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Higher Degrees by Research (HDR) Supervision procedure

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Section 1 - PREAMBLE

(1) This Procedure is effective from 5 December 2017.

(2) This Procedure includes the following schedule:

  1. Schedule A: Qualifications and other requirements for HDR Supervision.
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Section 2 - PURPOSE

(3) This Procedure outlines the processes involved for Academic staff in the supervision of students for higher degrees by research (HDR) awards.

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Section 3 - SCOPE

(4) This Procedure applies to students for HDR, their supervisors, faculties, institutes and University administrators. It does not apply to degrees by coursework or higher doctoral degrees.

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Section 4 - POLICY

(5) This Procedure is pursuant to the Higher Degrees by Research (HDR) policy.

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Section 5 - PROCEDURE


(6) Heads of Academic Units will ensure that supervisors are suitably qualified to supervise HDR students in accordance with Schedule A: Qualifications and other requirements for HDR supervision and are registered with Deakin Research.

(7) Only members of Deakin Academic staff or approved external supervisors who are registered as supervisors may supervise HDR students. The Pro Vice-Chancellor Researcher Development and Integrity may remove a member of Academic staff from a supervision team where they are not registered.

(8) Heads of Academic Units will ensure that all supervisors have the workload capacity to take on the role, and will not exceed the supervision load limits specified in clauses 35-39.

(9) The Head of Academic Unit will ensure that a team of at least two suitably qualified supervisors is established and maintained for all HDR students. Supervision teams will include either a principal or an executive supervisor, and have one of the following compositions:

  1. Principal supervisor plus at least one more supervisor who may be an associate supervisors or a research adviser. One or more external supervisors may also be included but not as a principal supervisor.
  2. Two co-supervisors, one of whom will be the executive supervisor, plus possibly one or more associate or external supervisors or research advisers. Where one co-supervisor is external to Deakin, an associate supervisor or research adviser must be included in the team.

(10) All supervisors must complete ongoing professional development activities as described in Schedule A: Qualifications and other requirements for HDR supervision.

(11) Where a principal, executive or co-supervisor has not supervised a student throughout their candidature to successful completion, the Head of Academic Unit will ensure that at least one experienced supervisor is included in the team.

(12) The Faculty Executive Dean or Pro Vice-Chancellor Researcher Development and Integrity or their nominee will approve the supervision arrangements for each student.

(13) If the Head of Academic Unit is proposed as either a principal, executive or co-supervisor, their line manager or the line manager’s nominee will take over the responsibilities normally allocated to the Head of Academic Unit in matters concerning HDR candidature, supervision and examination.

Supervisor team management

(14) The principal or executive supervisor will ensure that each supervisor on the team is involved in a substantive way in the student's program from the commencement of that supervisor's appointment.

(15) The responsibilities of each of the supervisors, and the team as a whole, in the research will be established with the student.

Planning and management of candidature

(16) Principal or executive supervisors (or associate supervisor/s if they are absent) will meet with the student at least once a month (physically or electronically).

(17) Supervisors will give detailed advice on the necessary completion dates of successive stages of work, so that the thesis may be submitted on time.

(18) Supervisors will ensure that students have received appropriate training in safe working practices relevant to the field of research and that they adhere to the relevant guidelines established by the University.

(19) Supervisors will advise the student on, and monitor, productive use of the student's time.

(20) Supervisors will ensure students provide them with written work on a pre-arranged, regular and agreed basis and will return such work with constructive criticism within one month or less as appropriate.

Monitoring student progress and research

(21) Supervisors will monitor tangible evidence of progress from the student according to a pre-arranged and agreed schedule.

(22) Where a supervisor has not been able to contact a student for more than two weeks following a scheduled meeting, they will advise the HDR Coordinator.

(23) Principal or executive supervisors will:

  1. establish agreed timelines and milestones by which to measure performance
  2. read any written work thoroughly in advance of meetings. A supervisor is not obliged to read an excessive number of drafts of the same document
  3. comment critically, constructively, sensitively and within a month on the work forwarded by the student and monitor the student's performance relative to the standard required for the degree
  4. monitor the student's presentation of their research to ensure it is appropriate and that safeguards are used to avoid breaches of academic or research integrity, including plagiarism
  5. discuss the progress of the student’s work, and any impediments to maintaining the agreed schedule, with the student at regular intervals
  6. ensure the student is promptly made aware of inadequate progress or insufficient work by providing detailed written feedback that identifies problems. Notes should be kept of such discussions and actions taken
  7. provide open, honest and constructive comment in the six-monthly and annual progress reviews.

(24) Supervisors will oversee the student's work to ensure that the design of research and the processes of acquiring, recording, storing, examining and interpreting data and preparing material for publication have been undertaken properly by the student.

Managing conflict

(25) The supervision team will immediately address any conflict that arises between supervisors and the student on an informal basis.

