Annotated Bibliography on Supervision

  • Undergraduate Supervision

    Baker, M., Cluett, E., Ireland, L., Reading, S., & Rourke, S. (2013). Supervising undergraduate research: A collective approach utilizing group work.
    Nurse Education Today. Advance online publication. doi:10.1016/jnedt.2013.05.006
    Link to Abstract

    This article addresses the benefits of group supervision in comparison to individual supervision for undergraduate students undertaking a dissertation. The main aim of the article was to compare and evaluate the benefits of group peer supervision and individual supervision in nursing students through interviews with students and supervisors, an online forum and a questionnaire to monitor the group peer supervision and the sharing of information and ideas. An action-learning model was adopted in-group supervision sessions to create a reflective and goal directed atmosphere. The study highlighted that students’ reactions to group supervision were positive and had no negative impact on the outcomes of the dissertations. Additionally responses suggest that students valued group supervision as it provided support from peers, enabled comparison and the use of other students as ‘yardsticks’ for performance, as resources for information and as a means to solve problems.

    Tags: group supervision

    Brew, A. (2013). Understanding the scope of undergraduate research: A framework for curricular and pedagogical decision-making.
    Higher Education, 66, 603-618. doi:10.1007/s10734-013-9624-x
    Link to Abstract

    This article addresses the increasing diversity of students and supervisors and the issue of engaging students to undertake a dissertation in an undergraduate degree. The major aim of this article was to explore the current frameworks for curricular and pedagogical decision-making, and create a new framework that addresses this diversity and creates flexibility in decision-making.  While current frameworks tend to be straightforward in their focus on the nature of undergraduate research and inquiry, Brew highlights a new framework that places a student in the centre of the model, includes the institutional and departmental contexts as well as the learning outcomes, and takes on a wheel like structure that allows integration of elements in research-based learning in undergraduate degrees. This framework enables flexibility of views and learning styles of students, supervisors and course coordinators.

    Tags: framework

    Brew, A. (2010). Enhancing undergraduate engagement through research inquiry.
    (Research Report). Retrieved from the Australian Learning Teaching Council website
    Download report

    This report addresses fostering student engagement in undergraduate research and inquiry by developing and sharing protocols for good practice, as well as highlighting the merits of undergraduate research. The project facilitated study tours to 8 regional and 22 overseas universities and seven other overseas organisations to identify existing projects and resources. Additionally a survey was conducted of undergraduate research experience programs. Brew identified that often students that are not involved in undergraduate research have ambivalent attitudes towards research.

    Tags: academic, research, course, student, understand, learning

    Cullen, S. (2009). Resource guide to dissertation supervision on taught undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.
    Retrieved from The Higher Education Academy: Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Network website.
    Download report

    Cullen’s article reviews the supervisory relationship and addresses supervisory issues and concerns and the changing nature of the supervisory relationship over time. The aim of the resource guide is to provide related sources on supervision processes and expectations, roles of the supervisor, styles of supervision, adapting to differing student year groups and the changing supervisory process. This resource guide consists of articles along with short annotated bibliographies.

    Tags: supervision, expectations, supervisor, student

    Goh, S., & Ku, H. (2011). Work in progress – intervening to improve the dissertation
    Proceedings of the 41st ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference held in Rapid City, USA, 12-15 October, 2011 (pp. 1-6). Rapid City, SD: ASEE/IEEE
    Link to Paper

    The main aim of this study was to examine final year engineering students’ perceptions and abilities to produce literature reviews for their research projects. Intervention workshops provided students with tips for writing good literature reviews. A pre and post questionnaire and focus group were used to determine difficulties students had when completing their literature reviews. Questionnaire results indicated that the intervention workshops were successful in increasing awareness and understanding.

    Harrison, M. E., & Whalley, W. B. (2008). Undertaking a dissertation from start to finish: The process and product.
    Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 32, 401-418. doi:10.1080/03098260701731173
    Link to Abstract

    This article addresses the need to prepare students undertaking an undergraduate dissertation. The main aim of this study was to examine students’ experiences of being involved in an undergraduate dissertation. Questionnaires were used to examine former students’ perceptions. Additionally, the authors reviewed 32 environmental sciences departmental dissertation handbooks from a range of institutions around the UK. Results indicate that the key areas of focus in helping students are choosing and studying the right topic, ensuring student motivation and enjoyment, and good student-supervisor relationships. Key areas of difficulty for most students included time management and understanding expectations. Some suggestions to improve the student learning experience are provided.

    Tags: student, perceptions, dissertation

    Healey, M. Lannin, L., Stibble, A., & Derounin, J. (2013). Developing and enhancing undergraduate final-year projects and dissertations. (Research Report).

    Link to Report

    This report addresses the changing dynamic of final year dissertation projects in undergraduate students, such as the increasing number of students in university, the increasing diversity of backgrounds and 21st century issues that are becoming harder to identify as they are more interdisciplinary. The major aim of this report is to identify new and more creative methods of developing a dissertation through the examination of approximately 70 case studies across a range of countries. It is recommended that students and staff be equally involved and be given a choice as to the type of dissertation they undertake and the type of outcomes that are assessed to increase transformational learning among students.

