Top 9 Responsibilities of a Good PhD Supervisor

By | September 7, 2019

The role of a good PhD supervisor always includes major responsibilities. Here are some doctoral guidelines of a good PhD supervisor.

  • The first role of PhD supervisor is to guide a scholar.
  • Another responsibility is to motivate doctoral scholar timely.
  • Help PhD student to publish research papers in a reputed journals.
  • Being a PhD supervisor, give creative Ideas to your scholars.
  • Being responsible to look for new outcomes from PhD scholars.
  • The another role of a PhD supervisor is to prepare a progress report.
  • Meet your PhD doctorate student once a week.
  • Encourage PhD scholar in times of depression and stress.
  • PhD supervisor must set an example by his own lifestyle.

One of the top roles and responsibilities of good PhD supervisor is to ensure that doctoral scholars are capable of planning their research properly.

They have the mandate of assisting PhD scholars to come up with specific research topics that are relevant to their fields of study.

It is essential that the scholar should be able to identify the relevant literature texts where to collect content by ensuring that the texts have the required content.

A PhD supervisor must feel responsible to guide the scholar identify different databases where reliable information is accessible.

Each discipline has its professional standards that one is required to follow, and therefore it is the work of the PhD supervisor to aid the scholar in understanding the professional standards and ensuring that the study complies with the same.

The other responsibility of a PhD supervisor is to work together with the scholar design a research program that incorporates the scholar having written if not all, much of the thesis before completion of the course.

In some instances, it may be necessary for the student to enroll in courses that educate how to carry out research and therefore it is the role of the supervisor to advice on the way forward. Generally, the supervisor ensures that the scholar equips themselves with the knowledge on how to conduct effective research.

Responsibility of giving ideas

Although the supervisor guides the scholar on how to come up with appropriate research topics, it is one PhD supervisor’s role and responsibility to ensure that the latter is capable of coming up with their authentic ideas.

They are not supposed to give particular research topics for the doctoral scholar to work on rather they are supposed to give ideas related to the field of study and let the scholar choose their topics. By so doing, the supervisor refrains from directly influencing the topics.

Upon acting as guides, the scholar assumes the greatest responsibility of basing the research on their understanding of what they have learned in the course.

The supervisor should not encourage directing scholars on their research, but they should take the role of asking questions that enable the latter to articulate their ideas.

Although many recipients may feel that simply giving ideas is not the best way to go about it. Besides, it is a recommendation that scholars must be able to think for themselves. The ideas are given by the supervisor stimulate the mind of the scholar.

Also, it enables them to come up with research topics that they have chosen for themselves, and therefore they will be motivated to work on the same.

Currently, as it is, anyone is capable of publishing their work in any journal, and therefore there has to be a difference between the scholar and any other person who feel that they are capable of writing. The difference between the scholar and anybody else that wish to publish their writing is that there are academic journals.

These journals are reputable which means that authors that have their work published in them are held in high regard hence are credible.

In most cases, the PhD supervisor is known as the corresponding author which means that the database where the scholar publishes the research paper also affect their reputation.

Nonetheless, the supervisor has been in the field more than the scholar, and therefore they are capable of determining which publishers are reputable as well as advising the scholar which journals are the best.

Apart from academic journals, other reputable journals are useful in building the reputation of the researcher. When a researcher publishes a paper in good journals, the doctoral scholar becomes marketed which means that it becomes easier for them to notice them in the market.

Furthermore, such publications stand a good chance of being read many times compared to other writings that have been published in a less reputable journal.

Conduct Coursework and offer help to finish it

Before the scholar can complete their Ph.D. program, it is necessary to complete coursework because it enables them to prepare for their dissertation because it is necessary for them to acquire a proper understanding of their field.

The primary reason for this is that it enables the scholar to pose a research question that narrows down to their chosen field.

Therefore, the roles and responsibility of a PhD supervisor is  to prepare the doctoral scholar for their dissertation by guiding them through coursework.

There are different courses that the scholar may opt to take most of which include major subjects such as Business Management, Research Methodology and Fundamentals of Computer Application to mention a few.

Once a graduate registers for a Ph.D. Program, it is a requirement that the scholar undertakes a Pre-coursework which usually takes six months or more.

Although different universities have different subjects for various fields according to their preference, it is the duty of the supervisor to advice the scholar on the most appropriate subjects for the doctorate program in concern.

After selecting the pre-course work, the supervisor should ensure that they support the scholar mostly mentally by explaining the importance of the coursework.

