A prospective student has approached me. Errrrr ...
Check out Being approached by prospective students on this website. There is also other useful Admissions info on that page that you should have a look at. You can also direct the student to our Info for prospective students page.

My prospective student 'only' has an Honours degree
The Honours degree is an undergraduate research degree that selected students undertake after successfully completing a Bachelor's degree. Honours typically involves a semester of coursework and a semester of researching and writing up research thesis. Students work closely with a supervisor throughout their Honours degree, and the degree is seen as training for a PhD. As such, many Honours students come to the PhD better-prepared to conduct independent research than are straight Masters coursework students. If a first-class Honours student approaches you, they are likely to be intellectually capable of undertaking the PhD. Students with Honours IIA, are also likely to be worthy of serious consideration for the PhD.

My prospective student comes from the public service (or an NGO or similar) -- will they struggle to get back into academia?
Our experience at Crawford PhD is that such students often struggle early on in their candidature to switch back into an academic mindset. Often such prospective students are used to writing reports or briefs or papers that provide very practical solutions to specific, on-the-ground problems. This is all well and good in a professional or governmental context, but in an academic context such students might need re-orienting to the idea that in the academy we seek to understand problems better, and to not only provide practical solutions facing aid workers, governments, policy makers, and the like. That said, once the intial shock of being back in an academic environment wears off, such students are quick to slip back into the intellectual environment.

Academic matters

My student has experience in the area and they want a coursework exemption
A good number of students do not want to do coursework and so they seek exemptions. It will be up to you, as Primary Supervisor (and, presumably Chair) to decide whether or not an exemption should be granted. Bear in mind that the coursework at Crawford has been specifically developed to meet the needs of our particular cohorts, and therefore is not easily substituted. In addition, if a student is asking for 'credit' for another course they have undertaken, or for the same course they have undertaken previously at the ANU, then they must have completed that other course within the last five years. XXXXXXXXXXX CHECK WITH TRACY.XXXXXXXXXX

If you are in any doubt, then the student should do the coursework. Besides, it will be good for them.

See Coursework for more info.

My student wants to collect data without Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) approval
Under no circumstances should you allow your student to collect data without HREC approval. Similarly, you should not allow your student to use data that they have obtained without HREC approval. Failure to comply with any human research ethics obligations means not only that the student cannot use the data they have collected without approval, but that the student (and you, if you are found to have endorsed the student's conduct) risks being dismissed the university.

See Human ethics review for more info.

My student wants Crawford funding to pay friends or acquaintances or former colleagues to collect data, on the weekend, from a national government bureau, without official authorisation, and to have payment for this work transferred directly into a private bank account.
Any data collection that cannot be gained through legal and authorised means must not go ahead. To test such situations, ask, 'Can Crawford or the ANU invoice an institution or organisation and then arrange for a direct payment into an institutional or organisational account?' If this basic test cannot be met, then the chances are that the data cannot be collected by the desired means and a legal and authorised alternative must be found.

See Responsible conduct of research for more info.

My student and I disagree over the intellectual direction of the thesis
This can happen, and it can happen at different stages in the candidature. If it occurs early on and it seems that the disagreement will be fundamental to the direction of the research (maybe you disagree on methodology or research subject, let's say), then it might be best to help the student find a new supervisor. If the disagreement occurs half-way through, switching supervisors is still an option -- and maybe even a good one, depending on the situation; however, you might also decide to enlist the intellectual assistance of the other panel members to gather their scholarly opinions on what they think about the points at issue. It might also be appropriate to convene a full-panel meeting, either with or without the student (or do both), to discuss the matter.

If the disagreement manifests itself close to submission, then things can become more complex, as you are responsible for signing off (or not) on the thesis submission. In such instances, you should most certainly consult with other panel members as well as the student, preferably calling a meeting of all parties (the Academic and Research Skills Advisor is also available to attend any meetings as a neutral observer or commentator who can provide advice, where appropriate). Bear in mind that sometimes, towards the end of a degree, a student might be expressing a legitimate difference of academic opinion that is supported by rigorous research and intellectual evidence. If this is the case, then be thankful that you have taught your little one so well, and let them fly. If, however, the student is being intellectually obstinate, and you, based on your scholarly judgement and experience, believe that to not change intellectual direction will jeopardise the chances of having the thesis passed, then you must not sign off on the thesis. You need to decide what is best, here, as you have the experience, expertise, and scholarly background to make such decisions in relation to your student.

In any case, dealing with matters in a timely fashion is always preferred to letting problems drag on: students are on a schedule, and, frankly, you don't need the aggravation and possible anxiety that unresolved issues can cause. Further advice can be sought from the HDR Convenor in your area, the PhD Academic and Research Skills Advisor, and the HDR Administrator.

