Creative Education
2013. Vol.4, No.1, 9-17
Published Online January 2013 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 9
The Contribution of Supervisors to Doctoral Students in Doctoral
Education: A Qualitative Study
Kazim Celik
Faculty of Education, Pamukkale University, Denizli, Turkey
Received November 28th, 2012; revised December 30th, 2012; accepted January 12th, 2013
In this study, it was aimed to analyze supervisor-student relationship in the doctoral education based on
views of students. For this reason, research assistants having completed doctoral education and got PhD
title were asked what the contributions of their supervisors were and what kind of problems they experi-
enced in doctoral education. Considering academic advising process, it was intended to shed a light on
both formal and information sides of supervisor-student relationship. As a design of the study, qualitative
case study method was used. In the light of the aim of the study, “semi-structured data collection form”,
one of the qualitative data collection tools, was used to collect the data. The data gained from 19 research
assistants having completed their PhD degrees in the past 36 months were analyzed with content analysis.
The past/ongoing contribution of supervisors to their students’ education were classified under the themes
of contribution to their personal development, contribution to academic development, contribution to
professional development, and contribution to intellectual development. The students, being in intimate
relationship with their supervisors, emphasize positive contributions of supervisors. However, the stu-
dents, not being in an intimate relationship, underline the negative characteristics of their supervisors.
Few of the participants utter ongoing contribution of supervisors. This study analyzes dimensions for the
contribution of supervisors to students in doctoral education, and the experiences of students in these di-
mensions. In this regard, academicians who are supervisors or will be supervisors are expected to benefit
from the study.
Keywords: Doctorate; Postgraduate; Supervisor; Qualitative Study
Considering major functions, universities are responsible for
education-instruction, knowledge generation and dissemination
of this knowledge. In the historical development, the signifi-
cance order of these functions has varied. Knowledge as the
main input features function of producing knowledge in univer-
sities in the process of globalization. It is one of the basic aims
in universities to produce information systematically. As a uni-
versal fact, doctoral education is the highest level of postgradu-
ate studies. In the doctoral education, students are expected to
develop ability of doing original research about their subjects.
Furthermore, it is aimed for students to gain some qualifica-
tions such as adapting to the developments in the field, and
knowing and evaluating themselves (Kennedy, 1999; Wood &
Vella, 2000; Poock, 2001). In this sense, the PhD is recognized
internationally as an award for published or publishable original
research evaluated on the basis of a thesis, and the purpose of
doctoral education is to educate and train competent, reliable,
and self-directed research scientists having a strong sense of
scientific integrity. The person holding PhD should also have
the knowledge, abilities, perspectives and understanding to be
capable of self-directed work that is satisfactory to others in the
field. Therefore, the holder of a PhD is highly qualified profes-
sional of maturity and intelligence who has acquired analytical
intelligence and problem solving skills that will eventually
all o w hi m or h e r t o ca r ry o ut in de pe n dent scientific work (Vella,
2000). In doctoral education as the process of training faculty
members, it is highly vital for students aiming for academic
career to internalize the issues such as learning teaching, aca-
demic mechanisms and responsibility perception in a high level
(Coffıeld & Williamson, 1997; Turker, 1997; Pace & Kuh,
1998; Kennedy, 1999; Ince & Korkusuz, 2006).
In doctoral education, students lead a two-phased relation-
ship. In the first phase, this relationship is with the faculty
members giving the lectures before students start to write their
theses. Then, they study one-to-one with their supervisors along
thesis process in the second phase. Ender, Winston and Miller
(1984) define thesis supervision as a systematic process be-
tween student and supervisor envisaged for students to achieve
their academic, career and personal objectives. Similarly, Pear-
son and Kayrooz (2004) also define research supervision as a
facilitative process requiring support and challenge. Academic
advising is one of the great tools promoting intellectual, per-
sonal and social development of students (Crockett, 1985). The
relationship process between student and supervisor, being
under the responsibility of both and continuing in a multi-fac-
eted way, is a decision process which enables students to un-
derstand their maximum education potential through commu-
nication and knowledge exchange with the supervisors (Habley
& Crockett, 1988). As the supervisors interact with candidates
in planning and programming of the work, and in setting and
keeping the deadlines, they represent the most important exter-
nal influence in the learning and developments of doctoral can-
didates (Vella et al., 2000: p. 212). Phillips and Pugh (2005: p.
147) summarize what students should expect: written work to
be read in advance, constructive criticism, good knowledge of
the research area, an exchange of ideas, supervisor to act as a
role model, supervisor to teach the skills of research, short-term
goal setting that feeds into longer-term objectives, healthy and
helpful “psychological contract”. When these expectations were
considered, the student-supervisor relationship has the potential
of being wonderfully enriching and productive; however, it can
also be extremely difficult and personally devastating (Dinham
& Scott, 1999).
