A novel perspective on doctoral supervision

Interaction of time, academic work, institutional policies, and lifecourse

in Learning and Teaching
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Søren Smedegaard BengtsenAarhus University, Denmark ssbe@edu.au.dk

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Lynn McAlpineProfessor Emerita, University of Oxford, UK and McGill University, Canada lynn.mcalpine@education.ox.ac.uk

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Abstract

While supervision is often characterised as a relatively private relationship, we would argue it is strongly influenced by departmental, institutional, national and global factors. It is also intertwined with other academic work and life experiences – with time playing an important role, not just as regards lifecourse but also changing institutional policies and practices. Using this embedded dynamic perspective in a longitudinal institutional case study, we examined how individual supervisory practices, embedded within life experiences and the evolving policy contexts of supervision and other academic activities, changed over time. We found that changed institutional supervision expectations and related structures influenced supervisory thinking and actions. Future research could further examine how this dynamic perspective opens horizons for understanding individual supervisor change in light of new institutional expectations.

In research on PhD education, supervision is a well examined topic – often characterised as a pedagogical relationship between student and academic(s). Yet, increasingly, it is recognised that this relationship incorporates the influence of national quality assurance issues, university and faculty policies, and departmental practices. In other words, supervision is a collective practice (McAlpine 2013) and an embedded pedagogy (Bengtsen 2016). Collective practices change over time in light of global, national and institutional priorities and expectations, and this, in turn, has the potential to gradually influence the individual supervisor's practices. Further, individual supervisory practices are influenced by evolving lifecourse changes and academic experiences of teaching, research and leadership. The cumulative result of this embedded dynamic perspective is individually distinct pedagogical ways of thinking which drive supervisory action (Åkerlind and McAlpine 2015). In this longitudinal institutional case study of supervisors in one UK institution, we drew on these ideas. Our goal was to examine over time how changing expectations of supervision in national, institutional and departmental contexts (McAlpine and Amundsen 2018; McAlpine and Norton 2006) as well as an individual's academic and life experiences1 and life experiences more broadly (McAlpine and Amundsen 2018) interacted with supervisory thinking and action.

Previous research

In the literature, we see a growing interest in understanding PhD supervision not only as taking place as an inter-personal relationship between the PhD supervisor(s) and student, but as being part of, and influenced by, the wider global and national policy agendas and institutional leadership practices. Over the last two decades, two trends can be spotted.

First, studies disclose how structural global and national policies have affected the work of graduate schools and how universities have implemented assessment procedures and quality assurance mechanisms in relation to PhD education (Andres et al. 2015; Manathunga 2005). Here, we see how global drivers like professionalisation, digitalisation and massification influence the doctoral curriculum, the rules and regulations of graduate schools, and demands for competence development and ongoing evaluation of supervision practice. These studies characterise PhD supervision as influenced indirectly, as part of larger changes in higher education, which gradually filter down to institutions and those working within them (Humphrey and Simpson 2012).

Second, we find many studies which address the individual supervisor perspective – for example, how PhD supervision could be understood as a professional practice weaving together wider institutional and departmental (the institutional disciplinary home) contexts (Bengtsen 2016; Elmgren et al. 2016; Golde and Walker 2006; Halse and Malfroy 2010; Walker et al. 2008), and how supervisor wellbeing and work–life balance depend on realising this and practising supervision as a cross-context pedagogy (Halse 2011; Wisker and Robinson 2016). Recently, the interwoven nature of doctoral supervision has been discussed by Paul Trowler from a social practice perspective showing how doctoral practices are situated and ‘structurally conditioned but also co-constituted by reflexive agents’ (2021: 5).

To the best of our knowledge, neither set of studies situates supervision within other academic work and personal lives or attends to the influence of time. And studies referencing structural factors do not examine the reported influence through direct examination of an institution's policies at different levels. This longitudinal institutional case study addresses these issues and also merges the individual and structural perspectives.

Framework

Given that our goal is to examine over time the interaction between a supervisor's individual thinking and academic and life experiences more broadly in relation to institutional policies, we needed a way to analyse: (a) individual thinking; (b) the contexts in which supervision and academic work more broadly took place; and (c) the role of life experience and work. For the last, we drew on identity-trajectory (McAlpine and Amundsen 2018) which characterises work as embedded in and interacting within one's lifecourse, so it is a biographical time-sensitive perspective. For the second we used the notion of evolving nested contexts (McAlpine and Amundsen 2018; McAlpine and Norton 2006), and for the first we used zones of thinking (McAlpine et al. 2006). Together these allowed us to explore the ways in which national, institutional, and departmental changes in supervisory policies and procedures interacted over time with individual supervision and other academic work as well as life more generally.

Nested contexts

Drawing on a review of doctoral education, Lynn McAlpine and Judith Norton (2006) generated a model of nested contexts to characterise the interaction between three contexts in creating doctoral practices. The three contexts have proved useful in exploring more generally how individuals’ experiences, thinking and action, are situated within structural constraints and affordances. The micro context refers to the local departmental practices in which supervision and other academic work takes place. This context exists within the meso context which represents the organisational structures, policies, procedures and practices around supervision and academic work more broadly. These in turn are enacted in lower institutional units, such as faculties (or divisions), as well as departments (faculties, schools) in different ways. The macro context in which the micro and meso are nested incorporates the societal climate and national and international policies and practices, including global academic and doctoral trends and practices.

Figure 1.
Figure 1.

Supervision situated within nested contexts

Citation: Learning and Teaching 15, 1; 10.3167/latiss.2022.150103

Zones of thinking

Zones of thinking (McAlpine et al. 2006) is an empirically derived model of the relation between pedagogical thinking and action: how abstract thinking about teaching and thus supervision is related to concrete actions with students. While there are four zones, given the nature of this study and our data, we focused on just two, conceptual and strategic, since we had not documented their actual practice where the other two come into play.2 The relatively abstract conceptual zone underpins the other zones and represents, for example, personal ideas, beliefs, or principles about the purposes of supervision, student responsibility, and PhD education more broadly. Strategic zone thinking draws on the conceptual to devise broad approaches towards students, such as general practices when meeting a new supervision student or providing feedback, that is, not actual situations.3

The institutional case context

The UK Higher Education Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) regularly reviews all degree programmes using their Codes of Practice to improve the quality of higher education, with the recommendations from these reviews expected to be addressed by the next review. This expectation generally results in institutions putting into place quality assurance monitoring mechanisms. Starting earlier and continuing through the time in which this study took place, there was an increasing QAA expectation that universities move to some form of team supervision, that is, no longer use the single-supervisor model common in many countries, implement skills training, and emphasise timely completion. The university, Oxford, operates on the principal of subsidiarity, with the lowest units allowed freedom to interpret institutional policies. The next lowest institutional units are called divisions (similar to faculties), a cluster of related disciplinary units). At the micro departmental level, units are variously called faculties, schools and departments.4 Given subsidiarity, divisional and departmental investment in and enactment of any policy expectations will vary.

