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How to start supervising PhDs?


User: 404 - 31 July 2012 15:40

Hi. I finished and received my PhD award seven months ago (currently teaching undergraduates) and I would like to start supervising PhD research in my field. When I asked around, some people mentioned one-day training courses (which I cannot find at our institution) and I also heard about the PG postgraduate supervision qualification. A colleague of mine suggested that it is too soon for me to be a supervisor even though I have publications and a long industry experience, however I also know that some supervisors don't even hold a doctorate themselves. So I'm confused. Does anyone know how to start or what procedure to follow? I would be grateful for suggestions.

User: bewildered - 31 July 2012 16:03

Where I work, you need to be a fulltime permanent lecturer. I'm in the social sciences, and for us the main supervisor has to be someone who has supervised a PhD to successful completion, newer staff start as secondary supervisors. It depends as well if anyone applies for whom you are the most suitable person for their proposed topic. I did a course on supervising PhDs as part of my HE teaching qualification, and every year all staff involved in supervision to a one day / morning training session (so that we are up to date with regulations, research council procedures etc).

User: 404 - 31 July 2012 16:16

Thank you bewildered. This is very helpful indeed.

User: Dalmation - 31 July 2012 17:38

Hi 404, I find it interesting that at your uni, supervisors don't have to hold doctorates. Are you working in the U.K., or somewhere else? At my uni (in the U.S.) supervisors have to be tenured. An untenured professor can be part of your five-member examination committee (the viva committee), but only one of the five members can be untenured. One member also has to be someone completely unknown to the PhD candidate. Sorry! I know that wasn't what you asked...! I just find the rules and procedures fascinating, and wonder if at some point they will become standardized. (That would certainly make it easier for people interested in working abroad, or transferring their studies abroad.)

User: 404 - 01 August 2012 00:06

Hi Dalmation. Yes I'm in UK. Not sure how things are at my current institution where I started working only a year ago, but for example at my previous institution where I did my PhD, my first supervisor did not have a PhD. I then read here on the forum that supervisors don't always hold a doctorate. Since I have a doctorate (and am a permanent lecturer) I thought PhD supervision would be a straight-forward process, but I've been getting conflicting information from different colleagues about the whole procedure. I'll inquire more formally at my uni soon, but I wanted to ask here at the forum first. I understand I can only be 2nd supervisor in the first instance, but I wanted find out if there are extra qualifications I needed to obtain.

User: sneaks - 01 August 2012 08:16

======= Date Modified 01 Aug 2012 08:27:19 =======
I think it depends on your uni and department. At my uni I've been told officially I need to be a 2nd supervisor to learn the ropes, and then once I've had some experience I can become a 1st supervisor. But tbh, I bet if I asked to be a 1st supervisor they wouldn't really be bothered about it. We have to do a PGCHE as part of our probation as lecturers at my uni. You can take a module on research supervision in that BUT you have to be already supervising (which made no sense to me but apparently the coursework required you to be an active supervisor), so its not compulsory. What I do know is that you can take the module as a stand alone just for teaching development at any time, so maybe your uni has something similar? Alternatively, the ESRC etc often run 1-day courses on such things I believe. But how hard can it be?? Just don't answer emails, make suggestions that are nowhere near relevant to the supervisee's research project, ask the student to do something in meeting 1 and then in meeting 2 accuse them of wasting time doing said task and say they shouldn't have come up with that idea in the first place, don't read anything but offer scathing criticism nonetheless. You know, just like our supervisors. (well mine anyway :p )

User: bewildered - 01 August 2012 10:38

404 I think as well an issue is that some PhD students do not want to be supervised by junior staff, which may be why you are getting conflicting messages.

User: Dalmation - 01 August 2012 17:35

Quote From sneaks:
But how hard can it be?? Just don't answer emails, make suggestions that are nowhere near relevant to the supervisee's research project, ask the student to do something in meeting 1 and then in meeting 2 accuse them of wasting time doing said task and say they shouldn't have come up with that idea in the first place, don't read anything but offer scathing criticism nonetheless. You know, just like our supervisors. (well mine anyway :p )
LOL! Do you think this a reflection of the training? Or is it because they're busy with their own research projects, etc.?

User: 404 - 01 August 2012 19:20

Quote From sneaks:
But how hard can it be?? Just don't answer emails, make suggestions that are nowhere near relevant to the supervisee's research project, ask the student to do something in meeting 1 and then in meeting 2 accuse them of wasting time doing said task and say they shouldn't have come up with that idea in the first place, don't read anything but offer scathing criticism nonetheless. You know, just like our supervisors. (well mine anyway :p )
Haha :-) that could go on the course handbook. My supervisor was fab, but I know so many people with supervisors that fit that description easily. Thanks for the answer Sneaks. I will inquire about taking that module separately.

User: Doodles - 18 August 2012 21:59

======= Date Modified 18 Aug 2012 22:03:03 =======
Love your post Sneaks which sounds strangely familiar!!! ;-) Don't forget - the promise of help is just that - it never materialises even though they have constantly said they'd get that data that is necessary to their student's project!!! Or saying that any problems were not their fault as they've had students before who complained about them and lack of supervisory skills! I know of one students that said she wanted to kill the supervisor by the end of it and I can understand why!!!! There is also the elusive meetings that you really have to chase the supervisor down the corridor to pin them down to a date which then turns out that you are not free on ... The list is endless ... this should be enough to get you going ... :p





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