Higher Degree Research Supervision Policy

  1. Qualifications of Supervisors
  2. Research Track Record
  3. Supervision Classification
  4. Responsibilities of Supervisors
  5. Specific Responsibilities of the Principal Supervisor
  6. Supervision of Higher Degree Research Students by Staff on Leave greater than three weeks
  7. Specific Responsibilities of Co-Supervisors
  8. Specific Responsibilities of Assistant Supervisors
  9. Specific Responsibilities of Associate Supervisors

1. Qualifications of Supervisors

1.1 The University Research Committee (URC) requires that the principal supervisor of a Master's student hold a doctoral qualification and meets all other criteria for registration as a research student supervisor as outlined by various ACU Policies and Guidelines.

1.2 The URC requires that a principal supervisor of a doctoral candidate hold a Doctorate qualification and meets all other criteria for registration as a research student supervisor as outlined by various ACU Policies and Guidelines. Normally, the principal supervisor of a professional doctorate will hold a PhD. Holding a professional doctorate would not normally enable a person to be a principal supervisor of a PhD.

2. Research Track Record

2.1 To remain registered as a Principal or Co-supervisor, supervisors will, among other things, meet the current requirements for being classified as research active.

3. Supervision Classification

3.1 At Australian Catholic University, four categories of supervisor classification may be adopted:

a. Principal Supervisor: member of staff appropriately accredited who has overall responsibility in the guidance and supervision of the higher degree by research candidate;

b. Co-Supervisor: member of staff appropriately accredited who assists in providing guidance and supervision of the higher degree by research candidate;

c. Assistant Supervisor: member of staff who works under the close supervision of the principal and co-supervisor and who is transitioning to research active status; and

d. Associate Supervisor: an outside specialist who may bring particular expertise to the supervision of a higher degree by research candidate.

4. Responsibilities of Supervisors

4.1 In December 2012, ACU's Academic Board adopted best practice guidelines for HDR supervisors:

Best practice in supervision entails a supportive and collegial relationship between supervisor/s and candidate.
Supervisors Actively mentor HDR candidates in all aspects of becoming a researcher
Introduce HDRs to research and industry networks
Co-author with their student on scholarly outputs (journal articles, book chapters) of the highest quality
Encourage attendance at departmental seminars and social forums
Are available on a timely basis (with minimal repeated or enduring disruptions due to leave of absence, research study program,, etc.)
Encourage and provide advice on the most suitable journals for publication
Provide guidance in applying for external awards, grants etc.
Timely completions

5. Specific Responsibilities of the Principal Supervisor

5.1 Before the applicant is accepted as a candidate:

a. The nominated principal supervisor may examine a brief (approximately 1000-2000 words) written research proposal provided by the applicant.

b. Following (a) to provide advice to the Associate Dean Research of the Faculty as to the merits of the research proposal and whether the applicant's proposal falls within the supervisor's expertise.

c. To advise the Associate Dean Research whether the applicant's qualifications and/or prior research experience indicate capacity to complete a research degree in a timely manner.

d. To advise the Associate Dean Research on the adequacy of provision of university facilities for the student and the resources likely to be necessary to support the successful execution of the project (e.g. library needs, computing, laboratory needs, technical assistance, maintenance funds).

e. To advise the Associate Dean Research how, over a candidature of normal length, the candidate would continue to receive proper supervision in the absence of the principal supervisor (e.g. during a period of leave greater than three weeks).

5.2 In the first semester of candidature (full time equivalent; FTE):

a. To inform the candidate that research involving contact with human participants (including interviews, use of survey instruments or questionnaires, audio/video taping of participants, or access to an individual's files or records) may not commence until ethics clearance has been obtained in writing from the University Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC).

b. To inform the candidate that research involving animals, recombinant DNA or ionizing radiation does not commence without appropriate approval.

c. To assist the candidate to develop a realistic program of study suitable for the purposes of the degree program into which the candidate has been accepted (including the preparation of a mutually agreed timetable for completing the degree requirements within the maximum period of candidature) that is likely to offer sufficient scope for research training, is likely to prove an intellectually rewarding investigation, and could be expected to produce sufficient results for submission of an acceptable thesis within the time laid down by the URC.

d. To ensure that the field and topic will not be unduly constrained by requirements of confidentiality or questions of possible defamation.

e. To suggest appropriate background reading and to advise on the literature review.

f. To arrange with the candidate mutually acceptable set times of appropriate frequency for formal discussions on assigned reading and other aspects of the research, criticism of written work, development of experimental procedures or other data gathering and to provide constructive evaluation of the work submitted.

g. To direct the candidate to take approved courses relevant to the research degree program being undertaken if this is required by gaps in the candidate's background or by the nature of the program.

