Doctoral Supervision Policy and Procedures
Doctoral candidates and their supervisors at the University.
To specify the policy and procedures for the supervision of doctoral candidates.
1. A main supervisor holds primary responsibility for the provision of academic advice and support, for associated administrative requirements and for assistance with access to research resources.
2. Joint supervisors hold joint responsibility for the provision of academic advice and support. Primary responsibility for administrative requirements must be held by one (University of Auckland-based) joint supervisor.
3. A co-supervisor is proactive in providing academic advice and support to the candidate and other members of the supervisory team.
4. Adviser/s provide advice on specific aspects of the research and/or candidature.
5. Responsibility for the quality of work, and for compliance with doctoral regulations, policy and procedure, ultimately rests with the candidate.
6. Relevance, equivalence and appropriateness, where invoked in this policy and associated procedures, are determined by the Board of Graduate Studies (or delegate).
Appointment of supervisors
7. For each doctoral candidate, the Board of Graduate Studies (or delegate) must appoint, in accordance with this policy and with the procedures below,
a) a main supervisor and one or more (up to a maximum of three) co-supervisor/s
b) two joint supervisors. The appointment of two joint supervisors precludes the appointment of one or more co-supervisors.
8. In addition, the Board of Graduate Studies (or delegate) may, where appropriate, appoint one or more adviser/s for each candidate.
9. All supervisors (main, joint and co-) must hold the doctoral degree for which the candidate is enrolled, or an equivalent qualification, or a substantial and appropriate record of research outputs.
10. Where scholarly creative work is to be submitted as part of the thesis requirement for the PhD, the appointment of the supervision team is also subject to the requirements of the PhD Including Scholarly Creative Work Policy and Procedures.
11. All supervisors (main, joint and co-) must be actively involved in research in the candidate’s general field.
12. The main supervisor must be an academic staff member at the University of Auckland with a contractual obligation to undertake research, and be accredited as a main supervisor in accordance with clauses 37 and 38 of the procedures below.
13. At least one of the joint supervisors must be an academic staff member at the University of Auckland with a contractual obligation to undertake research, and be accredited as joint supervisor in accordance with clauses 37 and 39 of the procedures below.
14. Honorary University of Auckland staff members are not eligible to be main supervisors; they may be appointed as joint supervisors (or as co-supervisors) but may not hold primary responsibility for administrative requirements.
15. Co-supervisors or advisers will normally be members of the academic staff of the University of Auckland, or of another tertiary institution or appropriate research organisation. Where the co-supervisor is a staff member at the University of Auckland, they must be accredited as a co-supervisor in accordance with clause 37 of the procedures below.
16. Persons who are themselves candidates for doctoral degrees at any institution are not normally eligible for appointment as supervisors for the same degree but may be appointed as advisers.
17. There is no provision to split EFTS between universities or other institutions.
18. Any payment of external co-supervisors or advisers is a matter for the academic unit to determine and fund.
19. University of Auckland staff on fixed term contracts who have the likelihood of funding for the expected period of supervision may be appointed as main supervisors. In such circumstances, a co-supervisor or joint supervisor should be appointed who is not on a fixed term contract, in order to maximise stability of supervision. Staff on fixed term agreements appointed as main supervisors or joint supervisors should be informed that appointment as a supervisor does not imply or give any expectation of permanent employment.
Changes in supervision
20. The Board of Graduate Studies (or delegate) may approve a change to the supervision team, where the Board of Graduate Studies (or delegate) is satisfied that such a change is warranted. Whilst the Board of Graduate Studies (or delegate) will take into consideration the candidate’s views on supervision, it reserves the right not to change supervision and, when changing supervision, to determine the appointment of supervisor/s according to the availability of suitably qualified staff.
21. Where a main supervisor resigns or retires, a new main supervisor must be appointed in accordance with this policy and associated procedures. A resigning or retiring supervisor may, where willing, and subject to approval from the Board of Graduate Studies (or delegate), continue as a joint supervisor, co-supervisor or adviser.
