Organising a supervisor

Supervisors advise, guide and provide constructive feedback in choosing a topic, designing a project, conducting the research, interpreting the findings and writing the dissertation.

Most graduate research students are supervised by two or more members of staff. External supervisors are welcome additions.

Generally, allocation of supervisors is a matter for individual negotiation between student and supervisor, and students are free to choose.

Make your choice with great care, as the effectiveness of the student/supervisor relationship has a major effect on your experience.

Identifying potential supervisors

Before deciding on supervisors, you should:

  • Read the University's Policy on Graduate Research Training.
  • Speak with the graduate research coordinator for the school in which you intend to study.
  • View our research strengths to find many areas of research that cross school boundaries.
  • Talk with a few prospective supervisors about their styles of supervision and what they expect of their students.
  • Chat to prospective supervisors about their research interests and prospective topics, and speak with their current and former students about their experiences.
Selecting a supervisor

Select supervisors whom you expect will:

  • maintain an interested, professional, mutually respectful and supportive supervisory relationship with you throughout the three to four years of your project
  • meet with you regularly to discuss your research
  • provide ongoing clear, adequate, good-quality advice on the planning and execution of your research
  • provide you with timely and constructive feedback on all aspects of your work
  • guide you through the completion of your degree and into the next stage of your career
Agreeing on a supervision program

There are numerous things you should discuss and negotiate with your supervisors very early in the program.

  • What your and your supervisors' preferred styles of supervision are. A useful resource is the University's Student Perceptions of Research Supervision (SPORS) questionnaire. This is designed to help students and supervisors discuss and negotiate important matters related to supervision.
  • How you and your supervisors will resolve issues of intellectual property, authorship of publications and so on.
  • The regularity, timing and format of your meetings.
  • The type and level of assistance that you would like, and your supervisors are prepared to give, with respect to:
    • choosing a topic and refining the project
    • planning a schedule
    • setting goals
    • finding appropriate literature
    • collecting the data and information
    • analysing and interpreting your findings
    • planning the dissertation
    • and writing and reviewing the dissertation
    • a schedule for the research and preparation of the dissertation, including target deadlines for key elements of the process