Annual Review meeting, a friend or foe?

I have now completed my first Annual Review (AR) so I think that my first year PhD has officially ended. I’m now sailing to my second year PhD studies and to becoming a senior student too!

I was nervous before the AR meeting because I had to step out of the comfort zone of usual supervision meeting where there are only my supervisors who know my research from day one I came here. So, I prepared by making a list of my learning activities in year one and thinking how those activities have shaped the present me as a researcher. I also reread the reflections I wrote after major events in my first year and said to myself that I worked hard enough in my year one. I certainly learned a great deal and deserve to move on! Before the AR, I was excited and nervous (as usual) so I sat quietly with myself. I need to be calm and maintain my (gentle northern Thai) speed. “Don’t panic”, I told myself.

At the AR, I had a conversation with Dr. Gary Motteram, my “independent reviewer” whom rarely knows about me and my research before.   My job was to talk to Gay about what I have been up to with my studies such as what I have acquired from the MSc modules, my involvement in conferences and my pilot study experience. Gary also asked if there was anything I felt insufficient after the completion of my year one units. He then gave great advices on the points that I used to overlook.

For the AR, I took a privilege of an end-of-year-one PhD student. Before the meeting, although I was serious about it, I did not regard it as a “high risk” assessment or a matter of life and death. I thought it would be fine if the reviewers see that I am imperfect. Yet, one of Richard’ s comments after the AR meeting struck me. He said there is no such thing as “low risk” and I should see this as a practice for my Panel and Viva where I am the one who takes charge in delivering my studies to a wider audience as best as I can.

In short, an AR is a friend, not foe. Best of luck for your AR!


  • You’re welcome Bona. The AR has proved to be very helpful to me and Fitri. We all go through the same process but have our own ways to learn things and certainly our experiences ‘ll be (slightly) different.

    Looking forward to seeing you in September 🙂

  • Bona Maandera


    The AR at the end of the year, when academic energy seems at it lowest . . . it seems to me. Yet, one must carry on. . .

    Stepping out of one’s “comfort zone” with the supervisors. Things learned sufficiently/ not learned sufficiently. A practice for the panel and viva. And don’t take anything lightly.

    OK. That’s some bit of advice . . . Thanks Khwan. Paying heed to it is perhaps another story.

  • Thank you Khwan..I do hope so 🙂

  • It’s my pleasure, Fitri. I know how it feels when we’re not so sure about what we’re going to meet but I’m sure that you’ll be fine 🙂

  • An insightful reflection indeed Khwan 🙂 Very useful to help me be more prepared with my next Monday’s one…Hope to be a senior like you soon :D..Thank you for writing this..