Health Counselling & Disability Services now has two new resources to assist you to foster a healthy relationship with your supervisor. Supervisors and students shared their ideas to produce these booklets.
This guide, prepared by the School of Graduate Studies, is being distributed to graduate students and faculty members throughout Queen's University. We hope that this handbook will offer graduate students, faculty, and other departmental members the
guidelines needed to foster productive working relationships between supervisors and graduate students.
Good supervisory practice assists students in meeting their potential and advances the progress of research across Queen's. This booklet provides general guidelines, policies and suggestions for everyone involved in graduate supervision. You will also find information about financial assistance, intellectual property, publication, conflict resolution and a sample graduate student-supervisor agreement.
I hope that you will find this information useful. I wish you the best of luck in your scholarly pursuits.
Brenda Brouwer, Ph.D.
Vice-Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies
Students are advised to obtain information about potential supervisors and the environment in which they will be working. Departmental or program websites generally provide profiles of their faculty members and descriptions of ongoing research and research facilities. Students who will work in a laboratory setting or as a member of a research team are encouraged to talk with current students in that environment about their experiences and interactions with a particular supervisor. It is important that whenever possible the student meet with the potential supervisor of their graduate thesis to determine compatibility and have an opportunity to discuss issues such as expectations, research project support, identifying a thesis topic and scope, student funding, and strategies to ensure timely completion and quality work.
Guiding and advising the student on the selection and development of a research topic that is challenging, at the appropriate level for the degree sought and can be completed within the expected time frame of the degree program. The supervisor should ensure that the research receives approval from the appropriate Research Ethics Board if required prior to commencement of the project. Supervisors should be mindful of the availability of the resources needed to pursue the research.
Communicating to the student the required levels of performance, as well as the performance indicators that are consistent with satisfactory and timely progress in the degree program.
Ensuring that the student gains the necessary theoretical foundations and acquires the skills required to conduct research in a manner consistent with the highest standard of ethical and scientific practice.
Examining thoroughly and responding in a timely manner (usually within 2 weeks) to written work relevant to the thesis/research project submitted by the student and providing constructive suggestions, preferably in writing, for improving and continuing the work.
Informing the student of the standards for quality and style to which theses and papers for publication must conform and advise their students accordingly.
Being accessible to the student to consult and discuss their progress. The frequency of such meetings depends on the field of study, the type of program, the stage of the research project and the independence of the student. At a minimum, meetings should be arranged in each academic term.
Ensuring a safe research environment compliant with University and departmental regulations that is supportive of the research enterprise and is free from discrimination, intimidation or harassment.
Making arrangements for continuity of supervision during periods of extended leave or absence (greater than 6 weeks) in consultation with the student and informing the graduate coordinator.
Advising the student on career options and opportunities for professional development.
Encouraging and assisting the student to disseminate the research findings through appropriate channels (conference, meetings, journals,...).
Being informed of the regulations and procedures of their department, the School of Graduate Studies and the University and being knowledgeable about services and resources available to graduate students at Queen's.
Being honest and open with the student about expectations, performance, and all issues relevant to the student's academic progress.
By agreeing to work with a supervisor, students enter a partnership that will succeed if it is built on mutual trust and respect. Students should acknowledge the senior role that is played by their supervisors who are experienced researchers and academics. It is expected that students should seek their supervisor's advice and give it serious consideration. Students should also seek advice and guidance from their supervisory committee members and from their Graduate Coordinator as needed.
The responsibilities of graduate students include:
Becoming familiar with and complying with the policies, procedures and regulations of the department, the School of Graduate Studies and the university.
Meeting deadlines and following regulations associated with registration, award applications, degree requirements including thesis format and submission.
Conducting research with the highest standard of ethical and scientific practice and acquiring Research Ethics Board approval if required.
Providing reasonable evidence of satisfactory research progress, as requested by the supervisor or supervisory committee.
Preparing a research plan and timeline in consultation with the supervisor as a basis for monitoring progress and completing all stages of the research.
Giving serious consideration to the advice and criticisms offered by the supervisor and supervisory committee regarding academic and research work.
