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About RSVP

The Next Generation Research SuperVision Project (RSVP) is a £4.6million, Research England funded project designed to transform the culture and practice of research supervision.


Working with 20 Universities (UK and international) and global businesses (including GSK, Unilever, BBC, the Royal Shakespeare Company, Royal Armouries) and with the support of all seven UKRI research councils (plus the Crick Institute and the Wellcome Trust) RSVP is believed to be the largest collaborative, cross-disciplinary, translational research project into doctoral education ever funded.


Over the next four years (2023-2027) our project will explore four key areas.

The role of team supervision

Working with industry partners to understand the role that ‘tertiary’ supervisors (non-HEI), and often ‘hidden’ supervisors (postdocs, technicians, researcher developers), play in supervisory teams. We seek to understand from whom doctoral candidates get their steer.

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Supervision practice in different disciplines and contexts

 Understanding from supervisors in HE and industry what constitutes effective supervision to develop and pilot continuing professional development (CPD) to support research supervisors in a range of disciplines.

Supervising different types of research degree

Developing support for supervisors of co-tutelle, part-time, distance/hybrid, by prior (and post) publication, portfolio and professional practice doctorates.

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Understanding and combating poor supervision practice

Exploring, with Deans and Directors of doctoral schools as well as funders/government policy makers, the scope and scale of what might be considered ‘poor’ supervision practice. We will develop policy guidelines to support consistency of practice and the postgraduate research experience. 

What will we do?

We will translate best practice in professional supervision to academic contexts. By working with and learning from academics, researcher developers, policy makers and industry partners to understand how they support staff through onboarding processes, mentoring and continuing professional development (CPD), we will translate, test and evaluate this practice in a variety of institutional contexts with 20 HEI partners.


The impact will be a positive culture change in the way in which doctoral supervision practice is conducted, recognised and rewarded.

Our aim is to widen and diversify the pool of confident, trained supervisors able to support an inclusive culture and the next generation of researchers. We will do this by:

  • Working with research institutions to pilot and test approaches to CPD

  • Working with industry to understand how they approach CPD

Our approach

We will focus on three key areas: scholarship, practice interventions, culture and policy change. Outputs produced for each area will be used to develop relevant frameworks, policies and materials to ensure effective approaches are embedded in institutions and produce sustainable, long-term culture change.

  • To get a better understanding of the current supervision CPD provision we will:

  • Collect and create baseline data about the volume, scale, and configuration of doctoral supervision in the UK.

  • Identify what constitutes poor, good and excellent supervision practice in different institutional contexts and disciplines and the factors that affect this.

  • Explore the value of team supervision and make clear the expectations of new, experienced, tertiary and ‘hidden’ supervisors. 

  • Identify what can be learnt from industry about how to effectively support the careers, skills and CPD of highly talented individuals.

  • Publish what we learn and share it with the sector to enable greater understanding.

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