Responsibilities of the supervisor
- At the outset of the research, the supervisor should explore in detail the student's academic background in order to identify any areas in which further training (including language training) is required. In particular the supervisor should advise the student in the choice of subject-specific knowledge and skills training required. Supervisors should be aware of the particular difficulties which may face international students who may in the early stages require more frequent contact and advice.
- The supervisor will give guidance on the nature of the research and the standard expected; the selection of a research programme and the topic to be covered; the planning and timing of the successive stages of the research programme; literature and sources; research methods and instrumental techniques; attendance at appropriate courses; avoidance of plagiarism and respect for copyright.
- The supervisor should ensure that they have a thorough understanding of the DDP and its benefits in order to ensure students make the most appropriate choice of units.
- The supervisor should ensure that the student has a clear understanding in general terms of the main aspects of graduate research: the concept of originality; the different kinds of research; the form and structure of the thesis (including the appropriate forms of referencing); the necessary standards to be achieved; the importance of planning and time management; the procedures for monitoring and reporting progress.
- The supervisor should ensure that the student is aware of the University's Good Research Practice (GRP) Standards. In addition, the supervisor should ensure that the student has a clear understanding in general terms of 'research ethics', where this is relevant (i.e. if they are undertaking research that involves contact with human participants and/or with human data and/or human tissue) and a clear understanding of 'research governance', where this is relevant. The GRP Standards and guidance on research ethics and governance are available online.
- The supervisor should work with the student to establish an effective supervisory relationship, thereby supporting the student. This should include an agreement on the frequency of progress meetings and the arrangements for keeping records (e.g. written or electronic).
- The supervisor should set a target date for Confirmation Review and a target submission date at induction to ensure that all parties acknowledge the length of time available for each stage of the project.
An Induction Checklist for Supervisors of new research students is available at the start of each academic year. This checklist provides advice on procedures to be followed when dealing with new research students and complements the Induction Passport which is available to students.
- The supervisor should ensure that the research project can be completed fully, including preparation and completion of the thesis, within the time available, and should advise the student accordingly.
- The supervisor must ensure that a clear agreement is made with the student on the frequency and nature of the supervisory contact required at any particular stage of the project. Supervisory sessions should be uninterrupted as far as possible by telephone calls, personal callers and departmental business. The frequency of such sessions should be every four to six weeks as a minimum (pro-rata for part-time); the frequency may depend on the nature of the research (e.g. whether laboratory work is involved) and the particular research project. The length of sessions will also vary, from student to student, across time and between disciplines.
- The supervisor should comply with the attendance monitoring requirements of the department/University and notify their department at an early stage if a student's attendance gives cause for concern.
- Written or electronic records of supervisory sessions should be kept by both the student and supervisor.
- Both the supervisor and student should keep any relevant or significant correspondence, including emails, that relate to the student's degree (this is especially relevant to students registered on the Remote Location programme who are effectively studying via distance learning).
- The student and supervisor must have an agreed procedure for dealing with urgent problems (e.g. by telephone, e-mail and/or the arrangement of additional meetings at short notice).
- The supervisor should, in discussion with the student, establish and maintain a satisfactory timetable for the research, including the necessary completion dates for each stage, so that the thesis may be submitted within the scheduled time. This planning should take into account the requirements of the relevant funding body in relation, for example, to upgrading and submission.
- The supervisor should read promptly all the written work submitted in accordance with the agreed timetable and provide constructive and timely criticism. The supervisor should advise the student of any obstacles to providing timely feedback, e.g. periods of time away from the University, particularly when the student is approaching submission.
- The supervisor should arrange, as appropriate, (in many departments it is a requirement) for the student to present work to staff or graduate seminars and should take an active part in introducing the student to meetings of learned societies and to other researchers in the field. The supervisor should provide advice, where appropriate, on publication of any of the research.
- The supervisor should advise the student well in advance of any planned periods of absence from the University. If the period of absence is significant (more than the length of time between supervisory meetings), the supervisor should ensure that appropriate arrangements for alternative supervision are made and that the student is informed of them.
- The supervisor should take note of feedback from the student.
- The supervisor should ensure that the student is informed of any inadequacy of standards of work below that generally expected from research students and should suggest remedial action, or training, as appropriate.
- The supervisor will be required from time to time by both the University and external funding bodies to provide a detailed written record of the student's progress and should ensure that all departmental and/or faculty requirements concerning the submission of progress reports are complied with. In particular it is essential that the Annual Progress Report form, supplied by Research & Innovation Services, is completed and returned within the specified timescale. The supervisor should discuss the completion of the Annual Progress Report with the student and it is essential that the student signs the form to acknowledge that s/he has seen and understood the contents of the completed report.
The final stages
- The supervisor should initiate the procedures for the appointment of examiners well in advance of the thesis being submitted. Failure to do so will lead to delays in dispatching the student’s thesis and arranging the viva examination.
- The supervisor should read and comment on a draft of the complete thesis.
- The supervisor should ensure that the student understands the procedures for the submission and examination of theses and should assist the student in preparing for the oral examination, including offering a mock viva.
- Should the student be asked to resubmit, the supervisor will be responsible for continuing to provide support and supervision throughout the resubmission period.