By Cally Guerin
Team supervision has many advantages for doctoral candidates and supervisors, as demonstrated in the emerging literature on this topic (see, for example, Guerin & Green 2013; Kobayashi, Grout & Rump 2015; Lee 2008; Manathunga 2012; Robertson 2016). But it can also bring some challenges, not least of which is how to handle the feedback from two or more supervisors who may not always completely agree on what the writing needs. This can become a source of anxiety for the student, and can also create tension between supervisors themselves. In some research I undertook with Ian Green and Wendy Bastalich, we talked to PhD candidates about the logistics of managing feedback from a team of supervisors. We called the paper “Big Love”, since it seemed that part of the task was to keep everyone in the supervision team happy, much like the husband with multiple wives in the TV show of the same name.
Supervisors can offer all sorts of advice on writing, from the big picture issues around structuring the material to the sentence-level details of grammar and word choice. When those comments are in conflict, students can feel torn between whose ideas they ought to follow: the principal supervisor? The advice that makes most sense to the student? Find some middle path that may not really address any of the divergent opinions? Continue reading