h. To strongly encourage a work-in-progress presentation to staff and other advanced students thus developing the candidate's presentation skills and helping the candidate formulate the research ideas more expeditiously.

i. To give any additional assistance needed by overseas students, especially in respect of advice on problems with language.

j. To ensure that the candidate is familiar with the relevant rules and policies of the University, with the administrative requirements (e.g. submission of half-yearly reports by the due date), and with the University facilities likely to be of assistance.

k. To agree with the candidate on the structure and nature of the thesis (e.g., is this project suitable for presentation in traditional format or as a PhD with publication?).

l. To ensure that the co-supervisor(s) are consulted on mutually convenient times to meet with the candidate and that the overall supervisory arrangement is satisfactory.

5.3 During the second (FTE) and subsequent semesters after commencement:

a. To carefully monitor the progress of the student and discuss the format of the thesis as well as timelines to aid timely completions.

b. To request and review drafts of the major sections of the thesis (or the production of journal papers for inclusion in the thesis) as they are prepared and to return these comments to the candidate with reasonable expedition, and/or to discuss the format of the thesis

c. To refer some, but not necessarily all, sections of the thesis to the co-supervisor or any associate supervisor or to specialist consultants, if and when appropriate.

d. To support the candidate in the preparation for confirmation, progress seminars, and pre- submission seminar.

e. To comment critically on the final draft of the completed thesis before it is submitted to examiners.

f. To provide guidance to candidates regarding the quality of journals in the field, and to provide feedback to the student on any publications emanating from the thesis.

g. To discuss with the student and provide advice on the likely examiners of the thesis.

h. To ascertain the availability of potential examiners and their willingness for their names to be put forward as examiners. It should be made clear to potential examiners that their name is one of many names being put forward for consideration and that this informal approach does not mean that the University will definitely invite them to serve as an examiner. No further communication on this matter should be entered into by the supervisor and the potential examiner. All communication on the examination process must be via University channels.

i. To discuss possible examiners with the Faculty Associate Dean Research.

5.4 Other responsibilities:

a. To report to the Associate Dean Research as required on the candidate's progress and to ensure that the candidate supplies the required reports and other information by prescribed dates.

b. To ensure that relevant ethics and safety clearances are obtained as soon as possible.

c. To abide by the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research and the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007) and to ensure that the candidate's work complies with the guidelines established in the Code and the National Statement.

6. Supervision of Higher Degree Research Students by Staff on Leave greater than three weeks

6.1 In accordance with the Research and Professional Doctorate Degree Regulations, academic staff with responsibilities for higher degree research supervision will ensure that continuity of such supervision can be maintained when absent from the university on any form of extended leave (greater than 3 weeks).

6.2 Academic staff who apply for leave greater than three weeks shall as part of the application process, complete and submit to the Associate Dean Research a proforma indicating how continuity of supervision will be maintained.

6.3 The Head of School and the Associate Dean Research will include as part of their recommendation, advice on how continuity of research supervision can be maintained whilst the person is on leave and what alternative arrangements are appropriate.

6.4 If the application for leave is approved, the Associate Dean Research will notify the Manager, Graduate Research. The Head of School will negotiate with the supervisor to ensure continuity of supervision.

7. Specific Responsibilities of Co-Supervisors

7.1 General Responsibilities

a. Maintain a team approach to supervision and ensure a close involvement with the candidate and the principal supervisor with regards to the development of the candidate's research project.

b. Provide advice and assistance to higher degree research candidates with regards to any aspect of their candidature.

c. Act as the principal supervisor in the absence of the principal supervisor.

d. Ensure that any assistance rendered to the candidate is consistent with the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research.

8. Specific Responsibilities of Assistant Supervisors

8.1 General Responsibilities

a. Maintain close involvement with the candidate and the principal supervisor with regards to the development of the candidate's research project.

b. Work under the guidance of the Principal supervisor with respect to various aspects of the supervision process and provide advice to the student as requested by the principal supervisor.

c. Ensure that any assistance rendered to the candidate is consistent with the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research.

9. Specific Responsibilities of Associate Supervisors

9.1 General Responsibilities

a. Provide advice and assistance to HDR candidates elements of their candidature that falls within the specific expertise of the associate supervisor.

b. Maintain and uphold where appropriate the policies and processes of ACU.

c. Ensure that any assistance rendered to the candidate is consistent with the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research.

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Policy

Related Policies, Procedures, Guidelines and Local Protocols

Appointment of Examiners and the Conduct of the Examination Process
Policy for Accreditation of Research Supervisors
Preparation and Presentation of a Research or Professional Doctoral Thesis for Examination
Research and Professional Doctorate Degree Regulations

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