Getting Started

Introduction for Research Supervisors

All new academics to UCD will be required to undertake a Research Supervisor Induction Session. Information regarding these sessions will normally be communicated to new staff by HR or via their respective Colleges.

This programme of workshops is targeted at new, inexperienced research supervisors and more experienced staff who would like to refresh their knowledge on aspects of research supervisory practice. In 2018, the successful collaboration between UCD and TCD on the RSSDP has been extended to include RCSI.   Each institute will offer specific workshops that are open to partner institutions as indicated. These collaborative workshops address key research supervisor challenges and are not institute specific. The 2018 RSSDP will commence on Friday January 26th with an open workshop given by our first visiting expert, Hugh Kearns.  The schedule is outlined below and the venue for UCD Workshops will be the UCD Sutherland School of Law, William Fry Theatre (L143). The venue and dates for TCD and RCSI workshops will be confirmed shortly.


Support materials for each workshop are available on the intranet.


1. Fri

January 26th


Visiting Expert - Hugh Kearns (Flinders University, Adelaide)            

                             Fundamentals of Research Supervision (UCD)             

2. Fri February 16th 2-4:30pm Attracting the 'Right' Doctoral Candidate
3. Fri February 23rd 2-4:00pm Research Supervision in an Open Science Era (TCD)
4. Fri March 2nd 2-4:00pm

Supervising the Clinical PGR Student in a Multi-Centre Environment (RCSI)

5. Fri March 9th 2-4:00pm

Visiting Expert - Prof Robert Harris (Karolinska Institute)

                             Leadership in Research Supervision (UCD)

6. Fri March 16th 10-1:00pm

Visiting Expert - Prof Lynn McAlpine (Oxford University)

                            Emerging Trends in Research Supervision (TCD)

7. Fri March 23rd 2-4:30pm Navigating Supervisory Styles, Roles & Responsibilities (UCD)
8. Fri April 13th 2-4:30pm Enhancing the Research Student’s Skill’s Base (UCD)
9. Fri May 11th 2-4:00pm

Visiting Expert - Prof Cliona O'Farrelly (TCD)

                           Avoiding Common Pitfalls (UCD)

10.Fri May 18th 2-4:30pm Monitoring, Assessment, Examiners & Viva (MAEV) (UCD)

Upon completion, participants will be able to:


  • Approach student recruitment in a manner which maximizes the likelihood of best candidate selection
  • Navigate institutional policies and procedures
  • Identify their own role as supervisor and frame the doctoral supervision process
  • Advise and assist students on structuring and managing their work
  • Be capable of carrying out a training needs analysis
  • Appreciate the challenges, problems and pitfalls of supervision and identify approaches to overcome these
  • Provide guidance to students on thesis and viva preparation
  • Handle conflict and understand mechanisms through which to seek resolution
  • Gain an understanding of the international norms associated with being an external examiner of research theses
  • Approach research supervision from a pedagogical perspective and examine reflective practice as a tool for practice development.

It is recommended that UCD participants attend four core workshops and two visiting expert sessions to receive a certificate of attendance and recognition on their development workspace. Core Workshops are highlighted on the UCD Booking Centre at Registration

Research supervisors are also invited to attend the lunchtime seminar series (1-2pm, in L248, the UCD Sutherland School of Law) complementing the RSSDP, which engages in practice-sharing with experienced faculty, professional staff and students. Participants may attend some, none, or all the one hour sessions. There is no certification for participation at seminars.


Indicative Seminar Series

1.  The UCD Structured PhD: role of the DSP, RPDP, Transfer assessment     Thur 08/02/18
2.  Smart Supervision- Top Tips from Experienced Supervisors    Thur 22/02/18
3.  Thesis Papers, Copyright & Electronic Submissions   Thur 15/03/18
4.  Research Ethics & Integrity   Thur 29/03/18          
5.  Lessons Learned from Appointment of Examiners to Award of Degree   Thur  12/04/18
6.  Enhancing the Experience & Outcomes of International Doctoral Students    Thur 10/05/18
7.  Giving Effective Feedback   Thur  17/05/18

Research supervision is a complex form of teaching which involves a supervisor taking on a number of roles and responsibilities, often requiring adaptation over the life cycle of the doctorate. An important first step with new doctoral students is to engage in open discussion about working styles, practices, roles, responsibilities and expectations that you have of them and they have of you. As the doctorate progresses, this discussion should be revisited and practices adopted. UCD’s guide to roles and responsibilities is highlighted in the Regulations and Codes of Practice.

One of the most important roles as a supervisor, warranting particular attention, is the clarification of expectations, roles and responsibilities. Mismanagement in this area is a common stumbling block for student progression, an issue which is almost entirely avoidable. As supervisor, it is important that you highlight the expectations that you and the university have of the student and facilitate an open discussion where they can discuss their expectations of you as their supervisor.

Code of Practice for Supervisors and Research Degree Students

Some of the areas which require clarification of mutual expectations include:

  • Supervisor’s style / approach to supervision
  • Format and frequency of supervision meetings
  • Provision of feedback (written or oral/ frequency)
  • Roles of DSP members
  • Monitoring of progress
  • Transfer Assessment formats and requirements
  • Progression milestones
  • Preferred forms of communication
  • Methods of dissemination of research
  • Ethics

Supervisors should also highlight that expectations may / will change between parties as the candidature progresses and that this topic should be revisited at key stages in the doctoral life cycle

There are a number of tools available that can help supervisors to structure a discussion around expectations with their students, some of which are highlighted below.

Oxford Supervisor expectations of DPhil supervision

Oxford Learning Institute-Expectations in Supervision

Oxford Learning Institute-Clarifying Expectations and Establishing Good Communications

Doctoral students come from a variety of academic and cultural backgrounds with varying levels of experience in relation to research, UCD, the Structured PhD and project management. As supervisor, it is strongly recommended that you prepare a checklist to aid discussion with your student on key practical areas which will also facilitate expectation management. Many students will receive a formal induction to the university or college, but they will need additional support transitioning into their disciplinary community and into the doctoral process. The following checklist may be used as a guide from which you can develop your own model, insuring that key pieces of information are relayed to new doctoral candidates and relevant topics are open for discussion at an early stage of candidature.

  • What is a doctoral thesis?
  • How will the doctorate be examined?
  • What is meant by original contribution?
  • Are there any good examples of doctoral theses in this discipline that the student could look at?
  • Clarification of - programme, student and supervisor expectations and responsibilities
  • Are ethical considerations required in this research project?
  • What is the UCD structured PhD?
  • Who are the other members of the Doctoral Studies Panel (DSP), what role does each member play and how often should the student meet the DSP?
  • How will meetings will be conducted (frequency, structure etc.)
  • What is the supervisor, student and university’s roles and responsibilities?
  • What is the supervisors working style? (what can the student expect, limits of contribution or direction given by supervisor or required from student)
  • How will progress of the research be monitored?
  • How will written work be managed? (submitted in draft or completed form? frequency of feedback (in writing or not) etc).
  • How will the research be disseminated?
  • Authorship and Intellectual Property
  • How is the TA (Transfer Assessment) structured, when will it take place and what will be assessed?
  • What is the membership of the TAP (Transfer Assessment Panel)?
  • What supports are available to Doctoral students in UCD?
  • What training is required to support the student’s research and professional development?
  • Where can administrative issues be resolved?
  • Who is the Graduate School Manager (or equivalent) for this college?
  • Academic misconduct
  • Conflict resolution-processes at UCD
  • Social, cultural activities for doctoral students in UCD

Oxford Learning Institute -First Meeting Checklist