Keeping the supervisor informed of progress and research findings through regular meetings and open communication.
Ensuring that contact information is up to date with the supervisor, the department and the registrar's office.
Informing the supervisor of any changes that might affect progress.
Seeking advice and support from university services and resources as needed.
Upon completion of the research work ensure that all records, files, documents are stored appropriately and a plan for dissemination has been agreed upon by all collaborators.
Specific responsibilities of supervisory committees include:
Meeting with the student, as a committee, as required but not less than once per year to assess the student's progress in the program and advise on future work required for completion of the degree requirements.
Submitting a written report at least once per year to the graduate coordinator detailing its observations on the student's progress and future work and assessing whether research is progressing at a satisfactory or unsatisfactory level. A copy of the report should be given to the student and the student must be given the opportunity to respond. A copy of the report and the student's response should be filed with the department.
Being reasonably accessible to students when called upon for discussion of academic progress, for consultation on issues related to the research project and for general guidance.
Specific responsibilities of the department and/or of its delegate, the Graduate Coordinator, include:
Providing current information to all graduate students, both incoming and continuing, on all aspects of the department's program, admission requirements, financial support, procedures and deadlines. The departments should ensure that their information materials convey a welcoming and inclusive message and are readily accessible to all students.
Ensuring that all administrative procedures of the department and the School of Graduate Studies are followed.
Ensuring that departmental policies relevant to the graduate program such as regulations governing the appointment of supervisors, dispute resolution, monitoring progress are current and published (e.g. web, handbook) so students can be familiar with them.
Being reasonably accessible to students when called upon for discussion and consultation of their academic progress and research.
Establishing an effective means of communicating with graduate students about matters of importance to their program (e.g. events, seminars, funding opportunities)
Appointing a supervisor for each student registered in a graduate degree program with a research component. It is recognized that in some programs it is desirable to appoint a supervisor as early as possible while in others it is preferable to wait for the student to be involved in the research component of his/her program. In the latter case, it is assumed that the Head, Graduate Coordinator or delegate will take on the role of supervisor until a research supervisor has been appointed.
Ensuring that each student registered in a graduate degree program with a research component has access to supervision and receives progress reports from the supervisory committee, where appropriate.
Tracking financial packages provided to students and in cases where financial assistance is provided from departmental sources, communicating the terms clearly and in writing to the students (amounts, length of time, and conditions).
Ensuring that financial support is provided in a fair and equitable manner consistent with departmental and SGS policies.
Providing a mechanism for resolving problems which may arise between graduate students, instructors, supervisors and/or members of the supervisory committee.
Informing students of resources and services available to them for assistance, consultation and advice on academic and non-academic matters.
Providing support for new and continuing faculty on graduate supervision (eg. workshops).
Providing professional development courses and opportunities for graduate students.
Ensuring that policies and procedures are followed.
Advising students on academic issues and facilitating informal solutions as appropriate.
Liaising with graduate units on all matters relevant to graduate education.
The terms of the financial commitment including the source(s) of funds (e.g. supervisor, department, School of Graduate Studies, etc...), the time period, amount and conditions must be communicated clearly and in writing to the student by the Department. Because of the importance of the funding package for recruitment and retention, departments are strongly encouraged to make offers as early as possible. In all cases the commitment must be honoured while the contractual relation between the student and the University is in effect.
Original data should be retained in the laboratory or the department of the principal investigator and accessible to those involved in the research (supervisor and student). Guidelines of the General Research Ethics Board and the Health Sciences Research Ethics Board should be followed as appropriate and in accordance with the procedure describe in the ethics submission. It should be recognized that the data should be retained in the designated location (e.g. lab, department) for a reasonable period beyond the time of publication and beyond the end of the grant period.
In many disciplines, the supervisor plays a significant role in guiding the development, direction and completion of the student's research project such that the supervisor and student are both considered to have contributed intellectually to the research. As an institution of intellectual enquiry, Queen's is committed to fostering intellectual inquiry and transferring results to society and making them accessible. The ownership of intellectual property must not be used to suppress or distort research work conducted by members of the university.