Goal and sub-goals

As noted earlier, we undertook an institutional case study to ask how, over time, changing expectations of supervision as well as individual academic and personal life experiences interact with supervisors’ thinking? We examined each aspect separately, asking about the interaction with: (1) personal lifecourse; (2) policy expectations about supervision and other academic work; and (3) change over time.

Method

As suggested by John Gerring (2008) and Alexander L. George and Andrew Bennet (2005), a case study may be divided into a series of sub-cases and case-trajectories. The longitudinal institutional case study integrated two distinct forms of data collection and analysis. To document institutional policies and practices, we collected and analysed documents related to doctoral regulations in place during the time of the study at the macro national, meso university and division, and micro department levels. To document changes in individual perspectives, we used two data collection points (2015, 2019), with a narrative stance preserving the specificity of each individual's experiences as recommended by Jane Elliott (2005) and Catherine Riessman (2008).

Supervisor recruitment

The original 2015 study compared Danish and UK experienced humanities supervisors from mid- to late career (Bengtsen 2016). As humanities in Denmark includes educational studies, UK recruitment also included education. Based on suggestions from the second author who worked in the university, the first author reviewed academic profiles on the university website and contacted potential participants, ending up with ten. When a longitudinal study was considered, the original participants were approached by email in 2019 and updated consent forms were signed. Nine agreed, seven female and two ma1e, distributed across four faculties in the humanities plus education in the social sciences. (See Table 1 for overview.)

Table 1.

Participant overview

Supervisor pseudonym Gender Age Department Institutional experience since 2015 interview
Michelle Female 50s Faculty 1 12 months in administrative capacity (governance, student discipline, ceremonial life)
George Male Mid-50s Faculty 1 Director of undergraduate studies
Anna Female Mid-40s Faculty 2 Sabbatical leave for 3 years
Francesco Male Late 60s Faculty 3 From Head of Department into phased retirement
Julie Female Mid-40s Faculty 3 Leader of course programme, administrative leadership, started up new Master's programme, Vice-President of her college
Eva Female Late 60s Faculty 3 From managerial responsibility into formal retirement
Josephine Female Late 40s Faculty 4 Head of Department (twice), second in command in her college, two years in University Council
Beth Female Mid-50s Faculty 5 Sabbatical for 1 year, Faculty Chair (Head of Department), leading strategy review committee member (attainment gaps)
Agneta Female Late 50s Faculty 5 Promoted to full professor, joint school Chair, aims to become Director of Graduate Studies

Data collection

Supervisor data: The interviews in both 2015 and 2019 lasted approximately sixty minutes each. The protocols for both interviews were jointly developed by the two researchers. In order to capture the temporal dimension of the supervisors’ experiences, and as suggested by Susan M. Gass and Alison Mackey (2016) and Joseph Tobin (2019), we used stimulated recall for the 2019 interviews, the main data in this study, and drew on video clips from the 2015 interviews to activate the temporal dimension. To prepare the video clips, the first author watched through the entire sample of the first cycle interviews, choosing specific clips relating to the three main themes in the interview guide (individual supervision approach, importance of researcher communities for the supervisor role, importance of wider institutional levels for the supervisor role) in which statements related to conceptual and strategic zones were present. The second author watched a selection of the clips for validation purposes.

One or two video clips were shown to the supervisors during each part of the interview, totalling between three and six video clips (with average of four to five) clips. The video clips situated supervisors in their earlier experiences. Through interviewer-facilitated confrontation with these projections of their earlier thinking, the supervisors were prompted to reflect on their supervision practice and institutional belonging from 2015–2019. While they noted the ‘personal’ (McAlpine and Amundsen 2018; Wisker and Robinson 2016) – for example, changes in family life, health and appearances, these comments were situated with academic and institutional work contexts emphasising supervision and possible change.

The focus in each part was as follows:

  1. 1.The role of the doctoral supervisor: How they viewed supervision currently, and, after showing video clip(s), if, then how, their view had developed or changed since 2015. Also, if they viewed the PhD and PhD students differently, and if their doctoral supervision pedagogy had changed.
  2. 2.The institutional context: How they viewed the wider institutional contexts, including the extent to which these contexts supported doctoral students as well as themselves.
  3. 3.Wider lifeworld perspective: To what extent they felt changed as academics and individuals since 2015; how they viewed their engagement in their academic work more generally to have changed or stayed the same, and if any central changes have occurred in their wider lifeworld context (and how it has influenced their academic work).

Institutional data: We also collected documents representing national, university, division, and departmental policies and expectations in effect for the period April–June 2015 until May 2019.

Analysis

For analysing the interviews, we used a narrative approach, combined with qualitative coding as described by Johnny Saldana (2015), first a within-individual analysis and then an across-individual analysis seeking patterns as done by McAlpine and Cheryl Amundsen (2018). We began by individually coding two cases, followed by comparing notes and refining code definitions, then two more, continuing in this way throughout the analysis.

Within-individual analysis

First, we created low-inference accounts (open coding) of each supervisor's experiences to provide the context in which we then systematically coded each transcript. Second, we coded transcript segments that referred to: (1) the conceptual and strategic ways in which they described supervisory thinking, and (2) different nested contexts. Finally, we examined the extent to which each coded segment referred to changes since 2015: segment by segment, and sometimes within segments as well as to any particular contexts they named and the extent to which these were characterised as originating in institutional policies.

Across-individual analysis

Here we sought patterns of similarity and difference across individuals. To do this, we each reviewed the narrative accounts and coding and then discussed the patterns we perceived to generate an agreed list. The first author then returned to the data to ensure that the perceived patterns were in fact supported by the data. It is these patterns we draw on in the results.

Institutional data

We analysed the documents seeking both consistency and divergence of policy across nested contexts.

Limitations

There are, of course, limitations given its institutional case study approach: in this case, the UK PhD education macro context and the meso–micro policies in one university. For instance, it sets aside the macro global influence of disciplinary practices. Further, the small number of participants means we are unlikely to have captured the range of variation possible. Still, the affordances include: (1) a common institutional context to examine individual variation; and (2) a means to assess the value of a more embedded dynamic perspective on supervision.

