About

The Supervision Whisperers is dedicated to the topic of supervising a thesis.

Like many great ideas, this blog grew from a conversation among fellow academics over dinner – with margaritas! We agreed that there needed to be a space online to discuss the highs, lows and challenges of supervising higher degree by research students  (PhD, Professional Doctorate and Masters by Research/MPhil).

We built this space to share, reflect on and help improve research supervision practice around the world. For those beginning their supervision practice, this blog provides some insight into life on the other side and an opportunity to share what you have learned. Together we’ll explore how best to supervise students through their own exciting, often unpredictable, research journey.

The Supervision Whisperers is co-edited by Dr Inger Mewburn, founder of The Thesis Whisperer and Director of Research Training at the Australian National University and Dr Evonne Miller, Director of QUT Design Lab, Creative Industries at Queensland University of Technology.

We are frequently inspired by both our own experiences and those of our fellow supervisors, but consciously anonymise, modify contextual identifiers and remove any potentially identifying “narrative fingerprints” to protect both the innocent and the guilty. This is a conscious strategic decision we made to help preserve privacy and confidentiality when discussing sensitive issues in a very public forum. For a wonderfully thoughtful discussion about these issues in the context of medicine, see a recent post on in the AMA Journal of Ethics on Anonymous Physician Blogging.

Would you like to be a Supervision Whisperer? Anyone with experience of supervising research students can write for us. Here’s our editorial guidelines

  • We want to be concise. Academics have to do a lot of reading, so no posts will be longer than 1000 words.
  • We want to learn from people’s stories about supervising a research degree, but we don’t need to hear all the details about the research itself. There’s enough journals out there for that.
  • We don’t want to just talk about writing – successfully supervising a dissertation is about more than that. Please share your learnings, your dilemmas, practical tips and techniques.
  • We want to stimulate conversations, so our posts will always be opinionated (hopefully, without being obnoxious). But we don’t want to be sued, so we’ll always keep it nice.
  • Respect for students, first, last and always. This blog is a place to discuss issues of research supervision practice, honestly and frankly. This is not a space to whinge about, denigrate or demoralise research students.
  • We want to be good role models. We hope students will be reading and learning in preparation for their future career. We want to dissect poor practice, without too much judgment, and learn together how to make things better.
  • We want to hear your voice.  Doing all the paperwork involved with thesis supervision can take the fun out of anyone’s day. This is a place you can relax and connect with other supervisors who ‘get it’ – and might have some helpful suggestions!

Email your piece to e.miller@qut.edu.au

If you write for us, we can’t pay you, but we promise to never rip off your work and present it as our own. If you want to write for us it is because you have an urge to share your experience and help others so it may travel further than you think (note the licensing arrangements below).

Want to use our material? You are free to reproduce any posts from the Whisperer through the Creative Commons “Attribution-non commercial-sharealike” license. Most of the photos on this site are copyright free and sourced from Morguefile.

Fine Print: we only accept posts from people who are working in a professional capacity with research students. We do not accept posts from professional marketers or non specialist bloggers. We do not endorse products unless we have used them ourselves and think they are awesome.

Moderation Policy:  We do not have automatic comment moderation – if you post a comment it will immediately appear.  been blessed with an interested, intelligent and helpful audience and I thank you for your comments – they turn this blog into a community. The free flow of comments means more conversation, but there are drawbacks. Sometimes the no filter rule means spammers will get through, but most days  we  delete obvious search engine optimisation (SEO) attempts and occasionally delete other comments for various reasons. Based on the Thesis Whisperer, our Moderation Policy is below.

Critique is fine, but please don’t be a jerk. You may not agree with all of what is written here. Since we don’t write all the posts, sometimes we don’t totally agree either. We are always interested in thought provoking conversation, which is why there are many points of view represented in our guest posts… BUT  readers do not want to hear bigotry, racism, sexism or plain meanness masquerading as critique.

We will delete any comments that unfairly attack an author or another commenter, or is unnecessarily aggressive, lowering the tone or linking to  offensive content. We occasionally talk about sensitive topics here and we respect the right for you to post anonymously, but readers want to read polite and interesting conversation. We appreciate that this might be seen as an infringement on free speech or academic freedom, but we don’t agree. If you cannot say something politely, and disagree with respect, your post will be deleted. In our view there’s no need for aggression in critique – read Inger’s ever popular post ‘Academic assholes and the circle of niceness’ if you want to know more.   John Scalzi has a wonderful post on how to be a good commenter if you are interested in the culture of commentary on the web.

Advertising: Readers want to know what is good to buy and use in their work, so occasionally we will review and recommend products. Where we do get benefit from my recommendations, such as from my Amazon Affiliates store, we will clearly state this. If you have published a book, or made a product or service you think will be of interest, you can find my email address on the About page.

Your comments may be used for research purposes: We are an active scholars of research education. The comments you post are valuable and unique insights into the experience of doing a research degree and we view them in the same way as  letters to a newspaper. Therefore we reserve the right to use your comments in any papers we publish, but will always respect your anonymity in line with my university’s rules on ethical conduct of research. We will remove references to people or places that might enable you to be identified in any publications. If you do not want your comment to be used for this purpose, please say so clearly in the text. You should be aware that other scholars are reading this blog and may use your comments for their research.We cannot control what people harvesting comments for other reasons may do. Please bear this in mind before you write anything here.

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