supervision and writing feedback/advice

And I point to this as a supervisor who frequently finds this stuff hard!


One of the biggest problems that supervisors face, when dealing with the writing that doctoral researchers do, is how to be helpful. It’s often much easier to spot a problem than it is to know how to provide strategies that will assist the writer to change what they are doing.

The research that has been done into supervisor feedback and writing advice suggests that the least helpful thing for supervisors to do is simply give an instruction. As the University of Melbourne handbook Eleven practices of effective postgraduate supervision puts it:

The worst sort of feedback is that which … leaves students totally puzzled about what they should do next.

So writing directed feedback and advice such as… You need to link here… There needs to be more of you in here. …. You need a strong beginning…. all point to a problem. BUT these kinds of instructions, tips, advice…

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