Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a Career Development Review and Personal Development Review?

A career development review (CDR) is a structured and confidential conversation about a researcher’s career development. The focus of a CDR conversation is on supporting career planning and exploring personal career aspirations in any sector or in any role. The conversation should identify career goals, opportunities to improve career prospects, routes to further career development and related skills and professional development or training objectives.

The distinguishing feature of a Personal Development Review (PDR) conversation is an opportunity to reflect on achievements over the last year in an environment in which feedback can be heard and received. While a PDR meeting may cover any career aspirations that the reviewee wishes to share, it will usually focus on achievements, learning and development, plus objective-setting, within the current role and professional domain.

The CDR does not replace the need for conversations on delivery of post goals, which should be provided via 1:1 supervision and/or a PDR.

Do all departments or faculties have a scheme for Career Development Reviews?

Personnel Committee agreed in February 2022 that a stepped approach will be taken towards an institution-wide target in which all departments or faculties will have a scheme for CDRs for fixed-term researchers within one to three years. Each department or faculty is free to set up its own scheme relevant to its staff, but the Principles found on the CDR home page should underlie all schemes. Please check with your academic line manager / PI or HR administrator in your department or faculty to know more about the local scheme adopted.

How is the CDR reviewer selected?

The reviewer will usually be the reviewee’s PI, supervisor, or academic line manager. Departments or faculties may elect for the CDR conversation to be facilitated by another senior colleague in the University. Where the reviewee would welcome a second career conversation with a Careers Advisor or sector specialist they should self-refer to the Careers Service .

Do researchers have a CDR during their probationary period?

While all staff in their probationary period are not automatically entitled to an annual review, because the probationary period has its own robust review process which departments or faculties are expected to follow, departments or faculties are encouraged to enable fixed term researchers to participate their CDR Conversations scheme, particularly where the contract period of the researcher is less than two years.

How do researchers get career advice from a professional other than their PI/line manager?

The Careers Service has a dedicated Careers Adviser for fixed-term researchers who are employed by the University or a college. This adviser works closely with the Researcher Hub.

  • The Careers Service offers careers appointments for fixed-term researchers. These 30 minute 1:1 appointments are online (in-person appointments by request) and can be booked up to four weeks in advance.
  • The Careers Advisor for researchers also offers a wider range of workshops and seminars to support researcher career progression, details of which will be publicised via the Careers Service newsletter, Term Planner and on OxTalks.
  • The Careers Service website contains extensive guidance including researcher-specific tips and resources, available 365 days a year.
  • Researchers can register for a CareerConnect account to access appointment bookings, event registration and sign up for the newsletter (note: account generation is done by a person during office hours).

Is the Career conversation confidential?

The content of the CDR conversation is strictly confidential between the reviewee and reviewer.

Where the template Career Conversation Planner is used in your department or faculty, Part 1 of the Planner is confidential and retained only by the reviewee.

Part 2 of the Career Conversation Planner lists training and development needs and will be shared by the reviewee with the coordinator of CDR conversations in their department or faculty. Part 2 also acts as a department or faculty record that the CDR conversation has taken place.

Why is the reviewer asked to sign the Template Career Conversation Planner?

The reviewer signs the planner in acknowledgement that the CDR conversation will be kept confidential. The reviewer is not required to approve the content of the planner nor retain a copy.

My question isn’t listed here. Who should I ask?

Your first port of call will be your academic line manager/PI and /or the HR Officer in your department. If you have a question which you think should be included in this page, please contact [email protected]

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