Prior to the submission of a thesis or documents for publication co-authored by their supervisor, the student must discuss a draft of the submission with the supervisor. The student must respect a supervisor's request to review any original data associated with the submission. In accordance with the Senate Policy on Research Ethics, original data should be held in trust for the scientific and academic community, and should normally be retained in the laboratory or department of the principal investigator.
In resolving a conflict that involves a graduate student, parties must in all cases be mindful of the power differential in the student/supervisor or student/faculty member relationship. Furthermore, it must be acknowledged that research by nature requires that ideas, assumptions and interpretations are challenged - this can inadvertently create an environment that is perceived as threatening or adverse. Sensitivity to the power differential, recognition of differences in cultural experiences, and clear understanding of expectations can help maintain a healthy and productive relationship that fosters intellectual growth.
In cases when conflict arises, the procedure for mediation outlined below should be followed. Note that matters of academic substance should be dealt with following the procedures outlined in the calendar of the School of Graduate Studies under the section "Review of Academic Decisions".
Departmental and School of Graduate Studies Channels
Resolution of an issue should initially be sought first through informal departmental channels. Students should be informed of relevant Departmental procedures. Thus, discussion of the problem should occur first between the student and supervisor or supervisory committee. If the issue cannot be resolved here, one or both parties should consult the Graduate Coordinator and/or the Department Head to seek possible resolution. If a satisfactory resolution is not reached, assistance can be requested of the Associate Dean(s) of the School of Graduate Studies. In consultation with the person(s) seeking advice, the Dean may elect to appoint an advisory committee to help resolve the issue. All consultations in the Departmental and School of Graduate Studies should be kept confidential and no direct action should be taken without the prior consent of the person(s) seeking advice. Wherever possible, formal communications should be limited to those parties directly concerned in dealing with problems.
Resolution of the issue can also be sought through the University's Grievance Procedures, which include informal, administrative and formal channels. The Queen's Senate Statement on Grievance, Discipline and Related Matters and the University's Grievance and Appeal Procedures document should be consulted. Note that, unless warranted by unusual circumstances, no interruptions to the student's academic program may be put into effect until all channels of appeal or grievance have been exhausted, or the time for appeal has been allowed to lapse.
General Guidelines for Authorship
The following are terms of the graduate student and supervisor relationship as it relates to research and publication. _____________ is a graduate student working under the supervision of ________________ and is conducting thesis research in the area of ______________________. This work ________ (is, is not) part of the supervisors funded research program.
The supervisor will ensure that the student has access to computing and material resources to conduct his/her research. The necessary equipment is available and the student will be trained on its use and proper operation. Costs associated with conducting the research will be covered in accordance with the project described in the student's proposal; coverage of additional costs must be approved by the supervisor and only if a funding source has been identified. Original data records must remain with the lab/supervisor; if ethics approval is required for the study the Research Ethics Board guidelines regarding data storage and access must be followed. Compliance with the University's highest standards of ethics and scientific practice is mandatory.
Authorship is assigned based on level of intellectual contribution to the research determined collectively by the research team involved with the project. The graduate student will be listed as ________ (sole, first) author providing that (s)he carries out most of the work and provides a first draft of a manuscript (or any other relevant conditions). The supervisor will be listed as ________ (last, middle) author and other co-authors are: ___list names________________. It is expected that the student will provide a first draft of a manuscript within _____ months of completion of the research or series of experiments. If this does not occur and there has been no change in the agreement, the supervisor will draft the paper. This ______ (will, will not) affect the order of authors listed. The graduate student will be _______ author and the supervisor ______ author. All authors should be in agreement on the content of the manuscript prior to submission. In cases when a dispute about authorship arises, it will be resolved by the _______________ (graduate coordinator, department Head, Graduate Program Committee).
I have read and agree to the above terms.
Student's signature ______________________ Date _____________________
Supervisor's signature ______________________ Date ______________________
 Senate Policy on Integrity in Research (supercedes the Code of Research Ethics, approved by Senate, October 1987).
 Senate Policy on Student Appeals, Rights & Discipline
© School of Graduate Studies and Research, Queen's University, Kingston,
Modified: October 2007
* All files are in PDF format which can be viewed using Adobe Reader.