How to pick a great supervisor


Prior to becoming an academic, after a series of jobs with terrible managers, I had a job interview in the office of someone who had books about management on her shelf. She really thought about how to be a good manager, and she was, as I found out. I’m sure this isn’t a foolproof way to pick a boss, but it worked for me! I don’t think you can just be a good PhD supervisor, just as it’s pretty unlikely you could just be a good teacher, without thinking deeply about how theory and practice work together.

So what books do I have on my bookshelf, or saved on my computer, about doctoral supervision? Actually, this would be a good question for students interviewing a potential supervisor: what’s your favourite book on doctoral supervision? Mine is Helping doctoral students write: Pedagogies for supervision, by Barbara Kamler and Pat Thomson (Routledge, 2014). I read this book as a PhD student, in an earlier edition, and it was like having these two very experienced and insightful supervisors added to my supervisory panel! I love how this book describes the identity work of becoming an academic, rather than taking a box-ticking approach to thesis requirements. What would your answer be, if a student asked you this question? I look forward to expanding my library!


Author: Lucinda McKnight

Dr Lucinda McKnight is a lecturer in curriculum and pedagogy at Deakin University. She has a BA in Fine Arts, Women's Studies and English from the University of Melbourne, an MA (Distinction) in Media, Culture and Communication, from the Institute of Education now at UCL, and a PhD in Education from Deakin University. Her cartoons have appeared in a number of publications, including Farrago and Health Voice. She has exhibited her artwork at Museum Victoria and the Victorian College of the Arts.

One thought on “How to pick a great supervisor”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s