CPD Guidance for Registrants – FAQs

Click on the relevant heading below to see our guidance notes.

Why do I need this guidance?

The purpose of this guide is to try and demystify CPD with easy-to-follow instructions and “how-to” information. For you, whether a new or current registrant, this is a guide to some questions you may have about CPD.

So what is CPD?

Continuing Professional Development is the means by which people maintain their knowledge and skills related to their professional lives both currently and in the future. CPD comprises updating particular areas of competence, developing personal and managerial skills and broadening your experience and expertise. The CPD cycle encompasses the principles of planning, action, review and reflection and is most effective when activities are aimed at meeting development plan objectives.

In the IST, this is referred to as Professional and Personal Development, PPD.

Is CPD important?

Any true professional needs to keep up to date with the latest developments in her/his field in order to remain competitive and employable. As a registrant, you are required to keep your skills and knowledge both relevant and up-to-date. Whilst this may sound daunting, see it as an opportunity to identify and work towards achieving your career objectives. A failure to do so may result in loss of professional registration. While you may have a degree or other professional qualification, you may have got it a number of years ago. They show that you have an understanding of your subject, but it is your registration that shows you have expanded your knowledge and skills while keeping up to date with pertinent developments in your field.

What do I have to do? Why should I keep a record?

Most activities within (and some outside) the workplace are relevant to your professional development and learning. It is for you to extract and use the experiences to enhance yourself and your profession. The Science Council defines 5 categories of activity and expects you to carry out activities in at least 3 of these areas in any one 12-month period.

However, CPD isn’t just about the type of activity you do and it certainly isn’t about the number of hours you have completed. CPD is about setting yourself objectives and monitoring your progress against them. A key part of this is undertaking reflective analysis of what you have done.

We recommend that at least once a year you review the learning you have achieved throughout the year and then set professional development objectives for the coming year. You may well have an annual appraisal process as part of your job but CPD can complement this.

What are the Science Council’s 5 categories of learning activity?

You need to be looking for opportunities to carry out CPD under the following headings:

  1. Work based (e.g. acquiring new skills, refining existing skills, devising/delivering training programmes, writing articles/papers, reflective practice)
  2. Professional activity (e.g. involvement in a professional body, mentoring)
  3. Formal / Educational (e.g. attending conferences, obtaining qualifications)
  4. Self-directed learning (e.g. reading journals, reviewing books / articles, researching topics)
  5. Other (e.g. voluntary work, public service, non-work-related studies)

CPD activities are not always easy to spot at work but you will probably find that you are already doing them anyway. And some activities may contribute to more than one category.

Why can I only include 40% of my total number of PPD points from one learning category?

The Science Council requires that your development covers at least 3 of the 5 categories. In order that your development is broad and balanced, you shouldn’t focus on one category at the expense of the others.

Why is reflection important?

Reflection enables you to take responsibility for your professional and personal growth, helping you to identify the benefits of a particular activity or groups of activities. Reflection should be a normal part of your working life. Those who regularly plan, do, record and reflect on their learning tend to be better at identifying opportunities for professional and personal development. This ensures CPD becomes a valuable tool to improve practice as opposed to a box-ticking exercise for satisfying an arbitrary goal. The IST offers more guidance to explain what is required.

How long should I spend doing CPD?

Most people in employment are very busy and there is never enough time to do everything. CPD is not about how much time you spend doing something or sitting in the lecture room, it is about how much value you capture and take from what you do and the lessons you learn as a result. CPD recording should be seen as an iterative process, rather than something that is rushed together at the end of the year.

How does the IST help with CPD?

IST conferences, seminars, meetings and workshops provide opportunities for professional development. All IST-organised events will indicate which of the 5 categories of CPD might be relevant. The IST has some special-interest groups within the membership. While reading the IST’s Journal is an obvious activity that can lead to CPD, writing articles is also valuable. There is a mentor scheme for new and/or young technical staff. There are also many ways in which the IST encourages members to become involved in national projects and initiatives, as well as internal IST activities, and these may all contribute towards your CPD.

My employer insists on CPD – do I have to do it twice?

If your employer has a CPD scheme approved by the IST or the Science Council, then actively participating in the scheme will satisfy the Science Council’s requirement. If your employer’s scheme is not recognised, why not ask them to talk to the IST or the Science Council?

What format do I have to use?

You must submit your record of CPD using the IST’s PPD (Professional and Personal Development) system. Your PPD record can either be completed and submitted electronically (preferred) or returned as a paper copy. The PPD form for each register can be found in the right-hand sidebar of this page.

