My first supervision


I was both looking forward to this and slightly apprehensive – experienced supervisor meets very inexperienced PhD student.

There is a lot to be said for having met your supervisor before you embark on your PhD.  The slightly formal structure of a supervision meeting, documented on a supervision record, is eased by knowing who you are talking to – on both sides.

I didn’t know what to expect, but had done some preparation – an outline ‘block’ plan, a reading list and a source list.  We had a good discussion about how to structure the next few years, which is quite a daunting prospect,  and agreed some immediate (ie next supervision) and some short-term goals.

The supervision record is a very useful piece of paper which provides some guidance to how the meeting should go.  I am used to using forms like this from years in business, where staff were expected to prepare for meetings and demonstrate they had done so.  Not only did it help get through the meeting, it demonstrated respect for your manager’s (in this case, supervisor’s) time.

Dr Dick had also prepared and his ideas for items of work to be produced will be really helpful in getting me going.  He gave me some really good advice, too, about thesis topics I should look for and people i might consider contacting later.  It was a good opportunity to sort out some of the minutiae of life, such as footnoting and referencing, which are best understood early.

For my next supervision at the end of the month, I have to prepare:

  1. a list of sources I plan to use, showing detail and location
  2. an initial reading list split into books, journals and theses
  3.  a plan
  4. a timeline showing key points alongside legislation changes

Although I do not propose to take up an academic career, yet(?) and have been guided through years of personal development, it was good to see that Birmingham places a lot of importance on development needs and how to fulfil them.  Part of that requires completion of a development needs analysis, using a rather good framework.

In the short-term – next spring – we talked about completing a critical literature review (although I think we will need more precise terms of reference for that) and a context article that will put the research into perspective.


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