Reviews

A Handbook for Doctoral Supervisors

It can often be an enlightening affair to be made aware of the limitations of one’s knowledge on a subject in which one is gainfully employed — having read this book, I am grateful for such a salutary experience. As a doctoral supervisor, I feel justified in considering myself better informed and equipped to perform a role for which, there is very little contemporary literature available. The manner in which Taylor and Beasley have comprehensively tackled this omission, going beyond the usual checklist for supervisors, is a huge strength of the book, bringing to life the real world of doctoral supervision. This text is a timely publication given the momentous changes of the past decade in terms of the doctorate, modes and methods of study, the candidate population and new demands upon supervisors. Although the book appears to be primarily written for a UK audience it is relevant to all those involved in helping the doctoral candidate achieve their goal.

The book is divided into six parts. Part One contextualises the doctorate by offering interesting historical, disciplinary and institution perspectives at the global level. The remaining five parts tackle issues such as recruitment and selection, working relationships, monitoring progress, candidate support (including personal, academic and career support), completion and examination and evaluation and dissemination. I found the section on diversity in Part Four, where the authors include issues relating to the significantly diversified pool of potential doctoral candidates (both domestic and international) and the extra demand on supervisors this imposes, particularly useful. As the authors point out this is a fact that is not always appreciated by institutions in workload planning.

Any doubts that this book might offer only a superficial and mechanistic approach to what is an important aspect of higher education can be readily dismissed. Multifaceted issues and ideas are approached in a thorough

...

The book is divided into six parts. Part One contextualises the doctorate by offering interesting historical, disciplinary and institution perspectives at the global level. The remaining five parts tackle issues such as recruitment and selection, working relationships, monitoring progress, candidate support (including personal, academic and career support), completion and examination and evaluation and dissemination. I found the section on diversity in Part Four, where the authors include issues relating to the significantly diversified pool of potential doctoral candidates (both domestic and international) and the extra demand on supervisors this imposes, particularly useful. As the authors point out this is a fact that is not always appreciated by institutions in workload planning.

Any doubts that this book might offer only a superficial and mechanistic approach to what is an important aspect of higher education can be readily dismissed. Multifaceted issues and ideas are approached in a thorough and straightforward way that does not gloss over the importance of supervision in the research endeavour: a comprehensive understanding of the complexities of doctoral supervision is conveyed. Readers will soon appreciate the importance of interrogating their own practice and the writers provide many insightful prompts at key points in the text for consideration and reflection. Noteworthy are the many examples of best practice drawn from an internationally diverse literature.

In today’s educational climate, supervisors are required to be aware not only of the context of their own discipline, but increasingly also of others. The book succeeds here by illustrating the text with examples taken from a wide range of disciplinary bases, but nevertheless still communicating an enormous appeal for nurse education. The style will encourage nurse educators to think and reflect on their own practice inviting us to resolve dilemmas in an informed and considered fashion. The presumption that having gained a doctorate and being an experienced researcher is enough in itself to guarantee effective supervision is no longer tenable.

I recommend this book to all those involved in supervision (including the doctoral student) who are keen to raise their awareness and keep abreast of current practice. There is value here for new and experienced supervisors alike and the book should be welcomed as a valuable and enlightening addition to their repertoire of learning and teaching aides.

Want to read more?

Subscribe for unlimited access

Enjoy 1 month's access for £1 and get:

  • Full access to nursing standard.com and the Nursing Standard app
  • Monthly digital edition
  • RCNi Portfolio and interactive CPD quizzes
  • RCNi Learning with 200+ evidence-based modules
  • 10 articles a month from any other RCNi journal

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?