  • information searches (briefly list major data bases searched and key words, appointments with subject librarians)
  • literature reviews (list disciplines, fields, themes reviewed)
  • research writing (list type of text: proposal, thesis chapter, publication, and draft: first, second, third)
  • ethics processes (list preparation of documents including protocols, information sheets, consent forms, letters, emails or other documentation inviting participants to the research)
  • developing research experiments, protocols, surveys, interview schedules (list assembly of equipment, development of protocols, communication undertaken to access protocols, running of experiments, follow up)
  • data gathering activities (briefly describe what was done, how many, and which participants)
  • data analysis (soft ware used, literature reviews undertaken, themes identified, data set analysed, time taken)
  • participation in research networks (who, when, where, what you did)
  • formal research education (list RESA and other workshops attended, online resources accessed, ongoing peer research activities)
  • publishing (full citation information)
  • conference and seminar attendance and presentations (full citation information)
  • teaching (subject content, relationship to research field)
  • project management (list activities, what, where, when).


  • meeting planned supervision goals
  • completed information searches
  • mastery of soft ware and information search processes
  • completed drafts of writing (note word lengths)
  • ethics clearance
  • completion of data gathering phases
  • completion of data analysis phases
  • entry into active research networks (list serves, collective emails, sharing papers with other scholars in the field)
  • publications (conference abstracts, proceedings papers, reports, journal articles, book chapters, reviews)
  • presentations (in the School, Division, at conferences or other universities, professional, industry or community settings)
  • commercialisation of research (contracts, patents)
  • winning scholarship or other funding
  • winning academic employment in the field
  • awards, prizes and formal commendations
  • conferral of degree.

Recognition or acknowledgement of achievement from others:

  • positive written comments (formally recorded in writing) from reviewers, editors, examiners, grant bodies, employers, industry partners, and/or professional stakeholders (including research proposal reviewers),
  • feedback about your knowledge of your subject area from students you have taught in your subject area (formally recorded in writing),
  • unsolicited invitations to attend or present at conferences, and professional or industry gatherings,
  • being listed in someone else’s acknowledgements.

When listing your activities, achievements and acknowledgements always provide accurate information for:

  • dates
  • places
  • names or titles/job descriptions of persons, journals, publishers, awards, grants, laboratories, and organisations
  • the nature of activities undertaken (what did you do, when, where, outcomes, documents developed, planning, reviews, any follow ups).

Keep a portfolio that contains the details of your activities, achievements, and acknowledgements, as well as copies of all reviews of progress, for recall of major and minor reviews, future reviews, and as a general record for employment purposes.

Developing and demonstrating specific graduate qualities

Some of the specific activities or achievements that can be related to each graduate quality are listed below. These may be used as a general guide for nominating specific graduate qualities next to planning activities and achievements, and for writing about the attainment of specific graduate qualities, or groups of graduate qualities in the Final Review of Progress. These are offered as exemplars and are not intended to exclude other forms of evidence to demonstrate your achievement of the RDGQs. It is also important to note that one piece of evidence might support your claim to having achieved more than one RDGQ. For example, a published paper might be cited against qualities one, two and three.

1. Has an understanding of current research based knowledge in the field, its methodologies for creating new knowledge, and can create, critique, and appraise new and significant knowledge

This quality refers to knowledge of your field of research and to your ability to develop, apply and disseminate the results of your understanding and your contribution to that field or fields of knowledge. This can be developed or demonstrated in any of the following:

  • Reviewing literature in the discipline/s and field/s of research,
  • Contributing to the field/s of research in the form of academic publications and presentations to peers in the field,
  • teaching activities related to your discipline/s and field/s of research,
  • any structured research training support activities undertaken in relation to the above.

Your knowledge of the field of research can also be demonstrated in:

  • conference, seminar, conference posters or other presentations in the field,
  • journal articles and other publications in the field,
  • comments about the quality of your work from other scholars in the field.

2.  Is prepared for lifelong learning in pursuit of ongoing personal development and excellence in research within and beyond a discipline or professional area

This quality refers to the skills and knowledge you have gained that will enable you to continue to improve your research skills and to pursue ongoing research in your field.

Your readiness to pursue excellence in research in the future may be developed and demonstrated in:

  • active ongoing networks with discipline and professional peers (both formal and informal),
  • emerging or ongoing research plans (publication plans including abstracts and target publishers, research collaborations, funding applications in train),
  • acquisition of research skills in the process of independent research and supervision,
  • support activities designed to achieve the above.