(26) Where conflict between the supervisor and student cannot be resolved, the supervisor will seek assistance:

  1. first from the HDR Coordinator (or their line manager if the supervisor is the HDR Coordinator)
  2. if the HDR Coordinator cannot resolve the matter then they will refer the matter to the Head of Academic Unit (or their line manager or the line manager’s nominee if the supervisor is the Head of Academic Unit). The Head of Academic Unit or line manager may arrange independent mediation if required.

Research advisers

(27) The Faculty Executive Dean or Pro Vice-Chancellor Researcher Development and Integrity will apply in writing to Deakin Research for permission for a supervisor to be appointed as a research adviser. The application should include:

  1. the grounds for the nomination (e.g. the eminence of the nominee, the demand for their supervision, the strategic value of this role to the nominee's area and to the University)
  2. the nominee's commitments to academic activities other than research and research supervision
  3. how a large number of students will be managed
  4. a description of the nominee's role and how they will interact with the other supervisors
  5. the nominee's track record of timely HDR completions
  6. the strategic value of the nominee's area to the University
  7. the level of support for the proposal.

(28) The information is presented to the Research and Research Training Committee for a decision.

(29) Research adviser status will be reviewed every three years by the Pro Vice-Chancellor Researcher Development and Integrity.

Changes to the supervision team

(30) The Head of Academic Unit or nominee may recommend the addition or removal of members of the supervision team at any stage of candidature. Proposed changes must be discussed with the student, agreed to by the new appointee and approved by the Faculty Executive Dean or Pro Vice-Chancellor Researcher Development and Integrity or their nominee. Changes must be made according to the processes stipulated by Deakin Research.

(31) The Head of Academic Unit or nominee can recommend the removal of a person from the supervision team if that person does not meet the requirements of the Higher Degrees by Research (HDR) policy or this Procedure.

(32) If the principal or executive supervisor is unavailable for more than six weeks, the Head of Academic Unit or nominee must appoint a replacement, either temporarily or permanently, according to the circumstances.

(33) Normally the student is enrolled by Deakin Research in the Academic Unit of which the principal or executive supervisor is a member. If a change in the supervision team results in a new principal or executive supervisor being appointed from a different Academic Unit the student's enrolment will normally be transferred to that Unit.

(34) Where a supervisor is removed from the supervision team and the HDR student has only one supervisor, an appropriate second supervisor must be appointed. The matter will be escalated to the Head of Academic Unit, or their line manager if the omission of a second supervisor is not rectified within one month.

Supervision load limits

(35) Principal, executive and co-supervisors will be limited to a supervisory load not exceeding seven full-time equivalent HDR students, and not more than ten individual HDR students.

(36) Co-supervisors (including executive supervisors) share the supervision load between them and count 50 per cent toward the supervision load limits specified above. Workload recognition and recognition of successful completions are also shared.

(37) A principal supervisor who has not yet acted in the role of principal, executive or co-supervisor of a student who has successfully completed their HDR will be limited to a supervisory load not exceeding three full-time equivalent HDR students, and not more than five individual HDR students.

(38) In addition to the above limits, an associate supervisor will be limited to six full-time equivalent HDR students, and not more than ten individual HDR students.

(39) Research advisers do not have a supervisory load limit.

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(40) For the purpose of this Procedure:

  1. Academic Unit: as defined in the Research Conduct policy.
  2. HDR coordinator: A member of Academic staff who satisfies the qualification to be a principal supervisor, who is not a higher degree by research student and whose role is to support HDR students in their unit.
  3. Head of Academic Unit nominee: a senior member of Academic staff who is qualified as a principal supervisor.
  4. Higher degrees by research (HDR): an academic award of the University, as specified in Regulation 5.2(2) - Higher Education Award Courses - General.
  5. research adviser: a supervisor who is an eminent member of the University professoriate who provides high level advice to inform the supervision of a student's project but is not expected to carry out the day-to-day responsibilities of a principal or executive supervisor.
  6. supervisor
    1. associate supervisor: a member of the University's Academic staff who plays one or more of the following roles in the supervision team: providing assistance to the other team members in guiding and supporting the student, acting as a back-up in case of absence or non-availability of the principal supervisor, and/or bringing particular research expertise to the team to assist the student.
    2. co-supervisor: a person who shares the role of principal supervisor more or less equally with another co-supervisor. A co-supervisor may be external to the University. One co-supervisor must be an executive supervisor.
    3. executive supervisor: a co-supervisor who is a member of the University’s Academic staff and is responsible for ensuring that the University’s administrative requirements such as training, annual reviews, coursework and ethics approvals are met.
    4. external supervisor: a person who plays a comparable role to an associate supervisor, but is not a member of the University staff.
    5. principal supervisor: a member of the University’s Academic staff who is the leader of an HDR supervision team, and has the responsibility of ensuring that the student receives appropriate guidance in their project and support toward successful completion of their thesis and its examination.
    6. support supervisor: a member of the University’s staff who is not active in research but who can provide expertise to the student and to other supervisors.
  7. supervisor active in research: where the supervisor produces an average of at least one research output per year based on their most recent three year research output. Research outputs are reportable publications as per the Excellence in Research for Australia guidelines, and must be recorded in the Deakin Research Online (DRO) reportable collection.