    Tags: transformational learning, creative

    Jewell, E., & Brew, A. (2010). Undergraduate research experience programs in Australian universities. (Research Report).

    Link to Report

    Jewell and Brew report on the undergraduate research programs in Australian universities. Information was gathered on the history and scope of undergraduate research programs from 39 Australian universities and 31 external research institutions. Undergraduate research programs are becoming increasingly common, with 58% of the universities surveyed providing research experience as part of their undergraduate programs. However these seem to centre on the science, mathematics, engineering and technology disciplines. The major aim of undergraduate research was to encourage students to undertake honours and postgraduate research degrees. Supervisors receive little to no financial or formal benefits or recognition for their work.

    MacKeogh, K. (2006). Supervising undergraduate research using online and peer supervision
    In M. Huba (Ed.), 7th international virtual university conference held in Technical University Bratislava, Slovakia, 14-15 December 2006 (pp. 19-24). Bratislava, Slovakia: European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training.
    Link to Paper

    This article explores the roles and responsibilities of a supervisor in undergraduate dissertations for both on campus and off-campus students through the use of online methods and peer supervision. This article addresses the need for undergraduate dissertations, the roles and responsibilities of supervisors, and offers a case study of a supervision arrangement that includes a combination of online supervision, peer supervision and face-to-face meetings. MacKeogh (2006) describes the roles and responsibilities of supervisors of undergraduate students as subject experts, gatekeepers, resources for research literature, project managers, shapers, editors, promoters of student self-efficacy, and ensurers of safe and ethical research, providing support while instilling autonomy and independence. Good supervision is posited as lying on a continuum between and active and passive and direct and indirect supervision, with the most appropriate supervision for undergraduate research as indirect-active (welcome student contact, provides advice, and asks for student justifications and explanations of their ideas) and indirect-passive (adopt a listening non-directive approach, and allows the student to solve their own problems). Issues that should be considered with regards to off campus students are restricted availability of students, access to resources, research skills and authenticity of work.

    Tags: roles, supervisor, online, peer supervision

    Malcolm, M. (2012). Examining the implications of learner and supervisor
    Teaching in Higher Education, 17, 565-576. doi:10.1080/13562517.2011.641005
    Link to Abstract

    This article addresses the current gap in the literature with regards to the supervisory relationship in undergraduate dissertation research. Twenty students and 12 supervisors defined the dissertation experience during semi-structured interviews. Findings suggest that while both students and supervisors view the dissertation experience as a ‘capstone opportunity’ the greatest differences related to what exactly was achieved through the dissertation process. While supervisors conveyed a sense of exploration of a new topic and  a quest for knowledge, students viewed the dissertation as another assessment. Additionally, student reported viewing the research process as a closed process, and the challenges as inevitable, while supervisors describe a more complex and iterative process. Students and supervisors shared two major views: the importance of research as a process rather than just an outcome and the significance of learning and achievement.

    Tags: perceptions, student, supervisor, dissertation

    Melles, G. (2005). Supervising international undergraduate medical students.
    In Higher education in a changing world: Proceedings of the 28th HERDSA annual conference held in Sydney, Australia, 3-6 July 2005 (pp. 310-318). Sydney, NSW: Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia
    Link to Paper

    This article addresses undergraduate supervision, focusing on issues that face bilingual students, specifically Indonesian students. Melles interviewed twenty-seven faculty members about the challenges undergraduate international students face. The major issues faced by bilingual students, as highlighted by supervisors, are linguistic and written competence of another language in writing assessments or dissertations. Melles (2005) highlights that while students may possess spoken fluency in English, this can disguise a lack of understanding of deeper abstract conceptual ideas.

    Tags: English as a second language, cross-cultural, writing

  • Honours Supervision

    Brydon, K., & Flynn, C. (2013). Expert companions? Constructing a pedagogy for supervising honours students.
    Social Work Education: The International Journal, 1-16. doi:10.1080/02615479.2013.791971

    Brydon and Flynn address the limited research surrounding dissertation supervision of Honours students. The main aim of this research was to assess what students deemed appropriate pedagogy of supervision using interviews. Social work students who had graduated between the years of 2005-10 were sampled. Findings revealed that students that described supervision and their supervisors as using a multifaceted approach were the most satisfied. These core approaches of supervision included education (expert opinion on the methodology), administration (processes of the Honours program) and support (on aspects in life that affected individuals in the Honours year). This article may be useful in helping new and experienced supervisors in developing and establishing their role as a supervisor through providing information on the major approaches needed to ensure a satisfactory student-supervisor relationship.