Research skills can be grouped around the knowledge and know-how you have attained around the following activities:

  • information retrieval and data processing
  • a specific research method
  • a specific form of data analysis
  • academic and research writing
  • ethics policies, procedures and practices
  • grant and funding applications (of which the research proposal is one form of preparation)
  • time management
  • project management
  • commercialisation of research
  • networking
  • supervising or inducting junior researchers
  • reporting research findings to the public.

3.  Is an effective problem solver, capable of applying logical, critical and creative thinking to a range of research problems

This quality refers to your ability to recognise researchable questions, and to propose novel solutions to them.

Your problem solving abilities are developed, and can be demonstrated in:

  • a recognised significant contribution to a field of scholarship (publication, presentation at a key conference, conferral of degree, expert opinion within peer review process),
  • knowledge of specific concepts, theories, methods, methodologies, and topic areas (described precisely and related to your research field),
  • support activities undertaken in relation to the above.

4. Can work both autonomously and collaboratively as a researcher within a particular discipline or professional area and within wider but related areas

This section refers to collaborative activities such as:

  • team research
  • group supervision
  • shared writing projects and publication
  • working with industry or community partners
  • teaching
  • refereeing
  • networking
  • participating in writing groups
  • participation in RESA.

Autonomous activities can be demonstrated in:

  • sole authored publications and/or presentations or joint publications or presentations where you are the lead or principal author,
  • successful completion of the research proposal, ethics protocol, and thesis,
  • effective management of time, resources, supervisors, and research partners,
  • support activities undertaken to support your accomplishment of the above.

5. Is committed to ethical action and social responsibility as a researcher in a discipline or professional area and as a leading citizen

Here you can describe any activities undertaken and assurances provided to ensure your research was conducted ethically. This can include both practical and procedural aspects of the research, as well as philosophical or conceptual questions addressed in the research process.

A commitment to ethical action and social responsibility is developed, and is demonstrable in:

  • methodological rigour,
  • processes for ensuring confidentiality and consent of research subjects,
  • processes for ensuring ethical research involving animals, biohazards, human tissue,
  • processes for ensuring secure data storage,
  • careful avoidance of unethical reporting and publishing practices (plagiarism, data fabrication and falsification, redundant publication, sending the same article to two or more journals, text recycling, copyright infringements, misleading ascriptions of authorship, acknowledging without consent),
  • subjecting research findings to peer review before making confirmed knowledge claims to the wider public,
  • making peer reviewed research findings accessible to the public (including online storage of research proposal and thesis, and preparation of reports for external organisations),
  • following up with research subjects when promised,
  • the choice and investigation of a research topic that aims to enhance ethical action and social responsibility,
  • reframing research problems and concepts to be as inclusive as possible,
  • scholarly exploration of, and contribution to wider social issues and values such as democracy, peace, tolerance, participation, equity,
  • support activities undertaken in relation to the above.

6. Communicates effectively as a researcher in a discipline or professional area and as a leading member of the community

The ability to communicate effectively as a researcher within the discipline/s, profession, and the wider community may be developed and demonstrated in:

  • oral presentation skills,
  • presentations to discipline and professional peers,
  • publications within discipline and professional fields,
  • presentations to the wider public,
  • engagement with the mass media (newspaper articles or radio and TV interviews),
  • the development of internet-based information or networking resources,
  • support activities undertaken to achieve the above.

7. Demonstrates international perspectives in research in a discipline or professional area and as a leading citizen

An ‘international perspective’ is demonstrated whenever researchers situate their subject matter within a specific context and consider the implications of their findings for those working in other contexts. An international perspective has to do with an awareness of the ways that location, and the perspectives, policies and practices tied to it, influence research. Regardless of whether your research field pertains to a variety of geographical or cultural contexts, or to a narrow field of practice (for example ‘Australian studies’), an international perspective can be demonstrated through:

  • an appreciation of the relationship, or the similarities and differences, between the research topic , context and professional area and its international counterparts (policy, practices, expectations, history, cultural values),
  • reference to literature published in international journals or by other international publications.

An international perspective can be developed and demonstrated in:

  • literature reviews,
  • field trips,
  • publications in international journals,
  • presentations in international conferences,
  • collaboration with scholars and research or industry partners in other countries,
  • explanations of the implications of geographical and cultural differences of the research.
Last modified: Wednesday, 22 May 2019, 11:45 AM