Getting help with your PhD from other people

It can be useful to share work and ask for feedback from researchers in your field who are not part of your supervision team. But it can also be unhelpful if the advice or format of advice is different from the stuff your official supervisor normally provides.

These 'ground rules' are developed from my experience of PhD supervision, as a student and as an occasional supervisor, and are designed to make the process of occasional supervision as positive and helpful as possible.

What you can expect from me

  • I will read 10-20,000 words of an upgrade report, draft paper or substantially developed thesis chapter
  • I will provide a 1 hour face to face supervision
  • I will provide one page of written feedback including practical tips or references, if needed
  • I will provide, on request, a marked up copy of your written work but this is optional depending on how you like to receive feedback
  • I will offer a further 1 hour supervision to follow up on questions, if needed
  • I will thank you for inviting me to review your work.

What I expect from you

  • You will book a time and place to meet via Outlook
  • You will send your written work 7 days before the meeting
  • You will prepare for the supervision by considering a number of questions in advance (see below)
  • You will give me feedback at the end of the supervision on what was useful or not useful and how this supervision fits in (or not) with other reviews you have had on this work
  • You will have the option to meet again especially if you feel, during or after the supervision, that something was not clear, not complete or not reasonable

Format of the supervision

The aim of this supervision is for you, as a PhD student, to develop your ideas with an independent researcher and have a chance to 'think out loud' about your work in a non-judgemental setting. My role is to set out a series of questions based on my reading of your work that help me to talk to you about your research. To do this, I would like to start the supervision with the following questions which I'd like you to think about in advance.

  • Where I am: my background, how I approached your work, what I am interested in and how I like to learn/teach and give/get feedback
  • Where you are: your background, how far along you feel you are in your PhD and how you like to learn/teach and give/get feedback
  • What you would like from the supervision i.e. to talk about a specific problem or struggle with your research, to chat generally about producing the PhD, to respond to my questions, to hear my feedback and discuss it, to go through the document page by page ...

Some examples of questions to think about in advance:

  • How would you describe your process of writing?
  • How are you planning and organising your thesis?
  • Can you explain the structure of your literature review and how it has helped you so far?
  • How do you understand the difference between narrative, discourse, debate and literature?
  • What is your own view about the discourse, definitions and perspectives involved?
  • What is your working hypothesis and have you proved/refuted it?
  • Can you explain your methodology and how it has helped with your analysis so far?
  • How is your data analysis progressing and what is your day to day process?