5. Guidelines for completion of research work

5.1. General Guideline

All work should follow the 6th edition of the manuscript preparation guidelines of the American Psychological Association (APA, 2009) style. Work must be within the stated word count and the word count must be included on the title page. Reports over the word count will be returned for reduction. While figures, tables and boxes are not included in the word count, excessive use of boxes (i.e., long sections of text shifted to boxes) will be sent back for reduction. Primary sources of information should be referenced and cited appropriately.

In the following section please find the specific guidelines for the required assessments and assignments.

5.2. Guidelines for Written Work

Writing up and evaluating research are complex tasks. Research can address numerous questions, legitimately use several different methodologies and be written up and disseminated in a variety of ways. Evaluation of research necessarily considers all these factors, therefore, rather than provide extensive guidelines, key references for writing and assessing aspects of the research portfolio are given. As research paradigms evolve and change, guidelines for writing and evaluating research necessarily change. In Section 6 trainees will find specific guidelines and marking criteria for all research work. 

5.3. Guidelines for Presentations

As part of the programme, trainees will be required to give several presentations and to attend their colleagues’ presentations (as with all teaching, attendance will be monitored). The purpose of these presentations is to increase confidence and effectiveness in communicating research ideas and findings and to get feedback from colleagues on design and presentation. Trainees are expected to give the following presentations throughout the programme:

  1. Thesis Proposal (Year 1): A 15 minute presentation outlining a research question, relevant literature and the general approach to be used in evaluating the question (include background, research questions, proposed methods, proposed analyses, and questions/problems that trainees would like help with from the cohort).
  2. Thesis Research Presentation/Conference (Year 3): A 20 minute presentation, in the format of a conference presentation, reporting results of the thesis (include background, research questions, methods, analyses, discussion and limitations).

It is essential to allow sufficient time to plan the presentation and in doing so trainees may wish to keep the following questions in mind:

  1. What is the purpose of the presentation (or the central question under investigation)?
  2. What is the best style of presentation? How can I maintain audience interest?
  3. Are the sections of the presentation clearly organised? Are the main points clear and accurate (an itemised summary of key points might help here)?
  4. Is the presentation pitched at the right level for the audience?
  5. What overall message do I want to convey? Is this clear in my final summary?
  6. What is my time limit?

There are some additional considerations relevant to the content of the thesis proposal presentation (Year 1) and the thesis research presentation/conference (Year 3). The content of these should include the following:

  1. Identification of the research question,
  2. A brief overview of the most pertinent literature,
  3. Identification of hypotheses,
  4. Description of the research design,
  5. Identification of participants,
  6. The main ethical considerations,
  7. Proposed analytical plan (1st year), or results of data analysis (3rd year),
  8. Importance of the research (1st year) or Conclusions or answer(s) to research question (3rd year).

5.4. Programme Administrators


Trainees are entitled to use stationery from the office for research-related work (paper, pens, paper clips etc.). Trainees should, however, always ask the Programme Administrators before taking anything from the office.


There is a fax machine in the PhD Office across from the DClinPsy office. Trainees may use the fax machine for research-related faxes, but please write the details in the book by the fax machine, including full name, so that the fax can be easily identified.

Thesis research expenses

It is important that thesis research costs are considered with the research supervisor early in the research design process to ensure that the research study is feasible. A Table summarising the financial breakdown of the estimated thesis research expenses should be included in the thesis proposal (submitted in Year 2). The funding is intended to cover virtually all research costs (e.g., photocopying above trainee allowance, questionnaires, video tapes, photographic materials, psychometric test forms, reasonable out-of-locality travel for research, and attendance at conferences). If equipment is required, trainees must ensure it is not available for borrowing from the department, is critical for your research, and within budget (the latter judgements should be made in consultation with the research supervisor). It is also especially important to consider travel and accommodation costs for recruitment and data collection as any out-of-locality costs will also need to be covered within the funding request.

The estimated research costs will be used to judge the feasibility of the research study and will be considered when the thesis proposal is marked.

Trainees must not contact the NHS Trust to request additional funds for research.

Please note that trainees will not be reimbursed if trainees decide to make an independent purchase.

Allowable expenses include:

  1. Materials for research (e.g., stationery, CDs, blank audio and video tapes, printing costs of questionnaires, psychometric score sheets, photographic materials, postage etc.). Costs for stationery available through the department will not be reimbursed.
  2. Small items of equipment or apparatus under the conditions stated above.
  3. Out-of-locality travel expenses
  4. Attendance at one UK conference to present the thesis research provided all other research costs have been covered. Supervisors’ support will be required to access funds for this purpose.
  5. Transcription costs—on two conditions: (a) that the trainee has transcribed at least a third of interviews themselves and (b) that prior approval is given by their supervisor.

