Supervision Guidelines

Detailed below are the Supervision Guidelines for research students and their supervisors. This document describes the rights and responsibilities of you (the research student), your supervisors, the Sydney School of Public Health, Sydney Medical School and the University.

For students and supervisors, there are four key points:

  1. Make sure you communicate regularly - the discussion guide may help.
  2. Be aware of the need for progress (Students: provide your supervisors with work to comment on. Supervisors: provide prompt feedback).
  3. Be aware of the requirements for good research practice including ethics approval, intellectual property SUPRA has user-friendly information on intellectual property and academic honesty)
  4. If you're not sure of something - check the guidelines. If you're still not sure contact the Postgraduate Coordinator Professor Kirsten Howard at .

Supervision guidelines

These guidelines contain information from the supervision of higher degree by research students policy and the Postgraduate Research Studies Handbook. The information in these guidelines is specific to students enrolled in a postgraduate research degree (MPhil, DrPH or PhD) in the Sydney School of Public Health.

These guidelines are divided into sections which list of the responsibilities of the:

  1. Student
  2. Supervisors
  3. Sydney School of Public Health
  4. Sydney Medical School and University

1. Responsibilities of the student

You should discuss and reach agreement about a number of issues with your supervisor. A Supervisor/Student Discussion Guide is available and may be of help facilitating this discussion. Not all issues in the discussion guide will be relevant to you. We recommend writing any agreements you and your supervisors make on the discussion guide and that you and your supervisors keep a copy of it. You should revise the agreement(s) on a regular basis.

1.1. Feasibility of the project

1.1.1. Participate in the process of selecting and appointing a supervisor. If you wish to undertake a project in an area that few people within the SPH have experience, you are responsible for finding and approaching suitable people outside the SPH.

1.1.2. Plan and complete the project within the time limits for your degree.

1.2. Progress

1.2.1. Devote sufficient time to your research.

1.2.2. Decide on and fulfill agreed methods of supervision and working with your supervisors.

1.2.3. Meet with your supervisors as agreed and provide evidence your research is progressing. The Medical School requires you meet with your supervisors at least once a month.

1.2.4. Provide the Medical School with evidence of progress, including:
1.2.4.1. a literature review within the first (full-time students) or second (part-time students) year;
1.2.4.2. presentations each year (full-time students) or each second year (part-time students); and
1.2.4.3. a seminar in your final year of candidature.

1.2.5. Show you are able to or where you cannot demonstrate these skills take a course in:
1.2.5.1. use Medline, Ovid, and the Internet (course information available from the Medical Library;
1.2.5.2. use a reference management program such as Endnote (course information available from the Medical Library;
1.2.5.3. write a literature review (course information available from the Learning Centre; and
1.2.5.4. presentation (course information available from the Learning Centre)

1.2.6. Be aware of other courses that may be of use and complete them where appropriate.

1.2.7. Participate in a review of your progress at the end of your first (full-time students) or second (part-time students) year of candidature.

1.2.8. Tell your supervisors about any problems you are having. If you feel your supervisors are not providing their full support, please discuss this with them in the first instance, or seek advice from the Postgraduate Co-coordinator.

1.3. Participation

1.3.1. Undertake any coursework or other activities required by your supervisors or School.

1.3.2. Participate in opportunities to be part of the intellectual community within the School and become involved in discussion and debate.

1.3.3. Seek advice on available resources and apply for grants and sponsorship.

1.3.4. Keep informed about what is happening in the School, including subscribing to appropriate email lists (make sure you are on the research students list).

1.3.5. Participate in activities you think will help you better understand research project management.

1.3.6. Where appropriate, seek advice on career path development.

1.4. Thesis

1.4.1. Make sure you have enough time to write up your thesis and that you are aware of the requirements for content, style and presentation. Information on thesis requirements is available from SUPRA. You are solely responsible for the content, style, presentation and production of the thesis that is submitted.

1.4.2. Give your supervisors 3 months’ notice of the expected submission date to allow early selection of examiners;

1.4.3. Make any emendations required after examination promptly.

1.5. Administrative requirements

1.5.1. Be aware of the legislative requirements and School guidelines relating to your degree or postgraduate work in general.