    Tags: dissertation, supervision, honours, research, student, supervisor

    Fitzsimmons, P., Anderson, R., McKenzie, B., Chen, H., & Turbill, J. (2003). An eye on the prize: Fourth year honours students, thesis writing and the group supervision process.
    In Defining the doctorate: Doctoral studies in education and the creative and performing arts: Proceedings of the AARE Mini Conference held in Newcastle, Australia, October 2003 (pp. 1-12). Newcastle, NSW: AARE

    This article addresses the benefits of group supervision for students when first engaging in dissertation supervision. The main aim of this article was to discuss how students involved in a group format reacted. A Responsive Evaluation method was used to interview students, which focuses on natural communication and a naturalistic approach. Four students and supervisors were involved in this study. The study highlighted that the group format provided support and encouragement not only from a supervisor but from peers involved in the same group, allowing individuals two avenues of support to voice concerns and issues.

    Tags: honours, writing, supervision, student, dissertation, meetings, supervisor

    Manathunga, C., Kiley, M., Boud, D., & Cantwell, R. (2011). From knowledge acquisition to knowledge production: Issues with Australian honours curricula.
    Teaching in Higher Education, 17, 139-151. doi:10.180/13562517.2011.590981
    Link to Abstract

    This article addresses the Honours curricula in universities across Australia and the issues regarding the balance of coursework and research project work, from the perspectives of both students and the conveners of Honours programs. The aim of this study was to explore the effectiveness of Honours programs across Australia in facilitating a student’s transition from knowledge acquisition to knowledge production. Forty-five semi-structured interviews were conducted across seven Australian universities and supplemented with 87 student responses to an online survey. Results indicate the three key purposes for Honours programs in the facilitation of the transition from knowledge acquisition to knowledge production were to provide advanced disciplinary knowledge, research training, and a substantial independent research thesis or project.

  • Masters Supervision

    Anderson, C., Day, K., & McLaughlin, P. (2007). Mastering the dissertation: Lecturers’ representations of the purposes and processes of master’s level dissertation supervision.
    Studies in Higher Education, 31, 149-168. doi:10.1080/03075070600572017

    The aim of this study was to examine the student and supervisor perceptions of  Masters dissertations. A mixed methods approach was employed, first surveying Masters students who had just competed/were about to complete their dissertations or were just about to, followed by interviews with 13 students and supervisors separately.  Findings suggest that supervisors tend to view themselves as ‘gatekeepers’ and commit to helping students produce work that is up to standard. Additionally, most supervisors possessed a commitment to help students remain motivated and excited about their research. This is characterized as a “shaping” and ‘supporting” role. The authors state that these two roles are inseparable elements that must be incorporated in everyday practice in supervision.

    Tags: masters, dissertation, supervision, student, supervisor

    Anderson, C., Day, K., & McLaughlin, P. (2008). Student perspectives on the dissertation process in a Masters degree concerned with professional practice.
    Studies in Continuing Education, 30, 33-49. doi:10.1080/01580370701841531
    Link to abstract

    Anderson and colleagues review Masters dissertations from the perspective of Masters students post-graduation. The aim of this research was to examine, using open-ended interviews, the reasons for pursuing a Masters dissertation, orientations towards the task and experiences pursuing a dissertation in the midst of other life commitments. Participants conveyed that a good supervisory relationship was characterized by the confidence of a supervisor, assistance in shaping the project and research time, guidance on writing, a knowledgeable supervisor with research experience and the relation of specific academic advice. Anderson and colleagues warn that the results of this small-scale study may not be generalizable, but that it would be valuable to set out guidelines and processes which allow students to convey their motivation, understanding, hopes, fears and uncertainties that are related to their dissertations.

    Tags: student, dissertation, masters, research, supervision, supervisor, writing, academic, understand

    Aspland, T., Edwards, H., O’Leary, J., & Ryan, Y. (1999). Tracking new directions in the evaluation of postgraduate supervision.
    Innovative Higher Education, 24, 127-147. doi:10.1023/B:IHIE.0000008150.75564.b3
    Link to abstract

    In this article Aspland and colleagues evaluate postgraduate dissertation supervision,  identifying both student and supervisor concerns that in many universities little to no feedback is sought throughout the duration of a dissertation supervision relationship.  Based on evaluating a previous study on the current evaluative practices of supervision combined with an examination of  the issues emerging from a focus group of students and supervisors, Aspland and colleagues designed evaluative strategies for student-supervisor relationships to promote feedback. There are three different strategies/ tools prescribed by the authors, these are the Role Perceptions Rating Scale (RPRS), Student Evaluation of Postgraduate Supervision (SEPS) and Student Profile Proforma (SPP). Each of these scales were tested in a pilot program, with results suggesting they contribute to the learning environment through developing and maintaining strong supervisory relationships. Having a range of evaluative measures available for supervisors caters for the variability of types of supervisory relationships.

