What is the role of your supervisor?


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The supervisory relationship lies at the heart of your research experience. Learn about the role of your supervisors and why they’re the key to your success.

Here are the answers to your frequently asked questions.

  • How many supervisors do you need?

    You need at least two supervisors, with one designated as the principal supervisor.

  • What is the role of your supervisors?
    • To assist and support you in your study
    • To provide helpful feedback
    • To ensure you stay on track

    But they are not expected to take charge of your research or project. As a graduate researcher, you are expected to be self-motivated and proactive.

  • Which factors are important when considering potential supervisors?

    Whether you want to join an established project with an assigned supervisory team or find supervisors for your own research project, the questions below may help you determine who is best placed to support your research journey:

    • Do they have expertise relevant to your intended research project?
    • Do they share your passion for your chosen topic?
    • Are they well connected with other researchers?
    • Have they developed skills in people management and mentoring?
    • What is their reputation amongst current and past PhD candidates? Discover more about their supervision style, availability and accessibility, and the value of their feedback.
    • Will you work well together? Consider your respective personalities and communication styles.
  • How often should you meet with your supervisors?

    You should meet with your supervisors at least monthly. It is essential to build an effective working relationship, and this relies on frequent communication.

  • What other support is available?

    Your supervisors form part of your advisory committee. This is a broader group that provides support and advice, and might include people with specific technical or industry expertise. This committee also has a formal role in monitoring your progress. Your advisory committee should comprise at least three members, including your supervisors and the advisory committee chair.

    Further detail on the roles and responsibilities of supervisors and advisory committee members is located in the Graduate Research Training Policy.

First published on 17 February 2022.

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