Research code UMCG

Supervising and being supervised: mutual responsibilities

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Academic research is a team effort in which researchers with different areas of expertise and experience levels work together. Junior researchers such as master’s students, PhD students, and starting postdocs learn by conducting research under the supervision of more experienced colleagues and by receiving feedback. Therefore, adequate supervision, coaching, and training of junior researchers is an important element of good academic practice. It is not only supervisors but also the supervised who must commit to collaborating properly; it is a joint responsibility.

Guidelines for supervisors

Supervisors are expected to:

  • Do their work with dedication and become proficient in the skills needed for this, including by taking training courses in this area. Both the GSMS and the UG offer these courses.
  • Ensure that junior researchers can do their work well by offering adequate facilities and high-quality expertise.
  • Stimulate the development of the junior researcher’s academic skills and network by sharing knowledge and experiences and offering growth opportunities.
  • Be committed to good career prospects for junior researchers.
  • Be sufficiently available for supervision at both planned and unplanned contact moments.
  • Strive for good quality work.
  • Provide constructive and respectfully formulated feedback.
  • Show interest in the work and well-being of the junior researcher.
  • Give junior researchers room to develop their own ideas.
  • Monitor the quality and progress of the work.
  • Make timely adjustments when the requirements of the work exceed the capabilities of a junior researcher or the on-time completion of the project is compromised.
  • Be open to and ask for feedback from junior researchers.
  • Set an excellent example in terms of compliance with legislation and regulations for researchers and train junior researchers to do so as well.​​
  • Set clear, realistic, consistent requirements that align with UMCG policy.
  • Provide feedback on manuscripts within an acceptable timeframe, specifically in terms of days rather than weeks.

Guidelines for junior researchers

Junior researchers are expected to:

  • Be aware of and adhere to the agreements, legislation, and regulations that apply to them and their research.
  • Record their activities and progress fully and transparently.
  • Report in good time when the quality or planning of a project is at risk.
  • Be open about uncertainties, dilemmas, and mistakes made.
  • Be focused on increasing their academic skills.
  • Treat their supervisors respectfully and give constructive feedback.
  • Discuss with their supervisors in good time when feedback on manuscripts is desired so that the supervisors can take this into account in their agenda.
  • Be open to feedback on their manuscripts and their work.
  • Treat research participants, laboratory animals and materials carefully and responsibly, including anonymous data and personal data.
  • Take responsibility for their work and behaviour and be able to reflect critically on it.
  • Contribute to a pleasant and stimulating working climate, both in their team and in a broader context.

Additional guidance can be found in the Golden Rules for PhD Supervision. These rules are generally also applicable to other junior researchers.

PhD candidates who have problems dealing with a supervisor can contact the Confidential Adviser for PhD students. The GSMS PhD council represents the interests of PhD candidates in a broader sense. Postdocs are represented by the Postdoc Council. There are also peer-to-peer groups for both PhDs (search term: peer-to-peer support groups) and postdocs.

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Elizabeth Koier Policy Advisor Research Office