2. Supervision

Mutual commitment for a high-quality culture of supervision

  • Doctoral programs, graduate schools and institutes define the maximum num- ber of doctoral candidates per supervisor and develop suitable measures to ensure that this is adhered to
    • „The number of PhD candidates per supervisor should be compatible with the supervisor’s cumulative workload“ (ORPHEUS & AMSE 2016: 12).
  • Each doctoral candidate is accompanied and supervised by a supervising team, consisting of at least two members with the right to award a PhD at the respective faculty. Further internal or external persons should be involved, depending on the ordinance on obtaining a doctoral degree. The supervising team should be brought together in such a way as to facilitate content-related and methodological or interdisciplinary synergies. The tasks, responsibilities and rights of the doctoral candidate and the supervising team must be clarified at an early stage and laid down in the doctoral agreement (see below).
    • „Supervision must be a collective effort with clearly defined and written responsibilities of the main supervisor, supervisory team, doctoral candidate, doctoral school, research group and the institution, leaving room for the individual development of the doctoral candidate” (EUA 2010: 5).
    • „The supervisory team and doctoral candidate need to be prepared for high level of colla- boration and commit to regular meetings involving the whole team, with each supervisor bringing complementary, discipline-based experience and networks to the project“ (Taylor et al. 2018: 42).
  • The supervising team meets at least once a year. The results of the meeting are recorded in a short protocol, or the doctoral agreement is updated. This document is then sent to the program coordinator or the relevant faculty office.

  • The doctoral programs or graduate schools inform their program members (doctoral candidates and supervisors) about regulations that affect doctoral education in general (e.g. ordinance on obtaining a doctoral degree of the respec- tive faculty or general outline of rights and responsibilities) and about program- specific regulations and structures.
  • Courses on good supervision are obligatory. Continuing training courses for supervisors and potential supervisors are offered centrally at UZH as well as through doctoral programs and graduate schools.

    • Part of Salzburg Principle 5: “Providing professional development to supervisors is an ins- titutional responsibility, whether organised through formal training or informal sharing of experiences among staff. Developing a common supervision culture shared by supervisors, doctoral school leaders and doctoral candidates must be a priority for doctoral schools. Supervisors must be active researchers“ (EUA 2010: 5).
    • Praxis an der KU Leuven: “To improve the quality of supervision, new principal investigators (PIs) are given an introductory course composed of three parts: 1) regulations and procedures, scientific integrity and the Doctoral School, 2) management and leadership, and 3) HR skills for recruitment and supervision in professional development of doctoral students“ (LERU 2016: 15).
    • Taylor et al. (2018: 31) emphasize “(...) the importance of supervisors being aware of the ins- titutional framework within which they are operating in terms of standards, expectations, eligibility and support. Often, these matters are covered in induction or initial professional development workshops for new supervisors (...)”.
  • Supervisors regularly provide constructive feedback and also express clear concerns if the doctoral candidate’s performance does not meet their expectations.
  • Supervisors are responsible for teaching good scientific practice and, together with the doctoral candidates, they are responsible for adhering to this practice.

  • The supervising team supports doctoral candidates on their career path, especially in deciding whether or not to further pursue an academic career.

  • The main supervisors are professors as well as experienced group leaders or postdocs (if this is provided for by the ordinance on obtaining a doctoral degree).

  • Meetings between the doctoral candidate and the main supervisor are held regularly.

    • "Supervisors should have regular consultations with their candidates. (...) The term ‘regular consultations’ will normally mean at minimum several times per month, but frequency will vary during the course of the programme according to the requirements of the individual PhD candidate“ (ORPHEUS & AMSE 2016: 12).
    • “International candidates may, in common with domestic ones from nontraditional back- 9 grounds, be vulnerable to isolation, deficient in role models, and subject to discrimina- tion. (...). Also, international candidates are more likely to face additional challenges ari- sing from moving countries, including culture and study shock”(e.g. different expectations of academic roles, different thinking and learning styles, lack of previous experience of research, verbal and written communication) (Taylor et al. 2018: 189-197).