Results

Document Analysis: Macro, meso, micro policy contexts

Macro: Globally, the PhD has become increasingly standardised, audited and premised on market logics (Nerad and Tryzna 2008). These shifts, variously viewed in positive and negative ways, are represented in the institutional documents we analysed, which are designed to address the UK Quality Code for Higher Education, Part B, Chapter B11: Research Degrees (QAA) (2018) that universities are expected to take up and monitor in their institutional policies.

Meso: So, the University of Oxford's Policy and Guidance on Research Degrees (original publication 2013, re-published PGRD 2019) noted that based on subsidiarity, subsequent levels are expected to create policy documents that reflect the institutional policy and ensure subsequent monitoring. So, for instance, there is a Humanities Division: Code of Practice on Supervision of Graduate Research Students (CoP 2017–2018) and a faculty policy as well, and the same is true of education in the social sciences. Across the three policy levels, we identified how they speak into the ‘nested contexts’ (McAlpine and Norton 2006) of doctoral supervision and wider institutional support.

On the level of the Humanities Division, the document states that courses in research skills training including more generic research skills and, for example, writing and scholarship. Supervisor support is described as paramount and the most central support and feedback activity during the PhD (QAA p.17ff; PGRD p.19ff.; CoP p.5ff.), with a key responsibility monitoring student progress. The university document states: ‘Each research student should be given an identified single point of contact who is the main supervisor’ (p. 19). Further, where there is a co-supervisor or a supervisory team, ‘the [main] supervisor should co-ordinate advice and guidance, and ensure that respective responsibilities are clear both to academic colleagues and to the student’ (p. 20).

Besides supervisor support, the documents mention that doctoral students should have access to an active research environment and community (QAA p. 11ff.; PGRD p. 17; CoP p. 5). They stress the importance of students belonging to academic and social environments in which they may receive peer feedback and participate in collaborative and networked activities. This more informal form of learning and support aims at encouraging the formation (intellectual maturity) and enhancing the wellbeing of the student.

Micro: In the faculty handbooks, as for example the Department 3 Research Students’ Handbook, University of Oxford (2018), the guidelines for doctoral supervision are similar to the ones set down by the division and align closely with the university policies. Further, the responsibilities for monitoring the implementation of the regulations lie with the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS). The DGS works closely with the divisonal level, so, in terms of policy logic, there is cohesion and alignment in the PhD supervisor role across the micro- and meso-levels of the institution.

At the micro-level, situating institutional policy within a closer departmental context, the relevant document is a student handbook. Here there is a strong focus on research possibilities, library access, skills training, access to musical instruments, recordings opportunities, and technical equipment. Notably, the document is more personal (e.g., referring to ‘Faculty people’) and contextual, including introductions to support personnel. These institutional supports include administrators, studio recording staff, events and communication officers, and academic assistants. Alongside these institutional supports, the policies and structures to monitor satisfactory progress, completion of milestones, and skills training (and the role of the student and supervisor in relation to these) are also noted. For instance, supervisors are responsible for: reporting electronically students’ progress on a termly basis; engaging them in an online needs assessment in the first term; and informing them of regulations about research ethics, health and safety. The policy makes clear that the Faculty has oversight of the student's progress and the supervision relationship.

So, on the micro-level in the different departments, one sees a close alignment with meso-levels combined with a more situated, pedagogically oriented, specific departmental context – and the meso level is in turn aligned with the national requirements. Thus, there is a transformation in tone as the readership changes from abstract depersonalised institutional imperatives (university, division) to concrete personalised pedagogies (student handbook).

Participant data analysis

Before describing the findings, we introduce Beth to highlight how she experienced the embodied interaction among lifecourse, academic work (including supervision) within evolving institutional expectations. This cameo is a much-shortened version of the low-inference accounts we made for her and the other participants in order to preserve the uniqueness of their experiences in our analyses. Table 2 (see Appendix) shows the longer low-inference account we constructed for Beth and how the analytic framework drew out segments in the transcript. The table illustrates the connections between the narrative accounts, the codes applied, and the connection to the raw transcriptions.

Beth: Nationality: United Kingdom; age: mid- to late 50s; Faculty 5

Beth's children are now in their late teens, early twenties, and she values being together with them in the same space without any requirements for activity. Since 2015, Beth first had a sabbatical from teaching and substantially advanced her writing. It was good to have proper research time before taking on a senior Faculty role, noting leadership is not easy in the current environment, but she is prepared to sacrifice a certain amount of personal happiness for the time being: ‘a little bit of my soul dies every time I do these jobs’. In this role, she does not teach. But she is leading a strategy review of assessment mechanisms, is on a committee regarding attainment gaps in race and culture, and has invested a lot of time and energy in PhD institutional work, including initiating programmes on generic knowledge and skills relevant to doctoral students in her faculty. Still, she has continually supervised doctoral students since 2015 and now has new students, despite administration making it harder to find time for supervision. She has also done some secondary supervision (co-supervision), which she describes as an interesting new development. She feels while her supervision approach is generally the same as in 2015; she now has a less prescriptive and dominating approach – partly due to the increased institutional focus on co-supervision, which she experiences as constructive for both supervisors and students. Since 2015, Beth has also had experiences with more difficult sides of supervision, particularly getting doctoral students to take ownership and responsibility for their own PhDs and doctoral students’ well-being and mental health. As to the future, she will be happy to step down after her leadership term ends and is considering the possibility of early retirement (when she gets to her mid-sixties) to travel and write books.

We report the results first as regards the influence of personal life course, then nested contexts and other academic experience, and finally time.

Influence of personal lifecourse: The role of larger life decisions, relationships and goals on each supervisor's life and the role of supervision within that was evident. Here we briefly summarise the significant lifecourse experiences. Since 2015, two supervisors had gone through a challenging time personally with periods of illness and related extended leaves of absence; Agneta was only now feeling able to fully invest in supervision (and work) as she would like. Anna had a life experience that led her to change conceptually her supervisory thinking, to be more open with students. She had also had an enjoyable productive sabbatical, as had Beth, with both to some extent finding re-entry challenging. Two had come to a major life transition, having decided to retire, and a third was considering it (Francesco, Eva, George). They were thinking about beginning a different kind of life – with one of the few ties to their previous lives being working with their students to complete (Francesco, Eva) – so minimally engaged in institutional contexts.