22. Where a joint supervisor resigns or retires, a new joint supervisor must be appointed, or a main supervisor and co-supervisor must be appointed for the candidate in accordance with this policy and associated procedures.
23. Where a co-supervisor resigns or retires, a new co-supervisor must be appointed, except where the requirements of clause 7 of this policy are otherwise satisfied.
24. Supervisors must:
- inform the candidate in advance of any leave of more than 4 weeks
- in the event of an absence of 4 weeks or more, either arrange, with the approval of the Academic Head, for another staff member to take up temporary supervisory duties, or put in place arrangements for distance supervision that satisfy the expectations at clause 31 of this policy
25. Candidates are subject to the Doctoral Off-campus Research Policy and Procedures and must also:
- negotiate the timing of periods of annual leave with their supervisors
- advise their supervisors if they are unavoidably absent from their research environment for more than two weeks (e.g. due to illness or whānau/family obligations)
Responsibilities and expectations
26. Before enrolment, the candidate and one or more supervisor/s are expected to discuss:
- the proposed thesis research project
- the resources required to carry out the research and their availability
- the support required to bring the research to a successful completion
- any IP issues presented by the research
- publications and authorship
- the respective obligations of supervisor/s and candidate in order to avoid possible misunderstandings
27. After enrolment, and at the outset of the research, the candidate and one or more supervisor/s are expected to discuss:
- student/supervisor roles
- the frequency, duration and purpose of supervisory meetings
- intellectual property, commercialization, patents and publications resulting from the research (including author order)
- academic integrity and the ethics of research
28. Where ethics approval is required, the supervisor/s must give guidance on the ethics approval process.
29. It is the candidate and supervisor/s joint responsibility to ensure that formal ethics approval is obtained prior to the conduct of the relevant research.
30. In the case of applications to the University of Auckland Human Participants Ethics Committee, all applications from candidates must be submitted by the appropriate supervisor.
31. During study, the candidate is expected to meet at least once a month (FTE) with one or more supervisor/s, but in some research areas and/or at some stages of thesis research, more frequent meetings may be appropriate.
32. Approximately six months (FTE) into the enrolment, candidates and their supervisor/s should consider the research activities and achievements to date and discuss progress towards achieving identified objectives, including confirmation milestones.
33. Supervisor/s are expected to
a) at the start of supervision:
- give guidance about the nature of research and the standard expected, about the planning of the research programme, about literature and sources, resources and their availability, and about requisite techniques (including arranging for instruction where necessary)
- discuss with the candidate the level of contact needed, for example through in-person and virtual meetings and by electronic means
- if publications and/or scholarly creative work will be involved, discuss and plan accordingly
- give advice on the timetable for preparation of material
stipulate health and safety training and lab induction requirements (where applicable)
- give guidance as to data management and appropriate academic conduct (including ethical conduct)
- discuss with the candidate issues of copyright and intellectual property
b) during the programme:
- ensure, as far as is possible, that an appropriate schedule of contact is maintained
- be accessible to the candidate at appropriate times when the candidate may need advice
- give advice on the necessary completion dates of successive stages of the work so that the whole may be submitted within the scheduled time
- request written work as appropriate, and return that work with constructive feedback and in reasonable time
- give guidance as to the referencing style and layout to be used in written work
- draw the candidate’s attention to any important new results or concepts that may have come to the attention of the supervisor through the supervisor's contacts with other professionals and researchers
- provide guidance in fieldwork in the case of field-based research
- direct the candidate to other experts in the discipline, if appropriate, and advise on relevant conferences and organisations
- arrange, as appropriate, for the candidate to talk about their work to individual staff or in seminars and to have practice in oral presentation of the research
- monitor the candidate’s progress and quality of work and ensure that the candidate is made aware in writing of any inadequacy the supervisor notes with regard to expected standards
- keep written records in relation to the supervision, and in particular of any concerns that have been communicated to the candidate
