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Supervision - Good Practice in Research Supervision Guidelines

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Section 1 - Purpose / Objectives

(1) Nil

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Section 2 - Scope / Application

(2) Nil

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Section 3 - Definitions

(3) Nil

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Section 4 - Policy Statement

(4) Higher Degrees by Research Policy

(5) Supervision Policy

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Section 5 - Procedures

(6) Supervisor Registration and Development Procedure

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Section 6 - Guidelines

(7) These guidelines are intended to assist the University and Colleges to:

  1. make judgements about potential supervisors for registration;
  2. signal to supervisors and potential supervisors the qualities and skills they need to develop in order to undertake the supervisor role;
  3. assist graduate research Candidates to know what to expect of a research supervisor.

Selection and induction

(8) Supervisors should assist in the selection process, giving attention to the fit between needs of the Candidate and capacity of the College to fulfil those needs.

(9) There should be time and effort given to inducting the Candidate into the research process and into the research environment. It is important that a Candidate's preliminary needs, in terms of academic support, are ascertained and attended to. Candidates also should be informed of the availability of scholarships and other resources, such as infrastructure support, available within the University.

(10) Before beginning work on any project, Candidates should be made aware of:

  1. their intellectual property rights and responsibilities;
  2. ethical and integrity risks and requirements in relation to their project;
  3. healthy and safety risks and training.

Research training

(11) Supervisors should see Candidates as individuals who will require varied input, support and consideration in order to successfully develop as researchers and complete their higher degree.

(12) Aspects of the supervisor-candidate relationship (as well as relationships with the associate supervisor(s) are negotiated on a one-to-one basis; where relevant, issues of authorship and intellectual property must be negotiated, particularly with respect to joint publications, commercial products and patents.

(13) A supervisor will be expected to assist Candidates with their forward planning and organisation, with associated timetabling of activities, and time management strategies to promote progress within time constraints.

(14) All internal supervisors are required to maintain current knowledge of supervisory practice and to develop their supervisory skills and contribute to the development of others, through the professional development programs offered by the University.

(15) Guidance is provided to the Candidate in relation to defining the topic or research problem, developing the research methodology and theoretical framework, designing the research, conducting an appropriate literature review, collecting data, and analysing and interpreting data.

(16) The Candidate is assisted by supervisors to develop an understanding of the variety of ways in which 'originality' and 'significance' can be interpreted. Ways in which support is provided for the Candidate in the writing of the thesis and other required forms of research communication should be discussed and useful examples of thesis and other genres of writing provided by the supervisor.

(17) In most situations, writing is encouraged from an early stage to facilitate the thinking and research process as well as to provide raw material for the thesis.

(18) Meetings and other interaction with the Candidate should be used strategically, with planned regularity (depending on the stage or needs of the candidate), clear purposes and record keeping, agreed preparation, and follow-up action. The importance of timely completion must be emphasised, and all planning undertaken with this in mind.

Pastoral support

(19) Supervisors will be expected to show flexibility in meeting a Candidate's changing needs, and support Candidates in dealing with the ups and downs of the research process. It is important that trust, mutual respect, and a professional relationship be developed with the Candidate, and that direction, critique and feedback are given sensitively, constructively and collegially.

(20) Candidates should be encouraged to attend to, reflect on and learn from the research process. In particular, the needs of Candidates from Aboriginal and non-English speaking backgrounds should be considered and attended to in a culturally sensitive manner.

(21) Supervisors are required to advise their Candidates normally in advance of any planned absences. Where the period of absence is expected to be more than three months, the supervisor is required to make formal arrangements for an acting supervisor to be appointed.

(22) Candidates should be encouraged to access the range of University's pastoral and personal support and development services.

Support in networking

(23) Candidates' networking within the discipline should be encouraged both locally (with other academics and graduate research candidates) and nationally / internationally. For example, Candidates are encouraged to offer conference papers, external experts are invited to visit or interact by e-mail with the Candidate, and candidates are assisted to gain access to, or be part of, collaborative research teams.

(24) Supervisors will seek to provide assistance to the Candidate to enable them to make contacts that may promote future career development. Candidates are given guidance in relating to the scholarly community through publishing (or performing or exhibiting, where relevant), presenting conference papers, and teaching.

Appropriate assessment

(25) During the supervision process, relevant and timely reviews of research progress and thesis chapters should be provided.

(26) Potential examiners are considered with attention to the appropriateness of their theoretical frameworks and research specialisations, experience and knowledge of the examination process, and influence as prospective referees. Supervisors should give supervisory assistance to the candidate in revising the thesis after examination.

Monitoring and evaluation of the supervisory relationship

(27) During the term of their candidature, Candidates will be asked for both formal and informal, confidential and open, feedback about their experience and the quality of their supervision. The University will encourage self-evaluation by Candidates about their own performance as well as the formal monitoring of their changing role in relation to supervisors. In this latter regard, it is important that the nature of the relationship between Candidate and supervisors be responsive to the developing sophistication of Candidates in line with the Core Postgraduate Attributes .

Capacity for innovation in supervisory practice

(28) Supervisors should always be alert to the possibility of new approaches to supervision (for example, group supervision to enable peer-assisted learning among graduate research Candidates, structured programs to promote progress) and alternative ways in which impact can be made on the College/University as an environment for graduate research (for example, encouragement of the College to enhance infrastructure support, success in winning research grants supportive of candidate research).

(29) The scholarly influence of the University is partly achieved through successful graduates and through encouraging publications among Candidates and graduates, and examples of good practice in supervision should be shared through seminars, conference papers, or published articles.

(30) Note: Research-related terms such as 'thesis' and 'research' need to be interpreted in the disciplinary context; in some cases, such terms should be recognised as referring to the appropriate equivalent in the field of study (for example in the visual and performing arts or in the professions).