Postgraduate Research Essentials: research environment

Updated on 8 November 2023

Learn more about researcher development opportunities, research integrity and the ethics approval process, and what happens if you are involved in a misconduct case

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Postgraduate Research Essentials guidance

Researcher development

As a valued member of our research and innovation community, there is a strong emphasis at Dundee on nurturing your professional development. There will be many opportunities for learning new skills and strengthening your existing ones. This will be an integral core component of your work as a postgraduate researcher, equipping you for your current research and the diverse career paths available to you.

All postgraduate researchers are strongly encouraged to take up to 80 hours of researcher development activities per year and to make themselves familiar with our Researcher Development Policy, our Individual Training Needs assessment form and the Vitae Researcher Development Framework. You are also encouraged to participate widely in the broader research environment, including research seminars in your discipline and School, University-level events, and disciplinary networks both within and beyond the University.

There are two main types of training opportunities:

Core training

These are the skills you need to undertake your research project, for example research design, quantitative and qualitative research methods, data management and analysis, research integrity, discipline-specific skills etc. Some of these skills will be general research methods and some will be specific to your own discipline or project. Your School will be able to advise you of opportunities within the School and in subject-specific external bodies.

Transferable skills training

Sometimes called ‘generic skills’ or ‘soft skills’, this refers to training that supports your wider development as a researcher, including IT skills, writing, giving presentations, communication, leadership, time management, resilience and career/employability skills. There are many providers offering transferable skills training and resources, and the Doctoral Academy can help you to find suitable resources.

At the beginning of your research degree, you and your supervisor will complete an initial training needs assessment to identify which skills you will need to develop and how you should receive the training. You should make sure you are aware of which courses are compulsory for your degree programme and if there are any training requirements from your funding body.

Your training needs and participation will also be reviewed regularly by your Thesis Monitoring Committee.

Research integrity

The University of Dundee is committed to the Concordat to Support Research Integrity, which provides a national framework for good research conduct and its governance.

As part of your mandatory training, you will complete the University of Dundee’s online Research Integrity course, accessible through MyDundee. You must pass the course (by scoring at least 80% in all six modules) within three months of starting your research degree; completing the Research Integrity course is a condition of passing your Upgrade Review. You can return to the course materials at any time during your research degree.

Although your supervisor will provide advice on good research practice, each School has research integrity contacts whom you can approach with specific questions about research integrity. The Research Integrity Leads and Advisors offer impartial advice on research integrity matters, and you can contact them with any issues that concern you or if you are considering making an allegation of research misconduct.

Ethics approval process

All research projects involving human participation and/or security-sensitive research must have appropriate ethical approval. Before your research begins, it is your responsibility to ensure that you:

  • understand and adhere to all applicable ethics policies and procedures, including those belonging to any non-University bodies connected to your research (e.g. Tayside Medical Sciences Centre, NHS etc);
  • apply for and gain full ethical approval to conduct all aspects of your research;
  • meet all other preconditions for carrying out your research, e.g. obtaining membership of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme if you are working with children and/or protected adults in Scotland.

For guidance on whether your project requires ethics approval and for further information and resources on research ethics, see the research ethics page. This is part of the Research Governance and Policy Handbook, a series of guidance documents to assist you with finding the correct policy and governance procedures to ensure the proper conduct of proposed research, which you should read in full when planning your research. The Research Policy Roadmap is a useful overview of issues that you may need to consider when planning a research project.

All ethical approval enquiries and applications should go to your School’s PGR Office in the first instance.

Academic/research misconduct

Misconduct is a very serious matter. You must ensure that you are fully aware of the types of activity that would be considered academic misconduct or research misconduct, and what the procedures and penalties are when a member of the University is suspected of committing a misconduct offence.

Misconduct includes - but is not limited to - falsification of data, unacknowledged appropriation of the work of others (including plagiarism), attempting to improperly influence an examiner, and conduct which deviates from accepted ethical standards in research.

Please read the following policies and resources on misconduct:

Pure and the Discovery Research Portal

Pure and the Discovery Research Portal are for promotion and dissemination of your research to increase visibility and reach.

Pure is the software that underpins the University’s institutional repository, the Discovery Research Portal. Information entered into Pure appears on Discovery, allowing staff and students who undertake research to create a personalised Discovery Profile.

Types of information that can be added include:

  • A biography and photograph.
  • Links to external information and IDs such as ORCiD, social media, and project webpages.
  • Research Outputs such as articles, conference papers, digital/visual products, books and chapters.
  • Activities, such as presenting at a conference, public engagement activities, and roles that are classed as measures of professional esteem, such as editorial roles or committee membership.
  • Press and Media information
  • Information about prizes you have received
  • Datasets

It is also mandatory that the final version of your thesis is deposited in Discovery via Pure.

Using Discovery to promote your research is worthwhile:

  • It’s advertising space for you and your research, supported by University branding, that includes you as part of the wider research community.
  • LLC Research Services may already have added content for you, especially if you’ve authored articles and other text-based outputs. Activating your profile will pull all this information into one place.
  • You can use the content added in Pure to maintain a CV.
  • Discovery is harvested by Google, making your research and activities easier to find.
  • The system is integrated with ORCiD.
  • You have control over the content and can add to it and amend it whenever you need to.

More information can be found on the Library and Learning Centre’s Discovery page. For additional support contact


Doctoral Academy