"wall" with nailed doctoral theses at Linnaeus University

Mutual respect and recognition important between supervisor and doctoral student

What should the relation between a doctoral student and a supervisor look like to prevent ethical issues and conflicts? It should be characterized by mutual respect, responsibility, integrity, and recognition, says associate professor Goran Basic in a research article.

The article provides new knowledge about ethical issues in doctoral supervision, by analysing conflicts and roles that are assumed and acted out in supervision practice. The analysis is based on a literature review of various studies from the fields of educational sciences, social pedagogy, doctoral supervision in theory and practice, and theories and practice of teaching and learning.

Goran Basic's literature review identified several ethical issues relevant to doctoral supervision. These issues mostly arose from disappointed expectations, for instance in the supervisor’s or doctoral student’s knowledge/competence, cultural viewpoint, roles, participation, language proficiency, and criticism/feedback.

"The analysis found that conflicts and the roles adopted and acted out during a supervision situation were not static – multiple roles could be assumed simultaneously, and the roles frequently changed. These changes provided opportunities to prevent or remedy ethical issues and conflicts in supervision. Changes could also lead to the creation and replication of a stable relationship between the doctoral student and supervisor", says Goran Basic.

The roles are affected both by the social pedagogical normative order at the university, and by the interactions outside of the university related to family, ethnicity, religion, class, gender, etc.

To prevent ethical issues and conflicts, Goran Basic means, the relationship between a doctoral student and a supervisor should be characterised by mutual respect, responsibility, integrity, and recognition. These components were needed to:

  1. Create the conditions for successful knowledge development in supervision,
  2. complete a third-cycle education programme,
  3. qualify the doctoral student to hold a doctoral degree, and
  4. prevent ethical issues and conflicts connected with doctoral student supervision, through the constructive alignment of various elements in the third-cycle programme.

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