Supervisor tasks and responsibilities

As a supervisor, you have obligations to both the PhD student and the graduate school. Learn about your obligations, responsibilities in the supervisor group and what to do if the supervisor group changes.

Obligations and collaboration with the PhD student

As a supervisor, you need to have the following skills and qualities:

  • Relevant academic knowledge
  • Networks cutting across faculty borders
  • A history of solid research production
  • Good communication skills
  • The ability to create a good environment


What to do before entering a collaboration

It is important that you discuss expectations and roles with the PhD student before agreeing to collaborate. Together with the PhD student you define the project.

You should, among other things, talk about:

  • Financing
  • Teaching obligations
  • Graduate Programme (GP) activities
  • The responsibilities of the parties
  • Meeting activity
  • Study periods abroad

Your supervisor responsibility

The main supervisor

Main supervisor

The main supervisor is responsible for:

  • Establishing a schedule for meetings with the PhD student, where all aspects of the student’s work can be discussed.
  • Ensuring that the PhD student is informed about the necessary safety precautions to be taken in laboratories and/or departments, about AU’s regulations regarding IT security and the necessary legal requirements and research ethics relating to the project.
  • Discussing the work done and, if necessary, reviewing the purpose of the work in the light of progress made and external factors – e.g. financing of the project or the publication of new findings that make it necessary to reassess the project.
  • Telling the PhD student to stop if the results achieved indicate interesting, but uncertain and time-consuming sub-projects.
  • Ensuring that the PhD student has the opportunity to present his or her own work both internally and externally and the opportunity to join a journal club and similar activity.
  • Ensuring that the PhD degree programme is completed on time.
  • Contacting the other supervisors if problems arise affecting the completion of the PhD degree programme.
  • Submitting the required evaluations
  • Ensuring that all mandatory elements of the PhD education are completed prior to submitting the dissertation:
  • Submitting proposals for assessment committees

The main supervisor and/or co-supervisor(s)

The main supervisor and/or co-supervisor(s) are responsible for:

  • Providing day-to-day supervision including the planning of protocols, discussion of practical problems, if relevant, and discussion and compilation of results.
  • Ensuring that the PhD student acquires a general understanding of the relevant literature, and that he/she keeps up to date with the latest relevant articles.
  • Providing constructive criticism and feedback regarding submitted manuscripts/publications and the dissertation within a time frame which ensures that the dissertation is submitted on time.
  • Being informed at all times about the progress of the PhD student’s work

Changes to the supervisor group

If there should be any changes in a PhD student's supervisor group, it is his/her responsibility to submit an application to graduateschoolhealth@au.dk clearly stating the reasons behind the wish for changes. 

As supervisor (incl. the new and/or old supervisors) you have to either sign the application or be cc. on the application e-mail. This is to verify that changes to the group of supervisors has been discussed and approved by all supervisors.