Doctoral training partnerships mid-term evaluation 2016-17

Background to NERC doctoral training partnership (DTP) commissioning

In 2013, the first competitive call for NERC DTPs (DTP1) awarded funding to 15 DTPs for a total of 240 notional studentships per annum for five cohort intakes starting in October 2014. The final intake for the current DTP awards will therefore be in October 2018. Full details of the current DTP allocations can be found on the main DTP page.

Mid-term evaluation and future commissioning of DTPs

At the time of award, all DTP grant holders were informed of NERC's intention to conduct a mid-term evaluation of its DTPs in 2016-17. This evaluation will supplement DTP annual reports and annual visits as part of NERC's ongoing performance monitoring of DTPs.

It is also NERC's intention that commissioning of future DTPs should be informed by lessons learned from DTP1, and the mid-term evaluation will therefore also help inform (but not determine) the commissioning process for DTP2 in 2018.

The framework for this evaluation (developed in consultation with NERC's Training Advisory Board (TAB) and NERC DTPs), and the proposed timetable, are outlined below.

This page will be updated regularly throughout the evaluation process.

Evaluation framework and timetable

The evaluation has two main aims - firstly to monitor individual DTPs' ongoing performance against their original proposals and NERC's priority success criteria; and secondly to inform (but not determine) the commissioning process for future DTP awards. It is also anticipated that the evaluation will provide evidence of the wider impact of the DTP scheme.

Evidence gathering

The evaluation will collect evidence through two routes:

  1. Targeted surveys to all members of the NERC community (not just the DTPs).
  2. Follow-up interviews during on-site visits to the DTPs by members of NERC staff and TAB.

Evaluation outputs

  1. Individual progress reports for each DTP, which will provide a focus for dialogue between NERC and each individual DTP as part of ongoing monitoring and act as a useful indicator of changes in individual DTP performance over time. Each DTP will receive its individual progress report in spring 2017.
  2. A summary report highlighting common themes and issues, lessons learned from DTP1, and an overall perception of the success of the DTP scheme. This will be published on the NERC website in autumn 2017.
  3. Learning points to inform the commissioning process for DTP2.
  4. Anonymised example success stories of the DTP scheme, to be published on the NERC website.

All NERC DTPs have been consulted on the types of evidence to be gathered in the evaluation.


Surveys were circulated in April 2016, with responses due by 10 June 2016. Survey responses will be used to inform the follow-up interviews with each DTP and will also feed into the summary report produced for TAB. Interviews will be conducted as part of NERC's annual on-site visits to its DTPs, with additional involvement of TAB members. An indicative timetable of activities is provided below:

Indicative timetable of activities
Timing Activity Status

April - June 2016

Surveys open -
Responses required by 10 June 2016
June - September 2016 NERC and TAB analyse survey responses and other data to develop interview questions Complete
September 2016 - February 2017 On-site visits to DTPs conducted Complete
February - June 2017 NERC analyses all data and produces reports. Individual feedback provided to DTPs following moderation Complete
June - July 2017 TAB meeting - discussion of evaluation results and recommendations for DTP2 commissioning Pending
July 2017 - September 2018 DTP2 commissioning process developed and implemented Pending
Autumn 2018 DTP2 funding confirmed Pending

Evidence has been gathered from all members of the NERC community, including those not currently involved in a NERC DTP. Dedicated surveys were developed for several key target audiences: DTP lead organisations; DTP academic partner organisations; DTP non-academic partner organisations; DTP advisory boards (where applicable); students (both DTP and others); research organisations / higher education institutions (HEIs) not currently part of a DTP; NERC-relevant end-user organisations not currently working with a DTP.


The surveys are now closed. NERC would like to thank all those who took the time to submit survey responses for their valuable contribution to this evaluation exercise.

Further information & contacts

For more information on the DTP evaluation, please contact NERC Research Careers Team at .