Ways of being’: a model for supportive doctoral supervisory relationships and supervision

Nicolette Buirski (2022)

Higher Education Research & Development, 41:5, 1387–1401


The focus in the literature on doctoral supervision is on what supervisors should do in supervision and very little on their ways of being’ that develop highly valued supervisory relationships. A conceptual model is presented on supportive ways of being’ for supervisors that unpacks the tacit nature of dispositional qualities, or mindfulness traits, such as empathy, flexibility, openness and humility, personal support, respect and trust, that well-regarded supervisors embody in their highly valued supervisory relationships. 

A major challenge in candidature is the state of liminality, which is often a difficult experience for candidates, characterised by a lack of confidence and anxiety about how to proceed that potentially puts candidates at risk of not achieving success. Data sets show that an important factor in mitigation is that the supervisory relationship becomes a supportive interpersonal environment that is conducive to developing the candidate’s scholarly identity and to providing a healthy academic community. 

The article argues that through academic development, mindfulness traits are capable of being learned by supervisors, regardless of the disciplinary or institutional setting.

Cite this article

Nicolette Buirski (2022) Ways of being’: a model for supportive doctoral supervisory relationships and supervision, Higher Education Research & Development, 41:5, 1387–1401, DOI: 10.1080/07294360.2021.1910209

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