The aim of the supervisory process is to assist the student in advancing her/his educational goals through the duration of the doctoral program. The success of the supervisory process is based on an optimal match between student and supervisor areas of scholarly interest. The student - supervisor relationship is an important component of the student's overall experience in the program. Supervisors assist the student by helping the student to clarify and specify her/his substantive area of interest, identifying appropriate courses, consulting on the preparation of a comprehensive paper proposal, chairing the supervisory committee, and supervising the thesis research.
In addition to effecting a good match in terms of areas of research interest, it is expected that the student and supervisor will be able to forge an optimal working relationship. The selection of the supervisor occurs by the end of the first year of the program in consultation with the student's Interim Academic Advisor. An Orientation Seminar during the first term of the program is designed to further assist students in identifying a supervisor.
For more information, please consult the brochure Graduate Supervision: Guidelines for Students, Faculty, and Administrators.
Interim Academic Advisors
Upon admission to the program students are randomly assigned to an Interim Academic Advisor. Random assignment is being used to avoid any sense that the interim advisor is expected to become the supervisor. The advisors meet with the students to:
1. assist them in course selection;
2. connect them with other faculty and students with similar interests;
3. identify faculty who might serve as potential supervisors.
During the first term the incoming doctoral students meet with the Ph.D. Director to address issues concerning the structure and function of the doctoral program. The aim of the seminar is to facilitate each student's orientation to the program, including the selection of a supervisor by the end of the first year. Potential faculty supervisors are invited to present their work. Also, doctoral students who are at the thesis stage of their work are invited to share their experiences with the incoming students.
Selection of a Supervisor
It is the responsibility of the student to schedule individual meetings with each of the available faculty members whose research interests are similar to their own. The Faculty's website has information on the scholarly interests of each faculty member as well as their current research and recent publications. Students are advised to read some of the published materials of faculty members whose areas of research are similar to their own. The purpose of these meetings is to achieve a match between student and supervisor by the end of the first year. It is expected that the student will select the supervisor of their choice and will arrange a meeting with that faculty member to gain her/his agreement. The student must notify the Ph.D. Director of this agreement in writing by the 15th of September of the second year of the program.
The guiding principle for matching students and supervisors is one which supports the right of the student to select the supervisor that she/he wishes to work with. Similarly, faculty has the right to accept or reject the supervisory task with a student. The primary aim is to optimize the match between student choice of supervisor and faculty availability for the supervisory role. Students will probably find that there is no faculty member who matches their research interests exactly. Thus, in making their choice they should look for a supervisor who is interested in their work and who can contribute methodologically to their research objectives. The student needs to keep in mind that in addressing their Thesis research they will have the support of a Supervisory Committee and that the selection of Committee members will ensure a good mix between faculty who will contribute to the substantive area of the Thesis and faculty who will contribute methodological expertise.
The aim of the supervisor - student-matching process is to maximize the opportunities for arriving at a good faculty-student match; however, this match is not binding. As the student becomes involved in designing her/his individual program some shifts in areas of interest may take place and thus a shift to a new supervisor may be necessary. Similarly, other considerations such as personality, work style, and shifts in methodology may dictate the selection of an alternate supervisor. It is assumed that the supervisor and student will confer on the need to shift to a new supervisor. The student and supervisor may wish to involve the Ph.D. Director to facilitate this transition. In any case, the Ph.D. Director is to be informed and a record of the transition is to be placed in the student's file.
Supervision Process: Responsibilities of the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work
- Ph.D. students and graduate faculty supervisors are expected to refer to this Ph.D. Manual for information about program requirements and procedures for addressing each component of the Ph.D. program; course requirements, comprehensive paper proposal, comprehensive paper, thesis proposal, thesis, and oral examination. Timelines as to the expected time period for completion of each stage of the degree program are to be followed.
- Ph.D. students and their supervisors are expected to follow procedures for the development and approval of both the comprehensive paper proposal and the thesis proposal as specified in this manual.
