Before you begin your dissertation, it is highly likely you will be assigned a supervisor to oversee your progress from first steps to completion. Your supervisor will help you formulate ideas and give you guidance on how best to develop your research topic and course of action. But you need to always remember that this is your project, and your supervisor will not provide you with content or additional lessons on a particular topic. Their role is to help you work out your own pathways to success.
Lecturers are very busy people, and your dissertation is only a small part of the duties and responsibilities they have to carry out during the summer months. So in order to get the most out of your supervisor and maintain a positive and productive professional relationship with them, you need to get organised.
Here are some important guidelines to follow:
- Agree a timetable of meetings at the start of your project and stick to it.
- Ensure that each meeting has a focus e.g. “setting a research problem”, “analysing the data”, with a clear set of questions to ask.
- Keep your supervisor informed of progress. Before each meeting send relevant work to your supervisor. This could include:
- your research plan
- early results of your data collection
- draft chapters.
- Arrive on time to each meeting you have arranged. At the end of each supervision meeting agree some action points for you to focus on before the next time you meet.
- Keep a record of what you decide in supervision sessions.
- Don't bug your supervisor with emails in between your meetings. Save up your questions for your next scheduled appointment.
If you are not happy with an aspect of your supervision, discuss this with your supervisor. If this is too difficult or awkward, your personal tutor may also be able to offer advice.
See also Communicating with your tutor