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Supervisors' duties

The supervisor function is the most important element in a PhD programme. Supervision includes providing information and guidance on all aspects of PhD programmes with the focus on academic supervision in connection with research activities.

The principal supervisor is responsible for the PhD programme as a whole, cf. Section 8 of the Ministerial Order on PhD programmes. The principal supervisor is responsible for:

  • Having knowledge of the PhD Order and the PhD School regulations
  • Ensuring that the PhD plan is prepared in time and for the writing of a supervisor statement in connection with the submission of the PhD plan to the PhD Committee
  • Reading and commenting on the PhD project
  • Guidance about integrity and responsible conduct of research – the PhD student must follow the PhD School’s mandatory course “Responsible Conduct of Research for PhD students” or similar course at another institution
  • Staying in regular contact with the PhD student and acting as a sparring partner regarding the PhD project
  • Making agreements on the frequency, style of supervision, and role allocation between the principal supervisor and the co-supervisor(s)
  • Advising the PhD student about time planning in order to be able to accommodate teaching/knowledge dissemination, courses and change of research environment during the course of study
  • Alignment of expectations to include roles and responsibilities of the principal supervisor, co-supervisor(s) and the PhD student
  • Ensuring that the PhD student becomes a member of active research groups or networks at SDU and/or at other research institutions
  • Assisting the PhD student to establish contacts with relevant national and international research environments
  • Informing the PhD student about relevant courses and conferences and recommending the approval of courses to the PhD committee.
  • Providing guidance regarding choice of course work activities and recommending the approval of courses to the PhD Committee
  • Ensuring that the regular evaluations (first and second year evaluations) are prepared in time and for assisting at the PhD seminar cf. section 10 in connection with the first year evaluation. This includes taking the initiative to inform the Head of PhD School if the PhD plan needs to be changed or if the progress of the PhD project is viewed as inadequate
  • Submitting a statement to the PhD School about the contents of the PhD study (courses, teaching, stays abroad) in connection with submission of the PhD thesis
  • Taking part in the assessment work and the defence of the PhD thesis without voting rights

The co-supervisor assists the principal supervisor and his/her tasks are agreed on appointment and will normally include academic sparring in connection with selected areas of the research project.  

A satisfactory PhD programme requires the establishment of a well-functioning collaboration between the PhD student, the principal supervisor and the co-supervisor from the beginning of the PhD programme during which the PhD student and the supervisors harmonise demands on and expectations for the course of supervision. The PhD plan must contain a description of the mutual demands on and expectations for the course of supervision – including expectations regarding the form of supervision and its extent.  

Detailed guidelines for the extent of supervision have not been established as the need for supervision will vary during the PhD programme, but the principal supervisor is expected to follow the PhD student's work closely throughout. The principal supervisor should maintain a close dialogue with the PhD student to determine how the project is progressing and the extent to which there is a need to adjust the project and other elements of the PhD programme (courses, teaching and periods at other research environments, etc.) Information about the progress and extent of supervision must be provided in connection with the regular evaluations. The PhD School recommends that joint supervision meetings are held at least once per semester with participation from both supervisors. 

The PhD School has established a PhD supervisor course for new supervisors taught in both English in Danish in order to strengthen the supervisory function. Furthermore, courses targeted experienced PhD supervisors are offered.

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