The PhD supervisor is not required to spend a lot of time with the scholar to guarantee that the latter will be successful in the doctorate program.

However, it is the biggest responsibility for a supervisor to ensure that they keep a close look at how the scholar is doing by submitting progress report semester wise and during doctoral committee meetings.

The primary function of the supervisor as the name suggests is supervising, and the best way to do this is by facilitating committee meetings regularly.

It is essential that the supervisor and the candidate make arrangements as to which is the best schedule for both of them to meet. It enables the supervisor to monitor how the candidate is faring in their studies.

After monitoring has, the supervisor has to inform the chairperson of the candidate’s committee how the scholar is progressing.

There are instances whereby it may be necessary to record information for later use by the administration. , and therefore it is the responsibility of the supervisor to inform the PGO which information is necessary for recording.

Before the candidate and the scholar meet, the latter submits rough drafts which the former checks thoroughly. Discussing changes and improvements during the meeting is necessary.

Check the progress time and again

The primary role of PhD supervisor is to assist and guide students during the duration that they are studying for their doctorate programs. In most cases, the role of the supervisor is often misunderstood with that of the examiner. Unlike the latter, the supervisor is not mandated with the responsibility of assessing the student’s thesis’ on the contrary, the supervisor is required to ensure that the candidate can access the necessary resources required for the Ph.D.

The supervisor should assist the doctoral student to select the most appropriate coursework before they begin their program. The scholar is required to complete their dissertation at the end of the postgraduate program. Before this happens, the scholar writes several drafts before the final copy. The supervisor has to monitor these drafts regularly and make recommendations to ensure that the scholar is on the right track.

During research, scholars may find it difficult to find reliable information, and therefore the supervisor must recommend suitable databases where such information can be accessed. The supervisor ensures that reliable sources are used to collect relevant information for use in the thesis. The supervisor is required to ensure that the scholar chooses a research topic relevant to their field.

Make time to meet up with your scholar

A PhD supervisor is required to closely monitor the welfare of the scholar to ensure that they not only complete their program as scheduled, but they should also perform well and meet the standards required by the discipline. The primary function of the supervisor is to monitor and give advice that may be useful to the school during the period they are registered for study. The best way to execute this duty is to keep in touch with the scholar on a regular basis. It enables the supervisor to keep track of how the candidate is faring regarding their thesis.

Constant communication ensures that the supervisor is capable of giving timely advice which in turn enable the scholar to have enough time to make necessary adjustments to their thesis. Not only does this enable corrections on time, but it also enables the supervisor to ensure that the scholar has completely understood how to conduct research.

PhD supervisor can determine whether the sources used are reliable and credible. Furthermore, regular communication between the two parties enables the PhD supervisor to assist the latter to allocate their time properly so that they can concentrate on their thesis. Also, they are able to offer advice regularly which minimizes errors in the dissertation since there is early detection of the same.

Keep up to be a Professor in the university

It is necessary to understand that a Ph.D. degree is not offered by an individual, rather, it is given by a university. It is necessary for the supervisor to be a professor in an institution of higher learning because this comes up as an added advantage since it means that they are in a position to offer proper advice.

Although different countries have different education systems, it is necessary for the PhD supervisor to be an instructor at a university. It ensures that they are capable of giving advice which may be motivated by past and present experiences. Furthermore, it is advisable for the supervisor to be an instructor because when the scholar is selecting their supervisor because they may find it easier to work with one that is teaching in their field of choice.

A supervisor who is also teaching in a university is in a position to assist the scholar to relate their studies to contemporary issues which makes the doctoral scholar understand the relevance of the doctorate program to the real world. Also, it ensures that the supervisor is active in the teaching process because this enables them to give effective advice compared to one who did their degree some time back and mainly concentrate on their jobs.

When the scholar is doing their pre-coursework, among the teachings they gain is identifying reliable information which is accessible in reputable databases. The scholar is required to publish their work of which in most cases the supervisor has a moral obligation to co-author research papers with the scholar.

When a registered scholar is identifying the best supervisor, they check whether the mentioned has made publications. Therefore, it is necessary for the PhD supervisor to have publications that have been accepted in renowned databases. The reason for this is that it stands out as a valuable qualification on the part of the supervisor. When they have publications in reputable databases, it means that they are capable of assisting other doctorate scholars in producing good work that can be recognized internationally rather than in the institutions where they work.

