Good supervising practices at the University of Lapland

Developing a good supervisory relationship is one of the prerequisites for a successful dissertation. At the University of Lapland, the supervisor encourages the doctoral candidate in taking an active role as an acknowledged member of the academic community. In the academic community, supervising is seen as both a duty and a right of the candidate, the discipline and the academic community at large. Supervising as a process supports the doctoral candidate in building ties to the academic community while assuring quality of research.

Our supervising practices aim at creating systematic communication and co-operation between the candidate and supervisors on a regular basis. The recommendations outline responsibilities and duties at a general level to be defined more accurately by the parties involved. Supervising practices vary somewhat between faculties due to field-specific differences the working environment, for example. We gave consideration to the viewpoints of the candidate, the supervisor and the faculty when outlining these recommended practices.

Principles and good practices

  1. The faculty appoints at least one supervisor for each doctoral candidate when granting the doctoral study right. The primary supervisor is appointed from the faculty where the candidate will graduate from. When deemed necessary, it is possible to appoint other supervisors as well. The primary supervisor should be a professor or a doctoral degree holder. Other supervisors can be based in other faculties or universities in Finland or abroad.
  2. The faculty officially appoints supervisors and confirms supervisory relationships. Officially confirmed supervisory relationships are public information. The primary supervisory has the right to be heard when other supervisors are appointed and when the pre-examiner and opponent are chosen.
  3. The doctoral candidate has the possibility to influence in the choice of supervisors. The candidate can suggest suitable academics and his or her opinion is taken into account.   
  4. It is possible to make changes to supervising arrangements as the research proceeds. An official change of supervisor can be made if the research topic takes a new focus or the supervisory relationship does not work. In such a case, the candidate or supervisor should request for a change.
  5. The leadership of faculties and units is responsible for being active when a conflict in a supervisory relationship takes place. If the conflict is so strong that it cannot be solved by means of guidance, it is possible to discontinue the supervising agreement. The faculty confirms the discontinuation and appoints a new supervisor. In conflicts requiring labour protection, measures are taken according to relevant guidelines.
  6. The candidate is the key contributor to the dissertation and is responsible for its progress. The candidate has the right to ask and receive comments from supervisors. The candidate is also responsible for informing the supervisors about progress. The researcher has the right to decide about public communication and any presenting connected with the research.
  7. The supervisor is responsible for guiding the candidate and supporting the candidate in building academic expertise. The supervisor commits to advance the dissertation on a long-term basis and advise about the content. Supervisors assure the quality of the dissertation and its eligibility for pre-examination. It is recommended that the supervisors agree on how responsibilities are shared. Supervising cannot be, and it should not even be, always like-minded. The supervisors should recognise any disagreements and let the doctoral candidate make independent decisions.
  8. The supervisory relationship is part of the research process which automatically entails research ethics. The guidelines for research integrity support responsible conduct of research. Both the doctoral candidate and the supervisor should familiarise themselves with the recommendations made by the Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity about supervising and examination of a dissertation.