1.5.2. Make sure you obtain all approvals (including ethics approval) through your supervisors.

1.5.3. Apply for appropriate approvals for absences from the University.

1.5.4. Ensure all administrative requirements of the Medical School and University are met, including annual re-enrollment.

1.6. Publication

Be aware of the University Intellectual Property Rule. Go to University of Sydney - Future Postgraduate Students and choose Postgraduate Handbooks then Research Studies Handbook for the latest information. User-friendly information is available from SUPRA (go to Student Advice and then to Intellectual Property). You should also be aware of the University’s Academic Honesty Policy. Information on academic honesty is also available on the School website.

1.7. General

1.7.1. Be aware that the School expects honest work at all levels. Cheating, plagiarism, fabrication, and falsification of data are not acceptable and will be addressed appropriately.

1.7.2. Always use safe working practices and be aware of the University’s Occupational Health and Safety Policy.

1.7.3. Be aware of the impact of paid employment on your ability to conduct their research in a timely manner.

1.7.4. If you are receiving a scholarship, you cannot work more than 20 hours per week. Further information on this restriction is available from the scholarships office.

2. Responsibilities of the supervisor

You should discuss and reach agreement about a number of issues with the student. A Supervisor/Student Agreement Discussion Guide is available and may be of help facilitating this discussion. Not all issues in the discussion guide will be relevant to you. We recommend writing any agreements you and the student make on the discussion guide and that you and the student keep a copy of it. You should revise the agreement(s) on a regular basis.

Supervisors in the Sydney School of Public Health are responsible for carrying out the following duties to the best of their ability:

2.1. Feasibility of the project

2.1.1. Ensure the student is capable of undertaking the proposed project and that you are qualified and have sufficient time to supervise the project.

2.1.2. Ensure that the facilities and resources needed to complete the project are available and that the student is aware of these.

2.1.3. If you are not confident that responsibilities 2.1.1 and 2.1.2 can be met, consult with the Postgraduate Coordinator.

2.1.4. Declare any interest in a company that has a contract with the University to do research involving research students.

2.1.5. Ensure that the student is aware of the standards of work and skills required, and the appropriate data gathering and analysis techniques.

2.2. Progress

2.2.1. Agree with the student on frequency of consultation and appropriate indicators of progress. The Medical School requires you meet with the student at least once a month.

2.2.2. Provide feedback to the student on their progress and written work within one month or a shorter agreed time.

2.2.3. Identify problems and possible solutions where the student is making. Make sure the student is made aware of these. If you feel the student is not making satisfactory progress, you should discuss the issue with the student and seek a continuing commitment to the agreed time frames. Should this commitment not be achieved, you may seek advice from the Postgraduate Coordinator.

2.2.4. Provide feedback to the School on the progress of the student as required.

2.2.5. Ensure the student is notified in sufficient time of any absences. Where you are on leave and non-contactable, and the student requests it, appoint an acting supervisor. Where this happens you should inform the acting supervisor about the progress of the student. When you return you should seek information about the progress of the student from the acting supervisor.

2.3. Participation

2.3.1. Ensure the student participates in the work of the School including presentations at seminars as required.

2.3.2. Ensure, especially at the start of the candidature, that the student has access to all necessary facilities (eg access to a desk and computer). You should encourage the student to extend their contacts within the School and elsewhere and to make productive use of their time.

2.3.3. Attend meetings with the Postgraduate Coordinator and student yearly or as required.

2.3.4. Encourage students to become active in their academic field, promote awareness of their research amongst their national and international peers, and assist them to develop their research reputation.

2.3.5. Encourage students to participate in activities that will enhance their understanding of research project management.

2.4. Thesis

2.4.1. Give appropriate and timely advice on thesis requirements and drafts (see 2.2.3.).

2.4.2. Monitor, with the student, progress made within the context of the overall research plan and ensure that sufficient time is left for writing up the thesis, and if necessary, that the scope of the project is reduced according to the time available.

2.4.3. Give thought to appropriate examiners for the thesis in good time before submission (Sydney Medical School will send you a reminder), and to advise the Postgraduate Coordinator of the necessity to take action.