The studies in the field indicate that individual relationships
between doctoral supervisors and doctoral students are of vital
importance for the doctoral project (Golde, 2000; Kam, 1997;
Marsh et al., 2002; McAlpine & Norton, 2006). Considering the
students preparing doctoral theses, the relationship that starts as
a master-apprentice relationship goes through a colleague rela-
tionship after completion of the theses. Regarding this point,
thesis process and supervisor-student relationship are highly
important. Such a relationship is assumed to be pedagogically
effective as it has been said for students to provide development
and independence. In this sense, this relationship needs to be
based on collaboration and discussion more than being hierar-
chic (Belcher, 1994; Cakici, 2006). According to Know &
McGovern (1988), the most significant characteristics of a su-
pervisor are trustworthiness, competency, willingness to share
knowledge, giving objective feedback, enabling students to
develop, establishing direct contact with all subjects about stu-
dents, and being straightforward. To this list, Burgaz & Senturk
(2007) have added some characteristics such as being directive,
being an observer and a controller, being accessible, giving
constructive suggestions for students, and answering questions
in a clear and understandable way. Denicolo (2004) also stated
that favorable features of supervisors are being creditable, mo-
tivating and encouraging students, being knowledgeable and
sharing. Advisors should have listening ability, promote dis-
cussion, give continuous feedback and support students. In ad-
dition to these, they should be enthusiastic, warm and thought-
ful. For Seagram et al. (1998), favorable characteristics of su-
pervisors are professionalism, friendliness and having suppor-
tive stance (Mainha rd et al., 2009).
In higher education, academic advising has been accepted as
one of the substantial tools to promote intellectual, personal and
social development of students. On the condition that this rela-
tionship progress well, students do not learn just ideas and
techniques, but it might be a mutual intellectual development.
Thus, they adopt new perspectives and a deep knowledge as a
result of this relationship (Connell, 1985). Within this process,
liabilities of a supervisor might be defined as getting students to
adopt the ability to comment on scientific issues by examining
them in a broad and deep perspective, and determining the steps
that let them make syntheses (Tosun, 2001). A supervisor gives
a wide variety of intellectual support and help, develops critical
thinking skills of students and provides them with qualified
knowledge about their studies (Rugg & Petre, 2004). The ad-
vancements in science and technology also contributed a lot to
student-supervisor relationship. The contribution of supervisors
to students about implementing recent applications in science
and technology is a new field to be scrutinized in the context of
student-supervisor relationship.
In a host of countries, standards developments were effectu-
ated about academic advising at an international level and some
suggestions were put forward. One of these carrying out stan-
dard developments is UNESCO. According to UNESCO
(2002); academic advising, on the basis of learning and teach-
ing mission of higher education institutions, is an integration of
curriculum, pedagogy, a group of learning outcomes and ter-
minal relations. In other words, academic advising is to synthe-
size educational experiences of students by handling the subject
with all parameters in order for them to practice their desires,
abilities and lives out of the campus and time.
According to UNESCO (2002), academic advising fulfills
the following objectives: 1) to assist students in developing
educational plans that are consistent with their life goals, 2) to
provide students with accurate information about academic
progression and degree requirements, 3) to assist students in
understanding academic policies and procedures, 4) to help
students access campus resources that will enhance their ability
to be academically successful, 5) to assist students in overcom-
ing educational and personal problems, 6) to identify systemic
and personal conditions that may impede student academic
achievement and developing appropriate interventions, 7) to
review and use available data about students’ academic and
educational needs, performance, aspiration and problems, 8) to
increase student retention by providing a personal contact that
students often need and request, thereby connecting them to the
The documents developed by the National Academic Advis-
ing Association (NACADA) and its subsidiary organization,
National Academic Advising Association, and CAS Standards
and Guidelines in Academic Advising Programs, developed by
the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Edu-
cation (CAS) guideline efficacious framework for academic
On the other hand, no study could be found about a national
framework of standards in Turkey despite being such a signifi-
cant issue at an international level. Also, it can be said that
there is a lack of studies about these standards in academic
milieu. As a common result of previous studies, in Turkey,
there are significant problems in the relationship between stu-
dents and supervisors. These studies mainly emphasized the
student-supervisor relationship on the basis of theses. Accord-
ing to these studies, some negative results were concluded as
follows: 1) research skills of students were not developed
(Koklu & Buyukozturk, 1999); 2) learning teaching was not
emphasized (Akpinar-Wilsing & Paykoc, 2004); 3) supervisors
were so busy to guide students, they did not have the command
of the subject, they did not communicate with students and left
them alone, they lacked the field knowledge (Ince & Korkusuz,
2006; Sayan & Aksu, 2005); 4) students were alone to deter-
mine the subjects of their theses and develop assessment tools
(Bakioglu & Gurdal, 2001).
When the literature was analyzed, it was realized that studies
focused on carrying out academic studies, and time and man-
agement of these studies. Academic advising is a process for-
mally aiming to accomplish an academic study. However, it is
more than a relationship between the student and the supervisor
through a thesis study. In the process of thesis supervision, the
only product is not the doctoral thesis. There is also a mutual
informal learning in one-to-one relationship. It needs to empha-
size that this learning is not one-way but mutual. These infor-
mal outcomes have significant effects on the lives of academi-
cians who are at the beginning of their academic careers.
It is really important for researchers and practitioners to as-
certain the contributions of doctoral supervisors to students and
the problems in this process. In this sense, academicians, who
are supervisors or potential supervisors, are expected to benefit
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
from this study that classify the contributions of supervisors to
students and analyze the experiences in this process. There is a
dearth of studies in this subject so it is required to do research
with PhD candidates to be able to make them receive a quail-
fied education in future.
This study aims to analyze the student-advisor relationship in
doctoral education on the basis of the views of students. In this
respect, the study intends to find out both formal and informal
aspects of the student-supervisor relationship in an academic
advising process.