See Changes to the panel for more info.

My student wants to submit without my approval
Crawford in no way endorses the submission of student theses without supervisor approval. If you are having problems in this area, please consult in the first instance with the PhD Academic and Research Skills Advisor, and the HDR Administrator. Following this, the matter might need to be escalated to the HDR Director and to the College Associate Dean (HDR).


How much supervision and feedback should I be giving?
The amount of supervision and feedback you give a student will likely change during the course of the candidature. Early on, most students will need regular and frequent meetings -- every one or two weeks, certainly no less -- with their supervisor as they investigate the literature, search for a gap, and establish their research questions and methodology. Remember, your student is a researcher-in-training, not a fully formed academic, and thus they will need specific guidance, clarification, and direction during the early days of their degree. Even if your student seems outwardly capable and competent, inwardly they might be a mess of anxieties and nerves as they fret about the quality of their work and about meeting with you, their respected teacher. Nearly all students, therefore, need regular, frequent, intellectually profitable meetings to set them on the right track for their research.

After the successful completion of the TPR, students move into 'data acquisition' mode, and typically require less supervision -- fortnightly or monthly 'check-ins' might be all that is required at this stage. However, if any problems are encountered with the research, you will need to discuss things with the student and suggest solutions, before the student finishes their data collection; this is why you need to keep in touch with your student during this stage.

Supervision frequency and intensity might pick up again once the student begins to analyse the data they have collected. Feedback will centre around making sure the student is using the right tools and methodologies to analyse the data, and that they are interpreting results correctly. When a student start writing up, you might find supervision sessions dropping off in frequency as the student focuses on the task of producing chapters. What is lost in frequency, however, is often gained in intensity, as you read through draft chapters and provide useful, actionable feedback. This can take time, but you shouldn't have a chapter any longer than two weeks before arranging to meet the student to discuss your comments.

See Lynn D. Roberts' Guide for new supervisors for more info. It's aimed at Honours and Masters supervision, but it also an excellent resource for PhD supervisors.

I don't think I'm the right supervisor ...
There could be a number of reasons for a poor supervisor-student fit: you might feel you cannot supervise the subject matter, the student's research has changed direction, you disagree on the intellectual direction of the project (see above), there is a personality conflict, or you are leaving the ANU. If possible, you should discuss the matter with the student.This is not always as easy as it is presented on wiki websites, so please feel free to get in touch with either the PhD Academic and Research Skills Advisor or the HDR Administrator (or both) to get advice. Regardless, if you decide you can no longer act a student's supervisor, you must find a replacement: the HDR Administrator cannot remove you from a student's panel without there being a new supervisor provided. Of course, the sooner that everyone realises that something is not working (for whatever the reason), the better. But this does not mean that supervision changes cannot be made towards the end of a degree, especially if it leads to the submission of a presentable thesis.

See Changes to the panel for more info.

My student doesn't think I'm the right supervisor ...
As with the previous item, there might be a number of reasons (similar to those listed above) that your student would prefer to change supervisor. What is different, however, is that it is often more difficult for students to raise the issue of a supervision change with you than it is for you to raise it with them. This is because of the obvious power imbalance between supervisor in and student, in which you hold pretty much all the power. This can lead students to be reluctant to raise problems with you out of respect or, yes and frequently, fear.

Things are a little more difficult for students, however, when it comes to changing supervisor.

There is obviously some overlap between this item and the last, but with that said, it sometimes comes as a shock

See Changes to the panel for more info.

A student has asked me to replace their current supervisor. How do I deal with it?
Talk to your colleague

My student wants to move to a new supervisor
... let them go!
See Changes to the panel for more info.

My student doesn't seem to want supervision

See Changes to the panel for more info.

My student keeps nagging me for a meeting
... it's in your job description
Normally indicates that the student really wants to discuss something. Yep.

My student wants too much supervision
This might be true, or it might be that you don't want to give the level of supervision a normal student needs ...

My student won't do what I tell them
students in Australia want to do their own thing! NOt just be told

There are personality conflicts

See Changes to the panel for more info.

Student competence

My student's English is not as strong as I was expecting
Some students might also need assistance with their writing; if this is the case, then it is best to address things early, so consider directing your student to the PhD Academic and Research Skills Advisor for help.

I want to terminate my student's candidature.

See Withdrawal, unsatisfactory progress, and termination of candidature for more info.

Administrative issues

My student has gone walkabout

My student isn't filling in their paperwork

My student keeps wanting extensions

Just because I want it/ANYTHING/RESOURCES, does my student get it?

An examiner has contacted me ...

Pastoral care

My student seems depressed

My student has 'life' issues

Why won't someone take care of me?