- ensure in the final stages of thesis preparation that they are available, within reason, to read drafts and provide prompt and appropriate written comments on those drafts
c) in the lead-up to an oral examination:
- help the candidate understand the examiners’ comments and how they might be addressed
34. Candidates are expected to:
- take responsibility for their learning and show initiative and self-motivation in their research as part of developing their intellectual independence
- maintain clear, open communication with supervisors
- comply with health and safety directives
- take the initiative in raising problems or difficulties, including difficulties with accessing sources or resources
- discuss with the supervisor/s the type of guidance and comments that are most helpful, and agree on a schedule of meetings
- take the initiative in organising supervisory meetings according to the agreed schedule, and take and circulate notes from meetings
- maintain contact as agreed with supervisor/s and attend all arranged meetings with the supervisor/s fully prepared
- give serious attention to the guidance and feedback given by the supervisor/s and negotiate between feedback from members of the supervisory team should it differ
- maintain the progress of the work in accordance with the stages agreed with the supervisor/s, including, in particular, completing and presenting written material as required in sufficient time to allow for comments and discussion before proceeding to the next stage
- alert the supervisor/s to any issues arising that might impact on the ability to progress the research
- decide when they wish to submit the thesis (subject to statutory requirements), taking due account of the supervisor’s opinion, and ensuring that University deadlines are complied with
35. In the event of a breakdown in relations between the candidate and supervisors, recourse should normally be to the Academic Head or Graduate Adviser in the first instance. See also Resolution of Student Academic Complaints and Disputes Statute.
36. An Academic Head may, where they regard it as in the interests of the supervisory relationship, mandate that supervision meetings are attended by a further party.
37. To gain accreditation, all supervisors employed by the University of Auckland (main, joint and co-) must:
i. be employed in an academic staff position where the employment agreement includes a requirement that they undertake research
ii. be research active
iii. satisfy the requirements at clauses 39 and 40 below to be accredited as main or joint supervisor respectively
iv. attend the School of Graduate Studies’ policy and procedures training
v. attend introduction to supervision training if they have not previously supervised a doctoral candidate through to completion at any institution.
38. To maintain accreditation, all supervisors employed by the University of Auckland (main, joint and co-) must continue to satisfy the requirements of Clause 37 (i) to (iii) and, in addition:
i. complete School of Graduate Studies’ policy and procedures training at least once every five years
ii. complete 4 additional supervision development activities approved by the School of Graduate Studies every 5 years of active employment.
39. To be accredited as a main supervisor, a University of Auckland staff member must either
a. have supervised a doctoral candidate through to completion as a co-supervisor at the University or as a main supervisor at another university
b. (i) be supervising a candidate with a University of Auckland staff member who has (subject to the note following this clause) supervised a doctoral candidate through to completion as a main supervisor, and who is delivering at least 30% of the supervision and providing appropriate mentoring to the main supervisor.
Note: Where the Board of Graduate Studies (or delegate) deems it appropriate, a University of Auckland staff member who has supervised a doctoral candidate through to completion as a co-supervisor at the University may be appointed as the mentor co-supervisor for the purposes of the accreditation of a main supervisor under clause 39 (b)(i).
(ii) participate in at least two doctoral supervision development opportunities approved by the School of Graduate Studies, in addition to those required at clause 37 above, within 12 months of taking on their first doctoral main or joint supervisory role.
40. To be accredited as a joint supervisor, a University of Auckland staff member must either
a. have supervised a doctoral candidate through to completion as a co-supervisor at the University or as a main supervisor at another university.
b. (i) be jointly supervising the candidate with a University of Auckland staff member who has (subject to the note following this clause) supervised a doctoral candidate through to completion as a main supervisor, and who is providing appropriate mentoring to the joint supervisor.
Note: Where the Board of Graduate Studies (or delegate) deems it appropriate, a University of Auckland staff member who has supervised a doctoral candidate through to completion as a co-supervisor at the University may be appointed as the mentor joint supervisor for the purposes of the accreditation of a joint supervisor under clause 40 (b)(i).
