Managing candidates

HDR completions are an integral component of Charles Sturt University’s success. Professional supervision is critical in maintaining and building on the University’s reputation. There are many factors to manage when supervising HDR candidates. This section provides an overview, and will assist academic staff in their HDR Supervisor role.

Timelines and progress

HDR candidates have set timelines in which to finish their studies. This includes minimum and maximum candidature completion timelines. It is imperative that supervisors monitor each of their candidates continued progress to ensure they are working to expected time frames.

Initial meeting

An initial meeting with the Principal Supervisor, and/or the entire supervisory team should occur. The initial meeting is a great time to establish the framework needed for the student and the supervisors. The team should determine estimated timelines required to progress though all course components. It is important that ongoing milestones are agreed upon throughout the candidature period. This will include when probationary items are due and when thesis chapters should be drafted etc.

Communication plan

A Communication Plan should be negotiated and documented. This plan should establish a common understanding and expectation of how and when communication will occur. This might be monthly face-to-face meetings, or fortnightly Skype calls.

Ongoing meetings

Once the framework is developed, ongoing meetings and review of the milestones must occur. It is vital candidates work to expected timelines, and it is the supervisors' responsibility to encourage this. If a candidate’s progress is not monitored and he/she falls behind schedule it can be difficult to catch-up.

Candidates that are not meeting expectations

If a candidate is not meeting ongoing expectations and/or is becoming difficult to manage, then it is important to report the issues. Refer such issues to the Sub-Dean Graduate Studies in the first instance, and/or elevate to the Office of Research Services and Graduate Studies if required. These types of situations must be addressed as soon as possible.

Workload expectations

An academic’s workload is often complex in nature. Work priorities and resources are often juggled to meet the varying work expectations. The time invested in mentoring HDR candidates will vary. This depends on their study load, individual needs and the specific research project.

Each supervisory team should develop a system to split the workload expectations. Yet, the Principal Supervisor will take the lead in supporting the candidate. It is often beneficial to appoint more than one Co-Supervisor. The more Co-Supervisors appointed, the more the workload is shared.

Time and resources

Time and resources will also vary throughout the candidate’s HDR journey. It will increase during the peak periods but ease during other periods. It is busy at the beginning of the process, when performance indicators or set timelines are due. It is also hectic at the end of the process before candidates submit their final thesis. But, as candidates become more independent they will tend to rely less on their supervisors for immediate feedback.

Each School manages its own academic workload expectations. We recommend that you talk to your Head of School for guidance and/or refer to the relevant School’s Workload Policy.