Still others were juggling a busy family life on the side of a career that was picking up speed rapidly (Josephine, Julie, Michelle) and noted being in a constant state of overwork – handling too many different, and sometimes conflicting, forms of professional and personal roles and responsibilities at the same time. These supervisors were concerned about whether they gave enough time and close attention to supervision and managed to sense and discover (in time) if their students were facing difficulties both research-wise and more personally. As can be seen, while their life experience varied, they recognised its influence on their work and supervisory thinking.

Influence of nested contexts and other academic experience: Here we see how evolving thinking about supervision interacted with meso and macro factors, not just factors related to supervision and doctoral education but also meso leadership roles, and global macro disciplinary trends that were changing the nature of departmental academic work. The supervisor role is embedded within the larger PhD frameworks such as national policies around time to completion, careers, and generic competencies which are translated into institutional policies and practices. The supervisors had all been at Oxford before 2015, so in 2019 they had sustained experience of the institutional contexts. Still, they varied in their responses to change as well as their awareness of the influence of meso and macro contexts on the micro context changes.

When asked about the changes in their supervision practices, they often started by reflecting on how the meso institutional policies and practices (such as team supervision, needs assessments, termly reports) had changed and how they felt these changes affected their supervision practice. The range of responses varied from positive stances, such as Beth's (good for supervisors and students), through to George's outright opposition. A number took a nuanced stance, recognising a range of issues in play. For instance, Beth liked how the meso automated system of required termly reports reminded her that she had not seen a particular student for some time. She had a more ambivalent stance towards the meso ‘tedious’ needs assessment first-year students needed to complete in order for the Faculty to evaluate student satisfaction and wellbeing but could see some value in it promoting discussion.

Michelle, while relatively positive about the general trends, felt the focus of her work had shifted due to macro pressures to make the PhD more about ensuring a future (academic) career than creating original research. She found her supervision becoming more about advice on how to, instrumentally, secure a career than about encouraging students to take risks and find their own voice as researchers. Further, the additional macro–meso expectations on students, for example, skills training and publishing, could distract them from their actual PhD research. Linked to these views was their more general experience of academic work.

Taking on new academic responsibilities during the four-year period – particularly some type of formal leadership (whether micro or meso) – increased individuals’ awareness of the influence of macro and meso on the micro and individual supervision practices. Since 2015, six had moved into such positions as Faculty Heads and Chairs and study programme directors (Beth, Julie, Michelle, Josephine, Agneta, and George). Beth, in particular, had taken on more leadership responsibilities, as she particularly valued the changes and wanted to press them from within the faculty. She mentioned the importance of connecting supervision to wider meso institutional forums and support systems and that the educational responsibility lay not only with the supervisors but also with the faculty and even division as a whole. She also elaborated how changes in the macro–meso graduate landscape like new institutional forms of supervision had influenced her own supervision. Other changes were also deemed useful: required timelines as a basis for planning, timetabling, with students to help them complete on time. However, while her ideas received good support from the students and her supervision colleagues, this was not always the case with the departmental administrator. Lacking the support of the administrator made it hard to have an effective, supportive climate for students. Michelle, who also viewed the changes as positive, recognised that institutional change is slow and difficult.

Still, Beth felt ambivalent with her leadership role, as the time and energy put into it was not always rewarded. Becoming aware of how meso–micro decision making and institutional management function in practice was not always a pleasant and motivating experience. However, and at the same time, she realised that what she liked about supervision was very close to what she liked about leadership tasks (supporting and facilitating the formation and growth of others) when they succeeded. She also felt it was, sometimes, important for academics to take on leadership roles, since they are affected by the sometimes messiness of practice-based supervision experiences and can help maintain the humaneness of the system.

Josephine, who like Beth had been Head of Faculty, was pleased with the emphasis on student wellbeing and the extent to which her department had taken this on board. Agneta was positive about joint supervision, since she was fortunate to have co-supervisors who were equally demanding in what they expected of students. Still, she noted the craziness of the meso system since the way workload was assessed meant that co-supervision only counted as half a student, yet the process took more time than single supervision.

Interestingly, the leadership roles did not need to be related to the PhD to bring insight about doctoral education. To George, who took on the role of director of undergraduate studies in the department, the many changes in macro national policies had resulted in a more streamlined and generic higher education, and less creative and bold PhD projects, and he felt increasingly alienated within an institution, which, he felt, was being taken over by managerialism and where administrative tasks were eating increasingly into his academic work life. He was disillusioned with institutional leadership.

Still, leadership roles alone were not essential for seeing supervision in a new way. Agneta, for instance remarked that becoming a faculty assessor for doctoral applications also provided her an alternate and more integrated view of supervision. And Eva and George did not directly link their leadership roles to their supervision. Overall, those who created synergies between their leadership and supervisor roles were also the ones who most actively sought out leadership opportunities.

The supervisors were nested within and generally recognised the wider institutional policies and practices on department, faculty, and divisional levels, though the range of response to macro and meso change was considerable: some more neutral, others frustrated and demotivated, while others engaged more with leadership tasks, in this way, motivating changes within the department or institution more broadly. Further, even though the supervisors did not feel their personal supervision strategies were dependent on the institutional context and strategies, they did, on the other hand, feel that their motivation, energy, and institutional influence as supervisors was inseparably interwoven with the wider institutional system. Part of the temporality of their supervisor roles was deeply nested within the temporality of the institution they belonged to and the work they did.

Given the faculty is a localised particular ‘outpost’ of the discipline, supervision was also strongly embedded within informal departmental and thus disciplinary communities. We noted a difference between those in small humanities departments and the larger ones as well as education. Since 2015, two humanities supervisors had seen their research areas decrease in institutional awareness and funding and disciplinary importance (Anna, George). Others spoke directly to the impact on supervision, for instance, raising funding and recruiting more students to their department had not been as successful as hoped for (Agneta); a smaller, less-funded department (Josephine) not being connected to a closely related and larger, better-funded department – with the consequence that the doctoral students in smaller departments cannot form sustainable and long-lasting communities. In contrast, supervisors in education experienced a steady number of PhD students arriving and could sustain large cohorts and teams of students and supervise in teams and groups (Francesco and Julie). The education supervisors, in particular, underlined the importance of vibrant and robust research environments, where the doctoral students could form strong peer communities and provide important peer feedback and social and emotional support. Overall, a central dimension of supervision lay deeply nested within the discipline department, and the local and more extended research community and the possibilities for growth and further anchoring institutionally (and financially).