Case study, a qualitative study method, was used in this
study. Also, an embedded single case inquiry was applied. As
the case in the study was approached in a holistic way as a unit,
a holistic single case inquiry was used (Yildirim & Simsek
Study Group
The study group was comprised of 19 faculty members who
work at different faculties of Pamukkale University with the
title of Dr. Res. Asst. who had completed their PhD degrees in
the preceding 36 months. 8 of the participants got their PhD
degrees in the field of science and 11 of them in social sciences
field. There are 9 female and 10 male participants. The title of
supervisors as follows: 14 Prof. Dr., 3 Assoc. Prof. Dr. and 2
Asst. Prof. Dr. The distribution of universities in doctoral edu-
cation is as follows: 7 from Gazi University, 3 from Pamukkale
University, 2 from Dokuz Eylul University and 5 from other
different universities.
Instruments and Data Collection
In the light of the aim for the study, a qualitative semi-
structured data collection form was used. The semi-structured
data collection form was created by benefiting from the litera-
ture review, and depending on the standards and core values of
National Academic Advising Association (NACADA, 2011) in
the USA. It was finalized on the basis of the views of supervi-
sors and students. Semi-structured data collection form con-
sisted of 5 questions expecting participants to account for the
contributions of academic and thesis supervisors to their “Gen-
eral Education”, “Personal Developments”, “Use of Science
and Technological Applications”, “Professional Preparation”
and “Intellectual Development”. Through e-mail, the forms
were sent to 30 participants accepting to fill out the forms in the
phone conversation and 23 of them resent the forms. 4 of the
participants were excluded as they exceeded 36 months limit
after PhD and 19 of the data forms were considered in the
Data Analysis
The data gained from the study were analyzed with content
analysis to conceptualize the data with the aim of finding out
the experiences and meanings out, and determine the themes
that can define the matter of fact (Yildirim & Simsek, 2005). In
the interview period, the written documents were read by taking
the literature into consideration. The long answers of partici-
pants were abridged by the researcher on the condition that they
did not change the meaning of original views. The codes of this
qualitative research were identified by the researcher and one
expert through the concepts at the first step. The expert and the
researcher reported their impression on interviewing coding
sheet independently (Gay, 1987). Following this step, these
codes were compared a nd t ested for reliabi lity analysis.
For the second step, the themes were identified according to
the similarities and differences among the codes. The subcate-
gories were outlined regarding their meanings with the help of
the studies in the field. As a result of this process, the number
of themes and subcategories were determined as 4 and 13 re-
spectively. To be able to keep confidential, the participants
were tagged as Participant Social Sciences (PSS) and Partici-
pant Science (PS), and were enumerated.
Comparison of the codes and reliability: The researcher
and the expert firstly coded 25% of the data for the reason of
reliability and comparing the codes. The reliability was com-
puted through a comparison between the codes of the re-
searcher and the expert. Through descriptive statistics, the
numbers of “agreement” and “disagreement” were identified
following the markings of the researcher and the expert. When
the researcher and the expert both marked the same theme or
didn’t mark any theme for a certain question, this was accepted
as “agreement between raters”. On the other hand, it was ac-
cepted as “disagreement” when the researcher and the expert
opted for the different themes in the same question but the
marking of the researcher was based on.
 
TAgreement percent
Agreement Na100
Agreement NaDisagreement Nd
The reliability of the research was figured out using the pre-
ceding formula. Overall, it is stated that the inter-rater reliabil-
ity is provided when the result of the formula is above 70% of
the quotes check-coded (Gay, 1987; Miles & Huberman, 1994).
Following this reliability analysis, the reliability percent of
interview questions was computed and the reliability was found
to have varied between 80% and 95% as a result of the com-
parison of interview question codes between the researcher and
the expert. This result was regarded as reliable for the research
as it was higher than 70%.
To ensure the validity and reliability of the study, some sup-
plementary precautions (Yildirim & Simsek, 2005) were also
taken. For the purpose of using data variation techniques, the
documents investigating the supervisor-student relationship
were analyzed to use as data sources. Furthermore, some of the
main results in the data analysis were shared with some of the
participants to consider their views and these views were used
to benefit from. As a last step, the researchers in the field were
asked about their opinions on the results.
The results were presented in a descriptive style. There could
be found direct excerpts but the long answers of participants
were abridged by the researcher on the condition that they did
not change the meaning of original views. In addition to that,
the findings about the themes were accounted for and com-
mented (Yildirim & Simsek, 2005).
As a result of the content analysis in the research whose
study group was Dr. research assistants having completed their
PhD, the past/ongoing contribution of supervisors to their stu-
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 11
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
dents’ education were classified under the themes of contribu-
tion to their personal development, contribution to academic
development, contribution to professional development, and
contribution to intellectual development. The views of the stu-
dents about contributions of supervisors were presented as
themes and subcategories in Table 1.
The Views about the Contribution to Personal
According to Table 1, the theme about the contribution of
supervisors to students consists of two subcategories as making
students know about other societies in the world and teaching
necessary abilities for contact and collaboration with others.
The participant views underlining these subcategories were
stated below.
