Improving doctoral success by matching PhD students with supervisors

Martha L. Orellana, Antònia Darder, Adolfina Pérez, Jesús Salinas

Research output: Articles / NotesScientific Articlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


A key aspect of the effective supervision of PhD research is the supervisor-student relationship. This interaction is affected by the characteristics and needs of students and institutional conditions, as well as the skills, attitudes, and roles of supervisors and their supervisory styles. When supervision is carried out at a distance, it entails an additional challenge, mainly concerning interaction. The purpose of this study is to improve the research process, supervision, and design of virtual environments in order to support this supervision. The study identifies the supervisory relationships that affect doctoral research conducted at a distance from the student's academic institution. It also describes how students and their supervisors perceived the characteristics of supervision and the skills and attitudes students perceived in and expected from their supervisors. For data collection, semistructured interviews were used. The results indicate important differences between supervisors' perceptions concerning their own role and students' needs regarding supervision, and they demonstrate the importance of attending to student needs and, on the part of supervisors, exercising responsibility in the development of research competencies in students, as is the case of independence of criteria and autonomy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-103
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Doctoral Studies
StatePublished - 2016


  • Distance supervision
  • PhD supervision
  • Postgraduate research supervision
  • Supervisor attitudes and roles
  • Supervisor-student relationship
  • Supervisory styles


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