    Tags: supervision, dissertation, student, supervisor, learning

    de Kleijn, R. A. M., Mainhard, M. T., Meijer, P. C., Mrekelmans, M., & Pilot, A. (2013). Master’s thesis projects: Students’ perceptions of supervisor feedback.
    Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 1-15. doi:10.1080/02602938.2013.777690
    Link to abstract

    Providing feedback to students is a core component of supervising undergraduate and postgraduate students. This study examines Masters students’ perceptions of face-to-face feedback provided by supervisors. Feedback was examined in terms of focus, elaboration, and goal- relatedness and how these relate to student satisfaction with supervision and perceived supervisor contribution to learning.  Participants; Masters students  (2009-11) writing their academic thesis within the department of social and behavioural science, geosciences or humanities at a Dutch university; were surveyed using an online questionnaire. Students perceive their feedback in terms of task focus and self-regulation. Supervisors that provide positive feedback, relate how students are going and the next steps to take, are considered by students as effective. These factors are related to satisfaction with supervision experience.

    Tags: masters, student, supervisor, meeting, supervision, learning

    de Kleijn, R. A. M., Mainhard, M. T., Meijer, P. C., Pilot, A., & Brekelmans, M. (2012). Master’s thesis supervision: Relations between perceptions of the supervisor-student relationship, final grade, perceived supervisor contribution to learning and student satisfaction.
    Studies in Higher Education, 37, 925-939. doi:10.1080/03075079.2011.556717
    Link to abstract

    The student-supervisor relationship is an important aspect of supervision. De Kleijn et al  examine how the relationship between perceived interpersonal control,  affiliation and outcome measures; such as final grade, perceived supervisor contribution to learning and satisfaction; is best described. Students writing their Masters thesis in faculties of social and behavioural sciences geosciences and humanities at a Dutch university were surveyed using an online questionnaire.  A positive relationship was found between affiliation and outcome measures and between control and the perceived supervisor contribution to learning and satisfaction. A U-shaped relationship was found between control and final grade. Therefore it is important for supervisors to be perceived by their students as highly affiliative, but not highly controlling.  The results provide insight into supervisory best practice.

    Tags: masters, student, supervisor, supervision, learning

    de Kleijn, R. A. M., Meijer, P. C., Brekelmans, M., & Pilot, A. (2013). Curricular goals and personal goals in Master’ thesis projects: Dutch student-supervisor dyads.
    International Journal of Higher Education, 2(1), 1-11. doi:10.5430/ijhe.v2nlpl
    Link to abstract

    Examination of student and supervisor perceptions is an important aspect of a supervisory relationship, but few studies actually conduct a qualitative review of both student and supervisor personal and curricular goals. Three main research questions dominated this research. The first question examined the actual goals that students and supervisors have in a supervision dyad. The second question examined the similarities and differences between student and supervisor goals and the third question investigated how either a student or supervisor’s goals related to their counterpart’s perception of these goals. The scope of this research extended to masters students and supervisors only, examining 12 different student supervisor dyads from the faculties of social and behavioural sciences, geosciences and humanities at a Dutch university using semi-structured interviews. Essentially this research found that both supervisor and students have curricular and personal goals that vary greatly and that students’ curricular goals are more recognized than personal goals by supervisors. A limitation of the study is that supervisors were chosen based on their good reputation as effective supervisors, so whether this is really a representative sample of the supervisor-student dyad is questionable. The results of this study can be used to encourage supervisors to jointly explore goals with students at the start of the relationship. 

    Tags: student, masters, supervisor, research, supervision

    Drennan, J., & Clarke, M. (2009). Coursework master’s programmes: The student’s experience of research and research supervision.
    Studies in Higher Education, 34, 483-500. doi:10.1080/03075070802597150
    Link to abstract

    A lot of the research examining research supervision has addressed the relationship during the course of the dissertation, however not many have investigated this experience post completion of the thesis. Drennan and Clarke examined experiences of research supervision in students who completed a Masters in Nursing between the years of 2000 and 2005. Most graduates were satisfied with their research experience and developed a range of skills, including problem-solving skills, analytical skills and organization in planning their work. However, most students were dissatisfied with the limited interaction with other postgraduate students and the limited ability to enter into the research culture of the department. Suggested strategies to overcome these issues are group supervision and peer supervision.

    Tags: masters, course, student, research, supervision, dissertation

    Kiley, M. (2012). What are the options for a doctorate after completing my coursework masters?
    [PowerPoint slides].
    Link to Slides

    Kiley provides a set of PowerPoint slides related to entering doctoral programs following the completion of coursework masters. Interviews were conducted with 35 students, 21 supervisors and 18 coordinators of masters programs. Findings revealed that while students were generally positive about using masters as a stepping-stone to a PhD, supervisors and coordinators reviewed this as an exception rather than a general rule. Peer support was identified as essential for completion. 

