Supervision and key relationships
This section looks at how to develop an effective supervisory relationship:
- The main supervisor's role
- The researcher's role
- The supervisory team
- Managing supervision
- Other key relationships
Developing an effective working relationship with your supervisory team is key to your success as a postgraduate researcher. In order to do this you need to understand what the supervisory team is, and isn't there to do. You will also need to be assertive and proactive in this relationship if you want to get the most out of it.
Doctoral study requires a high level of independence and your supervisory team is not there to spoon-feed or micro-manage you. They should however be providing you with support and guidance and seeing you regularly.
It is important to be aware of the role that the main supervisor and the other members of your team are expected to play. Your institution may have provided you with a handbook that describes their and your responsibilities. Deal with any problems as they arise. However, remember that your supervisors are your biggest ally in the completion of the project. They are interested in your subject and there to help you so give all of their suggestions careful consideration. While they are not always right they do have the benefit of experience and you should take the opportunity to learn from their mistakes as well as your own.
It is important to remember that your main supervisor is only one of the key relationships in your doctorate. The code of practice that regulates research degrees says that ‘each research student will have a minimum of one main supervisor' who ‘will normally be part of a supervisory team'. So you should normally have a wider supervisory team involved in your project. It is also important to think about the other people who you draw support and guidance from. Especially in large science research groups most of your day-to-day supervision may be carried out by other people such as research staff and technicians in your department. For other postgraduate researchers librarians or archivists may be of key importance to the successful pursuit of your doctorate.