Non-allowable expenses include:

  1. Anything that amounts to paying for research assistance (e.g., clerical work, typing expenses, payment of interviewers or independent judges etc.). If trainees need such assistance (e.g., second coding of interviews), then please ask fellow trainees who will no doubt help out if you reciprocate.
  2. Expenses associated with writing up theses (e.g., photocopying or binding the finished thesis).
  3. Local travel
  4. Books and offprint costs

In term 1, trainees will receive an email from the College’s Postgraduate Research Office (cles-pgr-support@exeter.ac.uk) that indicates their allocation of research funds for the duration of their programme. The Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) funds must be used and claimed for before the trainee's final thesis hand-in. Primary supervisors must authorise all expenditure.

Expenses must relate to events that take place before students submit their final thesis for examination. The actual expenses can be submitted in accordance with the standard University policy on expenses. Claims should be made as soon as possible on completion of the travel/activity. Any claims submitted after 90 days after travel/activity will be declined for payment unless there are exceptional circumstances for the delay.

Please note that there are no DClinPsy resources to support research costs associated with the SSRP. In circumstances where the research proposal has been passed and research funds are remaining, requests for allocation of funds for the SSRP can be made to the Co-Directors of Research.

Trainees can request details of expenditure and their remaining balance from the Postgraduate Research Office. In order to claim, trainees will need to complete a claim form. There are various forms depending on the type of expenditure. These forms can be found from links under the “Accounts Payable” section on the following page:  http://www.exeter.ac.uk/finance/operations/forms/

For travel, trainees can use Click Travel:  http://lifesciences.exeter.ac.uk/travel/

Use of published tests

If the research study includes measures that are subject to copyright, then please include the purchase costs (VAT exempt) within the research funding request (or discuss other sources of research cost funding with the supervisors). Please see above for guidance on research expenses. Measures that are subject to copyright must not be photocopied. This is a breach of copyright law and subject to legal ramifications (at the most extreme this can include the University being sued). If the measures are published but not subject to copyright law, then please ensure that the author’s permission is provided to use the measures for DClinPsy research.

5.5. Extenuating Circumstances

The Programme Chapter provides the timeline for submission of the Thesis. As in the case of all continuously assessed work, trainees may submit a case to mitigation (see Programme Handbook) where there are difficulties meeting deadlines. In the case of the Thesis only, however, there may be extenuating circumstances where completion of the various stages may (a) not fall within the criteria for mitigation but (b) remain beyond the trainee’s control. The ethics and research governance procedures, in particular, have on occasion taken substantially longer than envisaged and this is not typically covered by mitigation.

The criteria and procedure for extenuating circumstances are as follows:

Extenuating circumstances would apply when there are unpredictable events, beyond the remit of Mitigation Committee, that hinder progress with continuously assessed work. For example, evaluation of submissions to NHS and Research Governance Committees may take longer than the 3 to 5 months that we suggest trainees set aside for this process. The critical criterion is that progress has been hindered unreasonably such that the delay is greater than what would normally be expected. Weaknesses in areas of research competence would not be sufficient grounds, as this should have been picked up earlier in appraisal and in research supervision.

Anyone seeking extenuating circumstances needs to make a case to the Programme Director. This will need to be in writing explaining clearly the relevant circumstances, the period of delay and the additional time being sought for submission of their Thesis. For instance, if the ethical delays were unreasonable then the trainee would need to provide evidence of such delays (e.g., correspondence), the length of the delay and the impact that this has had on their progress. A supportive statement from their supervisor is necessary. It is critical that trainees keep a running log, with supporting documentation, of any factors contributing to possible delays. This material must be submitted with the request for extenuating circumstances. The request will not be granted without this documentation.

The Programme Director will be responsible for judging each case. Where the case for extenuating circumstances has been approved, a revised submission date will be provided in writing.

5.6. Open Access Policy for PGR Research

Proper research data management is integral to good research practice. It ensures that the data generated by MDC and CEDAR members are stored securely, will be reusable in the future, and can be shared easily amongst collaborators. Moreover, it is an increasingly important part of funder and/or institutional requirements regarding open access (cf. UoE policy PGRs).

Please see Open Access Policy guidelines detailing how to manage data, and assigning roles and responsibilities. They are largely based on the UK Data Archive's best practices, but tailored as much as possible to the needs of MDC and CEDAR PGR students.