Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology

To be supervisor

Important documents

Who can be a supervisor?

Every postgraduate student has at least two supervisors. The main supervisor must be employed by or adjunct to Uppsala University. At least one supervisor shall be an associate professor (docent) and at least one supervisor must have undergone supervisor training or its equivalent. Read more in the Uppsala University's admissions ordinance.

It is preferable that the main supervisor should be the person with the most continuous observation of the dissertation work. The individual study plan must specify each supervisor’s duties and areas of responsibility. 
To achieve the best possible collaboration at postgraduate level, the supervisors and research student should clarify at an early stage the demands and expectations they have of one another – preferably in writing as an appendix to the individual study plan.

Follow-up of PHD STUDENTS

Planning and follow-up of the postgraduate students are important parts of the supervisor's duties. The individual study plan shall be revised at least once a year. The student's activity and financing shall be reported to the student registry Uppdok each semester, for documentation of the actual number of months spent on the studies.

The total study time is maximum 4 years (i.e. 48 months full-time studies). It is important that the student and the supervisor keep a track record on the net study time (gross study time excl. time for teaching or administrative work, parental leave, sickness leave, leave of absence, etc). Here you can find a tool (in excel, only in Swedish) for calculation of the net study time for postgraduate students.

Change of supervisor

According to the Higher Education Ordinance, a doctoral student may change supervisor if so desired by the student. It is the duty of the head of department to find a solution, which as far as possible satisfies the interests of both parties, e.g. where the student is nearing completion of the research, the original supervisor should retain scientific responsibility for the project. In cases where the student has only recently begun the research, then a change of project should be considered in addition to change of supervisor.

Change of supervisor should take place if:

  • the supervisor is no longer employed by or adjuncted to the university, or takes full-time leave of absence over a longer period.
  • if duties within the university, or illness, make it difficult to fulfil the obligations of supervisor. 
  • if there is a conflict of interest. See regulations concerning conflict of interest in the university sphere (in Swedish). 

In the case of a change of supervisor, the individual study plan must be revised and its changed conditions must be reported to Uppdok and to the Faculty Office for registration.

The responsibilities of the supervisor

The head of the department together with the supervisors are responsible for ensuring that the postgraduate student receives an adequate introduction to the department’s routines for safety regulations (which must be followed even in the rather odd circumstances of research work at postgraduate level). Furthermore, it is the supervisors’ responsibility to provide the postgraduate student with an adequate introduction to studies at postgraduate level. Regular courses at faculty level are held to assist with this. It is also the responsibility of the supervisor to introduce the student to the research assignment and its methodology. It is recommended that these instructions be recorded in the individual study plan as goals. 

A supervisor must be available to his or her doctoral students, to a reasonable degree but not necessarily always, for planned group meetings and discussions, and equally for spontaneous contact at the work place. In situations where the supervisor and postgraduate student work at different locations over a longer period than a few months, they should have a mutual agreement for maintaining contact.

Relationship supervisor – research student

The relationship between supervisor and research student should exist on a professional basis. In the Faculty of Science and Technology, many postgraduate students work closely with their supervisor, and it is only natural that over a period of four to five years, conflicts or other problems should arise. If the research student and supervisor have reasonable expectations of one another from the start, substantiated by the individual study plan and regular structured discussion sessions, such problems should not be too overwhelming. 
When dissension arises, the parties must first try to solve the conflict themselves. Should this fail, the head of the department in his/her role as works manager  bears primary responsibility. If the conflict is judged to have a basis in serious personal incompatibility, a choice of alternative supervisor should be considered. If the dissension is based on scientific disagreement or priority claims, then mediation with an impartial outsider should be sought first. Since the postgraduate student can feel him-/herself to be at a formal disadvantage, it is important to check the impartiality of this moderator very carefully. 

If a research student considers that he/she is not receiving correct treatment from his/her department, the doctoral student council of the faculty and/or the chairperson of the faculty research programme board should be consulted. It is the individual student’s choice which of these authorities is most suitable. In some cases it can be more suitable to contact the occupational health services. Any decision to proceed with the matter rests with the research student, whose personal details are kept confidential as far as possible. 

Sometimes too close a personal relationship develops between a supervisor and a research student during the postgraduate period. Since the supervisor has to make formal decisions concerning the student’s education and that of his/her colleagues, a conflict of interest arises, and the student must therefore be appointed a new supervisor without delay.

Failed dissertation

If a dissertation fails to be approved, it is the supervisor’s responsibility to immediately notify the university’s digital publishing section espik@ub.uu.se, so that all information about the dissertation can be erased from both the electronic dissertation register and the national library catalogue LIBRIS, which will automatically alter local library catalogues.