“Misconceptions between people mostly occur due to erroneous assumptions of the interpretation of each other’s behavior.”
Quality of supervision is an important theme, of high interest to research schools, PhD candidates and supervisors. Although a PhD trajectory is focused on performance and output on a specific academic topic, supervision quality andrelationship with the supervisor are considered to be amongst the most important issues for a PhD candidate, an importance definitely not being met with the number of scientific publications on this topic. Only few literature sources,mostly policy documents, on relational aspects can be found. These indicate that motivational aspects (showing interest), content aspects (knowledge of the supervisor on the topic) and process- oriented aspects are deemed necessaryfor qualitatively good supervision (Delaney, 2008; Gill & Burnard, 2008; Leonard, Metcalfe, Becker, & Evand, 2006; Sinclair, 2004; Sonneveld, 2009; Willems, 2009). Even without further supporting evidence, it is perfectly imaginablethat a good relationship between the PhD candidate and his or her supervisor will not only enhance a candidate’s motivation; it might also increase his or her output.
PhD candidates and their supervisors do not enter the PhD trajectory as equals; their relationship is hierarchical by nature. The PhD candidate is highly dependent on his or her supervisor(s), which is reflected by the go/no-goverdict 10 months after the start of the trajectory in the Netherlands, by the quality and speed of the feedback provided by supervisors, and because of important decisions, such as when to submit a manuscript to a journal or to thethesis assessment committee, being made by supervisors, not by PhD candidates. This can cause feelings of dependency and uncertainty within a person, feelings that need to be acknowledged and handled carefully by supervisors.
Supervisors, on the other hand, may also experience doubts and difficulties in their relationship with a PhD candidate, even if they have ample experience with supervision. Whereas new supervisors might experience a lack ofsupervision skills or experience, the more experienced ones might not always be aware of the increasing gap between their own knowledge, skills and competences, and the level of those in their candidates. The supervisor’s skills, such asempathy, communication and coaching skills, are highly important for matching or mismatching with a PhD candidate (Delaney, 2008; Gill & Burnard, 2008; Sinclair, 2004).
With the present study we aim to explore relational aspects by investigating the expectations, experiences, andopinions of PhD candidates and supervisors regarding each other’s role.
“When people would give each other more space, they would undoubtedly draw closer to each other.”
To facilitate successful supervision for both supervisors and PhD candidates we will present general recommendations first, followed by separate recommendations for PhD candidates and for supervisors that are based on the findings of this study.
for Phd candidates
Blair, L. (2016). Writing a Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation. Springer.