When the views about making students know about other so-
cieties in the world were considered, most of the students men-
tioned negative contributions of their supervisors as well as
positive contributions. The participants stressed positive con-
tributions of supervisors about making students about other
societies in the world as; “My supervisor gave general informa-
tion about other societies in the world” (PS5), “As my thesis
supervisor had studied abroad for doctorate and post doctorate,
he/she shared all his/her experiences he/she gained about in-
formation, cultural life and communication styles of other so-
cieties in the world” (PS8). One of the negative views is “In
spite of all my effort and academic kindness, we couldn’t
communicate in an effective and healthy way. As my supervi-
sor refused to realize me, I completed my doctoral education
with a single-sided work ethic and platonic work passion”
When the views about teaching necessary abilities for contact
and collaboration with others were considered, the participants
put more emphasis on this subcategory of the theme, contribu-
tion to personal development. The participants remarked the
positive contribution of their supervisors about teaching neces-
sary abilities for contact and collaboration with others as they
follow; “My supervisor provided for me with necessary skills
about contacting and collaborating with others” (PS5), “My
supervisor regards receiving support and collaborating with
others in researches as an important issue” (KS11), “I have my
supervisor to thank as he/she taught me contacting with people
and understanding them with the situation they have been in,
and looking at the bright side” (PSS4), “I observed that my
supervisor adopted a prudent and respectful manner in his/her
relations with others” (PSS8), “I learned tolera nce and modesty
from my supervisor, too” (PS3). One of the participants looks
from a different perspective as “My supervisor has an effect on
me being suspicious about people in communication and col-
laboration. I can say that I learned not to share lots of things as
people work competitively in working environment. My super-
visor underlined that the research subjects should not be shared
because there is a possibility for them to be stolen by others”
About giving opportunities for students to develop them-
selves, the responses of participants were insightful; “My su-
pervisor had exemplary character” (PSS9), “My supervisor was
sharing gains such as knowledge, culture and so on with the
students” (PSS3), “My supervisor gave hope and confidence”
(PS11), “I developed my study understanding the theorist I
studied on thanks to my supervisor” (PSS2), “My supervisor
supported me to understand different points of view and de-
velop my own understanding by canalizing me to follow the
classes of other instructors” (PS7). The excerpts stating nega-
tive situations are as follow; “I cannot say that my supervisor
had so much effect on me. There is no limit for academic ad-
vising and our supervisor was managing many students for
supervision at the same time. I learned to be patient because the
time my supervisor gave me to read and evaluate my writings
took two or three times more than he/she did” (PSS6), “As
research assistants are responsible for covering their supervi-
sors’ classes, assessing exa ms, making preparations for classes,
they do not have enough time to enable their professional de-
velopments” (PSS1).
The Views about the Contribution to Academic
For the theme of the contribution of a supervisor to academic
Table 1.
The themes and subcategories as a result of the analysis.
Theme Subcategories f (PSS) f (PS)
To make students know about other so cieties in t h e world 9 5
To teach necessary abilities for contac t and collaboration with others 10 7
Contribution to person al
development To give opportunities for students to develop themselves 7 6
To provide experien ce for studen t s to do rese arch and publish them 11 8
To make students attend congress, workshop and confere nces 11 8
Contribution to academic
development To give high level information about research subjects 10 7
To introduc e recent developments and applications in science and technology 9 8
To teach job or working ability (Tutoring) 7 5
Contribution to professional
development To plan their careers 9 7
To teach writing, presenting and speaking 10 8
To give high level thinking skills and develop them 9 6
To teach about ethical standards and scientific va l ues 11 9
Contribution to intellec tual
To increa se knowledge about different philosophy, culture and li f estyles 9 6
development of a student, subcategories are defined as provid-
ing experience for students to do research and publish them,
making students attend congresses, workshops and conferences,
and giving high level information about research subjects. The
excerpts underlying these subcategories are given below.
The following sentiments about providing experience for
students to do research and publish them were typical positive
ones in this regard; “My supervisor encouraged me to publish
papers and he/she contributed to me about how research pro-
jects are developed and evaluated” (PS6), “My supervisor has
great contributions about how to prepare articles, proceedings
and so on” (PS3), “A proceeding at international level and an
article were publishe d based on my master thesis” (PSS4), “My
supervisor would tell us to never stop researching and writing”
(PSS8). There is no one expressing a negative idea about their
When the subcategory about making students attend congress,
workshop and conferences is considered, the positive excerpts
about the supervisor were; “My supervisor would analyze and
criticize my writings constructively before my seminars, pro-
ceedings and other presentations” (PS3), “My supervisor en-
couraged me to attend congresses abroad as he/she followed
recent seminars and studies. Although I used to have some
doubts if I could speak English, he/she insisted me how it is
crucial to attend seminars and workshops abroad” (PSS2), “My
supervisor shared ideas and thoughts about scientific meetings,
scientific publications and so on. She/he contributed to us to
attend seminars he/she organized. His/her positive attitudes in
this matter provided us to be self-sufficient” (PSS3), “Even
after my doctoral education finished, my supervisor encouraged
me to attend workshops voluntarily or compulsorily and this
results in positive scientific developments” (PSS8). Some par-
ticipants also stated negativity and expectations with brief ex-
pressions; “Unfortunately, my supervisor did not contribute to
me” (PSS5), “My supervisor does not have a significant con-
tribution to me” (PS2), “··· I solve my problems with my own
efforts and studies” (PSS13).
