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Graduate Studies

Supervision guidelines for supervisors

  • Be aware of the inherent power imbalance in the relationship you have with your students.
  • Behave professionally.
  • Communicate appropriately.
  • Provide a safe, healthy environment free from harassment, discrimination, and intimidation.
  • Foster productive scholarly work, curiosity, and freedom of expression.
  • Have sufficient time and resources (as appropriate for your field) to support student’s work effectively.
  • Ensure that your students have safety training appropriate to carry out all work safely, and in accordance with standard operating procedures, once properly trained.
  • Help the student develop a realistic thesis/research plan.
    • Reasonable plans balance exploration with achievable, manageable and focused goals, and allow completion of scholarly work “in time.”
  • Be aware that a student might experience changes in motivation and productivity.
  • Be prepared to adapt your mentorship approach to promote success in a range of different situations.
  • Be aware of accommodation policies, procedures and support services.
    • Support students with disabilities in designing and organizing accommodations.
    • Be respectful of graduate students who are dealing with stressful situations and personal difficulties.
    • Direct the student to campus resources and other supports when appropriate.
  • Promote a culture of respect and collaboration.
  • Encourage timely conflict resolution when disputes arise.
    • This may require consultation with the supervisory committee or others (e.g. head of the graduate program).
  • Regularly communicate and have face-to-face meetings with your student to provide feedback on progress, strengths, weaknesses, gaps in knowledge, and how well they are addressing deficiencies.
  • Prepare written feedback when there are significant deficiencies.
    • When a student is struggling with meeting graduate program/thesis work expectations, a supervisory committee meeting should be scheduled early to assess progress and plans, and to provide a clear statement of requirements to meet expectations.
  • Provide students with timely feedback (Note: timely, not instant.).
    • As an example, corrections to a thesis chapter, major research project, or a manuscript optimally should occur within a few weeks.
    • Respond to a draft of the thesis within the timelines outlined in the graduate calendar.
      • Review and provide feedback on materials that a student produces prior to external review or defence. (Note: you are not expected to be a copy editor)
  • Communicate to your graduate students, and graduate student applicants, the plans to provide supervision during research leave or other leaves.
    • Name an alternate faculty member, with graduate supervisory privileges, who will have day-to-day responsibility and signing-authority for students if you will be away from campus for extended periods of time must
    • Encourage increasing independence as a student progresses through graduate work.
  • Acknowledge student contributions to research in accordance with the university policies and the norms of your academic discipline.
  • Encourage your students to submit their graduate work for presentation at conferences and workshops, and for publication, when feasible and appropriate.
  • Recognize that there are multiple career paths available to different students.
    • Be respectful of your student’s choice of career path, and provide advice, where appropriate, on the best way for your student to reach their career goals.
    • Be aware of professional development opportunities for students offered through the department/program, Faculty, or university, and encourage your student to take advantage of such opportunities.
  • Be aware of all requirements, regulations, and guidelines outlined in the Graduate Calendar and university policies.