Supervising the Doctorate: A Guide to Success

By Sara Delamont; Paul Atkinson et al. | Go to book overview

11
A rather unpromising consignment:
selecting successful students and building
a research culture

His eye roving over a group of Shrewsburians a-sprawl under the
beeches, like that of a young Sultan inspecting a rather unpromising
consignment of Circassian slaves.

(Sayers 1972: 342)


Introduction

Hitherto in this book we have written implicitly as if the process and outcomes of higher-degree supervision were solely matters of individual students and their individual supervisor. While many of the problems and their solutions that arise in day-to-day academic work are as we have described in the preceding chapters, it would be wrong to ignore some of the wider and more collective aspects of supervision and the sponsorship of graduate students. In this concluding chapter it is not our intention to recapitulate all of the contemporary policy and organizational issues that confront the contemporary institution of higher education. To do so would require another book, and would take us well beyond the specific remit of supervisors and their work. Nonetheless, one must pay some attention to more general issues, as a supervisor, and as a member of a department, a research group or centre. Those issues include several, all related, that are concerned with the maintenance and betterment of a research culture, and the promotion of graduate studies. They are explored at greater length in Atkinson and Delamont (2004). Here we shall deal with the selection of students; the promotion of a graduate student culture; and the collective responsibility for the training of research students. All relate to how a department or centre is going to set about building and supporting a graduate division or graduate school – and how therefore it will reproduce itself. When we refer here to the promotion of a graduate school, we do not necessarily mean a university- or faculty-wide organization with its own physical space, staffing and so on. Of course, some institutions have such arrangements, and they can be very successful. But the kinds of things we want to raise are not entirely predicated on such formal arrangements, whatever their strengths and weaknesses. Rather, we mean to convey the institutional and individual interest in building and fostering a collective responsibility for research student training, and

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