    Kiley, M., & Cumming, J. (2013). The impact of changing government policies and institutional practices on master’s by coursework students in Australia: A viable pathway to the PhD?
    Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management. doi:10.1080/1360080X.201.861052
    Link to Abstract

    This article addresses the changes in policies in Australia and their influence on students undertaking masters by coursework as an entry to a PhD. The major aim of this article was to explore the extent to which a masters degree is determined suitable preparation to meet the entry requirements to a PhD research program. Semi structured interviews were conducted with 75 students, supervisors and conveners of masters coursework programs. Students were overall positive that a masters degree was considered suitable preparation for a PhD, however supervisors were more concerned due to the lack of research emphasis in masters programs. Findings also suggest that a successful positive student-supervisor relationship and the suggestion by a supervisor for a student to undertake a PhD were good indicators of a student’s possible engagement in a PhD. Coordinators indicate that while the masters by coursework pathway to a PhD is uncommon, this pathway is becoming increasingly explored by students.

    Tags: transition

    Kirton, J., Straker, K., Brown, J., Jack, B., & Jinks, A. (2011). A marriage of convenience? A qualitative study of colleague supervision of master’s level dissertations.
    Nurse Education Today, 31, 861-865. doi:10.1016/jnedt.2010.12.025
    Link to Abstract

    This article addresses the supervisory relationship from the perspectives of both students and supervisors. Fourteen students and supervisors were interviewed to explore the experiences of health care educators who have successfully completed a Masters dissertation supervised by a colleague. The research aimed to identify needs not met and establish if university policies encompassed the needs of staff while undertaking a dissertation. Four major themes emerging from the research were match making and betrothal, soul mates or not, married life and giving birth. Match making and betrothal describes the matching of students to supervisors depends on a number of factors, such as age, experience and ability. Soul mates or not addresses the quality of the relationship. Married life addresses the potential difficulties and external influences that students and supervisors face in supervisory relationships. Lastly, giving birth explores the outcome of supervision, with students reporting a sense of vulnerability in the assessment process.

    Tags: student, supervisor, perceptions

    MacKinnon, J. (2007). Academic supervision: Seeking metaphors and models for quality.
    Journal of Further and Higher Education, 28, 395-405. doi:10.1080/02098770402000298876
    Link to Paper

    This article provides a unique insight into the definition of best practice strategies of academic supervision, taking into account both MacKinnon’s experience of supervision as a student and as a supervisor. The aim of this article was to draw conclusions on some best practice strategies of supervision using metaphors to provide models of decision-making that may facilitate learning. Factors identified as contributing to the supervision relationship include the communication of expectations, supervising a student in an area of expertise, accessibility and responsiveness, and flexibility. Factors related to a student’s success, highlighted by the supervisor, were identified as encouraging peer interaction (creating academic networks), providing the student with other lecturers as a resource, and the provision of lecturer-led seminars in different areas of research to help students with the conceptualization of their research. Results also suggest the supervisory relationship is a fiduciary one, built on trust, in which both parties have shared responsibilities and expectations, but recognizes a student’s key role in decision making.

    Tags: best practice, expectations

    Reid, I., Rennie, L., & Shortland-Jones, B. (2003). Best practice in professional postgraduate coursework (Research Report).

    Link to Report

    This report examines best practice postgraduate supervision in 24 different programs in Australian universities across three major disciplines, health, business and education. Data was gathered through semi-structured interviews with staff responsible for teaching and administration and a questionnaire that gathered responses from both staff and students. Twenty-five main principles of best practice were identified and address outlining the aims of a project, flexible coursework, and having an external professional body accessible for students. Recommended strategies include collaboration, appropriate support, feedback, quality lectures and study material, clearly defined assessment methods, and constantly reviewing work. 

    Tags: best practice

  • Professional Doctorate Supervision

    Brennan, M. (1995). Education doctorates: reconstructing professional partnerships around research?
    The Australian Universities’ Review, 38, 20-22.
    Retrieved from link

    The professional doctorate provides significant opportunity to developing new approaches to research. Brennan reports on the definition of research itself, students attempts to adhere to the norms of “good research” and the need to attain “good results”. The main aim of this review was to examine students’ experiences of embarking on a PhD or doctorate research. Supervisors who are new to a student’s approach to research (e.g. action research) may misunderstand the dimensions of that approach. As a result a supervisor may not have the ability to properly supervise a student on the pitfalls of research. Brennan suggests that the term supervisor be reviewed with regards to doctorate research, recommending a more equal relationship that recognizes both parties’ areas of expertise.

    Tags: research, student, supervisor

  • General Resources on Supervision

    Berlach, R. G. (2010). Supervising a research thesis: A practical guide. (Information Report).


    This resource tool designed by the University of Notre Dame identifies best practice strategies for new supervisors of research dissertations. This resource addresses a range of issues and stages of the dissertation process, such as negotiating expectations, presenting the research process, integrity, logistics and structure of a thesis.

    Tags: best practice

    Bitchener, J., Basturkmen, H., East, M., & Meyer, H. (2011). Best practice in supervisor feedback to thesis students. (Research Report).