(ii) participate in at least two doctoral supervision development opportunities approved by the School of Graduate Studies, in addition to those specified at clause 37 above, within 12 months of taking on their first doctoral main or joint supervisory role.
Note: For Clauses 39b (i) and 40b(i) above, appropriate mentoring includes meeting with the main or joint supervisor at least twice each year to discuss supervision practice, without the candidate present.
41. The Academic Head is responsible for ensuring that the mentoring requirements at clauses 39b(i) and 40b(i), and the training requirements at clauses 38(i-ii), 39b(ii) and 40b(ii), are met.
Distribution of supervision
42. Where a candidate has a main supervisor accredited in accordance with 39a above, and one or more co-supervisors, the distribution of supervision must conform to one of the following models:
• Main Supervisor 80%; Co-Supervisor 20%
• Main Supervisor 70%; Co-Supervisor 30%
• Main Supervisor 60%; Co-Supervisor 40%
• Main Supervisor 60%; Co-Supervisor 1: 20%; Co-Supervisor 2: 20%
• Main Supervisor 60%; Co-Supervisor 1: 20%; Co-Supervisor 2: 10%; Co-Supervisor 3: 10%
43. Where a candidate has a main supervisor accredited under 39b above, and one or more co-supervisors, the distribution of supervision must conform to one of the following models:
• Main Supervisor 70%; Mentor Co-Supervisor 30%
• Main Supervisor 50%; Mentor Co-Supervisor 30%; Co-Supervisor 20%
44. Where a candidate has two joint supervisors accredited under 40a above, the distribution of supervision must be as follows:
• Joint Supervisor 50%; Joint Supervisor 50%
45. Where a candidate has two joint supervisors, one of whom is accredited under 40b above, the distribution of supervision must be:
• Joint Supervisor 50%; Mentor Joint Supervisor 50%
Changes in supervision
46. The head of the academic unit responsible for the subject in which candidate is enrolled is responsible for managing the process for consideration and determination of changes in supervision.
47. Changes in main or joint supervision that cross academic units require the consent of the academic head of the unit in which the new main or joint supervisor is based.
The following definitions apply to this document:
Academic Head refers to the head(s) of the relevant academic unit(s), or their nominee(s) for the purposes of doctoral matters.
Academic integrity means the ethical practices of the academic community, including honest execution of research and study and the acknowledgement of sources.
Academic unit may refer to a faculty, Large Scale Research Institute (LSRI), school or department.
Accredited supervisors are those who have met the criteria outlined in Doctoral Supervision Policy and Procedures.
Confirmation milestones are the activities that a candidate must complete, to the satisfaction of the named party or at the required standard, in order to be confirmed in their doctoral programme.
Co-supervisor is the supervisor who assists the main supervisor in the supervision of the candidate.
Doctoral candidates are students who are enrolled in doctoral degrees at the University.
Graduate adviser means the advisory role held by an academic within an academic unit. This role may also be known as a postgraduate adviser.
Joint supervisors are the two supervisors who share responsibility for the supervision of a candidate and for assistance in the provision of research resources. At least one of the joint supervisors must be a University staff member.
Main supervisor is the lead supervisor who takes overall responsibility for the supervision of a candidate and for assistance in the provision of research resources.
Staff member refers to an individual employed by the University on a full or part time basis.
Supervisor/s refers to main supervisor, or one or both joint supervisor(s), or co-supervisor.
Thesis is a substantial presentation of the outcome of an original and coherent doctoral research project. It situates the research in the broader framework of the disciplinary field(s), and entails a cohesive written document.
University means the university of Auckland and includes all subsidiaries.
Key relevant documents
Include the following:
Document management and control
Content manager: School of Graduate Studies
Owner: Dean of Graduate Studies
Approved by: Board of Graduate Studies, Senate and Council
Date approved: March 2023
Review date: March 2028