- Reporting procedures by both the student and the supervisor form an important part of the supervisory process. Following each meeting with the supervisor the student is expected to write a brief report of the decisions made, a copy of which is sent to the supervisor. With regard to the Comprehensive Paper Proposal the supervisor is expected to submit a copy of the approved proposal to the Ph.D. Director for inclusion in the student's file. With regard to the Thesis Proposal, the supervisor is expected to complete a report of the Supervisory Committee's deliberations using the format outlined in this Ph.D. Manual. A copy of the report is sent to the student, each committee member and to the Ph.D. Director for inclusion in the student's file.
Each year during the student's program, the student and supervisor collaborate to submit an Annual Progress Report at the end of the winter term. The Annual Progress Reports are submitted to the Ph.D. Director who may call a meeting to discuss a student's progress and possible issues related to supervision, resources, and any concerns with regard to a student's progress.
- If either the student or supervisor has any concern about the supervision arrangements it is expected that these will be raised for discussion by either participant with the aim of finding a mutually acceptable resolution. If either the student or the supervisor wish to discuss their concerns with the Ph.D. Director a joint meeting is arranged. If the student and supervisor are unable to resolve their differences, the student in collaboration with the Ph.D. Director, will choose an alternate supervisor within the faculty. The aim is to resolve difficulties as quickly as possible so as to support and facilitate the student's progress.
Supervision Process: Responsibilities of the Supervisor
- It is expected that supervisors will accept students for supervision typically when their research interests are compatible. When a supervisor assumes the responsibilities of supervising a doctoral candidate it is expected that the supervisor will be available for the duration of the student's program through to the final Thesis Oral Examination. In practice this means that the supervisor is accessible and responsive to the student's needs including making arrangements for supervision during sabbatical or research leaves.
- It is the responsibility of the supervisor to be aware of all of the requirements of the Ph.D. Program as indicated in this Ph.D. Manual. The Manual provides guidelines for the structure and process for completing the Ph.D. program within specified time limits.
- It is expected that the supervisor is an active participant in the supervisory process. This includes:
- development of a suitable timetable with the student for the completion of all the requirements of the Ph.D. program;
- assisting the student in course selections;
- helping the student to develop a focus for the Comprehensive Paper; and
- assisting the student in the selection of a Thesis research topic which can be completed within the timetable of the Ph.D. program.
- It is expected that the supervisor provide feedback to all student concerns and written submissions. This includes:
- assessing and supplying constructive responses to student concerns and/or material submitted; and
- responding to student submissions within specified time frames
- It is expected that the supervisor keep records of each student's progress, including records of the main focus of each meeting with the student. The supervisor summarizes the deliberations of each Supervisory Committee meeting with the student and ensures that a copy of decisions made at each meeting is distributed to the student and the committee members. The supervisor collaborates with the student in completing an Annual Progress Report which is submitted to the Ph.D. Director.
- Supervisors are expected to assist students with applications for research scholarships. Supervisors also encourage their students to present papers at conferences and to publish material in appropriate refereed academic journals. Also the supervisor introduces the student to members of the academic community involved in similar research areas within and outside the University.
- The student chooses a supervisor on the basis of research interests which are compatible with the supervisor. In addition, the student determines whether a good working relationship can be established with the person selected as supervisor.
- The student is expected to use the Ph.D. Manual to understand all of the requirements of the Ph.D. program, including number of course credits, required versus elective courses, comprehensive proposal and paper, structure and membership of a Supervisory Committee, thesis proposal and thesis completion, and final oral examination.
- The student is expected, in collaboration with the supervisor, to establish a timetable for the completion of the program according to the time guidelines provided in this Manual.
- The student consults with the supervisor around course selections, identification of a topic for the Comprehensive Paper, strategies for researching the Comprehensive Paper topic, definition of a thesis research question, preparation of the Thesis Proposal, and selection of a Supervisory Committee. In addition, the student may consult with the supervisor about:
- any concerns regarding her/his participation and progress in the program;
- assistance in the completion of applications for scholarships;
- and preparation of papers for presentation and publication