Doctoral supervision. A view from above, below and the middle!

Sally Sambrook, Jim Stewart, Clair Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Citations (Scopus)


Doctoral supervision is a complex process, and a critical success factor is the supervisory relationship. The aim of this article is to share experiences of doctoral supervision from three different perspectives, offering a view from above, below and the middle. The author was inspired by the activities associated with a recent conference. It presents reflections from three researchers at different stages of their research careers. Key themes to emerge were: the problematic transition from being an undergraduate/postgraduate student on a taught programme (a star performer) to a doctoral candidate (novice researcher, and to some extent ‘peer’), with associated issues of developing independence; the potentially problematic aspect of giving and receiving feedback, where genuine constructive critique can often be perceived as being ‘negative’ or ‘positive’ when it could be argued that all feedback is positive in its attempt to improve performance; and the development of relationships from tutor/student to critical friends and beyond, for example into mentoring roles, although again there are issues of (in)dependence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-84
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Further and Higher Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Dependency
  • Doctoral research
  • Feedback
  • Relationship
  • Supervision
  • Transition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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