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Presentation on theme: "IGS RESEARCH SKILLS – MODULE 2 WORKING WITH YOUR SUPERVISOR"— Presentation transcript:

Zuhaina Zakaria, PhD Head of Graduate Studies (Academic Development, Resources & Students) IGS, UiTM

2 Goals of the Session Explore the role of supervisors and students Identify the expectations of students and supervisors Develop action plan 12/04/2017

3 Outline Role of supervisor Choosing supervisor Great expectations
Understanding your supervisor Manipulating your supervisor Dealing with conflict 12/04/2017

4 Why are we here? Why am I here? Why are you here?
Talk to someone next to you and tell them who you are & the area of your research why you decided to do a MSc/PhD where you hope it will take you Describe your background Explain about Roberts if you can – over 50% of PhD graduates leave academia on graduation, so you need to be able to identify transferable skills. If you decide to remain in academia, you will need to be self aware and be effective to survive in a competitive environment. Give them about 10 minutes to talk to each other working in groups of about 4 12/04/2017

5 So common things are..... 12/04/2017 You have a supervisor
You have some ideas on your research You have been accepted to UiTM 12/04/2017

6 How does doing a research degree differ from coursework?
Independent Research Self-motivation Creativity Time Management Publication Working with a Supervisor 12/04/2017

7 Supervisors You need at least one. They can be beneficial.
They can be frustrating. They can seem invisible. They are human. 12/04/2017

8 Role of Supervisor Definition: person who is responsible for guiding doctoral student (Murray, 2002) Other terms used are “tutor” or “thesis advisor”

9 Roles of Supervisor Director Facilitator Adviser Teacher Guide Critic
Freedom giver Supporter Friend Manager Examiner Brown & Atkins, 1990

10 Role of Supervisor To ensure early that there is a clear sense of the research question To help student engage with the field of scholarship – to understand the scholarly context of the work - Confirmation To ensure Final product is scholarly as editor: active and energetic – help the candidate be lucid, coherent and fluent. As scholar: facilitate the candidate’s expression of originality and ensure that the work makes a contribution: keep them on track. As broker: to introduce the candidate to the community, develop his/her networks 12/04/2017

11 Choosing Supervisor Important Step Study their current projects
Identify the professors working in the area(s) of your interest Go and talk to them Study their current projects Are they in an area current interest? Are the projects interesting / appealing to you? 12/04/2017

12 Choosing Supervisor (cont..)
Look at his/her recent publication record Choose professors that are currently active in research The best indication is the publications are in the last 3-4 years A certain professor may have been very active 10 years ago and established himself but hasn’t done anything in the last 5 years He/she might have switched to administrative duties 12/04/2017

13 Choosing Supervisor (cont..)
Consider his/her recent graduates If the last alumni of the supervisor have been successful, there are chances you may be too This supervisor help you graduate in a reasonable time frame Looks out for you professionally The same applies for the opposite case However, there are always exception Remember you and your attitude make the difference! 12/04/2017

14 Choosing Supervisor (cont..)
Finally, talk to the current students They can give you an insider’s perspective But be cautious Different people might have totally different perception 12/04/2017

15 Young vs Senior Faculty Member
An everlasting dilemma Young faculty More active and motivated Less administrative duties Closer to your age group and therefore more fun More friendship percentage to the relation advisor-student Senior faculty More experienced and connected More grants More alumni -- has had the chance to give the world some successful PhDs Extracted from QUT, Australia 12/04/2017

16 What are the expectations?
Your expectations Their expectations Great Expectations Activity 12/04/2017

17 Your expectations 12/04/2017

18 Their expectations 12/04/2017

19 Understanding your supervisor
Their goals Their skills Their hates Their inadequacies 12/04/2017

20 Their goals Supervision is a not a well paid job
supervising students at different universities Clearly the goal is not (directly) money So what is their motivating? 12/04/2017