Influence of time on supervisory thinking: The majority of the supervisors felt ‘consistent’ and ‘in agreement’ with their earlier 2015 supervisory stances, and as Eva, recently retired, reported her supervision approach was not even dependent on formally belonging to an institution. One third of the supervisors (Eva, George, and Josephine) described being set in their own ways and continuing their supervision approaches despite changes in departmental structures and institutional policy. As Eva mentioned, at this point, the institutional structures did not mean much for her supervision, so her approach to supervision probably would not change. George was unusual in taking a strong oppositional stance, maintaining what he saw as coherence between his conceptual and strategic thinking – though as a result, he was considering retirement. He set up his own personal supervision practice in resistance to institutional norms and argued that even if he ‘won the conversation’ [about the right to choose his supervision approach], he still expected to be ‘opposed by the broader university bureaucracy’.

Other supervisors who did not view the changes in such an oppositional way since they did not run counter to their conceptual thinking had been able to maintain specific supervision strategies since they worked well. For instance, Josephine continued to use her ‘road map’ approach which both gave structure and allowed for student ownership; Michelle's supervision meetings always began with detailed text feedback which then developed into a critical dialogue; and Anna prioritised supervising in groups and building peer communities between her students during supervision. Even though they had adapted to, and even appreciated, some of the institutional changes – for example, Beth, ‘required’ timelines and Josephine required termly reports – they still preserved their own key supervision strategies.

Overall, the supervisors actively and in a reflective way identified their personal supervision conceptual stance as largely consistent and enduring in the midst of institutional flux and private life pressures. As the zones–framework suggests, this speaks to the underpinnings of their thinking and action – the values they bring to the supervision relationship – which we believe are related to the values they bring to their relationships in general. However, the strategies used have for many been modified or expanded in relation to new structural expectations and structures, such as team supervision, timely completion, and termly reports. Thus, the temporal structure of supervision hinges not only on change and development, but as well on underpinning values, conceptions of supervision, which provide a source of stability around which to adapt strategies to varying degrees in relation to changing contexts.

Discussion

In a longitudinal institutional case study, we examined how individual practices, embedded within life experiences and the evolving contexts of supervision and other academic activities, changed over time. The substantive and methodological contribution is a more inclusive, dynamic depiction of supervision.

Policy awareness and time

While the policies had not changed during the time of this study, individuals were more aware of them and their impact on their practices in 2019 than earlier. Further, they were most aware of the changes at the micro- and meso-levels, since a number of the institutional elements instituted as a result of the policies affected the expectations of their practice. The range of responses was varied given individual's readiness and ability to change, which is described by Stephen Billett (2001) as an ongoing dialogue between the individual and the workplace and its leadership. Many could see both positive and negative features both in relation to their own supervision and academic work more generally. Interestingly, they reported that these changes impacted their students as well as themselves as, for example, with regard to students being more aware of their individual career trajectories and CV-building.

Supervision as evolving complex individual process

Changes in individual supervisory practice were examined in terms of conceptual and strategic thinking (McAlpine et al 2006). And this examination was embedded within nested structural contexts (McAlpine and Norton 2006; McAlpine and Amundsen 2018) as well other academic work embedded in personal life experience (McAlpine et al. 2014). Thus, PhD supervision was only one facet of the work academics engage in, and these other academic experiences can influence supervision in aligning or conflicting ways. Interestingly, those who had taken on formal leadership roles, especially if outside their own faculty or department, situated institutional efforts to change doctoral education expectations within broader efforts at institutional change induced by macro factors. So, they were much more aware of what was driving micro supervision changes, and they seemed more open to them.

With regard to their conceptual thinking, this remained much the same given their focus around the relationship, alignment with personal relationship values, and view on the purpose of supervision (Åkerlind and McAlpine 2015). Further, their emotional responses, positive through negative, reflected the extent to which the changes corresponded to and enhanced their conceptual thinking. In contrast, strategic thinking changed, nearly always in response to changes in policies and structures in nested contexts, though individuals varied in their recognition of the macro origins of the changes. We saw that several supervisors were policy enthusiasts, actively seeking leadership roles (Ashwin et al. 2015) to further policy into practice from within the system as they simultaneously embodied these policies in their own practices in creative and meaningful ways. They seemed to detect and exploit far more structures within the institutional framework to support and complement their individual supervision energies (Weiner 2009) than the policy critics who maintained counter-discourses and felt threatened and challenged by the policy implementation. This finding connects to Weiner's research (2009) showing how organisational change happens when individuals across different departments and sections develop a shared psychological readiness, or resistance, towards change.

Institutional and individual change over time

From a policy perspective, the national (macro), institutional (meso), and faculty (micro) levels aligned, and the institutional structures supported these through monitoring. The only perceived difference was a shift in tone in relation to the intended reader. The policies on the role of the supervisor mention no conflicts or tensions but connect internally. This means, for example, that even though the PhD should be more closely tailored to career dimensions, it should (without problems) also be closely connected to and situated within positive researcher environments and contribute through new and original research. But there was an institutional failure to recognise the impact of change on academic work more generally. For instance, while co-supervision was expected, in workload it was being treated as half a supervision when, in fact, it required more time than single supervision due to the communication and alignment with other supervisors and participation in more supervision meetings. This could be seen as a demotivating factor to invest seriously in the expectation.

More generally, policy is not sufficient for achieving systemic organisational change since it requires that members feel committed to implementing the change and confident in their collective abilities to do so (Weiner 2009). This is especially true given the loose coupling of structures in many universities (Berdahl and Malloy 2019), where the principle of subsidiarity may be operating without explicitly saying so. As previously noted, those who had held leadership roles were very aware of this. In effect, a shared commitment was still lacking in these faculties, with individuals varying in the extent to which they modified their thinking and acting (Billett 2001). And only the committed few perceived the organisational structures as useful, whereas those not committed tended to view the structures as constraints on their own thinking (Weiner 2009). However, the supervisors still shared a commitment to good supervision (though not a shared view of how this was achieved) while not necessarily sharing the commitment to aid organisational change.

Regardless, the interview findings show tensions and some frustration. In fact, the majority of the supervisors experienced difficulty in aligning their core practices around originality in the research in relation to the increasing demands for career guidance and employability. Also, four of the supervisors noted the challenge for their own small department (a humanities field) to sustain and integrate their PhD students when they lacked funding to build communities due to low student intake. For larger humanities departments and education, this was not an issue. A couple also felt like relative outsiders in their faculty – a reminder that departments are institutionally situated outposts and cannot encompass all perspectives within a discipline.