    Link to Report

    This report identifies best practice in supervisor feedback to thesis students across three major disciplines: Humanities, Sciences and Mathematics, and Commerce. Findings from 35 supervisors and 53 students suggested that students preferred direct feedback from supervisors, positive and constructive feedback, and an equal relationship between student and supervisor. Feedback of supervisors was found to range according to the student’s prior learning, style of learning and preferences and stage in the project. Content of feedback between students with English as a first language and those with English as a second language were consistent, though most supervisors alluded to providing extra feedback on writing techniques for students with English as a second language. Supervisor and student perspectives were generally the same across disciplines. Workshops are recommended as a solution for supervisors to identify and discuss issues in students’ writing.

    Tags: feedback, best practice

    Bruce, C. (2009). Towards a pedagogy of supervision in the technology disciplines.
    Retrieved from the Australian Learning Teaching Council website:

    This report presents a guide for research supervision in technology disciplines. The major aim of this report was to provide a framework of supervisory pedagogy based on the opinions of supervisors, detailing best practice strategies of supervision. Three major approaches to supervision were identified: scaffolding, relationship and direction setting. Eight supervisory strategies for supervisors included creating groups and structure, generating outputs, creating space, establishing collaboration, focusing on the bigger picture, negotiating expectations and pursuing established programs. This report can be useful as a resource guide to new supervisors in establishing best practice (look for ‘Resource for supervisors’ a report detailed in this project that is designed to help supervisors.)

    Tags: supervision, research, supervisor, expectations

    Bruce, C., & Stoodley, I. (2011). Experiencing higher degree research supervision as teaching.
    Studies in Higher Education, 38, 226-241. doi:10.1080/03075079.2011.576338
    Link to Abstract

    This article addresses supervision from the point of view of supervision as a teaching experience. The major aim of this article was to ascertain supervisors’ experiences through semi-structured interviews and workshops with 29 supervisors from a range of disciplines: architectural design, science and engineering, information systems and librarianship. Using a phenomenographic approach, nine different methods of experiencing higher degree supervision as teaching were ascertained. These were: promoting the supervisors’ development, upholding academic standards, imparting knowledge or academic expertise, promoting learning to research, drawing upon student skills, enabling student development, exploring new territory, forming productive communities and contributing to society.

    Tags: framework, supervision as teaching

    Evans, T. (1995). Postgraduate research supervision in the emerging ‘open’ universities.
    The Australian Universities’ Review, 38, 23-27.
    Retrieved from link

    This article addresses postgraduate dissertation supervision for part time students. The main aim of this article was to highlight the change in the types of postgraduate study and the supervision experience that occur with the introduction of part time study status of postgraduate degrees. Part time students have generally been identified as having less contact time on campus due to full time work, being mature-age students and/or having family commitments. Previous research suggests an online approach may represent a better means of communication for both part time and full time students, in which there is more independence in the supervisory relationship. This article helps address a rare aspect of dissertation supervision, and may be used to gain more insight on best practices regarding part time students.

    Tags: research, supervision, dissertation, student

    Hammond, J., Ryland, K., & Boud, D. (2010). Building research supervision and training across Australian universities.
    (Research Report). Retrieved from Australian Learning Teaching Council website
    Link to Report

    This report addresses the need to build higher degree by research supervision training in universities for both new and experienced supervisors. The major aim of this project was to identify existing supervisor training provisions and current and future needs of supervisors. Individuals and groups from different universities were surveyed and interviewed about existing supervision practices, available resources, and needs for development. Findings indicate that there is a need for systematic support for new supervisors, which helps address pitfalls and best practice. Additionally participants reported a need for local supported learning and a need for new and additional resources that detail best practice. 

    Johnston (1995). Professional development for postgraduate supervision
    The Australian Universities’ Review, 38, 16-19.
    Link to Paper

    Johnston examines the potential for professional development to change supervisory practices and relationships in postgraduate supervision. Focus groups were used to gauge student and supervisor experiences of postgraduate supervision. Students generally believed their role in the practices and strategies implemented by supervisors was minimal, but student involvement is necessary to create change if practices implemented by supervisors are not effective. The private nature of supervision acts as a barrier to evaluation of supervisory practices. The use of group supervision sessions may provide students the ability to voice common concerns and for supervisors to gauge the practices of other supervisors. 

    Kam, B. H. (1997). Style and quality in research supervision: The supervisor dependency factor.
    Higher Education, 34, 81-103. doi:10.1023/A:1002946922952
    Link to Abstract

    Kam reviews the supervision relationship in research degrees. The major aim of this article was to examine the extent to which students are dependent on their supervisor to meet their needs. Questionnaires were completed by 250 postgraduate students at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT). Findings suggest that there is no one best style of supervision. Instead, supervisory practices may vary according to the interaction of student and staff expectations, student needs and discipline. 

