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The Graduate School of Health Sciences

The supervisor's tasks

A main supervisor is responsible for the overall PhD period. He/She is obligated to supervise the PhD student, just as the PhD student is obligated to receive supervision. The cooperation between the main supervisor and the student is imperative for the project.

Co-supervisors and project supervisors have less formal responsibility than the main supervisor, but they are still a very important part of the majority of the projects at the faculty.

Here you can find a tool for aligning the expectations between the supervisors.

Read about each supervisor role below:

In cooperation with the student, the main supervisor are responsible, both formally and concerning supervision, for the total course of the PhD project.

It is pivotal for the project that the main supervisor is at the student's disposal with constructive critique, as discussion partner concerning the research and offering help getting the project to proceed as planned. Likewise, the supervisor helps getting the funding of the programme in place and assures the submission of half-year reports in due time.

The main supervisor must be employed at The Faculty of Health Sciences as associated professor or professor and be a scientifically qualified, active researcher within the relevant research field.

  • The main supervisor should be familiar with the PhD Order and the guidelines regarding the PhD programme defined by the Graduate School.
  • The main supervisor should make sure that a meeting on matching of expectations is called immediately after the beginning of the PhD programme, where the supervisor and the PhD student establish the framework for the supervision. See which agreements need to be made
  • The main supervisor should inform the PhD student about the necessary safety conduct in the laboratories, about the faculty guidelines within IT-security and about the necessary research ethical and legal requirements of the project, as well as introduce the PhD student to the research environment and the relevant graduate programme and department.
  • The PhD student should have the opportunity to present his/her own work both in and outside the department,  including international meetings.
  • The main supervisor should give constructive critique and response to submitted manuscripts/publications and parts of/the final PhD thesis all in plenty of time for the PhD thesis to be handed in, in due time.
  • The main supervisor should discuss the completed work with the student and if necessary, revise the purpose of the work, partly in light of how the work progresses and partly in light of external factors, e.g. the funding of the work or newly published findings, which can result in the need for a revision of the work. You should also be able to say stop, even though the achieved results appear to open up for exciting (though uncertain and time consuming ) sub-projects.
  • The main supervisor must make sure that the required half-yearly reports are submitted to the Graduate School.
  • The main supervisor must make sure that the PhD programme is completed and no unnecessary time is spend on course activities when the 30 ECTS-credits are obtained.
  • The main supervisor should contact the Graduate School in case of problems in the relationship with the PhD student and the progression of the project. Please be aware that the Head of Graduate School can act as mediator, if a dispute should occur between the supervisor and the PhD student.

As many as three co-supervisors can be involved in the PhD project. Co-supervisors must be qualified in research in the relevant field. It is not necessary for co-supervisors to be employed at the faculty or elsewhere at the University of Southern Denmark. Co-supervisors can be e.g. professor, associated professor, lecturer, resident, chief physician, senior researcher or postdoc. PhD students cannot be supervisors for other PhD students. The faculty does not pay external supervisors.

In most cases, one or more co-supervisors are involved in a PhD project. Co-supervisors have great knowledge about the scientific area in question and can contribute to the PhD project and help the student with the research. A co-supervisor has fewer formal requirements for participation in the project than a main supervisor.

Co-supervisors have to make sure that:
  • there is continuity in the supervision, in case the main supervisor is absent. If the project is conducted outside of the enrolling institution a project supervisor, who is employed at this place, is appointed. This person will be responsible for the day-to-day supervision.
  • they give the most efficient supervision to the PhD student contributing with a ’second opinion’ and certain areas of expertise in addition to the main supervisor.
  • they give constructive critique and respond to submitted manuscripts/publications and parts of/the final PhD thesis.
  • they stay up-to-date with the progress of the PhD student's work.

When a PhD project is completed in accordance with the industrial PhD arrangement, a supervisor from the company where the PhD student is employed must be involved. This supervisor is a project supervisor.

A project supervisor can also be a co-supervisor who after a previous arrangement has undertaken a part of the main supervisor's responsibilities at a "normal" PhD project.

The PhD programme Faculty of Health Sciences University of Southern Denmark

  • Campusvej 55
  • Odense M - DK-5230
  • Phone: 6550 4949

Last Updated 30.11.2023