What we see here is how evolving policy contexts across macro-, meso-, and micro-levels create not a one-dimensional supervisor role easy to align but an embedded dynamic set of personal and work influences in which supervision is but one aspect. Most studies on supervision do not frame supervision within nested contexts, other academic work, or personal lives. Nor do they examine policy documents. We would argue that any future research embed supervisory experience within this broader framework.

Second, if the role of time is part of the study, we suggest the use of video clips as the foundation for re-situating the interviewee in a previous time. The particular value of this approach is to reveal: (1) supervision as an evolving complex process influenced by many factors; and (2) the slow process of instantiating institutional change in actual varied individual practices.

Conclusion

We conclude that to live up to policy ambitions, systematic institutional leadership needs to connect meso- and macro-level policies and structures in ways that support change in any individual and that they do so in ways that ensure consistency of policies across different areas of work. However, this does not mean that individual difference and pedagogical diversity should be streamlined according to policy. Rather, research and academic development interventions should be directed to understanding how time, other academic and life experiences, and institutional change interact with academics’ supervisory conceptions and an openness to modifying their supervisory thinking in ways that maintain diversity and build sustainable institutional environments for pedagogy and learning.

Notes

1

Regardless of institutional role, e.g., PhD student, post-PhD researcher, supervisor.

2

The other two zones are tactical, specific procedures and steps in preparing to actually teach, and enactive, thinking in-the-moment of actual teaching.

3

In this study, we consider only the zone of thinking, not an analysis of the range of thinking within a zone.

4

There are also colleges, independent bodies that support both teaching and research but are not organised on a disciplinary basis. However, we do not address college affiliation, as this institutional structure is rare in other universities.

References

  • Åkerlind, G. and L. McAlpine (2015), ‘Supervising doctoral students: Variation in purpose and pedagogy’, Studies in Higher Education 42, no. 9: 16861698. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2015.1118031.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Andres, L., S. Bengtsen, B. Crossouard, L. Gallego, J. Keefer and K. Pyhältö (2015), ‘Drivers and interpretations of doctoral education today: National comparisons’, Frontline Learning Research 3, no. 2: 6380. https://doi.org/10.14786/flr.v3i3.177.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ashwin, P., R. Deem and L. McAlpine (2015), ‘Newer researchers in higher education: Policy actors or policy subjects?’, Studies in Higher Education 41, no. 12: 21842197. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2015.1029902.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bengtsen, S. (2016), Doctoral Supervision: Organization and Dialogue (Aarhus: Aarhus University Press).

  • Berdahl, L. and J. Malloy (2019), ‘Departmental engagement in doctoral professional development: Lessons from political science’, Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 49, no. 2: 3753. https://doi.org/10.47678/cjhe.v49i2.188226.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Billett, S. (2001), ‘Learning through work: Workplace affordances and individual engagement’, Journal of Workplace Learning 13, no. 5: 209214. https://doi.org/10.1108/EUM0000000005548.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • CoP (Code of Practice on Supervision of Graduate Research Students), Humanities Division, University of Oxford, 2017–2018.

  • Elliott, J. (2005), Using Narrative in Social Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. (London: SAGE).

  • Elmgren, M., E. Forsberg, Å Lindberg-Sand and A. Sonesson (2016), The Formation of Doctoral Education (Lund: Lund University).

  • Gass, S. M. and A. Mackey (2016), Stimulated Recall Methodology in Applied Linguistics and L2 Research (London: Routledge).

  • George, A. L. and A. Bennett (2005), Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press).

  • Gerring, J. (2008), Case Study Research: Principles and Practices (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press).

  • Golde, C. M. and G. E. Walker (eds) (2006), Envisioning the Future of Doctoral Education: Preparing Stewarts of the Discipline (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Halse, C. (2011), ‘“Becoming a supervisor”: The impact of doctoral supervision on supervisor's learning’, Studies in Higher Education 36, no. 5: 557570. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2011.594593.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Halse, C. and J. Malfroy (2010), ‘Retheorizing doctoral supervision as professional work’, Studies in Higher Education 35, no. 1: 7992. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075070902906798.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Humphrey, R. and B. Simpson (2012), ‘Negotiating a “scary gap”: Doctoral graduates, “writing up” qualitative data and the contemporary supervisory relationship’, Journal of Education and Training Studies 1, no. 1: 110. https://doi.org/10.11114/jets.v1i1.10.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Manathunga, C. (2005), ‘The development of research supervision: “Turning the light on a private space”’, International Journal for Academic Development 10, no. 1: 1730. https://doi.org/10.1080/13601440500099977.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McAlpine, L. (2013) ‘Doctoral supervision: Not an individual but a collective institutional responsibility’, Infancia y Aprendizaje 36, no. 3: 259280. https://doi.org/10.1174/021037013807533061.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McAlpine, L. and C. Amundsen (2018), Identity-Trajectories of Early Career Researchers: Unpacking the Post-PhD Experience (New York: Palgrave Macmillan).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McAlpine, L. and J. Norton (2006), ‘Reframing our approach to doctoral programs: A learning perspective’, Higher Education Research and Development 25, no. 1: 317. https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360500453012.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McAlpine, L., C. Amundsen and G. Turner (2014), ‘Identity-trajectory: Reframing early career academic experience’, British Educational Research Journal 40, no. 6: 952969. https://doi.org/10.1002/berj.3123.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McAlpine, L., C. Weston, J. Timmermans, D. Berthiaume and G. Fairbank-Roch (2006), ‘Zones of teacher thinking: A model of teacher thinking and action’, Studies in Higher Education 31, no. 5: 601616. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075070600923426.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nerad, M. and T. Trzyna (2008), ‘Conclusion: Toward a global PhD? Forces and forms’, in M. Nerad and. M. Heggelund (eds), Doctoral Education Worldwide (Seattle: University of Washington Press), 300312.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • PGRD (Policy and Guidance on Research Degrees), Education Committee, University of Oxford, 2019.

  • Riessman, C. (2008), Narrative Methods for the Human Sciences (Los Angeles: SAGE).

  • Saldana, J. (2015), The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers (Los Angeles: SAGE).

