UKCGE Piloting New Recognised Associate Supervisor Descriptor of the Good Supervisory Practice Framework

The UK Council for Graduate Education is piloting a new Recognised Associate Supervisor ” descriptor of the UKCGE’s Good Supervisory Practice Framework (GSPF). Read more about the new descriptor. 

UKCGE Piloting New Recognised Associate Supervisor Descriptor of the Good Supervisory Practice Framework

The UK Council for Graduate Education is piloting a new Recognised Associate Supervisor” descriptor of the UKCGE’s Good Supervisory Practice Framework (GSPF).

The descriptor, based on the sector-approved Good Supervisory Practice Framework, provides guidance and a route to recognition for those early in their supervisory careers and those with informal supervisory roles.

Authored by nationally recognised leaders in the field of researcher development Dr Kay Guccione, of Glasgow Caledonian University and Dr Elizabeth Adams, of the University of Glasgow, the new descriptor builds on the success of the existing Good Supervisory Practice Framework, authored by Professor Stan Taylor, and opens the Research Supervision Recognition Programme to those yet to gain the breadth or depth of supervisory experience required to apply following the existing route.

Both the descriptor and route to recognition will be piloted at Higher Education Institutions across the UK this summer, before launching in Autumn 2021.

Helping the Next Generation Navigate the Complexities

Research supervision is often described as the most important determinant of doctoral success – linked to success, happiness, and positive mental wellbeing. However, effective research supervision can be overlooked as an essential skill for those beginning their academic careers, as official experience of, or recognition for, supervision is difficult to gain, prior to academic appointment.

The UKCGE’s new Recognised Associate Supervisor GSPF descriptor aims to build awareness and development of good supervisory practice for the next generation of research supervisors and to recognise the contribution of these informal supervisors to the doctoral student experience. 

This group includes the estimated 50,000 early career researchers working at UK HEIs, visiting researchers, teaching associates, research technicians, research facility managers, and doctoral school managers, or those with a doctoral degree who work closely with doctoral researchers and who support the supervision of those doctoral researchers.

Many in these groups will be doing some day-to-day work related to doctoral supervision, formally or informally, as part of a supervisory team, as members of a research group, or as part of the institutional community. Yet, their supervision plays an important developmental role within the doctoral student experience and is often unrecognised in formal supervisory governance structures, in role descriptions, or in institutional teaching or research strategies.

A New Route to Recognition: Recognised Associate Supervisor

The new descriptor also offers a route for recognition to those who do not have the breadth or depth of supervisory experience; given many of those at the start of their academic careers are often excluded from taking on doctoral supervision responsibilities due to the nature of their fixed-term research contracts (see Taylor 2018).

To account for this, applicants to the Recognised Associate Supervisor route must submit a personal and scholarly reflective account based on recent examples of their supervisory practice against 5 of the 10 criteria of the GSPF.

The 10 criteria have been grouped into three types:

  • Core Criteria – These are important foundational expectations for supervision relationships.
  • Elective Criteria – These offer flexibility for the applicants recognising the diversity of experiences, development, opportunities, structures, and permissions that each applicant may or may not have been able to access.
  • Development Criteria – These criteria are not required to be evidenced at Recognised Associate Supervisor Award as they often linked to formal status and institutional policy which would exclude some applicants’ participation.

Applicants are required to evidence their practice against fewer criteria, the quality of evidence provided for each criterion must meet the same standard of the established recognition award.

In addition to the reflective account, applicants will be required to observe a supervision meeting undertaken by a supervisor who is not their own line manager. This involves a learning dialogue with the supervisor both before and after the supervision meeting, and a guided reflection on practice centred on those observations.

The pilot of the descriptor will run during the summer of 2021. With the full programme to be launched in October 2021.

For more details about the Associate Research Supervisor descriptor, please contact Ian Covey at the UKCGE:


Taylor, S (2018).
Eligibility to Supervise: A Study of UK Institutions
UK Council for Graduate Education. Available online here:

Taylor, S (2019)
UKCGE Good Supervisory Practice Framework
UK Council for Graduate Education. Available online here:


The Research Supervision Recognition Programme is a professional development toolkit that includes the sector-approved Good Supervisory Practice Framework and offers a route to recognition, specifically for research supervision, from the UK Council for Graduate Education. The Recognition Programme is underpinned by the Good Supervisory Practice Framework, which sets out – for the first time at a national level – the wide-ranging, highly complex, and demanding set of roles that modern research supervisors must undertake to perform the role effectively.

Since its launch in January 2020, the Good Supervisory Practice Framework has been downloaded over 1,000 times, seen visitors from 164 countries, and recognised the practice of over 100 supervisors.

GSPF Criteria Groupings in Associate Research Supervisor Descriptor

The GSPF criteria groupings are:

Core Criteria –

  • 2. Supervisory Relationships with Candidates
  • 3. Supervisory Relationships with Co-supervisors
  • 10. Reflecting Upon and Enhancing Practice

Elective Criteria –

  • 4. Supporting Candidates’ Research Projects
  • 5. Encouraging Candidates to Write and Giving Appropriate Feedback
  • 7. Supporting Candidates’ Personal, Professional and Career Development
  • 9. Supporting Candidates to Disseminate Their Research

Development Criteria –

  • 1. Recruitment and Selection
  • 6. Keeping the Research on Track and Monitoring Progress
  • 8. Supporting Candidates Through Completion and Final Examination