Developments in research supervisor training: causes and responses




Kiley, Margaret

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Carfax Publishing, Taylor & Francis Group


Within the overall theme of this special issue of re-theorising doctoral education, this article examines the outcomes of a policy adjustment in a centralised higher education system, and its impact on research supervision practices. Using Australian doctoral programs as a case study, the focus here is the rethinking of research supervision, and the training and education of supervisors, as a response to various policy, social and educational changes by the Australian government: in particular, to funding formulae and criteria. Following a brief discussion of developments in Australian government policy related to doctoral education in the past 10-15 years, the article addresses the literature that argues the link between the quality of research supervision and candidate completion times and rates, and candidate satisfaction ratings of supervision. Given the explicit link between supervisor quality and completion, a sample of eight Australian universities' programs for supervisors was analysed to see what pedagogical and theoretical issues the universities considered important to address with their supervisory staff as a means of improving quality. The findings suggest that the universities in the sample had, over the period 2000-2010, introduced a considerable range of workshops and seminars for research supervisors. The most common aspects of the programs included supervisor/student relationships; clarification of various expectations; milestones and monitoring progress; roles and responsibilities of supervisors, candidates and institutions, and policies.



Keywords: doctoral education; higher degree by research supervision; PhD completion; PhD supervision; supervisor training



Studies in Higher Education


Journal article

Book Title

Entity type

Access Statement

License Rights



Restricted until