21 Their goals Giving back to the system Creating a scientific “legacy”
Multiplying their output 12/04/2017

22 Their skills They offer different skills over the life cycle of your PhD At the start Identifying a good question Knowing what has already been done Anticipating when a problem will be too hard or too easy 12/04/2017

23 Their skills In the middle Watching over the “bigger” picture
Nudging your in good directions Identifying common pitfalls (see later) Keeping an eye on the clock 12/04/2017

24 Their skills At the end Telling you when to stop
Knowing what a thesis looks like Anticipating problem areas for your viva 12/04/2017

25 Their hates Students who quit Students who finish late
Wasted effort all round Students who finish late They know writing up isn’t that pleasant But it needs to be done 12/04/2017

26 Their inadequacies Supervisors are human too They are unable to
read your mind manage their time remember much 12/04/2017


28 Be aware of your supervisors’ other concerns
Undergraduate teaching MSc supervisees Other PhD students Research assistants and research staff Their own publications Departmental administration Other professional roles (editor, referee, examiner, etc) 12/04/2017

29 Dealing with conflict Conflict is common
Supervision is like a marriage Even divorce is possible 12/04/2017

30 Potential problems for students
Lack of guidance Unavailability Insufficiently critical Overly critical Lack of knowledge in subject area 12/04/2017

31 Potential problems: supervisors
Overly dependent Lack of honesty Uncontactable Lack enthusiasm Don’t follow advice Oversensitive to criticism Lack commitment 12/04/2017

32 Basis of problems Lack of communication Mismatched expectations
Personality clash Competing pressures 12/04/2017

33 Dealing with conflict Communicate
Conflict often caused by breakdowns in communication Keep your expectations realistic Be organised Be professional Be open, flexible and honest Alert supervisor(s) to problems as they arise 12/04/2017

34 Dealing with conflict Compromise
There are two of you in this “marriage” Discuss expectations at the beginning Give sufficient notice for requests Draw up an agenda for your meetings Record the outcome of meetings and to supervisor(s)/use PhD Logbook Arrange next meeting ahead of time 12/04/2017

35 Dealing with conflict If problems persist:
Speak to your second supervisor Approach your faculty’s Coordinator of postgraduate studies Approach your faculty’s Dean 12/04/2017

36 Dealing with conflict If all else fails, you can “change” your supervisor Formally : there are procedures to follows Funding may be an issue 12/04/2017


38 Why should you manage your supervisor(s)?
S/he probably busier than you are S/he may not be aware of the regulations to extent you are Your enthusiasm and organisation may impress them You want to complete on time with as few problems as possible S/he will be your key reference for future jobs etc 12/04/2017

39 Managing your Supervisor
Have a weekly meeting (very important) Sets a quick pace for your projects Take the initiative -- the MSc/PhD is yours Supervisors have many PhDs to think about and are much busier Learn how to communicate, including disagreeing without making it personal 12/04/2017

40 Managing your Supervisor
Try to meet the deadlines It is important and will build the trust of your advisor in your capabilities Try to understand their character Will help you in getting things done 12/04/2017

41 When submitting work to your supervisor
Cover sheet on every piece of work submitted with: Your name and year of PhD Your up-to-date thesis title An up-to-date chapter structure with full headings Highlight where today’s chapter or bit of work fits within this 12/04/2017

42 Maturing Recognise that priorities change Develop negotiation skills
Individual external issues affect all partners Develop negotiation skills Coaching students to see the way ahead Duty of care to ensure target is reached Keep the enthusiasm New grants, new duties, new opportunities New social groups, technologies, “-omics” 12/04/2017

43 Integrating Others into Partnership
Specialist researchers (not supervisors) Advisory/mentor groups External activities Work/tutoring Sports, hobbies, theatre, etc Families Partners, parents, grandparents, etc Awareness without intrusion 12/04/2017

