Picking up the pieces: supervisors and doctoral ‘orphans'

Gina Wisker, Gillian Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose - The purpose of this article is to present findings from the authors' research into howsupervisors of doctoral students cope with change in supervisory relationships where a supervisor takeson a student previously supervised by another, or has to hand over a student to another supervisor'scare, and to identify recommendations for applying these findings to supervisory practice. Design/methodology/approach - The research used interviews to gather and analyse perceptionsand practices from experienced supervisors, and aimed to identify good practice to supportsupervisors in enabling transitions to enhance student success. This work is underpinned by work onconceptual threshold-crossing, students working at sufficiently critical, creative and conceptual levelsto achieve doctorates; well-being and emotional resilience, particularly in doctoral studies. It makeslinks between knowledge construction, resilience and well-being, from the perspective of thesupervisors, since it focuses on the experience of supervisors engaging with and supporting students. Findings - The research identifies supervisors' anxiety at, and ways of managing the difficulties of,either losing or acquiring students. It highlights effective strategies for taking on students midwayinto their research to enable successful supervision. Originality/value - This research offers new knowledge about supervisor perceptions of,experiences with and good practice suggestions for, supporting transitions for doctoral studentswho change supervisor.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-153
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal for Researcher Development
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

Bibliographical note

© Emerald Group Publishing Limited


  • Doctoral education
  • Supervision
  • Wellbeing and resilience
  • Diversity
  • Change supervisor
  • Students
  • Academic staff


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