Isn’t CPD for people starting out on their career?

CPD is for everyone, whatever the stage of their career. Science and technology are evolving rapidly, as is the workplace, so there is always something new to learn. Even those at the top of their profession can be better at what they do and encourage younger colleagues to be better. By undertaking CPD you may find an opportunity that had not occurred to you before and you will be setting an example to others to ensure they follow CPD. Perhaps you will be retiring soon – CPD gives you the opportunity to think about your future.

I’m retired – do I still have to do CPD?

If you are fully retired from all professional work, both paid and voluntary, then you will no longer be eligible to be a Chartered Scientist, Registered Scientist or Registered Science Technician and, therefore, do not have to do CPD. However, if you are still professionally active then you should be doing CPD and, therefore, be able to remain registered. Being retired from paid employment is a great opportunity to give back something to the profession which you helped to create and mould. Younger professionals in particular need help and encouragement. There are also likely to be a number of opportunities to volunteer for the IST.

When do I have to send my PPD record to the IST?

All registrants are required to submit their PPD records when they apply to renew their registration for the first time. In subsequent years an up-to-date CV and a signed declaration that CPD has been undertaken must be submitted with the renewal application. The IST will audit the full PPD records of a random sample of registrants each year. If you are selected, you will be contacted in January and asked to provide a detailed PPD record, with relevant supporting evidence.

What happens if I take a career break?

If you are not actively working for a prolonged period, due to ill-health, maternity leave, etc., the IST recognises that you may find it difficult to maintain your CPD. If you are planning to be out of the workplace, please contact the Registrar, at registrations@istonline.or.uk, to apply for a career-break, which may extend up to 3 years, so that you may continue to renew your registration without submitting a PPD record. If you are temporarily unemployed, the Science Council’s CPD standards allow you to continue with CPD. You should also notify the Registrar of your situation so that it may be taken into account when you renew your registration.

Some aspects of my work are confidential. How can I use them in my PPD record?

The IST treats all information that is received from registrants in confidence by assessors and administrators. You may, however, choose to use general descriptions of processes, experiments and activities. Your personal skills and development are the important components for CPD rather than the situations in which they are being used. Avoid using trade names for materials together with copyright and patent names. If your work is subject to security clearance, please contact the Registrar, at registrations@istonline.org.uk, for guidance.

What happens when I have completed my PPD record and sent it to the IST?

At least two assessors, from the IST’s assessment panel, will look at your evidence and decide if it meets the Science Council’s criteria. The response you receive will take one of three forms:

  1. Your evidence meets the standards required and your registration has been renewed.
  2. Your evidence is slightly lacking in some areas (details will be included). However, your registration has been renewed but your PPD record may be audited again next year.
  3. While most of your evidence meets the required standard, additional information is required for … (details will be included). Please provide this information by the deadline given in this message (usually 6 weeks). The new information will be assessed and, if satisfactory, your registration will continue. If the additional information is not satisfactory, however, your name will be removed from the Register and you will no longer be able to use the designation RSciTech/RSci/CSci.
What happens if I don’t send my PPD record to the IST at the required time?

You will receive a reminder and a new deadline which is usually 4 weeks after the date that the reminder was sent. If you don’t send in your PPD record by the deadline, your name will be removed from the Register and you will no longer be able to use the designation RSciTech/RSci/CSci.

What can I do if I disagree with the outcome of the audit of my PPD record?

The first step is to e-mail the IST at registrations@istonline.org.uk outlining your concerns. The Lead Assessor will look at your evidence again. If you are still dissatisfied with the outcome, you may access the IST’s Appeals Procedure.

What sort of activities might contribute to my CPD?

For each level of Registration, the IST has published a list of activities that might be part of your normal working life, together with ways in which they might lead to CPD. It’s actually quite difficult, for professional practitioners, not to learn from the environment that they are working in! All kinds of activities may enhance skills and knowledge while triggering the desire to change/improve/develop working practices and procedures.

I’m going on a course that lasts for several days – how can I maximise the potential for claiming CPD?

It is likely that your course will provide evidence for more than one learning category (see Science Council’s 5 categories of learning activity). Therefore, you can allocate PPD points to more than category. You will need to make multiple entries in your PPD record in order to evaluate and reflect on the benefits you have gained for each category.

Where can I get more information?

If you would like specific guidance, contact the IST at registrations@istonline.org.uk and one of our mentors will get in touch.