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Managing your supervisor(s). Gita Subrahmanyam, TLC Louisa Green, RDU 19 January 2010. Today’s workshop aims …. Explore and understand roles and responsibilities in the student-supervisor relationship Consider problems that may arise and how to overcome them

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managing your supervisor s

Managing your supervisor(s)

Gita Subrahmanyam, TLC

Louisa Green, RDU

19 January 2010

today s workshop aims
Today’s workshop aims …
  • Explore and understand roles and responsibilities in the student-supervisor relationship
  • Consider problems that may arise and how to overcome them
  • Discuss techniques for managing the relationship to get the most from it
roles and responsibilities
Roles and responsibilities

Take 5 minutes to rank your views on the statements shown in the ‘Expectations in Supervision’ questionnaire

In pairs, discuss your rankings and agree a position representing both your views for each category

code of practice
Code of Practice
  • What is it?
  • Who does it apply to?
  • What happens if it is not adhered to?
roles and responsibilities supervisors 1
Roles and responsibilities – supervisors 1
  • know student's subject area and theoretical approach (CoP 19)
  • hold regular meetings with student (CoP 20)
  • supervision sessions should last at least one hour (CoP 21)
roles and responsibilities supervisors 2
Roles and responsibilities – supervisors 2
  • respond to student’s written work within one month (CoP 22)
  • help new students identify training needs (CoP 24)
  • advise continuing students on time period for research (CoP 25)
  • deal with urgent problems at short notice (CoP 23)
roles and responsibilities supervisors 3
Roles and responsibilities – supervisors 3
  • advise on training courses (CoP 26)
  • introduce students to wider research community (CoP 27)
  • advise on publication (CoP 27)
  • assist with funding applications (CoP 29)
  • nominate examiners and arrange date for viva (CoP 28)
  • approve fieldwork risk assessment (CoP 30)
your roles and responsibilities 1
Your roles and responsibilities 1
  • submit written work regularly (CoP 11)
  • act on guidance/feedback of supervisor(s) (CoP 12)
  • word-process all material (CoP 13)
  • inform supervisor(s) of others with whom you discuss your work (CoP 14)
  • arrange meetings with your supervisor (CoP 15)
  • discuss questionnaires with supervisor (CoP 16)
your roles and responsibilities 2
Your roles and responsibilities 2
  • maintain regular contact with School and supervisor(s) (CoP 6)
  • inform RDU in advance if interrupting/withdrawing (CoP 18)
your roles and responsibilities 3
Your roles and responsibilities 3
  • Know theSchool regulations (CoP 17):
    • Code of Good Practice
    • Regulations for research degrees
    • Assessment offences regulations – (1) on plagiarism and (2) offences other than plagiarism
    • LSE Research Ethics Policy
    • General Academic Regulations

Accessed via LFY or:

  • Know your departmental regulations
potential problems for students
Lack of guidance


Insufficiently critical

Overly critical

Lack of knowledge in subject area

Potential problems for students
potential problems supervisors
Overly dependent

Lack of honesty


Lack enthusiasm

Don’t follow advice

Oversensitive to criticism

Lack commitment

Potential problems: supervisors
basis of problems
Basis of problems
  • Lack of communication
  • Mismatched expectations
  • Personality clash
  • Competing pressures
overcoming problems 1
Overcoming problems 1
  • Keep your expectations realistic
  • Be organised
  • Be professional
  • Be open, flexible and honest
overcoming problems 2
Overcoming problems 2
  • Discuss expectations at the beginning
  • Give sufficient notice for requests
  • Draw up an agenda for your meetings
  • Record the outcome of meetings and email to supervisor(s)/use PhD Logbook
  • Arrange next meeting ahead of time
  • Alert supervisor(s) to problems as they arise
overcoming problems 3
Overcoming problems 3

If problems persist:

  • Approach your department’s doctoral programme director/convenor
  • Approach the Research Degrees Unit (Ms Louisa Green)
  • Approach the Dean of Graduate Studies (Dr Julian Fulbrook)

Be aware of your supervisors’ other concerns

  • Undergraduate tutees (say 8) and courses
  • MSc supervisees (say 8) and courses
  • Class teachers for undergraduate courses
  • Other PhD students (maybe 6)
  • Research assistants and research staff
  • Their own publications
  • Departmental administration
  • Other professional roles (editor, referee, examiner, etc)
why should you manage your supervisor s
Why should you manage your supervisor(s)?
  • S/he probably busier than you are
  • S/he may not be aware of regulations to extent you are
  • Your enthusiasm and organisation may impress or rub off on them
  • You want to complete on time with as few problems as possible
  • S/he will be your key reference for future jobs etc
when submitting work to your supervisor
When submitting work to your supervisor

Cover sheet on every piece of work submitted with:

  • Your name and year of PhD
  • Your up-to-date thesis title
  • An up-to-date chapter structure with full headings
  • Highlight where today’s chapter or bit of work fits within this

Make sure each chapter first page has:

  • Chapter number
  • Full current title
  • Details of word length, plus any missing element
writing is the driver of good supervision
Writing is the driver of good supervision
  • Writing is constitutive of thinking
  • Personal relations in conversation often mask divergences of views or misunderstandings
  • Your supervisor gains information about your progress from your written work
  • Supervisors cannot comment usefully on your progress or provide sound advice unless they can see your thoughts in writing
and finally
And finally …
  • What problems might arise?
  • Which ones addressed?
  • Which might still need managing ?
  • Any further suggestions?