Hi, my name's James Arvanitakis, I'm theDean of the Graduate Research School here at Western Sydney University.
So you'vedecided to undertake a PhD.
Great news! One of the most important things but isthe relationship you have with your supervisor.
So what follows in this shortvideo is a discussion by both students and supervisors about what to expect fromthat relationship and how to best manage it.
I hope it helps.
The most important thing about choosing a supervisor is finding a project that you're interested in.
There's no point committing to aresearch project if you're not at all interested in the topic or the researchthat you're going to be studying.
So the primary thing you need to do when you'restarting to find a supervisor is to work out what you're interested in andwhen you start talking to a supervisor and they start having options forprojects, is that something you could see yourself really being excited aboutstudying for the next few years.
So choosing a supervisor for me was about finding asupervisor in an area of research that interests you.
The supervisor is incredibly important but the research area itself is probably the most important thing.
So I was after a team around me, and I would view you supervisors as your team, that are going to reallygive you good feedback, that are kind of going to be on your case and support youthrough the process.
We have students who come from all over the world just to be witha particular supervisor because they know their work.
So one of the things thatyou should do is to think about what do I need to know about the supervisor beforeI approach them, or even during the process of negotiating with them, and thinking about it as a kind of intellectual activity where you do some homework.
Read their stuff, know where they're coming from.
Sometimes somebody who looks good on paper will have acompletely different angle.
So you need to know where they're coming from.
Activate your networks, you actuallyprobably know more people than you think you know and it's by thinking throughthose networks that you might be able to identify someone either whose work youare aware of, or someone who you have already a personal relationship withthat you think would make a good supervisor.
Something important when you're trying to find a supervisor is to make sure that you and the supervisor a good fitwith each other and what I'm talking about is in terms of the level ofcommitment they want to have into your project.
How much time they're willing togive you.
How much time you want from them, and this can go both ways.
You needto make sure that if you're the type of person who'd like to see them everysingle day, do they have the time to be able to seeyou everyday? Or if you're the type of person who wants to have connection with themand then go away and do your study and be left alone, are they the type of supervisor who'sgoing to be able to leave you alone.
So you need to make sure that you and thesupervisor are a right fit and you can only do that by meeting and talking anddiscussing your expectations.
They're not a teacher.
You know you just kind of rock up to school when you're a kid and whoever you got as a teacher was your teacher.
A supervisor isa different kind of person, a different kind of relationship with you.
It's not ateacher, so it's something you have to do some work in establishing, and thinking about,and knowing their expertise.
I think also meeting the team that the supervisor hasunderneath them as well, so meeting the PhD students, meeting the otherPostdocs within the laboratory, talking to the PhDstudents.
They've obviously been under this supervisor for a period of time, have a much better understanding of what the supervisor's like as a person, as well.
One of the things that youneed to do is get to know the research culture that you're part of.
The institute that I'm in,we have a very lively culture and that's very beneficial for studentsbecause they have to interact with the whole range of people doing a wholerange of different types of projects.
It's a very engaging, intellectually active place to be,so you need to think about where's the best location for you not just in termsof a supervisor, or a supervisory panel, but also in terms of a research culture.
Doing a PhD is more than just the relationship with your supervisor or theend product.
It's actually a process and becoming a professional in theresearch culture, so you're actually communicating with quite a lot of peopleduring the process of your candidature and it's best to take advantage of that.
Is your supervisor going to be able to connect you with the field thatyou're passionate and interested in.
Are they going to be able to take you to conferences thatmake you connect with people in your field.
Are they willing to provide you withteaching opportunities if you want that or community engaged opportunitiesso you need to make sure that your supervisor is in a position to be ableto create certain opportunities for you that means that you'll get a head start inyour career once you graduate.
Supervision is a relationship and like allrelationships, it takes work, it takes labour.
You have to establish relations of trust,know how to negotiate the ins and outs and the demands of academic culture.
Youneed to kind of map out areas of literatures that you need to read through with your supervisor.
Meet the team.
You can get to know the supervisor.
Understand the area of research and choose an area of research that interests you.
It makes for a really enjoyable PhD experience and that's the idea of a PhD, is to come hereand it's an educational experience but is also an enjoyable experience at the sametime.
One of the most important things in your time as a higher degree research studentis to have fun.
This is a time in your life where you get to exploreand create new ideas, you get to think and ultimately you want to enjoy whatyou're doing, so make sure in the whole journey that you have fun.