Another important thing is that it enables the supervisor to advise the scholar where to publish their work since there are many bad journals that the scholar be unaware and if they publish their work it ends up being owned by other people. Conclusively, the main n for the supervisor to have reputable publications is to recommend where to publish, and it also serves as a way of showing that they are qualified for the job.

In most cases, supervisors have more than one scholars under their care, and therefore it is recommended for the former to ensure that they do not have more than 9 scholars. Although professors are not required to meet their scholars on a daily basis, the job is still demanding since it takes time to read through the drafts in order to give effective advice. Also, PhD supervisors have other responsibilities such as teaching and also other jobs such as personal business.

In other cases, the supervisor may also be furthering their studies. This means that the supervisor has a lot in their hands and therefore if they have many scholars, they may be unable to have adequate time for individual scholars. Besides, supervisors are required to closely monitor the scholar’s progress so that errors can be detected early and corrections made in due time.

When they have many scholars, there is a high likelihood that they will not perform their duties effectively since they may not have enough time for the scholar. It is essential that the supervisor should work closely with the scholar to ensure that they are in a position to write good papers that can be published in reputable journals.

Guide 6 research scholars (If you are an associate professor) 

Although there is a slight difference between a professor and an associate professor, this is not the reason why an associate is required to handle a maximum of 6 scholars. The primary reason is that the associate professor is not a tenured faculty member. Due to this, many scholars feel that they may require a co-adviser who is a faculty member.

The responsibilities assumed by the two kinds of PhD supervisors are the same, and the only difference is that one is a professor is a tenured faculty member while an associate professor is not tenured. The implication is that the associate professor may opt to leave the university and choose to work in the industry.

Although it may not be entirely true, in most cases an associate professor does not have as much experience compared to the professor. All in all, the associate professor must ensure that all their scholars complete their thesis in good time. The candidates should not only complete the projects but should also deliver papers that can be published by reputable publishers as well as in reputable journals.

Do not be a supervisor for more than 4 (as assistant professor) 

An assistant professor also has the capabilities of the professor and the associate professor. However, the number of scholars is limited to a maximum of 4. While carrying out their teaching activities in the university, the assistant professor has a lot of responsibilities that make it impossible for them to have adequate time to monitor many scholars.

One should also remember that there is a high probability that they are also working on their doctorate program. This is because they also wish to attain the full professor title. Furthermore, they also have other obligations such as family matters and other personal interests.

It is customary for the PhD supervisor and the scholar to co-author a research paper but this at times fail to yield the real objective. There are cases where the supervisor may feel that the work is their idea and the scholar merely did the research. A lot of research has been conducted previously and therefore when the one in question happens to be a unique idea that has not been done before, the supervisor may be tempted to own the work or publish the same as the first author.

When the two parties start developing a negative attitude towards each other, their working relationship deteriorates thus effective communication is lost. If this happens, it means that the supervisor will not be able to monitor the scholar’s progress. Besides, advice from a jealous supervisor is certainly going to be incorrect, and therefore the results may not be desirable.

The relationship between the two parties should be strictly professional whereby they should be objective and stay true to the course. It is necessary for the supervisor to understand that scholars will always come and go and the greatest thing they can do is support others so that they can be better.

Be patient and benevolent with your scholar 

Undertaking a Ph.D. Program can be very tricky since it requires a lot of patience by both the scholar and the PhD supervisor. The first thing that the scholar does is choosing their supervisor apart from the university where they wish to do their learning. The fact that a scholar has selected a certain supervisor means that they have confidence in them. It is only fair that the latter reciprocate and treat the former in the same fashion.

The supervisor must be able to understand that earning a doctorate is not an easy task and there are many hurdles along the way. For this reason, many researchers have dropped out along the way while others have taken longer than the scheduled duration to complete their programmes.

The supervisor is required to be patient and keep in mind that scholars have to juggle through their daily lives. Many of them are in poorly paying jobs, and they need to get by apart from concentrating on their thesis. A Ph.D. is meant to test the patience, hard work and how focused one is; not forgetting stubbornness. Therefore, the supervisor should be calm and act as a mentor while at the same time reminding the scholar about the importance of concentrating on their studies.

Do not bully scholar for not doing personal works 

Never bully your Scholar for not doing your personal works. The challenges that come with earning a doctorate makes it impossible to concentrate on studies entirely. Scholars have to go ahead with their personal lives since some of them may have families that they have to care for and they also need to accomplish other personal dreams aside from furthering their studies.