    Kangasniemi, M., Ahonen, S., Liikanen, E., & Utriainen, K. (2011). Health science students’ conceptions of group supervision.
    Nurse Education Today, 31, 179-183. doi:10.1016/j.nedt.2010.05.015
    Link to Abstract

    This article addresses the opinions and perspectives of undergraduate health science students of group supervision. Interviews were conducted with 77 health science students, and data analysed using inductive content analysis. Five major themes emerged: organisation of group supervision, nature of the group interaction between students, role of the supervisor and learning results. Findings suggest that successful groups comprise three to five students and a supervisor who engage in regular group meetings and self-study. Successful group supervision was reported to stem from a student centred approach and cooperative nature within the group, with interaction between peers based on peer support and informal supervision. The role of the supervisor as a scientific and theoretical expert with high commitment to the group.

    Tags: group supervision

    Kumar, V., & Lee, A. (2011). Doctoral educations in international context: Connecting local, regional and global perspectives.
    Selangor: Malaysia: Universiti Putra Malaysia Press.

    This book contains a collection of essays from around the globe, addressing the cultural diversity in which research and supervision can occur. The main aim of this book is to addresss the issues that occur in research supervision in a range of countries, discussing real life stories about supervision and doctoral experiences to better grasp of the benefits of intercultural collaboration. The importance of, and the issues surrounding, cultural exchanges and intercultural collaboration are highlighted in addition to the need to build knowledge in reference to cultural boundaries.

    Tags: cross-cultural

    Leder, G. C. (1995). Higher degree research supervision: A question of balance.
    The Australian Universities’ Review, 38, 5-8.
    Link to Paper

    This article reviews postgraduate research and the supervisory relationship. Based on a review of previous articles, the supervisor’s role was identified as including offering guidance on the realities of conducting a PhD, research topics and ethical considerations. Supervisors assist student by facilitating access to resources and conferences, and providing support and feedback. 

    Lee, A. (2013). The architecture of successful research supervision: Managing supervisors, supervisory teams and monitoring. [PowerPoint slides].

    Link to Slides

    This presentation addresses the complexity of successful research supervision, with regards to the management and monitoring of supervisors and supervisory teams. This presentation highlights a five-stem framework of research supervision, exploring functionality, enculturation, critical thinking, emancipation and relationship development, and addresses the advantages and disadvantages of this framework. Lee (2013) additionally highlights options for supervisor development, such as workshops, mentoring schemes, or policy development. Some of the advantages and disadvantages of supervisory teams are also highlighted, such as being inclusive but increasing the potential conflicts that may occur within the group. Lastly, monitoring addresses five major areas of focus for successful research supervision and provides suggestions on symbolic quality, educational quality, employability, quality assurance and the technical-rational approach.

    Tags: supervisor, framework

    Lee, A., & Green, B. (2009). Supervision as a metaphor.
    Studies in Higher Education,34, 615-630. doi:10.1080/03075070802597168
    Link to Abstract

    This article examines the question of what supervision is and how it can be defined. Ninety-six interviews across six universities were conducted to examine academic supervision practices in Australia. The authors identify three archetypal metaphors that academics use to describe supervision: authorship, discipleship and apprenticeship. Authorship describes the premise of an individual taking ownership for their research, whilst discipleship describes the  process of transformation from the known, through the breaking down of old stereotypes to the formation of a new identity. Lastly apprenticeship describes the moulding of an individual by their supervisor.

    Lee, A., & McKenzie, J. (2011). Evaluating doctoral supervision: Tensions in eliciting students’ perspectives.
    Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 48, 69-78. doi:10.1080/14703297.2010.543773
    Link to Abstract

    This article describes the development of online questionnaire, the Research Student Feedback Survey (RSFS), designed to evaluate student perceptions of doctoral supervision. The RSFS addressed four key areas within the supervisory relationship from the student’s perspective: the design, and development of the student’s research;  the role of the supervisor in helping manage the stages of research; the development of professional and academic networks;  and the development of skill areas and expertise. 

    Tags: doctoral, measurement, supervision

    Luca, J., & Wolski, T. (2013). Higher degree research training excellence: A good practice framework.
    (Research Report). Retrieved from the Office for Learning & Teaching website:
    Retrieved from link

    The main aim of this report was to promote Australian excellence in research training through the development of the Good Practice Framework (GPF). The GPF was developed to assist institutions in identifying key areas of good practice or areas that needed to be improved or developed with regards to research training processes and practices. The GPF includes dimensions (themes needed to deliver research training), components (policy and processes), quality assurance checklists, good practice guidelines and resources and external reference points. This report will be useful on an administrative level in providing a guideline for all supervisors on good practice techniques.

