1. Managing supervision andgetting the most out ofyour supervisorRegine HampelCREET The Open University ,PGRS Residential Conference, Milton Keynes15–17 June 2012
2. E p c tn x et io s aBe explicit about the ground rules of therelationshipDon’t expect instant answersUse your supervisors wisely (don’t hesitate to askthem about relevant issues but don’t expect themto deal with questions you should be able toresolve using other resources)Don’t forget that there is an affective dimension tothe supervisory relationship
3. T k gc ag ain h re Take charge of (and responsibility for) the following: • your topic “Remember it • your PhD is your thesis!” • your learning• Make the most of your supervisors’ particular research expertise• Don’t expect your supervisor to know everything• Bring in a third party for very specific subject- related expertise
4. T e n og n a n im a d ra izt ioBe proactive and organized – plan your study timeand be ruthless in protecting it from other activitiesDraw up a realistic timetable with dates,particularly in the last 6 monthsKeep revising your planChunk final write-up into smaller sections but becareful of repetitionCoordinate your efforts and deadlines with theavailability of your supervisorsDon’t give a huge amount to your supervisors toread in one go
5. C m u ictn o mn a io “Communicate, communicate, communicate!”Keep in touch alwaysMeet, talk, communicate very regularlyKeep in regular contact, especially when you arehaving difficultiesAddress issues as soon as they arise (academic orpersonal)
6. S p r io m e g u ev n et s is inPlan meeting dates well in advanceGet all your supervisors togetherPrepare the meeting in advance (plan agenda,send material/data/draft to supervisors)Write down the questions you want to ask in thesupervision to get the support you needAt the end of the meeting, agree the work whichyou will do for the next supervision and when youwill circulate itMake notes (or record) and circulate notes afterthe meeting
7. Fe b c ed ak “Keep a healthy balance between depending on your supervisors and disregarding them”Listen to what your supervisor says – they mayhave something useful to offerYou don’t have to agree with what your supervisorsays but you do need to be able to defend yourpositionRead feedback carefully and act on itDiscuss how you want feedback, e.g. supervisorsbuilding on each other’s comments
8. Fe b c ed akBe prepared to ask for advice about drafts at anearly stageIf you are upset by the quantity of comments, askyour supervisors for an overall evaluation of yourprogressRealize that as you write up your supervisors will betrying to judge the thesis in relation to the finalcriteria, rather than providing the moredevelopmental feedback you may be used to
9. Witgte h s rin h teis Get specific feedback on whether you do the following : • Tell the story of your research journey • Focus on the bigger picture and make sure you work across the thesis to ensure coherence between questions, method, analysis etc. • Emphasize the complexity of your research and how you approached this • Fulfill the PhD examination criteria (e.g. making a significant contribution to knowledge)• Negotiate word length of chapters and keep the estimated word length in mind when working on drafts
10. Oh r u g s n te sg et s ioDo a ‘proper’ mock viva (with supervisors asexaminers or better even to get one other moreindependent academic involved)Discuss your future with your supervisors andwhat you are going to go after you graduateGetting supervisor support after the viva
11. Y u sg etn o ru gs s ioThanks to the supervisors and students whoprovided me with input!Now it’s over to you: Get together in a small group of 2 or 3 and share your ways of getting the most out of your supervisors Report your suggestions back to the whole group
12. W a wu yu dis? ht o l o a v e dPick one or two of the following scenarios anddiscuss them in your group. What advice would yougive the students?
13. S e aio 1+ 2 cn r s1. Anita (FT, year 4, funded studentship has ended) is finding it difficult to finish her thesis. She is getting increasingly stressed out and is considering withdrawing from her studies.2. Peter (PT, year 6, works full-time) finds it very hard to make time for his thesis as there is increasing pressure in his job. He hasn’t produced any writing for a month and is not managing to stick to the schedule that he has agreed with his supervisors.
14. S e aio 3+ 4 cn r s1. Yasmin (FT, year 3, funded studentship) is keen to complete her PhD within the funded period. She has produced a full draft thesis and believes that she is read to submit. Her supervisors don’t agree and advise that she spends another couple of months revising her work. She is considering submitting the thesis without her supervisors’ sign-off.2. Adam (EdD, year 3) has done his PR10 (full draft of the thesis) and has had rather negative feedback. He is very upset and his first reaction is to request a change in supervisor.
15. T a k o f lt in ! h n yu o is n g r e Thesis writing