Three Lessons Learned from The Supervisor’s Perspective Related to Course in Academic EveryDay Life

When reading and discussing papers in this PhD course I have thought a lot about learning and PhD education, and the role of the supervisor. In this blog post I will try to answer the question: What did I learn related to supervision skills that might be of interest for other supervisors? 

I have been the supervisor for about ten PhD students since 2011, and I am constantly trying to improve my supervision skills mostly through reflection on learning, but also through leadership courses and books. I am also a part of a network of experienced supervisors and we have visitors 2-3 times a year from more junior supervisors who visit our supervision sessions. These visits gives a great opportunity to reflect, discuss and improve supervision. 

Here are three lessons learned related to supervision skills and this course in publishing, plagiarism, reviewing and to write a dissertation. 

  1. Supervisors must understand the value of reading about publishing, plagiarism, reviewing and to write a dissertation. Most of the things mentioned in the papers and books were things that I have heard or seen before related to publishing, plagiarism, reviewing and how to write a dissertation. You can read in the other blog posts on the course what those learning experiences were. However, embarrassingly enough I have not stressed this knowledge enough. For sure we have discussed parts of it when papers are rejected etc, but not in this structured way. All my new PhD students will be advised to read many of these papers and discuss them with me. 
  2. Reading Papers Written by Other Researchers Gives a Common Ground. When we talked about these knowledge previously during supervision it was more on an anecdotal basis where I told what I have seen. This did not give the same effect as a common ground for learning as reading a paper written by a third person. Reading and discussing other peoples’ experiences of peer review gave a better learning experience for students. 

A Great Course for Scaffolding PhD Students Feeling of Being in Control. Many PhD students (and also seniors) struggle with mental health problems related to stress. When looking at theoretical models of stress you can see that increased feeling of being in control of the situation will decrease stress levels. This course set up gives an overview of the central parts of being in Academia, and especially the papers on peer review, discussed in this blog post, can be helpful for PhD students when receiving harsh feedback on papers. A course like this is strongly recommended to include in the beginning of a PhD education, and I will definitely re-read these papers with my future PhD students.

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