Feedback is an essential part of your learning and research progress while you are at Imperial and should help you to understand the areas in which you are doing well and what you can do to improve and progress.

You can expect your supervisor, and others (lab members, other academics, your peers, postdocs etc.), to critique your work and provide constructive feedback. The feedback you receive may not tell you the answers, rather it may pose questions for your consideration which is designed to support your independence of thought. The conversation that you have with your supervisor should help you to think of options to move forward with your research. Feedback should be a two-way process of discussion and debate and should be an active learning process.

During the various stages of your postgraduate study, you will have many opportunities to receive feedback which may be written or verbal. As a minimum, you should expect to receive formal feedback from:

  • Your Supervisor(s) on a regular basis, whenever you submit pieces of writing, or you meet to discuss aspects of your research project
  • Assessors at your milestone reviews (ESA, LSR).
  • Peers and other members in your research group, lab or CDT/DTP in relation to your research and any experimental work.

When you receive written or verbal feedback from someone other than your supervisor (assessors or others), consider sharing it with your supervisor when you next meet to guide your discussions around your professional and research skills development.

Feedback is a natural part of your relationship with your supervisor, and you should discuss mutual expectations for feedback at your earliest opportunity. It is important that you discuss and agree very practical things such as when you should submit draft thesis chapters to your supervisor, how many drafts of your chapters your supervisor will read and how quickly they are able to provide you with comments. If you are preparing to finalise your thesis for submission, do give consideration to this when requesting your supervisor to correct and comment on it in advance of submission deadline – don’t leave it to the last minute!

Before a meeting to discuss your work, consider your expectations. If you would like specific feedback on a particular aspect of your research, you should let your supervisor know in good time, so that they can prepare. It is very important also to take notes so you can look back through later and check if you do not quite understand what is being said to you.

The amount of feedback you can expect from your supervisor will depend on their individual style of supervision, as well as your own requirements which will often develop over the first few months of your research studies. At the initial stages of your research studies, you should anticipate receiving more feedback. As you become more autonomous and start to develop as an independent researcher the amount and type of feedback you receive may change.

If you are not receiving helpful and constructive feedback or you don’t understand the feedback being given to you, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification, or try asking on specifics to facilitate the conversation.

If you are concerned about a lack of feedback, talk to your department’s Senior Tutor (PGR).

Further support: Receiving feedback on your research progression: a guide for students