We ran a project on what ‘research community’ means and how we can provide a sense of community and belonging to our PGRs to enhance their student experience. Colleagues at the University of Glasgow led the project.


The team were asked to answer questions these questions:

  • Is there agreement around what is a 'research community'? Do students and staff from different countries have different views?
  • What does a successful research community look like? Are there key characteristics that postgraduate researchers are likely to expect?
  • What is the purpose of a research community? Is its primary function the promotion of student success, the enhancement of research quality, raising an institution's profile, some combination of these, or something else?
  • Where do/should the boundaries of the research community lie? How does a successful research community integrate with the world outside of the institution, and how does this affect the student experience?
  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of a central institutional research community, compared to a local one (for example, in a school, faculty or college?)
  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of using virtual, rather than physical, spaces to develop the research community?

Project outputs


Building a Research Community - Examples of policy and practice

Publication Date: 14 Aug 2017

This document is a desk-based examination of Enhancement Led-Institutional Review reports and Research Exercise Framework (REF) environment submissions (these look at the environment supporting research within UK higher education) relating to 18 Scottish higher education institutions. This work was complete as part of the Focus On: Postgraduate Student Research (PGR) student experience project.

Document Details
Author: QAA Scotland
Format: PDF
Size: 461 KB

Building a Research Community - Student and Staff Views

Publication Date: 14 Aug 2017

Report on the findings of telephone interviews and focus groups with staff and PGR students from 10 institutions. Including one institution from rUK, one from the USA, one from Sweden and one from Chile. This builds on the Examples of Policy and Practice work. This work was complete as part of the Focus On: Postgraduate Student Research (PGR) student experience project.

Document Details
Author: QAA Scotland
Format: PDF
Size: 400 KB

Building a Research Community - Key Issues for Discussion

Publication Date: 14 Aug 2017

This document is intended to help you start conversations within your institution, about how you might developing a research community. This work was complete as part of the Focus On: Postgraduate Student Research (PGR) Student Experience project.

Document Details
Author: QAA Scotland
Format: PDF
Size: 202 KB

Resource shared by an institution


Queen Margaret University have shared a case study related to the development of their Graduate School. We are grateful to the University for giving permission to share this resource.


PhD Students Association at Queen Margaret University

Publication Date: 18 Feb 2018

This case study by Queen Margaret University (QMU) highlights the role of the PhD Students' Association which plays an integral role in the induction of the new PhD students and organises an annual conference for PhD students which is open to staff and students from QMU and other institutions.  This work was provided by QMU as part of the Focus On: Postgraduate Student Research (PGR) Student Experience project.

Document Details
Author: Queen Margaret University
Format: PDF
Size: 80 KB