Supervision

Find out about supervision, why it is important, how to do it well, and how to resolve problems.

Supervision is the distinctive teaching and learning process used for graduate research education at the University of Auckland and most universities worldwide.

You can find our policies and guidelines for postgraduate and doctoral supervision here: Supervision Policies and Guidelines.

A note about supervision

Supervision can be challenging for both supervisors and students

During your supervision experience, it is useful to review your practice and try new techniques. Reflecting on what happens during the supervision process may help to bring to the surface differences between supervisor and student understandings and expectations, or to clarify thinking at critical moments in the process.

Research literature indicates that good communication is fundamental to supervision. It plays an important role in building trust and goodwill, and helps to prevent misunderstandings between supervisor and student. It benefits the effectiveness and enjoyment of supervision as well as the progress of the student’s research. In the early stages of supervision especially, regular meetings will help to establish effective communication.

Many of the resources below are intended to facilitate good communication between student and supervisor.

Find out more by reading University of Auckland research into doctoral supervision, here: Supporting doctoral writing

Deciding to get into supervision

In doctoral supervision in particular, the supervisory working relationship will go on for a long time and it is important to think carefully about your choices early on.

These checklists will help you to think through your decision, whether that's as a supervisor, a research masters student or a PhD candidate:

Getting started with supervision

Students and supervisors will likely have different expectations of supervision, so it is important to discuss these early on and make agreements for how you will work together.

The person or people you are working with may have quite different understandings of how the research process works and the time it takes to achieve certain phases of the work. Raising these items for discussion will be helpful for both of you, but especially for the student as a novice researcher.

Remember, these agreements can be renegotiated at any time in response to changing circumstances.

Research planning resources

Resolving supervision problems

Problems can arise in supervision for all sorts of reasons. The tools below will help you with informal and formal processes for resolving problems.

Supervisor accreditation