One of the most important aspects of graduate training is the timely, clear identification of a Supervisor for each graduate student. Although there are wide variations in the pattern of finding such a Supervisor, it is this individual who plays a key role in the direction of the graduate student's research. Although reasonable effort will be made to accommodate individual student research preferences, the graduate program cannot guarantee to provide a particular supervisor, nor to accommodate every topic of research that might be proposed by a graduate student. As one illustration, some programs may only accept students to work on specific projects that are funded by a faculty member's research grant or contract-based funding.
The Thesis Supervisory Committee consists of Supervisor(s) and at least one additional SGPS member who may or may not be in the students Graduate Program. This committee assists in the development of the candidate's research plan and thesis proposal, provides advice and criticism on the planning and writing of the thesis, and decides, or the Supervisor(s) alone may decide at the program's discretion, when the candidate's thesis is ready for examination. The student, however, may submit the thesis without the Supervisor(s)'s or Thesis Supervisory Committee's approval.
Supervisor: This designation indicates that the faculty member has the appropriate level of supervisory membership and primary responsibility for overseeing the Master's or Doctoral thesis research. This designation also indicates primary credit for such supervision.
Co-Supervisor: This designation is applied where two faculty members supervise a Master's thesis, one of whom has Master's or Doctoral membership, and the other has a Non-Thesis membership. This designation can also be applied where two faculty members supervise a Doctoral thesis, one of whom has Doctoral membership and the other has Master's membership. These co-supervisory arrangements allow faculty members without significant supervisory membership to gain supervisory experience via a mentoring process of working with senior faculty. Both faculty members receive equal credit for supervision.
Joint-Supervisors: This designation is applicable where two faculty members in a program supervise a thesis, both of whom have the same level of supervisory membership, and thus share joint responsibility for the thesis. Joint supervision can apply to both Master's and Doctoral theses. These arrangements allow both faculty members to receive equal credit for supervision. Only one of the joint supervisors must be a core-member of the program granting the student's degree.
Alternate Supervisor: For all Master's or Doctoral Supervisory Members who are not employed by UWO (e.g., those with a current Casual Academic Appointment, such as emeritus faculty or off-site research adjunct professors), an alternate Supervisor must be appointed by the Graduate Program Chair for each student supervised. The alternate Supervisor must have the appropriate level of supervisory membership for the student in question (Master's or Doctoral), and must be able to assume the supervisory role if necessary.
In this document, we use the phrase ‘Supervisory/Advisory committee’ to refer to those who are formally assisting the student with their thesis progress.
11.2.1 Expectations of Supervisors
All supervisors are expected to:
- adhere to standards of ethical behaviour, academic integrity, and professionalism
- commit the time, energy, and focus reasonably necessary to enable students to achieve the progress expected in their program
- demonstrate effective management and leadership skills
- demonstrate effective interpersonal communication skills
- respect diversity and demonstrate intercultural competency
- endeavor to develop insights into their strengths and weaknesses as a supervisor and to pursue opportunities to build further strength, particularly in areas of weakness
- recognize the supervisor—student power differential and demonstrate respect for the student’s
rights and goals
- respect and provide support for the student’s academic and career goals
- respect the student’s personal circumstances (e.g., the student’s need to fulfill personal obligations such as childcare)
- differentiate between their own and their students’ needs
- explicitly discuss with the student expectations regarding authorship on publications and ownership of intellectual property
11.2.2 Requirements of Supervisors
All supervisors are required to:
- provide continuous supervision through the duration of the student’s studies. This includes ensuring that supervision continues through periods of supervisor absence from campus (e.g., maintaining full supervision during sabbatical; securing co- supervision if needed/appropriate)
- adhere to the academic requirements of the program and SGPS regulations
- contribute to the program’s evaluation of the student’s progress as required by the program and SGPS
- ensure regular meetings of the student with the full Supervisory/Advisory committee as per the program's and/or SGPS's regulations
- actively involve Supervisory/Advisory committee in the process of guiding the student.
- meet with their graduate student no later than one month after assignment of supervision, or initial registration as a student at Western, with the purpose of discussing and clarifying expectations for the role of the supervisor and the role of the student in the supervisory relationship.
- provide timely feedback on documents/reports/materials/scholarship applications – normally 2
weeks is reasonable for a thesis chapter or equivalent
- provide timely response (whether acknowledgment or a substantial reply) when contacted by students, for example responding to emails within 72 hours
- in collaboration with the student, set and adhere to reasonable timelines for all aspects of the student’s academic work, consistent with the program’s milestones to completion
- respect interpersonal boundaries and demonstrate professional behaviour with the student
- respect appropriate times and means for communication with the student
- as far as allowed by the logistics of the research setting, allow and respect the student’s right to set their own daily schedule
- make good‐faith efforts to provide the resources needed for the student's work
- allow and not undermine the student's engagement in professional development
- adhere to all health and safety policies (http://www.uwo.ca/univsec/pdf/policies_procedures/section3/mapp31.pdf)
- adhere to all policies related to research ethics (http://www.uwo.ca/univsec/pdf/policies_procedures/section7/mapp712.pdf and http://www.uwo.ca/univsec/pdf/policies_procedures/section7/mapp714.pdf)
- adhere to Non‐Discrimination/Harassment policy (http://www.uwo.ca/univsec/pdf/policies_procedures/section1/mapp135.pdf)
- adhere to the University policy on Academic Integrity in Research Activities (http://www.uwo.ca/univsec/pdf/policies_procedures/section7/mapp70.pdf)
A supervisor is required for all research-degree students. At admission, students are given an offer letter that outlines the contractual obligations between the student and the program. Each program will ensure that students receive appropriate supervision.
When the supervisor is determined (either at admission or some later point) the supervisor commits to assuming the roles and responsibilities specified by the School for Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and the program. http://grad.uwo.ca/faculty_staff/viceprovost/supervision.html
The School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies is committed to resolving any conflicts between students and supervisors as early as possible. When the process breaks down, the following apply:
- Students have the right to request a change of supervisor. If the student requests a change, he/she should contact their Graduate Chair.
- Supervisors cannot unilaterally terminate the thesis supervisory relationship. If a supervisor initiates this change, then the appropriate processes must be followed. Questions about the process should be directed to the Graduate Chair or the Associate Dean (Graduate) of the Faculty.
- Student and faculty member requests for changing supervisors will be reviewed by the Graduate program. If the supervisor and student agree that a change to the supervisory relationship is needed, normally the Graduate Chair will work with the student and supervisor to find a solution as early as possible.
The new supervisor, normally from the student’s program, will assume the roles and responsibilities specified by SGPS and the program. Normally, the normal duration of the degree program for the student will not be increased.