About research supervision

Supervising PhD and Research Masters candidates is one of the most significant and intensive teaching and mentoring experiences available to a researcher.

Supervisors need to be across the many procedures and practices within the university as well as national policies concerning doctoral education.



The Paired Questions Task

Who is responsible for what; the supervisor or the candidate or both? It is really useful at the beginning of the thesis journey for supervisors and candidates to discuss who should be taking the lead on various aspects of the thesis research.

The paired questions task lists a number of components of the thesis process and asks you to rate whether the candidate or the supervisor is responsible for leading this component.

I recommend that supervisors and candidates complete the task independently early on in candidature and then meet to discuss their ratings and any discrepancies that might be evident. This will then set a good platform to begin the thesis journey.

Different components of the thesis journey can of course be added to this list on this example HERE.

The Supervisor Expectations Document

The aim of this document is to establish expectations between supervisors and HDR candidates. Research has shown establishment of clear, agreed and flexible expectations to be central to successful HDR completion. Accordingly we advise that this document be completed within the first 3-6 months of candidature. The document is a statement of intent established jointly by candidate and supervisors and should be referred to and reviewed by candidate and supervisor throughout the thesis journey (at least 6-monthly).

The document is not a binding agreement but rather a framework for ensuring clear communication around expectations to facilitate successful and timely thesis completion. It is expected that research projects and supervisory practices will develop over the duration of candidature and hence revisions to the document may be negotiated between candidate and supervisors.

The document also brings to the attention of both candidates and supervisors a number of important issues involved in HDR research – such as IP, copyright, ethics, cultural integrity, health and safety, authorship – and provides links to additional information.

Supervisor Checklist

This document allows supervisors to evaluate their own role as supervisor against a number of general expectations of the role. Completing the checklist is a good tool to assist in self-reflection on the supervisory role and the student-supervisor relationship. Discussing your ratings with a colleague or mentor may also be useful.

The Meeting Log

Keeping track of progress is a critical factor in facilitating successful and timely thesis completion. Accordingly it is recommended that brief notes be keep of each supervisory meeting. It is recommended that the notes be kept by the candidate after each meeting and circulated to all supervisors (present at the meeting or not) to keep all up to date with progress. A focus on actions (with timeframes) is also recommended.

The attached is an example of one such meeting log.

Workshop Series

The Office of Graduate Studies and Organisational Development work together to provide workshops to support supervisors with current, empirically grounded information and access to best practice.

Find out more about the Supervisor Workshops Series.

Support Materials

There is now significant international literature on research training, supervision as well as, national and international networks of researchers in the field.

The national body, The Council of Deans and Directors of Graduate Studies in Australia (DDOGS) produce policy and position papers, that also can be used to guide supervision practice.

The University also subscribes to fIRST - for Improving Research Supervision and Training established in 2000 to provide resources for supervisors and research students across Australia and NZ.

Find a Supervisor

The Find a Supervisor tool allows students to search for a potential supervisor. Prospective PhD and Research Masters applicants are strongly encouraged to consult with academics in their chosen field prior to submitting an application for admission.

The tool draws information from your researcher profile. For assistance with creating your profile contact rps@newcastle.edu.au.

Find a Student

You can alert potential students to research project opportunities that are available both with and without a scholarship by completing this form.