Training Needs Analysis

First year doctoral researcher

We are delighted to welcome you to The University of Sheffield's Doctoral Development Programme. As a doctoral student you are required to engage with this programme. You are required to annually assess your current and future skills development needs. The Training Needs Analysis (TNA) process helps you to do this.

Prior to, or immediately after your arrival, you will need to complete your first year’s Training Needs Analysis, this is an assessment of your current skills and a training plan for the year ahead. As part of your first supervisory meeting you should discuss your TNA with your supervisor, adjust it accordingly and decide upon the range of training or other development activities that you need to undertake.

During your research, it is important to:

Identify gaps in skills and knowledge;
Identify opportunities to develop experience;
Set goals and targets and get involved;
Record what you did, how you did it, skills and knowledge used and the final result;
Review progress regularly and use your supervisory meetings to cover professional development.

meeting with supervisor

Meeting with your Supervisor

Arrange a meeting with your supervisory team as soon as possible, after you have officially registered with the University. Aside from the discussions of your project, you will also review your draft TNA, make any modifications as necessary and talk through the purpose and requirements of the DDP. You and your supervisory team will work together to formulate your development plan at the first supervisory meeting. Your supervisor(s) will help you choose appropriate training/modules to study, from a wide range on offer within the University. You should refer back to the development plan throughout your period of research in order to reflect on skills already acquired and those that you have to develop.

What is a development plan?

“Personal Development Planning can be defined as a process that helps you to think about your own learning, performance and/or achievements and to plan for your personal, educational and career development.” The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA)

The development plan will allow you to:

  • gain a new perspective on your research programme and ideas about your future career;
  • monitor achievements throughout your research degree;
  • recognise future goals and the steps required to achieve them;
  • assist in illustrating your skills and experience to prospective employers in the form of a comprehensive e-Portfolio.

Upon completion of the development plan, you should have:

  • gained clearer knowledge of progress made during your research studies;
  • more awareness of your strengths and weaknesses;
  • a detailed plan of your future aims and steps necessary to achieve them.

TNA Forms

TNA Guidance

Doctoral researchers are encouraged to reflect on training and development activity throughout their doctoral studies. You may find it useful to look at the full descriptors for the RDF and use this to prioritise your own areas of development. You can also find further information from the University’s SkillBuild site.

Completed TNA Examples

Compulsory Modules

All new doctoral researchers will automatically get registered on the appropriate compulsory and research ethics modules.

Optional Modules

The University offers a range of optional training and development opportunities which can be found HERE.

DDP Summary Forms

DDP Summary Form – to be completed in the Final Year of research once all DDP training has been completed.

Continuing doctoral researcher

We encourage you to think actively about your development needs: it is vital to revisit your TNA and agree your new training needs with your supervisory team at least once a year.

TNA Forms

TNA Guidance

Doctoral researchers are encouraged to reflect on training and development activity throughout their doctoral studies. You may find it useful to look at the full descriptors for the RDF and use this to prioritise your own areas of development. You can also find further information from the University’s SkillBuild site.

Completed TNA Examples

Compulsory Modules

All new doctoral researchers will automatically get registered on the appropriate compulsory and research ethics modules.

Optional Modules

The University offers a range of optional training and development opportunities which can be found HERE.

DDP Summary Forms

DDP Summary Form – to be completed in the Final Year of research once all DDP training has been completed.

Researcher Development Framework (RDF)

Successful and timely completion of your research degree will depend on developing a mixture of subject-specific skills, intellectual skills, such as critical thinking, and more generic skills, like communication and enterprise. Many of these skills will also be important in your future life, whatever career choices you make.

The TNA form uses Vitae’s Researcher Development Framework (RDF) to help you think about your current skills, pinpoint gaps in your knowledge, and identify areas for future development. The RDF articulates the knowledge, behaviours and attitudes of researchers, from postgraduates to established academic leaders and is endorsed by Research Councils UK.

There are four sections to the form, based on the RDF domains (Knowledge and intellectual abilities, Personal effectiveness, Research governance and organisation and Engagement, influence and impact).

Use the sections to outline your development needs for the year in each area. You do not have to tick off each of the the skill descriptors in the RDF. Instead, focus on a few key areas each year. For example, in your first year you might want to focus more on developing critical analysis skills. Ensure you complete any core modules including Research Ethics and Integrity. In your final year, publishing might be more of a priority.

The form is most useful if used as part of a reflective conversation with your supervisory team. They will be able to advise on appropriate skills development activities and suggest areas of focus.