The views about giving high level information about research
subjects are both negative and positive. The excerpts reflecting
positive views are; “My supervisor had a great contribution for
me to develop in my field. She/he played an active role for
defining the subjects of my two theses” (PSS4), “I made all
contradictions in terms clear thanks to my supervisor. She/he
also contributed to me about understanding English definitions
and concepts in the literature” (PSS2). The negative excerpts
were mainly based on the complaints about not providing high
level information about research subjects as they follow; “My
academic and thesis supervisors suggested that I did my own
research instead of giving direct information about my major”
(PSS7), “The contribution of my supervisor to my general edu-
cation is to direct me on my doctoral research subject. I carried
out the research on this subject and we exchanged ideas about
experimental part of my thesis” (PS4), “My supervisor was
working hard in two different universities throughout my thesis
process. Due to time limitation and busyness, she/he had some
times when she/he could not supervise me” (PSS8).
The Views ab o ut the Contribution to Professi onal
For the theme of the contribution of a supervisor to profes-
sional development of a student, subcategories are defined as
introducing recent developments and applications in science
and technology, teaching job or working ability, and planning
their careers. The participant views underlining these subcate-
gories are stated below.
The participants shared positive views about introducing re-
cent developments and applications in science and technology
as follow; “A helpful process started when my supervisor
shared his/her experiences. She/he informed me about new
research subjects and approaches in the field” (PSS8), “My
supervisor transferred me all the information about the devel-
opments in the field and new applications” (PS6), “My super-
visor definitely shares recent books in the field” (PSS2). While
positive views outnumbered negative views, there are also
some negative views highlighting lack of technology knowl-
edge of supervisors as follow; “The technological develop-
ments are effective for my field in recent years, but I can say
that my supervisor could not contribute to me considering that
she/he also met technology recently” (PSS13), “I think I con-
tributed a lot to my supervisor about the usage of internet and
communication technologies” (PSS2), “Although my supervi-
sor did not have contribution about informatics, I developed
myself throughout my career in accordance with my needs”
Some favorable views about teaching job or working ability
are as follow; “My supervisor made some suggestions about my
professional life based on her/his experiences” (PS6), “As I
gained knowledge and good manners in my doctoral study, my
supervisor contributed to me about being self-confident and
encouraged” (PSS10), “My supervisor had a great contribution
for me to contact with some companies and select the tools
used in experimental studies” (PS3), “My supervisor canalized
me to the current subjects and she/he wanted the results of ap-
plications to be tested with different methods in terms of reli-
ability of results” (PSS9). One of the participants expressed
his/her different understanding as; “As my supervisor did not
have much knowledge about project studies, she/he encouraged
us to do research and give information to her/him. She/he con-
tributes to us to become self-sufficient thanks to her/his positive
attitudes” (PSS3).
The excerpts about planning career subcategory emphasize
indirect positive contributions more than direct ones. Some
views related to this subcategory are given as they follow; “My
supervisor has contributed from the beginning to right now”
(PSS4), “My supervisor informed me about the educational
career I had in my mind” (PS7), “My thesis supervisor was very
informative about my professional career” (PSS11), “My su-
pervisor contributed not directly but in an indirect way with the
materials she/he provided, professional courses, seminars and
books she/he recommended” (PS11), “My supervisor supported
me with her/his high motivation” (PSS9), “My supervisor fo-
cused on the thesis in career planning” (PSS8), “My supervisor
has still some contributions in my career planning. We still
work together” (PS1). The negative views about career plan-
ning were so clear and these views are; “My supervisor did not
contribute to me about personal-professional preparation and
career planning” (PSS1), “I do not think my supervisor has a
contribution” (PSS2), “There is no contribution about career
planning” (PS4), “We did not plan anything about my profes-
sional career together” (PS9), “I expected from my supervisor
to help me contact with the professionals abroad, and provide
me to do research and work with them. However, she/he did not
make any suggestions about this issue” (PSS7).
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 13
The Views about the Contribution to Intellectual
For the theme of the contribution of a supervisor to intellec-
tual development of a doctoral student, subcategories are de-
fined as teaching writing, presenting and speaking abilities,
giving high level thinking skills and develop them, teaching
about ethical standards and scientific values, increasing knowl-
edge about different philosophy, culture and lifestyles. Some of
the reflections by the participants are presented below.
The positive views about the subcategory of teaching writing,
presenting and speaking abilities were; “In this sense, my su-
pervisor contributed much. My major is related with analytical
and logical thinking, synthesizing, and solving qualitative
problems” (PSS2), “Joint studies in different fields, especially
in philosophy, affected my personal life concept in a positive
way” (PS7), “My supervisor gave opportunities to me to dis-
cuss about the knowledge she/he taught to me” (PSS7), “My
thesis supervisor has positive effects on me in developing how
to solve qualitative problems and synthesize them” (PSS11),
“With a few instructors, my supervisor contributed to me on
academic thinking, evaluation, critical thinking, and raising an
objection when necessary” (PS6).
The views about increasing knowledge about different phi-
losophy, culture and lifestyles manifest positive contributions
of supervisors in this sense. The students expressed this contri-
butions as; “My supervisor taught to me to respect for different
cultures” (PSS3), “My supervisor told us to approach people
with an understanding manner even if our views are different”
(PSS2), “Thanks to my supervisor, I learned the life style, cul-
tural understanding and perspectives of high education and
income families in the south of the USA towards eastern socie-
ties such as Turkey” (PS11), “I got the opportunity to see all
cities in Turkey with the projects we pre p a red together” (PSS4),
“My supervisor has some contributions on me in thinking the
situations in different ways” (PS8).
