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Supervisor Folke's story

Folke has supervised many doctoral students, and therefore he talks about himself as an experienced supervisor. He believes that he is responsive and usually, in addition to his formal sessions with PhD students, he has many informal conversations, as they all are at the same institution and they have their offices close to each other. In the interview he tells of two occasions when he did not remain as the supervisor for the PhD students until they had finished their theses.

On the first occasion he was supervising a young woman and after a short time she became sick. However, she recovered, and continued her work. In his supervision Folke felt that he repeatedly raised the question of changing focus with the student, but she seemed not to listen, instead she continued with her research in a way that she had decided for herself. Folke took the matter up with an old colleague, David, and asked what he thought about the issue of the work and the direction she was taking. David felt that both the plan and what the student so far had written were not at all problematic. Folke then asked his colleague if he would take over the supervision, which David was willing to do.

At a department meeting the PhD student gave a presentation of her work and Folke thought the time was appropriate for a presentation. He told the student that David was very interested in her research and suggested that David should take over the supervision. It was only afterwards Folke realized that this had hurt the student’s feelings a great deal. Perhaps she even felt undermined and useless. Folke said:
– I think she felt a little insulted.

But by the time he realised that, it was too late. Since then, Folke and the student have not spoken any more about the incident. Now and then when they meet on neutral things, they talk about anything else other than the research.

The second incident is far back in time and was "an enormous loss of prestige," Folke said. A student with whom Folke felt he had a good relationship and who he had helped in good faith with a research topic, informed him that she did not wanted him as a supervisor any more. She did not do this herself directly but by letting a Director of Studies know. Folke said:
– It shows me up badly with my colleagues. It's like someone wants to turn their back on you.

He argues that the supervisor that the student switched to was not appropriate either, which leads to an ongoing problem. In the interview Folke says that the problem for the student is that once you have changed it is difficult to change again.

Contact person for Advice for doctoral supervisors

Margareta Jernås
Phone: +46 (0)31-342 94 33
Send e-mail to Margareta

These web pages were created by Silwa Claesson and Gina Wisker.

Page Manager: Olof Siverbo|Last update: 1/17/2013

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