When you are a PhD student, you are expected to have numerous meetings in the course of your PhD programme. Most of these meetings will be with your supervisor, and some with committee members and fellow students.
It is very important for PhD students to record the outcomes of the meetings through minutes.
Importance of minutes
- Minutes provide evidence of what was discussed and agreed on during the meeting.
- Minutes help the student and other parties remember what was discussed and the actions they need to take.
- Some programs use the number of meetings held and attended by a student as part of performance monitoring and measurement. In such instances, the minutes are used as evidence for the student’s performance.
Structure of minutes
The minutes should have the following components:
Title of the meeting
Is the meeting with the supervisor or other students? Indicate in the title of the meeting
Date, place and time of the meeting
The meeting may be physical or virtual. If virtual, indicate the channel used e.g Zoom, Google Meet, Skype etc
Write down the names of all those who participated in the meeting
Note down the agenda items of the meeting including any other business (AOB) that was discussed
Write down the notes for each agenda item separately.
Do not write verbatim but rather write a summary of the most important points that were discussed.
This section is important because it details what needs to be done after the meeting, by whom and by when.
Be as specific as possible with the action points.
Next meeting date
Agree with the participants when the next meeting will be held so that they can all prepare in advance.
Important points to note
- Always schedule the meeting in advance to give the participants enough time to block the date and time in their calendar.
Supervisors, in particular, are always busy with their academic and professional responsibilities. Therefore blocking their time in advance is important.
- When scheduling the meeting, share with them the proposed agenda of the meeting so that they know what to expect at the meeting. They can also make inputs to the agenda if necessary.
- Always share the minutes with the participants after each meeting. This helps to remind them of what was discussed and the action points they need to take after the meeting.
Sample minutes template
The following is a sample of a template I use for my meetings:
In sum, taking and recording minutes of meetings held with supervisor and other parties is important for every PhD student as they serve as evidence for the meeting and help the parties remember what was discussed and the actions they need to take after the meeting.