The views about the past or ongoing contribution of super-
visors to doctoral education of students were classified under
the themes of personal, academic, professional and intellectual
One of the main themes is the contribution to personal de-
velopment. Based on personal development, communication
and collaboration with others are two main fields to know about
other societies in the world. When the views about the sub-
category of making students know about other societies in the
world were considered, positive contributions focused on the
terms of “giving information-sharing information”. The views
about the subcategory of teaching necessary abilities for contact
and collaboration with others are replete with favorable state-
ments of many participants in terms of personal development.
The terms around this title differ as taking others’ support, co-
operation, understanding people, looking at the bright side,
being prudent to respectful manner, tolerance and modesty. On
the other hand, the negative statements gather around suspicion,
rivalry and lack of sharing. Cullen et al. (1994) suggested that
good supervisors be warm and friendly; supportive, positive;
open-minded, ready to compensate his/her knowledge mistakes;
well-organized, ready, and eager and determined to do research.
Considering the supervisors in the study in this regard, most of
the students described their supervisors with similar character-
istics. However, a substantial number of students stated they
could not find these traits in their supervisors. While the par-
ticipants were emphasizing on the characteristics such as being
exemplary, reassuring, directive, supportive, and having a spirit
of sharing, they defined doing nonsense work as the obstacle
for development.
About the views of the subcategory “giving high level in-
formation about research subjects, the contributions and expec-
tations concentrated on “providing necessary information” and
“directing students”. The first views were about contribution to
development, determining thesis subject, and teaching terms
and concepts. For this contribution, it can be stated that super-
visors had prevailing role. The second view manifested that the
supervisors gave suggestions instead of giving direct informa-
tion, exchange information and set the students free. This view
can be seen as an approach enabling students discuss and tell
their comments throughout the research. Students find out their
true identity with the theses they prepare and present. In this
sense, thesis is the peak point of scientific production. The first
outcomes of the institutes are theses as the result of researches
(Ozturk, 2008). These outcomes are shared with the academia
thanks to scientific publications. The views about the subcate-
gory of providing experience for students to do research and
publish them focused on encouraging and contributing in this
regard. Even if it cannot be seen officially in the documents,
there are a host of studies in the doctoral education process of
students. These studies are mostly carried out with the help of
their supervisors. Furthermore, supervisors are more effective
about publication process of students as they are accepted as
first author in theses of students in many documents about the
criteria for promotion of academicians. In order to help students
attend congresses, workshops and meetings, the methods su-
pervisors applied are analysis, constructive criticism, sharing
ideas and thoughts, and enforcement. These methods were
evaluated as positive contributions by supervisors. Some par-
ticipants also stated that their supervisors did not contribute and
they overcame difficulties with their own efforts. Corbett &
Wright (1994) suggest that a good supervisor be interested in
current academic organizations and exemplary character for
their students.
Professional development provides both to gain knowledge,
and develop and update this knowledge or skill. In this regard,
the aim of professional development is to gain information,
skill and behaviors necessary for the field, and compensate for
pre-service training. Information and communication technolo-
gies affect professional developments in two ways. Firstly, they
need to integrate information and communication technologies
to their professions. Secondly, information and communication
technologies are utilized as a tool in order to meet the needs of
professional development (Odabası & Kabakcı, 2007).
When the views were considered in the subcategory of in-
troducing recent developments and applications in science and
technology, the students made use of information and commu-
nication technologies as a means of integration with their pro-
fessions. The views in this category underline lack of technol-
ogy background of supervisors, and contribution of students to
supervisors. It is an accentuated issue for students to show their
own effort for their development. It is evident that young gen-
erations get on well with technology. This situation becomes
clear as much as advances in technology improve. In this sense,
the relationship between the supervisor and the student be-
comes a mutual process more by means of technological ad-
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
To teach job or working ability (Tutoring), supervisors pro-
vide individual tutoring assistance when students have difficul-
ties in understanding some issues. This individual tutoring as-
sistance gives students opportunity to answer unanswered ques-
tions (Tan, 2005; Topping, 2000). For the subcategory of
teaching or working ability, following concepts were empha-
sized; “benefiting from experience”, “enhancing knowledge
and etiquette”, “gaining self-confidence”, “contacting with
business world”, “selecting suitable devices for experiments”,
“directing at current issues” and “testing experimental findings
in different techniques”. It is expected for students to have in-
dividual tutoring assistance for the subjects they have difficulty
in. However, some students learn to be self-sufficient when
supervisors directed them to do research about the subjects their
knowledge is limited.