44 Manipulating your supervisor
Be positive Your supervisor is more likely to want to help You’ll feel better Work hard They will be more willing to work hard too You’ll more likely to get results A thesis is hard work 12/04/2017

45 Manipulating your supervisor
Write Internal notes Conference papers Journal articles They will find it hard to ignore paper 12/04/2017

46 Writing is the driver of good supervision
Writing is constitutive of thinking Personal relations in conversation often mask divergences of views or misunderstandings Your supervisor gains information about your progress from your written work Supervisors cannot comment usefully on your progress or provide sound advice unless they can see your thoughts in writing 12/04/2017

47 Manipulating your supervisor
Be their ambassador Scientific contacts Social networking Make yourself invaluable Reviewing papers Helping run conferences Running the lab/group 12/04/2017

48 A relationship to consider: the research student / supervisor balance
Authority of the SUPERVISOR Freedom of the STUDENT Supervisor sells decision Supervisor presents decision & invites questions Supervisor presents tentative decision subject to changes Supervisor presents problem, gets suggestions, makes decisions Supervisor defines limits but expects student to make decision Supervisor expects student to function within limits set by him/her/dept/ University Student accepts decision and takes action Student listens, questions and negotiates amendments Student takes action and presents results Student listens and questions decisions Student presents problem & proposes action but seeks approval before acts Supervisor makes decision & announces it 12/04/2017 Developed by University of Leeds

49 Common Problems Divided attention Confusion about purpose
Not contributing Too much contributing No record of discussions No mechanisms to monitor progress Responsibilities poorly defined These have all been covered in previous slides, but are brought together to emphasise common mistakes - all these are frequently seen in academic reports, theses and initial drafts of papers. To minimise these mistakes the writer should always review and edit their writing (a checklist follows) and find a friendly fellow researcher to proof-read FINAL drafts. This may be your supervisor, whose time will be limited, so ensure they are commenting on the content of your report, not the grammatical errors and spelling. 12/04/2017

50 Try to Remember They are learning on the job
There are no classes to be a supervisor They have little experience Like in medicine: do one, watch one, teach one 12/04/2017

51 Recharging the Batteries

52 PhD is a Long Journey not a 100 m Sprint
All things in moderation Body Physical activities (workout, your favorite sports…) Enough sleep Relationships Mind Hobbies, languages, reading Soul God Friends 12/04/2017

53 All Things in Moderation
You need to combine work with fun If you are happy you will produce more and better research If you are miserable you will burn-out Try to do something outside your lab/home at least once a week Take a break and reward yourself after a big project deadline 12/04/2017

54 Everyday Activities Go for a coffee with a friend Have a nice meal
Go to the movies Go the gym Play sports : futsal, bowling, badminton 12/04/2017

55 Conclusion Working with your supervisor need skills: Listening
Negotiating Interpersonal Skills Creativity Remembering that they too have a life 12/04/2017

56 Your MSc/PhD could be the best time of your life
Efficient time management Good supervision Succeed at work Have fun

57 Your action plan

58 Your action plan Continue to communicate
Write down agenda for meetings Schedule next meeting at the end Meeting minutes Write more often in advance of meetings Make note of outcome of meetings Draw up organised agendas for meetings Expect a bit less (warm relationship, guidance, etc) Be less intimidated to approach the ‘goddess’ with my own thoughts and critical ideas Improve the communication Write the ideas Create a formal agenda Be more independent Have a meeting about student-supervisor expectations and/or supervision procedures Write ‘minutes’ of my meetings and use them as a reference in the future Set up a meeting agenda More communication with my supervisor Create more regular meetings schedule with written input/output

59 Thank you for your attention!!

References Tracking Postgraduate Supervision, Queensland University of Technology Planning, Structuring and Managing your PhD, Dr. Mark Matthews, Managing your supervisor, Toby Walsh, National ICT Australia, Universities of NSW and Uppsala 12/04/2017 IGS RESEARCH SKILLS SEMINAR - MODULE 2


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