Most PhD supervisors may be tempted to discourage scholars from concentrating on other works, but this is not the best way to go about it. They should keep in mind that there is more to life than just studying and for this reason, they are advised to encourage scholars to follow their ambitions. For this reason, there are cases where scholars may fail to provide personal works with regard to their thesis.

However, the important thing is that the supervisor should ensure that the scholar understands the concepts. It is facilitated by the regular meetings and continuous monitoring and reading of drafts. It is important because by so doing, the scholar is able to grasp the requirement of a doctorate.

Be always ready to proofread your scholar’s papers 

The scholar is not the only one that has a busy life but also the supervisor who has to balance a lot in their life. Supervisors have the responsibility of handling up those research papers. Give your tips for proofreading and editing properly. It comes out as a challenge because they are supposed to go through the works of individual scholar keenly and intently. Many scholars fail to do this, and instead, they peruse through scholar’s papers. Not only is it ethically wrong, but also the quickest way to assist the scholar to fail in their dissertation.

Thesis papers are naturally bulky and require a lot of time and patience. However, it should be noted that they should be handled with care and the supervisor must ensure that they allocate adequate time to go through the papers and ensure that they read all of it. It is important because it ensures that errors and areas that need improvement are identified.

By so doing, the supervisor is in a position to make appropriate recommendations and give proper advice that will assist the scholar to perfect the paper. Besides, the supervisor must realize that it is their obligation to read through the paper so that the end product can qualify for publishing in reputable journals. Doctorate studies needs to work tough in certain times.

Never disclose scholar’s research papers to others 

One of the problems encountered by researchers is theft of work and ideas, and one of the way that this happens is when a supervisor reveals a scholar’s work to other people. Worse still, there are supervisors who publish scholar’s work as their own. Not only is it illegal to steal someone’s ideas or research work, but it is also ethically wrong.

The supervisor is required to show a high degree of decorum by keeping their activities with the scholar private including discussions made during meetings. One of the requirements of a supervisor is to be discrete with the information they share with scholars. There are many cases whereby scholars have reported that their work has been stolen. What makes the matter worse is that sometimes it is difficult to prove that someone has stolen another person’s ideas.

When a supervisor shares a scholar’s work, someone may choose to steal the whole work or paraphrase or paraphrase it. Either way, the work has been stolen. For this reason, it is necessary for the supervisor to ensure that they do not share work with other people. Submitted papers must be kept in a safe place away from prying eyes. Papers should be handled securely between the supervisor and the candidate until submission. It is only when the scholar submits the paper to the faculty that it should be accessed by third parties.

Be ready to respond about the scholar to administration 

Once a scholar has registered for a doctorate program, the closest person between them and the institution is the supervisor. The supervisor is the bridge between the two parties, and therefore it is the responsibility of the mentioned to ensure that the department is aware of the latter’s progress by providing updates concerning the thesis.

The supervisor is required to keep a supervision record that involves records of 6-10 meetings or as may be required by the university. When the supervisor facilitates meetings with the scholar, they gather useful information that enables the faculty to determine whether the scholar is on the right track or whether there are adjustments that should be made. The supervisor ensures that the scholar completes the project on time.

In case the scholar feels that they cannot be able to complete the project on time, the supervisor should communicate the same to the administration. Every institution has rules and policies that should be adhered to by the scholar and therefore when the mentioned fail to comply, the supervisor must report the same to the administration for appropriate action to be taken. It is the role of the supervisor to ensure that other members of the supervisory team are informed of the candidate’s progress especially those that are involved with any matter that has an impact on the program.

Try to be punctual in checking your scholar’s progress 

One of the challenges that scholars face is the completion of their program on time. Worse still, there are others that do not see the end of it and instead drop out halfway. One of the reasons why the supervisor should monitor the latter’s progress is to ensure that they complete their project on time. It requires that the former constantly monitor progress by reading drafts and recommending changes.

However, simply reading through the drafts is not enough. It is necessary that drafts are checked as soon as they are handed in. the main reason why this is necessary is that it gives ample time to make corrections where necessary on time. Punctuality is a virtue that should be possessed by the supervisor since overall, the scholar has enough time to work on their project.

In case the supervisor delays to check drafts, useful time is lost and therefore the paper may be submitted late or may not even be completed. It should be noted that regular checking allows for errors to be noted in good time, changes made effectively. Consequently, the scholar ends up writing a good thesis that meets standards and enables the mentioned to score a good grade.

