Research Supervision

  • Arlene VetereEmail author
  • Jim Sheehan
Part of the Focused Issues in Family Therapy book series (FIFT)


Doing research can be life changing. It can shift our worldview, open up opportunities, promote new significant relationships and sometimes even contribute to them ending. Our relationship with our research supervisor is often one of the most significant and formative relationships in our professional life. This chapter is concerned with postgraduate research supervision at Masters, Professional Doctorate, and Ph.D. level. In our experience, the quality of the research process and of our research dissertation can hinge on the presence, or otherwise, of a trusting and well grounded relationship with our research supervisor. We echo Bell’s (Doing your research project: A guide for first-time researchers in education, health and social science, New York, 2005) conviction of the importance for the student researcher of establishing a good working relationship with their research supervisor. The researcher, experienced or inexperienced, who “goes it alone” and succeeds in producing quality research is the exception rather than the rule. This is why it puzzles us that there is relatively little written about the research supervision relationship. Is it that the role, relationship and activity of research supervision is somehow taken for granted? Is it because the relationship is often housed in an institution of higher education that the wisdom from supervision in the helping professions does not penetrate or even seem relevant? Or is it that the supervision process underpinning a postgraduate research project becomes overshadowed by the student achievement of their individual award? Both of us have supervised higher education practitioner research for many years, alongside our supervision practice with trainee and experienced psychotherapists. It seems clear to us that there are many overlaps between the two domains of supervision and that both need a secure base of trust for effective problem solving within the context of ongoing professional development.


Masters and Ph.D. research supervision Systemic approach to research supervision Problems and solutions for research supervision 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Family Therapy Section, Faculty of Social StudiesVID Specialized UniversityOsloNorway

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