PhD Researcher/Supervisor Relationship

Key to the success of the PhD project will be the PhD Researcher/Supervisor relationship.  Closely aligned with the performance indicators of the Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES), the following guidelines have been developed in order that good practice may be achieved in the development of this relationship.

In addition to the below guidelines, supervisors may wish to consider how to manage an interdisciplinary supervisory team or a team involving external supervisors or collaborators.

Supervisor InputPhD Researcher InputLinks
Have sufficient expertise in, and knowledge of, the research area in order to provide adequate supervision of the project and ensure high quality research outputs.Have a strong enthusiasm and interest in the topic area and motivation and drive to complete the PhD research. 
Discuss, identify, and agree with PhD Researcher each other’s mutual expectations and how the partnership will be managed. This process should be conducted at the start of the research programme.Participate in the negotiation of mutual expectations and agree how the partnership will be managed.

Supervision Expectations

PhD Researcher Charter

Help the PhD researcher to plan their research and progress their academic studies in order that timely submission is achieved (normally 3 years full-time, 6 years part-time).Agree, with the supervisor, the basic structure of the programme of research at the start of the process; allowing for timely completion. 
Take responsibility for the satisfactory progress of the PhD Researcher, making reasonable adjustments or putting in place remedial measures where necessary.Advise the supervisor of progress according to agreed milestones and keep clear, accurate, accessible records of work undertaken. Provide an early indication of any difficulties or problems which may inhibit progress.Research Studies Guide 

Hold regular meetings* (online and/or face-to-face) with the PhD researcher. It may be appropriate to tailor the number of meetings held in relation to the stage at which the researcher is at in the PhD process. More regular meetings may be valuable in the early stages of the PhD to ensure and encourage good progress and engagement.

*normally a minimum of 10 structured interactions/year and at least 3 full supervisory team meetings/year.

Agree appropriate intervals for meetings with Supervisor and keep records of meetings and action points.

Come to meetings prepared and submit work to agreed timetables.

Supervisory meetings can be scheduled and recorded on PhD Manager
Respond to PhD Researcher contact in a timely manner, as agreed between parties.Agree appropriate timeframe for supervisor to respond to PhD Researcher’s contact and, in turn, respond in a timely manner to supervisor contact. 
Identify the training needs of the PhD Researcher and encourage them to develop professional and research skillsIdentify training needs in consultation with the supervisor and avail of opportunities to develop skills in line with the Doctoral College Researcher Development Programme.Researcher Development Programme 

Provide  the PhD researcher with timely, constructive feedback on their work within agreed timescales*.

*while a suitable timeframe for feedback is likely to be about three weeks, researchers should normally expect to wait less than six weeks for a constructive response. Any deviation from these indicative timescales should be negotiated between the researcher and the supervisor in advance of submission of the work and the stage at which the researcher is at within in the PhD process should be considered.

Negotiate appropriate timing of submission/presentation of work to allow for timely feedback.  Work should be submitted at, or before, the agreed date. Where extenuating circumstances result in the failure to meet agreed submission deadlines, the researcher should communicate all relevant information to the supervisor and, where appropriate, agree an alternative schedule for submission.

Highlight to the PhD Researcher where standards of work or progress is unsatisfactory and arrange supportive action as necessaryBe willing to take advice/criticism from supervisor and act on this feedback.

Training available in ‘Facilitating crucial conversations’

Ensure that the PhD Researcher has the resources required to undertake the planned research

Identify required resources and discuss these with supervisor.

Ensure, where appropriate, that ethical committee approval, risk assessments, intellectual property considerations and other related considerations have been addressed.In consultation with the supervisor, ensure that ethical approval has been obtained in accordance with Ulster University’s procedures and conduct research within these parameters.

Ethical approval Forms

Encourage and instill a high standard of research ethics and an understanding of the University’s plagiarism policy.Undertake research integrity training, appreciate the importance of research ethics and apply these principles in conducting the research. Understand what is meant by plagiarism and ensure it is avoided.

Governance Code of Practice

Plagiarism policy

Help the PhD Researcher to overcome difficulties they encounter (whether of a personal or academic nature) and, where appropriate, direct them to additional sources of assistanceShare with supervisors (or appropriate others) at the earliest opportunity difficulties that are encountered and avail of relevant support.Student Support

Faculty Contacts
Guide the PhD Researcher in the preparation of the thesis and the viva voce examination.Be receptive to guidance from your supervisor, and relevant others, on how to organize and deliver the thesis and prepare for the viva.Examiner handbook
Provide guidance, encouragement and counsel regarding the future career plans of the PhD Researcher.Acknowledge areas of development for future career path and avail of development opportunities where possible, e.g. undergraduate teaching/demonstration, conference presentations etc 
Provide opportunities for the PhD researcher to network with other researchers and support them in presenting research outputs at appropriate meetings.Present outputs at relevant conferences, meetings and workshops. 
Arrange, in consultation with the wider Supervisory team and the Doctoral College for a replacement in the event of Supervisor absence for a period of typically six weeks or more. PhD Manager
Encourage prompt dissemination of research findings and agree authorship for publications. Authorship should be discussed and agreed between PhD researchers and their supervisors at an early stage, to avoid possible disputes arising. While there may be variations according to subject norms, the PhD researcher typically leads authorship on work from their PhD with their supervisors named as co-authors. However, it may be more appropriate for supervisors, rather than PhD researchers, to act as ‘corresponding authors’.Publish, in collaboration with the supervisor and in line with agreed authorship protocols, outputs from the thesis. 
Be aware of Ulster University’s Code of Practice governing situations where a supervisor has a personal involvement, relationship or interest in a PhD researcher.Be aware of Ulster University’s Code of Practice governing situations where a supervisor has a personal involvement, relationship or interest in a PhD researcher.Code of Practice

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