Higher Education

, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 81–103 | Cite as

Style and quality in research supervision: the supervisor dependency factor

  • Booi Hon Kam


Research degree supervision is a bi-lateral process, a complexinteraction between the supervisor and the student. This interaction plays asignificant role in affecting the quality of the supervisory process. Using250 responses to a mail-out questionnaire sent to 932 post-graduate researchstudents, this study examines the extent to which students of disparatecharacteristics are dependent on their supervisors in a range ofresearch-related tasks, and how that dependency affects the researchsupervision process. It finds that a student's reliance on her or hissupervisor for guidance and motivation on work organisation and problemsolving, research preparation, and communication exerts a significant effecton the relationship between style and quality of research supervision. Thisfinding suggests that appropriate research supervision has no setprescription. Rather, the interactions among quality and style ofsupervision, role expectations of student and supervisor, field of study,and other characteristics, have all to be jointly considered.


Work Organisation Dependency Factor Using250 Response Role Expectation Research Degree 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anderberg, M.R. (1973). Cluster analysis for applications.New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  2. Bennett, R. and Knibbs, J. (1986). 'Researching for a higher degree: the role(s) of the supervisor',Management Education and Development17(2), 137–145.Google Scholar
  3. Elliott, K. (1983). '}Journey to an unknown destination: a letter to a research student}',Graduate Management Research1(1), 6–11.Google Scholar
  4. Friedmann, J. (1987). Planning in the Public Domain: From Knowledge to Action. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Kam, B.H. (1995). 'The Effects of Supervisor-dependency on the Relationships Between Quality and Style of Research Supervision: The RMIT Experience'. Issue Paper No. 01-95, Office of the Pro-Vice Chancellor, Research and Development, RMIT.Google Scholar
  6. Locander, W. (1989). 'Total Quality Management Systems and Customer Measurement'. Paper presented at the Customer Satisfaction Measurement Conference, American Marketing Association, Atlanta, Georgia.Google Scholar
  7. Moses, I. (1990). Barriers to Women's Participation as Post-graduate Students.Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service.Google Scholar
  8. Norusis, M.J. (1993). SPSS for Windows: Professional Statistics Release 6.0. Chicago: SPSS Inc.Google Scholar
  9. Powles, M. (1989). How's the Thesis Going? Melbourne: Centre for the Study of Higher Education.Google Scholar
  10. SERC (1982). Research Student or Supervisor-A Discussion Document in Good Supervisory Practice.London: Science and Engineering Research Council.Google Scholar
  11. Whittle, J. (1992). 'Research culture, supervision practices and post-graduate performance', in Zuber-Skerritt, Ortrun (eds.),Starting research-supervision and training. Queensland: Tertiary Education Institute, pp. 86–107.Google Scholar
  12. Wilcoxson, L. (1994). 'Postgraduate supervision practices: strategies for development and change',Higher Education Research and Development13(2), 157–166.Google Scholar
  13. Wright, J. (1992). 'Effective supervision: the key to supervision completion rates', in Zuber-Skerritt, Ortrun (eds.),Starting Research-supervision and Training.Queensland: Tertiary Education Institute, pp. 108–118.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Booi Hon Kam
    • 1
  1. 1.Transport Research CentreRoyal Melbourne Institute of TechnologyMelbourneAustralia

Personalised recommendations