Career planning involves 1) evaluating own environment of a
person in a right way, 2) defining his/her interests, 3) enhancing
his knowledge and abilities, 4) discovering his/her strong and
weak sides, 5) being aware of the opportunities in the institu-
tion, and using these opportunities, 6) setting short, medium
and long term targets about his/her career, and deciding on the
actions to realize these targets. Career developing is to realize
all the plans related to career step by step using his/her educa-
tion, skills, personal development, job networks, and job ex-
perience (Karmer, 2011). In this sense, career planning and
developing is a vital process in doctoral education. For the
positive views, the relationship between the supervisor and the
student about career planning and developing is based on sub-
ject of thesis. The techniques used in career developing are;
“informing”, “directing”, “professional trainings”, “seminars
and book recommendations”, “motivating”. It is a prerequisite
to put an emphasis on continuity of supervisor-student rela-
tionship as it is considered as a positive effect resulted from its
being process-based. However, a limited number of students
expressed the supports of their supervisors continued after
graduation. Negative excerpts clearly show that students do not
have expectations, and supervisors do not contribute to students
in this context.
An effective academic advising is about ongoing intellectual
development of doctoral students more than writing a thesis. It
is highly crucial to 1) define conferences and seminars they can
attend, 2) write earlier and publish their writings, 4) direct,
inform and encourage students about finding fellows, 5) deter-
mine necessary sources. An effective supervisor also makes it
easier for students to contact with professionals in the field and
this helps them develop. In this sense, a supervisor meets pro-
fessionals in his/her field as earlier as possible, and tries to send
the best work of doctoral candidates to research organizations
and academicians (Wadee, Keane, Dietz, & Hay, 2010). The
views of students are usually positive about teaching writing,
presenting and speaking. The examples in this regard are as
follow; 1) linking ideas in a scientific paper, 2) relating among
findings and literature review, 3) teaching presentation and
rhetoric skills, 4) taking a role as a presenter at panel, sympo-
sium and other organizations, 5) arousing interests in the fields
of literature, philosophy, sociology and mathematics.
In the supervisor-student relationship, the views were mostly
positive in the subcategory of teaching about ethical standards
and scientific values. The positive excerpts reflects some terms
such as 1) directing at interdisciplinary research, 2) freedom of
scientific expression, 3) going beyond dogmas using methods
of philosophy, 4) the need for supervisors to be fair, respectful,
participative and model. On the other hand, there could be seen
negative excerpts such as “I realized what I should not do when
I become supervisor” and “solutions based on title and bureau-
cratic power”.
High level thinking skill, being a subcategory of intellectual
development, is a way of thinking based on doing research,
questioning, and reasoning. In this sense, it requires consistency,
relation and extensive intellectual activities to base results on
findings (Haladayna, 1997; Lipman, 1994; Paul, 1995; Aslan,
2011). The contribution of interdisciplinary studies as a sub-
category of giving high level thinking skills is highly important.
It also stood out that supervisors provided opportunities to dis-
cuss about the findings. The other terms were also mentioned in
this subcategory such as thinking in analytic and logical way,
solving quantitative problems and developing ability to synthe-
size, academic thinking, evaluation, and critical approach.
Doctoral education is a process that includes teaching differ-
ent philosophies, cultures, and lifestyles on the way of becom-
ing a world citizen. The views about this category were ex-
pressed as follow; “respect different cultures”, “sensibility to
different points of views”, “looking from different perspec-
tives”, “learning life styles, cultures and likes of people” and
“travelling around different parts of countries”. The views
about increasing knowledge about different philosophy, culture
and lifestyles indicate positive contributions of supervisors.
When it is considered in a holistic way, the words such as
“being directive” and “communication” are emphasized for
academic advising stated as a process. Students expect to estab-
lish an intimate relationship with supervisors in order to be
provided with guidance and communication in academic advis-
ing process. The students, being in this kind of relationship
with their supervisors, emphasized positive contributions of
supervisors. However, the students, not being in an intimate
relationship, underlined the negative characteristics of their
supervisors. In this sense, studies into students’ reasons for
non-completion in the UK found that the most frequently cited,
30% of the cases, was problems with supervision (Buckley &
Hooley, 1988). The study of Wrench & Punyanunt (2004) in-
dicated that the role of the relationship between student and
supervisor unique in academic advising, too. Guven, Kerem, &
Ersoy (2009) also concluded that students mind a healthy rela-
tionship between student and supervisor.
Furthermore, the students expressed their expectations for a
direct and effective direction with the emphasis on “giving
opportunities to discuss gained knowledge”. The expectations
from supervisors “sharing their experiences and directing stu-
dents” were stated by 6 participants studying at social sciences
and all participants studying at science. Seagram et al. (1998)
mentioned that students studying at science need to talk to their
supervisors more than the students studying at the social sci-
ences. This study also corroborates with Seagram’s study re-
garding expectations of science students from their supervisors.
This situation might result from that they need more individual
advising as their fields are about technical issues. The students
see this relationship as a flowing process for the contribution
from supervisors to students. This situation also emerges in the
usage of technology. The students often stress the contribution
of them to supervisors regarding technology. The reason for
this emphasis might result from the perception that supervisors
should be more qualified in all fields. However, the supervi-
sor-student relationship is a mutual exchange process at the
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 15
same time. Another reason for this perception might be that
students grew up in a teacher-centered education system. Ac-
cording to other studies, lack of an intimate relationship be-
tween supervisor and student might result in that the length of
doctoral studies extends, and quality of thesis decreases (Eriks-
son, 2001; ASHE Report, 2001; Heath, 2002; Cakıcı, 2006).
