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The supervisor’s role is to facilitate your research and provide ongoing advice and guidance. They will also challenge you to achieve research and personal goals.

When applying to undertake a Masters by Research, PhD or Professional Doctorate degree you will need to meet with the Postgraduate Coordinator to discuss your chosen area of research. They will assist in selection of an appropriate supervisor.

Appointment of supervisors

Your supervisors will be chosen on the basis of their ability to contribute specialised assistance to you. You should discuss your specific needs and the availability of possible supervisors with the Postgraduate Coordinator prior to submission of an Application for Admission form.

While the final appointment of supervisors rests with the appropriate committee, you are encouraged to contribute towards the nomination process in conjunction with the Postgraduate Course Coordinator. Principal supervisors must be ECU staff members, however, under some circumstances associate supervisors may be external to the University.

The role of the supervisor at this stage should include:

  • discussing the research proposal;
  • have some input into the development of the proposal;
  • provide preliminary specialist assistance and guidance relating to the research topic;
  • a Nomination of Supervisors form should be completed, signed by the student, supervisor and Dean of School, and forwarded for approval by the Associate Dean (Research);
  • Agreeing with you on the frequency of contact with;

Complaints regarding supervision should be resolved as early as possible during candidature and in accordance with Part VI Rule 49 (A) of the Edith Cowan University Rules (Admission, Enrolment and Academic Progress).

Following submission of the thesis or project for examination, you may appeal against aspects of the examination process or outcome of the examination but not against aspects of supervision.

What should you expect from a supervisor?

The duties and responsibilities of supervisors will vary according the field of study being undertaken and the level of degree. For general guidelines, see the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research

What should a supervisor expect from you?

The duties and responsibilities are outlined in the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research.

In addition to these responsibilities, you should also:

  • identify the area in which research is to be undertaken;
  • ensure that regular meetings are scheduled with your supervisor;
  • prepare, with the assistance of your supervisor, a budget estimate of the costs associated with the research and determine personal costs and those costs for which the University may provide assistance; and
  • prepare, with the assistance of your supervisor, a timetable for the achievement of research goals and the completion and presentation of the thesis as part of your Research Management Plan.

Publication of research findings and authorship of publications arising from students' research

Your supervisor should advise you on conference presentations and publications that might be produced from the research activities and the completed thesis or project.

It is normal practice within many research disciplines that supervisors who work with postgraduate research students in the preparation of publications become co-authors of those publications. Issues of publication and ownership of authorship should be discussed by students and supervisors early in the research project to avoid misunderstandings.

Intellectual property arising from postgraduate research

Where there is likely to be important intellectual property arising from postgraduate research, you and your supervisor should refer to the University Intellectual Property Policy and, where appropriate, sign an intellectual property license so that your interests are protected.

Conducting research with industry partners, communities or community organisations

Where the research project requires access to a community or organisation for data collection or other research purposes, you and your supervisor need to consider issues of intellectual property and confidentiality.

Occasionally, communities or organisations may ask you to sign an agreement before you conduct the research. In all instances the agreement should be referred to the Director, Research and Innovation in the Research Services to find out if legal advice is necessary, if the agreement should be changed and whether you should sign.

Assessment of progress

At the end of each semester we require your supervisors to provide a report on the progress of your research to the Board of Examiners (via the Student Services Centre).

It is important to discuss with your supervisor any matter which could impede the progress or affect the quality of your research. If these matters are of a personal nature, trained counsellors are available on a confidential basis.

Progress reports are sent directly to the principal supervisor by Research Assessments, Student Services Centre. The reports are completed by both supervisor and candidate. Academic progress is graded as Satisfactory Progress, Marginal Progress or Fail.

These reports must be completed and signed by both the supervisor and you and returned to Research Assessments, Student Services Centre so that a grade can be presented to the Board of Examiners.

The progress report grading system is outlined below:

  • SP, Satisfactory Progress
    Candidate has achieved satisfactory progress throughout the semester and can continue with his/her enrolment in thesis units.
  • MP, Marginal Progress
    Candidate has only made marginal progress during the semester and is given one semester to improve the situation. At this time the candidate and supervisor are required to complete a progress contract, outlining goals to be achieved in the upcoming semester. If the goals are not achieved by the end of that semester, the candidate will be recommended for exclusion.
  • TS, Thesis Submitted
    Candidate has submitted thesis for examination and is awaiting the outcome.
  • F, Fail
    Candidate has made very poor academic progress during the semester. The Board of Examiners will exclude the candidate from the program.

Requesting a change of supervisor

Illness, leave, appointment to another institution or other events may result in the unavailability of a supervisor. Alternatively, the relationship between a student and supervisor could prove to be unsatisfactory. If one of these situations arises, you should discuss the matter with your supervisor to make an alternative arrangement.

If you feel unable to talk directly with your supervisor, you can discuss the matter with the Postgraduate Coordinator or Dean of School or Graduate Research School.

Grievance procedures

If you are experiencing difficulties with supervision you should initially try to resolve the problem through discussion with your supervisor. If this is unsatisfactory, or not possible, you should discuss the matter with your Postgraduate Coordinator. If the problem cannot be resolved through discussion at these levels, you can lodge a written complaint with the Graduate Research School. Following the investigation of the matter by the Graduate Research School, if you are still dissatisfied with the decision, you may appeal against that ruling to the Committee of Review.

Following submission of the thesis for examination, the candidate may appeal against aspects of the examination process or outcome of the examination but not against aspects of supervision.

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