I work a lot with stuck and panicking PhD researchers near the end of their time here, and from them I have some intel to share. Bear in mind then that what follows doesn’t represent an ever so typical experience, but it does represent an important and keenly felt negative experience. One we can all learn from as colleagues in researcher development: be your role full time academic superhero and supervisor, or like mine, a specialist learning and development role, I think this will be relevant to you. Read the rest of this entry »
For a festival of peace and goodwill it seems to manage to create a lot of stress and hardship. So how can you ensure you enjoy the festive season rather than feeling like you’ve been ‘sleighed’! As always we are concerned about researcher wellbeing, so here are some tips for you> All obvious? So how come you don’t do them!
Shorter days provide us with less daylight hours and your brain produces more of a hormone called melatonin, which makes you sleepy. We often have to keep going but we need to accept we will slow down over winter. To help keep your energy levels up try to eat regular meals/healthy snacks every three to four hours, rather than large meals. Regular exercise can give you an energy boost and make you feel less tired. Read the rest of this entry »
This is a gust post from Saima Eman, a PhD Commonwealth Scholar in the Psychology Department and UREC student representative at University of Sheffield. She is also a Lecturer in Psychology at the Lahore College for Women University in Pakistan.
No relationship is perfect, and a student and supervisor are very lucky if they can build a trusting and respectful supervisory relationship. In this post, I share some precautions and practical tips to get the best match for you, and maintain good student-supervisor relations throughout the PhD, drawn from my own 17 years of experience in research.
Finding out about the academic and ethical reputation, working styles, and idiosyncrasies, of the potential supervisor will be significant to your whole future career. Do not rush into making commitments, take your time. Delve deeper into institutional and group rules and procedures before formally agreeing to work on the project. Try out a pilot study at the beginning if you can, take summer projects, research assistant posts, be choosy.
I am getting well stuck in to a new project that looks at the relationship between students and supervisors. The project has its own blog and Twitter that are helping me collect stories of PhD supervision from across the country. Below are links to two pieces of writing on vulnerability on both sides of the relationship, that I have shaped up through the initial interviews and discussion groups:
‘Trust’ as a phenomenon can be understood as “willingness to accept uncertainly and make oneself vulnerable in the face of insecurity” (Hope-Hailey et al., 2012).
Through the perceptions of doctoral students and supervisors of what constitutes ‘quality’ in doctoral supervision relationships the project will develop practical tools to support academic relationship building.
So, if you are a doctoral student, or supervisor, please have a browse of the study information sheet available here, and share your supervision experiences on the main blog page. Comments are moderated so that we can ensure anonymity for everyone involved.
Announcing TRUST ME! A multi-university research study into doctoral student-supervisor relationships…
This project (@predoctorbility on Twitter) is about the relationship between doctoral students and their supervisors and it asks about the quality of that relationship: what constitutes ‘quality’, what does quality mean for learning, and how do you get a quality relationship, and how would you recognise if and when you have it?
The work I’m doing in this project looks at a the relationship between students and supervisors with a particular sharp focus. I want to understand more about what distinguishes a good quality supervision relationship, asking — it it the presence or absence of trust? And what kind of trust? We know from the literature in organisation, management and leadership studies that trust is important, and it’s mediated by the front line managers. Is it the same for student-supervisor relationships as it is for management relationships, are the academic staff the equivalent front-line managers? Opinions vary about supervision… is it leadership? What kind or leadership? What makes a good academic leader? Can supervision be more closely compared to management, or to learning and teaching. What rules apply?
I think we can at least all agree that the doctoral experience is intended to be a learning experience. Good working relationships play a critical role in workplace learning and the emotional dimension of professional work is significant (Eraut, 2004). Research into the role of emotion, and motivation as determinants of the student experience, successful completion of the doctorate, and academic ability is gaining momentum as a discipline (e.g. Cotterall, 2013; Jairam and Kahl, 2012; Wellington, 2010; Kearns et al, 2008). Emotionally competent leadership, as well as technical and intellectual mentorship is expected of academic leaders, and the need to establish good rapport and craft a ‘high-quality’ student-supervisor relationship has been emphasised (Jairam and Kahl, 2012).
So what do you think? I am collecting anonymous stories over on the TRUST ME! blog and your thoughts are needed.
Doctoral students, I’m interested in hearing about what your supervisor does that impacts on you, what makes all the difference, how are you supported, what does good supervision look like, how do you and your supervisor interact, how did you come to trust each other, is your relationship typical?
Supervisors, what’s your approach, where did you learn about supervision, how is it working for you, what does good supervision look like, what are the essentials for supervision, where does trust come from, how do you interact with your students?