Talk somehow with scholar when you are away 

Apart from carrying out supervisory duties and teaching, the supervisor has other things to attend to such as personal matters that may require the mentioned to be away. At times, supervisors may be required to travel or even transfer to other universities for teaching purposes. Regardless, it is important that the supervisor ensures that they communicate with the scholar about their departure and let them know for how long they will be away.

In the event that the absence is temporary like a few days or weeks, the two parties can meet and agree to have the scholar continue working on the thesis, and the supervisor will check the draft when they are back. However, in cases where the supervisor will be away permanently such as institutional transfer, the two may have to find a way of keeping in touch.

Fortunately, technology has advanced, and people do not have to meet face to face. The two can agree to make use of platforms such as Skype and Whats App which allow people to share files via the internet. Most importantly, these applications have a video calling feature capable of facilitating meetings between the two parties regardless of which part of the globe they are located.

Do not change your supervision once accepted to be a good PhD supervisor

Supervisory duties are a commitment that once accepted one is ethically obliged to ensure that they see to it that the scholar completes the program. One of the reasons why it is not advisable to cancel accepted supervision is that it would not be correct to start telling the scholar to look for another supervisor yet work has already started.

The relationship between the two parties is similar to a marriage considering the level of commitment required. However, there is a significant difference because divorce is not an option. If a scholar requests a supervisor to work with them, they should consider if they have the time or if they have other scholars. It means that before the supervisor accepts, they should be sure that they are in a position to work with the scholar until the doctorate programme is completed.

In the case of a transfer or the supervisor has to travel to a distant location where a physical meeting is impossible, the supervisor must find a way of communicating with the latter. As mentioned in another section, a Ph.D. Program has a lot of challenges that test the patience of not only the scholar and in the process the supervisor also has to exhibit the same.

Agree and consent with scholar’s ideas to be a good PhD supervisor

Some of the functions of the supervisor are to monitor and assist the scholar in completing the project on time. However, the first thing that they do when the scholar is ready to start working on their thesis is to help them select a suitable topic relevant to their program. It should be noted that the supervisor should not at any time choose a topic for the scholar. Instead, they are supposed to give ideas that will stimulate the researcher to come up with their ideas.

Once the candidate has selected their topic, the supervisor determines whether it is satisfactory. If it is, they start working on the thesis, and the scholar is required to submit drafts for checking by the supervisor. At this point, the supervisor must ensure that they check for errors and areas that require correction or improvement.

Just as they dealt with generating the topic, the supervisor should not disagree with the scholar on what they have written. Instead, they are required to give ideas to the scholar how the ideas discussed in the thesis may be improved. The supervisor should not dismiss the candidate’s ideas but should work towards how best to make them better.

Do not be partial with some scholars 

It is a valuable recommendation that a supervisor at the professor level should not have more than nine scholars. The reason for this is to ensure that they are able to allocate adequate time to an individual scholar. A supervisor-scholar relationship should be strictly ethical guided by professional standards.

One of the responsibilities of the supervisor is to ensure that all their scholars not only complete their projects but also produce high-quality research papers that will make them attain high performance. Furthermore, a supervisor must ensure that their candidates come up with papers that can be published in reputable journals. That said, the supervisor must ensure that they do not discriminate their scholars. One way of being partial is allocating more time to certain scholars and neglecting others.

Supervisors may also be partial when it comes to reading the drafts whereby they may be keen on some and choose to leave out or peruse others. Every university has a policy that requires supervisors to be impartial and treat all candidates fairly. This includes when it comes to offering advice which should be equal. The supervisor must ensure that they are objective even if the scholar has selected a topic that they might not like.

Try to acquire new knowledge for the sake of the scholar 

Although there is a great deal of information acquired from previous research that cannot be changed, it does not mean that things are not changing. What the supervisor learned during their doctorate program may still remain the same but times are changing, and new information is arising on a daily basis. As a matter of fact, the reason why research papers are written is to shed light on new happenings, and that is why scholars are encouraged to come up with new ideas.

Whatever knowledge the supervisor has should serve as a foundation for the scholar. To make themselves more relevant, the supervisor should ensure that they acquire new information. Such new knowledge makes it possible for the PhD supervisor to assist the scholar to relate what they have learned to contemporary issues. It is vital since it enables the candidate to relate their thesis with what is currently happening in real life rather making it historical.

Besides, life during the time when the supervisor did the doctorate may be completely different with the time when the scholar is doing theirs. For instance, there are PhD supervisors that completed their projects at a time when technology had not advanced and they were required to submit everything on paper. Currently, drafts can be submitted in soft copy and the two do not even have to meet.