Working with your supervisors

Candidate-supervisor relationships are key to a successful doctoral experience.

On this page, you can explore a summary of expectations for doctoral candidates and supervisors, links to important supervision policies and procedures, and resources to help you navigate supervisor relationships.

You can find our policies and guidelines for postgraduate and doctoral supervision at Doctoral Supervision Policies and Procedures

Supervisors can access a range of supervision resources at the Supervision Hub.

Roles and responsibilities

For a full list of responsibilities for supervisors and candidates, visit Doctoral Supervision Policies and Procedures, clause 26–34. 

In summary, doctoral candidates are expected to: 

  • Take responsibility for learning and show initiative and self­-motivation​
  • Maintain open communication with supervisors​, including talking about the type of guidance and comments that are most helpful 
  • Take the initiative in organising supervisory meetings according to an agreed schedule, attend all meetings fully prepared, and circulate notes from meetings​ 
  • Maintain the progress of the work in line with the agreed stages and give attention to the feedback given by supervisors 
  • Take the initiative in raising problems or difficulties, and alert the supervisors to any issues arising that might impact on the ability to progress the research 

In summary, supervisors are expected to: 

  • Give guidance on the nature of research, expectations, literature and sources, resources, research techniques and referencing 
  • Discuss the level of contact needed, be accessible and maintain contact 
  • Discuss publications, scholarly work and fieldwork, if required 
  • Give guidance on data management and academic conduct, and discuss issues of copyright and intellectual property 
  • Request written work as appropriate, and give constructive feedback  
  • Direct the candidate to presentations, conferences, organisations and other experts 
  • Monitor the candidate’s progress and quality of work 
  • Help candidates prepare for examination 

Supervision conversations

Doctoral candidates and supervisors may have different expectations of supervision, so it is essential to discuss these early on and record decisions for how you will work together. To help guide these discussions, you can use the Supervision conversations discussion guide and discussion record below. 

Resolving supervision problems

Supervision is a complex process and problems can arise for all sorts of reasons. When issues arise, there are several ways to deal with them. The resource below will help you with informal and formal processes for resolving problems.