A supervision agreement is most relevant at the beginning of the doctoral journey but equally helpful along the way. Both candidate and supervisor can reflect on the following points and agree together how they would like to proceed. You can adapt this template to create your own agreement appropriate to your needs. Check each bullet point and decide what is appropriate for your circumstances. Keep a written record: this can be an informal email stating what you agreed, or a record of minutes which you share. Treat it as an organic process which may evolve as things progress.
The candidate should take responsibility for the research and instigate meetings, and the supervisor should ensure that they take place regularly. Agree on the following:
- The best way to communicate and if there are particular days/times that you are not usually available.
- How regularly will you be meeting, where, and for how long.
- If you have preferences for meeting days/times.
- When should materials be submitted, in what formats, and when feedback is to be expected.
- What kinds of feedback to expect / would be useful for you. What do you feel you need most support with?
After each meeting, it is good practice to summarise the discussion, decisions made, and the next steps. This allows you to digest the discussion and plan your work. The supervisor is also able to check the summary to ensure no misunderstandings took place. Some institutions have a ‘supervision record form’ for accountability and to record student progress. If your institution does not have one, create one for yourself and email it to your supervisor after each meeting.
Agree with your supervisor an outline schedule for your doctoral degree. See Road Mapping for help with this. Having an overall idea of how the work progresses and what the next steps are is helpful to provide direction and evaluate progress. review and update your plan once a year with your supervisory team.
Clarifying expectations is essential to ensure a good working relationship. The supervisor responsibilities are often described in the course regulations, which gives students a sense of what to expect from their supervisor. Discuss:
- Candidates: what specifically do you need support with, and how can your supervisor provide that support?
- Supervisors: what do you expect of your doctoral candidate in terms of behaviours, attributes and skills, and how can you support them to develop those they identify as more challenging?
- When might it be appropriate to meet in the studio / rehearsal space / projection room to experience practice, to see work- in-progress? Build those moments into the process.
- Consider alternative modes of supervision. For example, do you want to invite your supervisory team and a critical friend to a sketch of a performance?
In the following excerpt of the Visioning the Future seminar Supervising Artistic Research PhDs, Michaela Glanz discusses the supervision agreement:
Michaela Glanz excerpt: Supervising Artistic Research PhDs