Reflections of a mature student: Dissertation supervisor part 2

This blog post is going to look at what the supervisors expect from the student.

Some supervisors may ask to meet with you or for you to submit your ideas to them for consideration. Each supervisor will fill half of their supervision spaces in this way. Most contact with a supervisor will occur in regular meetings and or through email communication. It is the student’s responsibility to organize these meetings in conjunction with the supervisor, and it is important that you contact your supervisor to agree regular meetings.

To receive feedback on written work you need to have submitted it in advance of the meeting, you should ask you supervisor how long in advance this needs to be. It is important that as a student you take charge and responsibility for these meetings. You should have a list of issues that you want to discuss and always be sure to take notes of decisions that you have made so that you can get the greatest benefit from the time spent with the supervisor.

 It is very important that you start writing for your dissertation early in the process and the proposal provides you with the first opportunity to do this. It requires you to clarify your thoughts by succinctly outlining the key area of focus of the dissertation, an early attempt at what your research aim might be and your initial thoughts about what methodology you might employ. This must be submitted to your supervisor and research methodology lecturer on the specified date and will form the basis of your discussions at your next meeting with your supervisor.

 Your dissertation supervisor is there to supervise your work in progress. The official allocation of time for this work will vary from institution to institution. Do check what the arrangements are for your own department. However, it is important to make a clear agreement with your supervisor about how the supervision will occur. Meetings in the absence of any written work being completed are not generally an effective use of time, as you are wasting your allocated hours. If you have a question to ask or a point to check, then an email will usually suffice. On the other hand, writing a good chunk of material and submitting it before your meeting means that the supervisor will have had the opportunity to read and comment upon it. It is often a useful idea to arrange to have some time as soon as possible after a supervision session so that you can follow up on the comments. Successful students have also found that it is helpful at the end of each supervision session to plan out clearly the next stage of work and the target dates.

 Key takeaways:

1.Checking whether your tutors have drop-in times or whether you need to make an appointment to see your supervisor.

 2. Making yourself known to your course administrators, who can help you to get in touch with your supervisor if she doesn’t get back to you after a long wait.

3.Finding out about what support systems are available for students with dyslexia and other disabilities. 

4. Getting in touch with your supervisor – find out from your course administrator whether your supervisor prefers phone or email contact.

Further Reading

BELL, J. (2005). Doing your research project: A guide for first time researchers in education, health and social sciences. 4th ed., Maidenhead, Open University Press, chapter 2

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