What is a six-monthly review?

The six month review process is designed to provide check in points throughout your PhD (between your formal progression assessments) to ensure that you are progressing in your PhD and also address any pastoral issues you might be facing. As of October 2022 we have created tailored forms for each stage of the PhD to focus on key issues you will face at each point. 

For full-time students, reviews will be required at 6, 18 and 30 months as a check-point between your annual progression exercises (APE). Part-time students will receive these forms at 6, 36 and 60 months of study and will also complete 'e-mail check in' reviews within their extended timelines. This is where we will request a brief update via e-mail from both student and supervisor on how things have been going in your project. The reviews will be sent to you by the PGR School Engagement Team and you should complete these within one month. We will get in touch with you when these are due via e-mail so it is important that you are regularly checking your university account. If unsure about your review timings, please do refer to our assessment timelines or e-mail the Engagement team to check with us directly.

You should treat the review process like you would expect to undertake in employment whereby you set goals and objectives and reflect on your achievement of these. This is also an opportunity to make sure that things are working well for you and the supervisory team so please do make use of the opportunity to raise any concerns you may have.

What are the outcomes of a six-monthly review?
The outcome of a six-monthly review is satisfactory or unsatisfactory in terms of the development of your research. 

Please note that it may be that you have raised a pastoral issue, but that you are still on track with your research at the point of completing the review. In these cases, you would have a satisfactory outcome noted but the Engagement team will usually contact you directly to make you aware of support services that the University offers and to make sure you have the right support in place more generally. We will also usually make your PGR School Coordinator (PGC) aware that we have done this. 

If you have raised other concerns (eg problems with office space) but are still on track with your research at the point of completing the review, a satisfactory outcome will be noted. However, we will make your PGC and School PGR administrator aware of these types of issues. If they are not addressed, you should note this at the next available opportunity and make it clear that you have raised the point previously. The Engagement team will then discuss this further with your School. 

What happens if I have an unsatisfactory outcome?
All the six-monthly review forms are considered by the Engagement team. If it is clear that the outcome returned from this is unsatisfactory, there are a number of steps which will be taken. You may also find it helpful to have a look at the flow chart we have produced for supervisors.

We want to make it clear that the review process is not designed to be punitive; rather, it is designed to help you keep on track with your research and to identify quickly any issue which may prevent you from doing this. 

The Engagement team will contact the PGC to make them aware that you have an unsatisfactory outcome. The PGC will be asked to arrange a meeting with you and your supervisor/supervisory team to see what actions can be taken to find a resolution to the issue raised. It is hoped that this will address the issue raised. 

If the issue is not resolved after meeting with the PGC, the PGC may consult further with the PGR School Officer (PGO), Head of School and/or Engagement team as felt appropriate. If further immediate action is required, you will be contacted by your PGC and/or the PGR School Engagement team. 

Your six-monthly review may be taken into account at your annual progression and may contribute to a final decision on the outcome of this exercise.  

What do I do if I don’t want to raise an issue on my review form?
Wherever possible, we encourage you to have open dialogue with your supervisor(s) but we do understand that it can be challenging to raise some issues. Our website has a full list of support services at the University which are available to you as a PGR. You are welcome to consult with these at any time. 

The review forms also contain information about who you can contact to discuss any concerns. You are also welcome to contact the Engagement team at pgrs-engagement@abdn.ac.uk directly if you would like to raise something outwith the usual six-month timeframe. 

Please try to address matters proactively rather than waiting until you receive an unsatisfactory outcome in your reviews and progression. It’s important that you feel supported as you undertake your research and know that there are lots of people you can contact if you feel you need help. 


428 Six-Monthly Reviews