2.4.4. Certify (usually in the form of a letter to the Registrar), when the thesis is submitted, that the thesis is acceptable for examination.

2.5. Administrative requirements

Identify the various degree and administrative requirements and advise the student of these as necessary. Ensure that approvals are sought for absences from the University, and that the student receives any due entitlements from the School (These are currently being reviewed by the School Executive).

2.6. Publication

2.6.1. Ensure the student is aware of the requirements associated with good conduct in research, retention of data, and statements of authorship.

2.6.2. Ensure, as far as possible, that work submitted by the student is their own and that data are valid.

2.6.3. Ensure there is open and mutual recognition of the contribution made by all relevant people on all published work arising from the project. You and the student should reach agreement regarding authorship of publications and acknowledgement of contributions.

2.6.4. Ensure the student is aware of their rights with regard to intellectual property and that acknowledgment of the contribution of all persons to the research effort is made. Go to University of Sydney - Future Postgraduate Students and choose Postgraduate Handbooks then Research Studies Handbook for the latest information. .

2.7. Associate Supervision

Within the Sydney School of Public Health, all research students are required to have at least one associate supervisor. The primary supervisor therefore has a responsibility to:

2.7.1. Ensure that the associate supervisor receives a copy of these guidelines.

2.7.2. Ensure the student, supervisor and associate supervisor understand responsibilities.

2.7.3. Maintain regular contact with the associate supervisor.

2.7.4. Ensure that the direction of the work is entirely under the control of the School.

2.8. General

2.8.1. Ensure that safe working practices are developed and maintained by the student and that the student is aware of the University’s Occupational Health and Safety Policy.

2.8.2. Be aware of problem solving and support mechanisms for students in the University, recommend these to the student as appropriate, and ensure the Head of School and Medical Program are kept informed as necessary if problems occur during the candidature.

2.8.3. Be aware of cultures other than your own and be sensitive and tolerant to cultural diversities.

2.8.4. Advise the student on career path development.

3. Responsibilities at the School level

The School is responsible for ensuring that:

3.1. Research applicants are properly qualified both with respect to the minimum requirements for admission to the degree concerned and with respect to the particular course of study proposed and that they have had appropriate discussions/correspondence concerning their proposed course of study.

3.2. Applicants are correctly advised as to the availability of facilities, including but not limited to physical space, and likely financial support.

3.3. Students are provided with written information concerning school facilities and requirements including reference to arrangements for alternative channels of problem resolution and the various review mechanisms that operate within the school.

3.4. Appropriate supervision can be, and is, made available for any particular student during the course of their degree. The school is responsible for monitoring the supervision load of staff within the school and for ensuring that supervision duties are given proper recognition in the overall allocation of duties to staff.

3.5. The respective role of supervisor and associate supervisor are properly defined and understood and that supervisors, associate supervisors and students have access to such information.

3.6. Review procedures as required by the University are carried out properly; the load that participation in such activities places on members of staff must be recognised within the school.

3.7. Ensure that opportunities exist within the school for the interaction and development of profitable intellectual relationships amongst students and staff and that all students are encouraged to participate in appropriate school activities.

3.8. Students are encouraged to participate in appropriate training activities offered within the University.

3.9. Where a postgraduate coordinator or equivalent has been appointed the duties and responsibilities of the position are properly defined, adequate resources are provided to assist in the performance of those duties and proper recognition is given to the workload these duties entail.

3.10. Necessary approvals are obtained from the Medical School in respect to conditions of candidatures, that scholarship reporting requirements are met and that students receive all due entitlements.

3.11. The examination process is conducted promptly in an expeditious and correct manner.

3.12. Students and supervisors are aware of the University’s policies and procedures with respect to intellectual property, including questions of authorship and exploitation of inventions and other intellectual property.

3.13. In addition, the School is responsible for:

3.13.1. Determining the facilities likely to be required by any particular student and ascertaining whether they will be available and whether the project proposed is appropriate to the degree.

3.13.2. Encouraging supervisors and associate supervisors to participate in supervision training activities provided within the University.

4. Responsibilities at the Medical School and University level

Information on the responsibilities of Sydney Medical School and the University can be found in the Postgraduate Research Studies Handbook, which is sent to new students.