  • Tobin, J. (2019), ‘The origins of the video-cued multivocal ethnographic method’, Anthropology & Education Quarterly 50, no. 3: 255269. https://doi.org/10.1111/aeq.12302.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Trowler, P. (2021), ‘Doctoral supervision: Sharpening the focus of the practice lens’, Higher Education Research and Development. https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2021.1937955.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • QAA (The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education) (2018), ‘Chapter B11: Research degrees’, in UK Quality Code for Higher Education, Part B: Assuring and Enhancing Academic Quality (Gloucester: The Quality Assurrance Agency for Higher Education), https://dera.ioe.ac.uk/13489/11/Quality-Code-Chapter-B11.pdf.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Walker, G. E., C. M. Golde, L. Jones, A. C. Bueschel and P. Hutchings (2008), The Formation of Scholars: Rethinking Doctoral Education for the Twenty-First Century (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Weiner, B. (2009), ‘A theory of organizational readiness for change’, Implementation Science 4, article 67. https://doi.org/10.1186/1748-5908-4-674.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wisker, G. and G. Robinson (2016), ‘Supervisor wellbeing and identity: Challenges and strategies’, International Journal for Researcher Development 7, no. 2: 123140. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJRD-03-2016-0006.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Appendix. Analysis of Beth's work and supervisory experience

Using Beth as a case, this table illustrates the connections between the narrative accounts (Column 1), the specific codes (Column 2), and the raw transcripts (Column 3). Italicised text in the account relates directly to the actual transcript.

Beth – Nationality: United Kingdom; age: mid- to late 50s; Faculty 5
Low-inference narrative account Context and policy/practice issue Transcript segment
Since 2015, Beth has continued to supervise doctoral students, while having a sabbatical from teaching and then returning to take on a senior faculty role that makes it harder to find time for supervision as she engages PhD students in ‘an apprenticeship about learning what's sound, robust’. She has been co-supervising for some time and considers it constructive for both supervisors and students, e.g., she is now less prescriptive and dominating. Next year she will have a new ‘collaboratory’ experience, supervising with a ‘non-academic’ partner. Individual/experience
Individual/purpose It's about what is academic work, what is good academic work…that's what doing a doctorate thesis…it is an apprenticeship about learning what's sound, robust.
Individual/new experience Next year, [with new student] I'll do what we call collaboratory doctoral work…where they are working with non-academic [unclear 3.10] partners. So that's been an interesting new development for me.
In her new role, she does not teach. But she is leading a strategy review of assessment mechanisms and is on a committee regarding attainment gaps in race and culture – as ‘we had a not very good report … from the education committee review’. QAA review of all UK programmes with expectation that recommendations are addressed before the next review (macro-meso) (institutional/departmental) Meso (institutional/departmental): I've been leading a strategy review…the department…[as] we had a not very good report…from the education committee review.
Often, she draws here on her support of her own PhD students ‘when I think an injustice is being done’ as well as involvement with ‘full investigations about bullying and harassment with HR in the room’. Her view is that success is unlikely, given ‘the university couldn't possibly have conceded…racial prejudice’. QAA and other requirements for appeals

a) macro experienced in meso
I have seen through full investigations about bullying and harassment with HR in the room. I really tried not to be that person who is so worried about legal challenge that they don't behave like a human being…[yet] the new legislation…means…everything…said online or in an email… can be…looked at.
b) meso (institutional/departmental) and micro When I think an injustice is being done to my student, I can't intervene in it…institutionally…[but] I did support the student to making the appeal.…The response…was…no grounds.…I think there were…but the university couldn't possibly have conceded [that]…racial prejudice. And…we are a very white, British faculty, with a number of non-British ethnic minority students.
Other appeals relate to the lack of supervisory investment in students as tracked through the institutionally required termly reports: if ‘there is no report from the supervisor term after term…[s/he] can't suddenly [say] there is a problem’. As well, the deadlines for benchmarks are helpful; she notes that when the thesis is well advanced, elements of the thesis must be assessed: ‘the assessor is asked…to say if they think it's a viable thesis’. Institutional policy re PhD deadlines Meso (institutional/departmental) I'm chair of the faculty…[so] I do see…[the] complaints.…When [students] go to external complaints the fact that there is no report from the supervisor term after term.…If you haven't signed…there is a problem, suddenly telling someone…there is…is not on the books.
Meso (institutional/departmental): Those hurdles [deadlines for benchmarks] can help; for instance, we got something here called confirmation, which is meant to happen at the end of the ninth term…and the assessor is asked…to say if they think it's a viable thesis and done in nine months to a year.
She has invested a lot of time and energy in PhD institutional work, including initiating programmes on generic knowledge and skills relevant to doctoral students in her faculty. Yet, it is not easy. When she arranged a meeting with the director of graduate studies and the administrator and…some graduate students [about a new way of tracking the training]…‘the graduate students were keen, the administrators were just “why would we bother?” And I felt frustrated…[since] we have thirty-five new doctoral students. And, it's not just the administrators. Supervisors…don't much like [the training] often and the student comes in and says…“I want to do it” [and the supervisor says] “no, actually this is the thing you are doing and that is just peripheral”. [So] you end up with students…secretly doing training’. QAA policy and meso (university/division) policy

Meso (institutional/departmental):
[Re] the divisions’ training…[I] was contacted ‘if English would be a pilot faculty [using a new app]…so I invited him along with the director of graduate studies and the administrator and also some graduate students.…The graduate students were keen, the administrators were just ‘why would we bother?’ And I felt frustrated…[since] we have thirty-five new doctoral students’.
Meso (institutional/micro):

Supervisors…don't much like [the training] often and the student comes in and says…‘I want to do it’ [and the supervisor says] ‘no, actually this is the thing you are doing and that is just peripheral’. [So] you end up with students…secretly doing training.…And I see it on an institutional level, these…forms that say training needs.…Most of the time the students don't fill them in…they are doing it, but their supervisors are not saying it's important.…It's about…senior colleagues who…feel…they are the ones with the institutional knowledge and the power. They don't want their students to be encouraged to think it is somewhere else.
‘I think the way the graduate landscape has been changing has influenced [me] more than me doing this job’ and may, in fact, underpin her efforts. She ‘feels more strongly about the importance of [co-supervision, so], want[s] to press more in…leading the faculty. In some ways, she is supported in this by new appointments who ‘come from…environments where it's…normal to do joint supervision’ though ‘some want the autonomy [of single supervision]’. Increased policy focus on doctoral ed (national/global) experienced in meso/departmental/micro I think the way the graduate landscape has been changing has influenced [me] more than me doing this job.…I'm more aware of… collaboratory doctorate work, [and] I do more co-supervision.
Meso/micro:

Joint supervision…I think it's also…happening with the demographic change, we have…a lot of new appointments…people…come from…environments where it's…normal to do joint supervision.… [But this] is an institution…[of] very high performing individuals.…They want the autonomy and the freedom.…I recognise that a lot of university are horribly juristic and managerial.