    Tags: research, supervisor

    Manathunga, C. (2007). Early warning signs in postgraduate research education: A different approach to ensuring timely completions.
    Teaching in Higher Education, 10, 219-233. doi:10.1080/1356251042000337963
    Link to Paper

    This article addresses supervision as a key component of higher education research, and the potential challenges and concerns students may have. The article addresses how supervisors detect and deal with early warning signs of students experiencing challenges, and explores some of the reasons why students may not wish to discuss their difficulties with their supervisor. Using a semi-structured interview process, data was collected from eight supervisors who had awards and certificates of merit for supervision, 32 students, and seven personnel for a range of university support services. Four major warning signs were identified: constantly changing topic, avoiding communication with one’s supervisor, increased isolation from peers, and avoiding submission of work. Results suggest that students may avoid seeking counsel, as issues may be personal, related to the supervisory relationship, the research project or health related. Techniques that supervisors report using to deal with these issues include, providing personal guidance, regular supervision, using a pedagogical focus, scaffolding, focusing on personal and professional development, increasing student confidence and developing and increasing student access to the research culture.

    Tags: completion

    Matthews, L. (2007). Dissertation: issues in guidance, supervision and assessment.
    (Doctoral dissertation). Northumbria University, Newcastle, U.K.

    This dissertation explores the nature and purpose of dissertations in general, addressing issues relating to the supervisory relationship and assessment of dissertation. Information is provided on the mechanics of a dissertation and how students and supervisors can be better prepared. Best practice strategies for supervisors and conveners include the need for consistency amongst supervisors within departments, allowing for each individual teaching style, but ensuring students don’t feel either advantaged or disadvantaged through the differing teaching approaches, frequency of contact, and general sensitivity to student needs.

    Tags: best practice

    McCallin, A., & Nayar, S. (2012). Postgraduate research supervision: A critical review of current practice.
    Teaching in Higher Education, 17, 63-74. doi:10.1080/13562517.2011.590979
    Link to Abstract

    This article explores postgraduate research supervision and its major influences. Extant research literature is analysed identifying research context, faculty issues, supervision pedagogy and the general models of supervision as key factors influencing research supervision. Student feedback indicates their need for structure and support, which is sometimes contrary to supervisors who view their role as to help a student through dependency, interdependency and finally to independence.

    Tags: models

    McMichael, P. (1992). Tales of the unexpected: Supervisor’s and student’s perspectives on short-term projects and dissertations.
    Educational Studies, 18, 299-310. doi:10.1080/0305569920180304
    Link to Abstract

    This article explores student and supervisor expectations in supervisory relationships. Twenty-two staff-student undergraduate and postgraduate supervisory dyads were interviewed. Results suggest that supervisors’ expectations of their own role were to be supportive, but flexible, leaving students with the decision making power, a director, to encourage self-questioning, and an editor, providing prompt feedback. Student expectations of a supervisor’s role revealed many similarities with supervisors’ expectations, however differences include a heavier emphasis on the need for guidance (support), timely responses, easier accessibility, and to listen and encourage ideas. Supervisor expectations of a student’s role included aspiring to produce high quality work, displaying competence in communication and showing dedication to skill acquisition. In addition, students were expected to be organized and display independence, indicating a strong emphasis on the personal qualities of students. Similarly students expectations of their own role were to work hard, show dedication, meet deadlines, show initiative and take responsibility for their project (independence). This highlights the need for both students’ and supervisors’ needs and expectations to be continually reviewed in a supervisory relationship.

    Tags: student, supervisor, expectations, perceptions

    Nulty, D., Kiley, M., & Meyers, N. (2009). Promoting and recognizing excellence in the supervision of research students: An evidence-based framework.
    Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 34, 693-707. doi:10.1080/02602930802474193
    Link to Abstract

    This article examined research supervision in postgraduate degree, specifically identifying supervisory excellence. The aim of this article was to identify the various supervisory roles supervisors may embody throughout a PhD/ Masters student’s degree, a map of supervisory excellence and a provide a template for report writing. From a candidate’s point of view, some of the roles a supervisor may take throughout the dissertation are: a mentor, a sponsor, a facilitator progressing the candidature role, and a coach. Nulty and colleagues identify three interplaying dimensions of supervision that influence the supervisory situation: the nature of the group, the role of the supervisor and whether the supervisor works, alone, with a partner, or in a team. This article highlights the complexity in determining ‘good’ supervisory practice. The map that evidences supervisory excellence takes into account stakeholder groups, purposes of each group for collecting data, quality management process, and supporting data.

    Tags: supervisor, roles, best practice

    Peterson, E. B. (2007). Negotiating academicity: Postgraduate research supervision as category boundary work.
    Studies in Higher Education, 32, 475-487. doi:10.1080/03075070701476167
    Link to Abstract

    This article explores postgraduate supervision as a process of category boundary work, identifying the process of doctoral education as part of identity formation as well as knowledge production. This article examines and produces an analytical tool of how academic cultures and subjectivities are produced. The idea of supervision as category boundary work examines the premise that supervision is about identifying explicit boundaries, pushing these limits and reinforcing them, with a supervisor’s own boundaries being challenged or reinforced simultaneously. Research suggests that this category boundary perspective is practiced without conscious thought by supervisors but is one that supervisors should encourage students to develop. Essentially, the supervisory relationship is one that highlights dependence for both the supervisor and student.

    Tags: supervisor, boundaries

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