Rosa Murray, professional officer for the chartered teacher programme at the General Teaching Council for Scotland, told the conference for aspiring heads that their research needed to go beyond a narration of events.
When they submitted their reflective commentary on their work, it should be a critical reflection of the impact of teaching and management in schools.
The main reason chartered teacher portfolios were rejected was because they were too narrative, she told the conference in Peebles. Portfolios should note any new research encountered and focus on analysis rather than audit, and how teaching or management of education had impacted on learners.
The candidates were made up of 10 each from Fife, South Lanarkshire and a consortium of Borders, Midlothian and East Lothian councils.
The pilot programme is intended to offer a flexible route to meet the Standard for Headship and was created by the Scottish Executive after complaints that the Scottish Qualification for Headship was too rigid and time-consuming.
Jim Keegans, who is overseeing the pilot for the executive, described the three-day conference as providing development and support. He said under the flexible route candidates would have to produce an action plan which focused on their individual continuing professional development and a school improvement plan.
"It is flexible in the sense that candidates add their own, and their school's needs, and there are full-time coaches to support them," he said.
Gillian Robinson, co-ordinator of the chartered teacher programme at Edinburgh University, said assessment boards would look to see whether they could demonstrate strategic, long-term planning which had been implemented in a discerning way, with evaluation of its impact.