Contributor Notes

Søren S.E. Bengtsen is Associate Professor at the Danish School of Education, Aarhus University, Denmark. He is Co-Director of the Centre for Higher Education Futures, Aarhus University, and the co-founder and Chair of the Philosophy and Theory of Higher Education Society. Email: ssbe@edu.au.dk

Lynn McAlpine is Professor Emerita at both the University of Oxford, United Kingdom, and McGill University, Canada. Email: lynn.mcalpine@education.ox.ac.uk

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The International Journal of Higher Education in the Social Sciences

  • Åkerlind, G. and L. McAlpine (2015), ‘Supervising doctoral students: Variation in purpose and pedagogy’, Studies in Higher Education 42, no. 9: 16861698. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2015.1118031.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Andres, L., S. Bengtsen, B. Crossouard, L. Gallego, J. Keefer and K. Pyhältö (2015), ‘Drivers and interpretations of doctoral education today: National comparisons’, Frontline Learning Research 3, no. 2: 6380. https://doi.org/10.14786/flr.v3i3.177.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ashwin, P., R. Deem and L. McAlpine (2015), ‘Newer researchers in higher education: Policy actors or policy subjects?’, Studies in Higher Education 41, no. 12: 21842197. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2015.1029902.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bengtsen, S. (2016), Doctoral Supervision: Organization and Dialogue (Aarhus: Aarhus University Press).

  • Berdahl, L. and J. Malloy (2019), ‘Departmental engagement in doctoral professional development: Lessons from political science’, Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 49, no. 2: 3753. https://doi.org/10.47678/cjhe.v49i2.188226.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Billett, S. (2001), ‘Learning through work: Workplace affordances and individual engagement’, Journal of Workplace Learning 13, no. 5: 209214. https://doi.org/10.1108/EUM0000000005548.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • CoP (Code of Practice on Supervision of Graduate Research Students), Humanities Division, University of Oxford, 2017–2018.

  • Elliott, J. (2005), Using Narrative in Social Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. (London: SAGE).

  • Elmgren, M., E. Forsberg, Å Lindberg-Sand and A. Sonesson (2016), The Formation of Doctoral Education (Lund: Lund University).

  • Gass, S. M. and A. Mackey (2016), Stimulated Recall Methodology in Applied Linguistics and L2 Research (London: Routledge).

  • George, A. L. and A. Bennett (2005), Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press).

  • Gerring, J. (2008), Case Study Research: Principles and Practices (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press).

  • Golde, C. M. and G. E. Walker (eds) (2006), Envisioning the Future of Doctoral Education: Preparing Stewarts of the Discipline (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Halse, C. (2011), ‘“Becoming a supervisor”: The impact of doctoral supervision on supervisor's learning’, Studies in Higher Education 36, no. 5: 557570. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2011.594593.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Halse, C. and J. Malfroy (2010), ‘Retheorizing doctoral supervision as professional work’, Studies in Higher Education 35, no. 1: 7992. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075070902906798.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Humphrey, R. and B. Simpson (2012), ‘Negotiating a “scary gap”: Doctoral graduates, “writing up” qualitative data and the contemporary supervisory relationship’, Journal of Education and Training Studies 1, no. 1: 110. https://doi.org/10.11114/jets.v1i1.10.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Manathunga, C. (2005), ‘The development of research supervision: “Turning the light on a private space”’, International Journal for Academic Development 10, no. 1: 1730. https://doi.org/10.1080/13601440500099977.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McAlpine, L. (2013) ‘Doctoral supervision: Not an individual but a collective institutional responsibility’, Infancia y Aprendizaje 36, no. 3: 259280. https://doi.org/10.1174/021037013807533061.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McAlpine, L. and C. Amundsen (2018), Identity-Trajectories of Early Career Researchers: Unpacking the Post-PhD Experience (New York: Palgrave Macmillan).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McAlpine, L. and J. Norton (2006), ‘Reframing our approach to doctoral programs: A learning perspective’, Higher Education Research and Development 25, no. 1: 317. https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360500453012.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McAlpine, L., C. Amundsen and G. Turner (2014), ‘Identity-trajectory: Reframing early career academic experience’, British Educational Research Journal 40, no. 6: 952969. https://doi.org/10.1002/berj.3123.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McAlpine, L., C. Weston, J. Timmermans, D. Berthiaume and G. Fairbank-Roch (2006), ‘Zones of teacher thinking: A model of teacher thinking and action’, Studies in Higher Education 31, no. 5: 601616. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075070600923426.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nerad, M. and T. Trzyna (2008), ‘Conclusion: Toward a global PhD? Forces and forms’, in M. Nerad and. M. Heggelund (eds), Doctoral Education Worldwide (Seattle: University of Washington Press), 300312.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • PGRD (Policy and Guidance on Research Degrees), Education Committee, University of Oxford, 2019.

  • Riessman, C. (2008), Narrative Methods for the Human Sciences (Los Angeles: SAGE).

  • Saldana, J. (2015), The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers (Los Angeles: SAGE).

  • Tobin, J. (2019), ‘The origins of the video-cued multivocal ethnographic method’, Anthropology & Education Quarterly 50, no. 3: 255269. https://doi.org/10.1111/aeq.12302.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Trowler, P. (2021), ‘Doctoral supervision: Sharpening the focus of the practice lens’, Higher Education Research and Development. https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2021.1937955.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • QAA (The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education) (2018), ‘Chapter B11: Research degrees’, in UK Quality Code for Higher Education, Part B: Assuring and Enhancing Academic Quality (Gloucester: The Quality Assurrance Agency for Higher Education), https://dera.ioe.ac.uk/13489/11/Quality-Code-Chapter-B11.pdf.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Walker, G. E., C. M. Golde, L. Jones, A. C. Bueschel and P. Hutchings (2008), The Formation of Scholars: Rethinking Doctoral Education for the Twenty-First Century (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Weiner, B. (2009), ‘A theory of organizational readiness for change’, Implementation Science 4, article 67. https://doi.org/10.1186/1748-5908-4-674.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wisker, G. and G. Robinson (2016), ‘Supervisor wellbeing and identity: Challenges and strategies’, International Journal for Researcher Development 7, no. 2: 123140. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJRD-03-2016-0006.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

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