“A small pawn in a big game”: an exploration of doctoral students’ experience of co-supervisory relationships

Erika Hansson, Manuela Schmidt

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Abstract

Co-supervision of doctoral theses is on the rise worldwide, but we know little of the relational dynamics of the co-supervisory team and doctoral student. These teams often must work together for several years, during which supervisors may come and go. We interviewed 19 doctoral students about their experiences of co-supervision and found a complex team climate characterised by prior relations, merit- and network-gaining activities, and ‘cushioning’ adopted by supervisors to support the student during stressful periods. Doctoral students viewed themselves as passive and dependent–as pawns in a bigger game–suggesting that co-supervision might uphold the traditionally strong hierarchical structure of academia. We therefore suggest that all co-supervision teams discuss the roles and structure of supervision before commencing a research project.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1169-1181
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Further and Higher Education
Volume47
Issue number9
Early online date2023-Jun
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023-Jul-03

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Educational Sciences (503)

Keywords

  • co-supervision
  • Doctoral students
  • supervisor
  • thematic analysis

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