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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

Pursuant to s. 8(1) of the PhD Order, the main supervisor is responsible for the overall education of the PhD student. The main supervisor must plan, together with the PhD student, the course of the education process with a view to ensuring that the PhD degree programme will be completed in due time.

The responsibilities of the main supervisor are directed towards both the graduate school and the PhD student. The main supervisor is responsible for ensuring that the PhD education proceeds in accordance with the rules and regulations stipulated in the PhD Order, the guidelines of the graduate school and the PhD plan. These responsibilities include:

  • 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 - please see below. 
  • Ensuring that all mandatory elements of the PhD education are completed prior to submitting the dissertation:
  • Submitting proposals for assessment committees

In addition, the Head of the Graduate School may stipulate other requirements to the supervisors, including mandatory education of supervisors.  

The three evaluations

It is mandatory for PhD students to complete three evaluations during their PhD and for main supervisors to submit their answers to the required evaluations.

The dates dates for the ordinary, three year full time study (including Industrial PhD) are as follows:

  • A written evaluation six months after enrolment
    • This evaluation focuses on project progression, the PhD students research competence, plans for teaching and knowledge dissemination and in addition, it is required that a change of research environment/stay abroad has been planned to get the first evaluation approved.    
    • In this evaluation, main supervisors should consider the following questions:
      • How is the project progressing?
      • How has the PhD student proven capable of conducting the approved PhD project?
  • 18 months after enrolment - An oral midterm evaluation with the main supervisor and an evaluator, based on an approximately five pages scientific report and a written evaluation with questions for both the PhD student and the main supervisor made in MyPhD
    • The evaluation serves as a status of the project and the student's development and focusing on ensuring that learning outcomes for doctoral education are well on the way to be achieved. This includes the progress of the mandatory study elements. Secondly, the evaluation should warrant the general feasibility of the project leading to a PhD degree, and provide the student an opportunity to get a second opinion and feedback on the project
    • In the evaluation, main supervisors should consider and answer the following:
      • List the main points that should be achieved before completion of the study
      • Have the post graduate career plans for the PhD student been discussed?
      • Describe how the oral evaluation did proceed
      • When was the oral evaluation conducted?
      • State the name, title, place of employment and e-mail of the evaluator
  • A written evaluation six months before enrolment end
    • In addition to (once again) evaluating the progression of the project and whether there has been changes, the evaluation should also focus on whether the education will be completed in due time and contains all planned and mandatory elements.
    • In this evaluation, please consider the following questions:
      • Will the student´s PhD dissertation be handed in, in accordance with the deadline timeline and PhD plan?
      • Has the post graduate career plans for the student evolved/changes since the midterm evaluation?

You can find more information about the three evaluation here

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

In addition, the Head of the Graduate School may stipulate other requirements to the supervisors, including mandatory education of supervisors.    

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.