Supervisor “where are you?” blues

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The Supervisor Whisperers have written a great post encouraging PhD supervisors to finish the year with a bang, and inspire students to take action. However, the end of the year is also a time when supervisors, having finished teaching commitments and making the most of the conference season, can go AWOL on their research students. This can be a significant source of stress and anxiety for students, when not handled professionally. It’s all about communication (as usual)!

  • What are your protocols for informing students of your conference/annual leave?
  • How much notice do you give them?
  • Have you explained specifically what email access you will have, and when there may be delays in responding?
  • Are you leaving behind confident research students who can work productively while you are away? Have you met recently and do you have a meeting set up for your return?
  • What arrangements are in place for supporting students while you are away, for example via a supervisory panel?
  • Have you carved out some genuine down time for yourself?
  • Are you modelling a good work-life balance?
  • Was all of this discussed up front at your first supervision meeting?

This is the final post to this blog for 2017. Thank you to all followers and participants, and the blog will recommence in 2018. Please spread the word, encourage other supervisors and students to follow, and consider using the blog, as several universities already are, in research supervisor training for supervisors who care about more than just a thesis! Click the link at the right to follow.

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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.

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