11. Supervision

One of the most important aspects of graduate training is the timely, clear identification of a Supervisory Committee for each graduate student participating in a research program. Although there are wide variations in the pattern of finding a Supervisory Committee, it is this group 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 or particular committee members, nor can the program accommodate every topic of research 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.

A Supervisory Committee consists of at least one Supervisor and at least one Committee Member (who is not also one of the supervisors). This committee may:

  • assist in the development of the candidate's research plan and thesis proposal,
  • provide advice and constructive feedback on the planning and writing of the thesis,
  • evaluate progress

All members of the committee must hold the appropriate level of SGPS Membership as outlined below.

11.01A Supervisor

This designation indicates that the faculty member(s) have primary responsibility for overseeing the Master’s or Doctoral thesis research program. Up to two Supervisors can participate in a Supervisory Committee.

Membership Requirements:

  • Doctoral Student:  a Supervisor must have Doctoral Membership in the student’s program.
    • An additional Supervisor could have Doctoral, Master’s or Associate membership in any program.
  • Master’s Student:  a Supervisor must have Doctoral or Master’s Membership in the student’s program.
    • An additional Supervisor could have Doctoral, Master’s or Associate membership in any program.

11.01B Committee Member

All supervisory committees must contain at least one Committee Member (in addition to Supervisor(s)). This designation indicates that the Committee Member has a secondary responsibility for the Master’s or Doctoral thesis research program.  Up to three Committee Members can participate in a Supervisory Committee.

Membership Requirements to be a Committee Member:

  • must have any level of SGPS membership in any program (i.e. could have Teaching/Advisory Membership outside of student’s program)

This information pertains to SGPS section 11.1 in regard to the definition of all supervisory roles (ie. Supervisors, Co-Supervisors)

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
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 Thesis Supervisory Committee as per the program's and/or SGPS's regulations
  • actively involve Thesis Supervisory 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)
  • adhere to the University policy on Accessibility (https://www.uwo.ca/univsec/pdf/policies_procedures/section1/mapp147.pdf)
  • adhere to SGPS Policy (http://grad.uwo.ca/postdoctoral_scholars/current/policies_procedures.html)
Expectations of students

All students are expected to:

  • adhere to the highest standards of ethical behaviour, academic integrity, and professionalism
  • commit the time, energy, and focus necessary to achieve the progress expected in their program
  • engage in self-directed learning
  • endeavor to develop insight into their strengths and weaknesses as a student and to pursue opportunities to build further strength, particularly in areas of weakness
  • demonstrate effective interpersonal communication skills
  • give supervisor, Thesis Supervisory Committee members, and other faculty members sufficient notice and time to provide constructive feedback or to write thoughtful letters of reference
  • seek and give serious consideration to constructive feedback and advice.
  • provide timely response (whether acknowledgment or a substantial reply) when contacted by supervisor or department, for example responding to emails within 72 hours
  • respect the work, environment, and equipment/materials of others, and show tolerance and respect for others sharing the same environment, equipment and materials
  • openly discuss with the supervisor expectations regarding authorship on publications and ownership of intellectual property
Requirements of students

All students are required to:

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.