PGRs and Supervisors – what makes a good relationship?

Do you feel that personal disagreements between you and your supervisor are hampering your research? Do you want to improve your working relationship with your supervisor?

Responding to challenges in the supervisory relationship 25 March 2020 12:30 – 13:30      

A good relationship between postgraduate researchers and their supervisors is widely agreed to improve both the quality of the research and the student’s ultimate career prospects. Recent Postgraduate Research Survey 2019 Results confirm that that supervision is a top driver of PGR satisfaction. A good working relationship can generate long-lasting benefits for both the PhD researcher and supervisor. Hence, PhD students should review their relationship with the supervisor from time to time and consider if it evolving in the right direction.

How can you improve the chances of building a good relationship with your supervisor? Here are some advises and tips that you might wish to consider:

  • Check the institutional PGR  Code of Practice to see how the University defines the role of student and the role of supervisor. This formal document provides advice on the needs of the student, the skills required in supervision and the appropriate behaviour expected. For example, the supervisor is expected to provide feedback, but, the feedback should be delivered in ‘a constructive and supportive way’ (PGR Code of Practice, Appendix II – Policy on Research Student Supervision) Know your rights, but don’t forget responsibilities! 
  • Talk to your peers and try to find out how they manage their relationship with the supervisor. Try to establish what appropriate relationship means, what is a good practice, and how they have overcome any difficulties in the working relationship. Remember, it all depends on personalities, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to improve your relationship with the supervisor. 
  • Get to know your supervisor and allow the supervisor to get to know you, as a person! It is very important you both understand each other’s habits and personal preferences. Honest communication is vital for any relationship, and particularly in a close working relationship.

Webinars and workshops

There is a scheduled webinar on the relationship with the supervisor. Do apply and join us to discuss the challenges of the relationship and appropriate responses. 

Responding to challenges in the supervisory relationship 25 March 2020 12:30 – 13:30      

Further support: there are several related texts available, and you might consider the following:

The opinions expressed here are their own, but you may find ideas that can be applied to your own experience.

The LDC Development Team has developed a short online support page, with advice on the local support available.

Mate Subašić and Shirley Cooper

LDC Development Team