Supervision and Advisory Committees

The supervisory relationship and the role of the advisory committee.

When you are writing a research thesis, your most significant contact in the faculty is your primary supervisor and it is important to develop a good working relationship with this person. The burden is on both you and your supervisor to come to an understanding of how best to accommodate specific needs. These can vary enormously, so please don't assume your supervisor has the direction of your research already mapped out for you.

Frequency of Supervision

Depending on the nature of the project, most students meet with one of their supervisors several times a week, particularly those working in labs. If your project is not lab-based, you may only meet with your supervisor fortnightly. You and your supervisor should discuss how frequently you wish to meet to discuss your work, and make appropriate appointments to do this.

One of the most common problems in research for a higher degree results from the student and the supervisor having different expectations of the relationship. Again, it is crucial that you talk to your supervisor about what you each expect and what you would find most helpful.

Ask your supervisor for assistance with the literature review for your topic, for advice on obtaining inter-library loan material, and about any aspect of the faculty's or the University's operations, conferences, possible work opportunities, and so forth. Most importantly, don't hesitate to raise any doubts or anxieties about your work and its progress. If you run into difficulties at any stage, it is very important to keep in touch with your supervisor. Even if such difficulties are personal or financial, your supervisor will sometimes be able to advise how best to manage your candidature and the progress of your research in these circumstances.

Problems with Supervision

If you experience any persistent difficulties with your supervision, or have questions or concerns that cannot be dealt with by one of your supervisors, you should in the first instance consult another of your supervisors or the Research Training Coordinator. The Associate Dean - Research and Director – Research Training are also available to you by appointment, via the Research Training Coordinator, and any concerns you bring to them will be dealt with professionally and with due confidentiality.

Advisory Committees

An advisory committee must be established from commencement to completion of candidature for the benefit of you, your supervisors, the faculty and the University. The advisory committee provides you with a source of support and communication beyond that provided by your supervisor/s. The advisory committee must be comprised of at least three people including the supervisor/s. The committee chair will be a person other than one of your supervisors, will be an experienced supervisor themselves, will not be part of your research team, and will be a member of the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences. The faculty would also recommend that the committee chair should not report directly to the principal supervisor. Your supervisor will nominate an appropriate advisory chair for you.

You will meet with the advisory committee on at least an annual basis, with the first meeting being in the first three months of candidature. At the annual meetings, you will make a formal presentation on your research work and discuss your progress with your advisory committee. This discussion will centre on your next progress report or milestone. This meeting is a formal opportunity to check in with your supervisors and raise any issues of concern.For more detailed information on advisory committees, please refer to the Graduate Research Hub.