Consequently, it can be suggested that supervisors contribute
to students about their personal, academic, professional and
intellectual developments. While many students focus on past
contributions, few of them utter ongoing contribution of super-
visors. From a holistic point of view, “direction” and “commu-
nication” terms are of vital importance in thesis supervision
process. The students, being in intimate relationship with their
supervisors, emphasize positive contributions of supervisors.
However, the students, not being in an intimate relationship,
underline the negative characteristics of their supervisors. In
supervisor-student relationship, it can be said that students con-
tribute to their supervisors about the use of statistics and tech-
The contributions or expectations of supervisors to students
in doctoral education concentrate on some terms such as 1)
research subject and information about various subjects, 2)
communication and collaboration skills, 3) development of
students, 4) participation in congress, workshops and publica-
tions, 5) adaptation to advancements in science and technology,
6) job or working ability, 7) career planning, 8) high level
thinking skills, and 9) ethical standards scientific values. The
students who learn about these terms emphasize the relationship
as a positive one while the st udents whose expectations are not
met consider this relationship as a negative one.
I would like to express my special thanks of gratitude to
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ekber Tomul who supported with his views
and directions, and field specialist Cennet Celik Urun who was
very supportive in publication process.
Akpınar-Wilsing, N., & Paykoc, F. (2004). Gelecegin ogretim ele-
man lar ının ogretimde planlama, etkili ogretim ve degerlendirmeyle
ilgili ihtiyacları: Bir ornek olay calısması [The needs of future fac-
ulty members about planning, effective teaching, and evaluation in
instruction: A case study]. Education and Science, 2 9, 71-82.
ASHE Report (2001). Institutional culture and socialization: Differ-
ences among academic programs. ASHE ERIC Higher Education
Report, ED 450710, 28, 55-87.
Aslan, C. (2011). Soru sorma becerilerini gelistirmeye donuk ogretim
uygulamalarinin ogretmen adaylarinin soru olusturma becerilerine
etkisi. [The effect of instruction applications aiming for students to
develop the skills about asking questions on the skills of preparing
questions.] Education and Science, 36, 236-248.
Bakioglu, A.,& Gurdal, A. (2001). Lisansustu tezlerde danisman ve
ogrencilerin Rol Algıları: Yonetim icin gostergeler [Role perceptions
of students and advisors about postgraduate theses: indicators for
management]. Hacettepe University the Journal of Education, 21,
Belcher, D. (1994). The apprenticeship approach to advanced academic
literacy: Graduate students and their mentors. English for Specific
Purposes, 13, 23-3 4. doi:10.1016/0889-4906(94)90022-1
Buckley, P. J., & Hooley, G. J. (1988). The non-completion of doctoral
research in management: Symptoms, causes and cures. Educational
Research, 30, 110-120. doi:10.1080/0013188880300205
Burgaz, B., & Senturk, I. (2007). The advisers’ and advisees’ views
about the master’s thesis advisers’ behaviors of communication.
Humanity& Social S ciences Journal, 2, 148-158.
Coffield, F., & Williamson, B. (1997). The challenges facing higher
education: Repositioning higher education. Buckingham: Society for
Research into Higher Education & Open University Press,
Connell, R. (1985). How to supervise a PhD. Vestes: Australian Uni-
versities Review, 28, 38-41.
Corbett, P., & Wright, D. (1994). Issues in the selection and training of
mentors for school-based primary initial teacher training mentoring.
In D. Mcintyre, H. Hagger, & M. Wilkin (Eds.), Perspectives on
schoolbased teacher e d ucation. London: K o ga n Pa g e Limited.
Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (2012).
CAS professional standards for higher education. URL (last checked
8 August 2012).
Crockett, D. S. (1985) . Academic advising. In L. Noel, R. Levitz, & D.
Saluri (Eds.), Increasing student retention (pp. 224-263). San Fran-
cisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Cullen, D., Pearson, M., Saha, L. J., & Spear, R. H. (1994). Establish-
ing effective PhD supervision. Canberra: AGPS.
Cakıcı, A. C. (2006). Turizm alaninda lisansustu tez hazirlayan ogren-
cilerin danisman ogretim uyelerini ve danisman ogretim uyelerinin
de ogrencilerini degerlendirmesi. [An evaluation of students by ad-
visors and of advisors by students writing up postgraduate theses in
tourismfield.] Dokuz Eylul Universitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitusu
Dergisi, 8, 74-104
Denicolo, P. (2004). Doctoral supervision of colleagues: Peeling off the
veneer of satisfaction and competence. Studies in Higher Education,
29, 693-707. doi:10.1080/0307507042000287203
Dinham, S., & Scott, C. (1999). The doctorate: Talking about the de-
gree. Sydney: University of Western Sydn ey.
Ender, S. C., Winston, R. B., & Miller, T. K. (1984). Academic advis-
ing reconsidered. In R. B. Winston Jr., T. K. Miller, S. C. Ender, T. J.
Grites, & Associates (Eds.), Developmental academic advising (pp.
3-34). San Francisco ,CA: Jossey-Bass.
Eriksson, K. (2001). Starting postgraduate education at a small univer-
sity. Proceedings of Postgraduate Education in Europe, 4-5 May
2001, Linköping: Uni versity of Linköping.
Gay, L. R. (1987). Educational research competencies for analysis and
application (3rd ed. ). London: Merrill Publishing Company.
Golde, C. M. (2000). Should I stay or should I go? Student descriptions
of the doctoral attrition process. Review of Higher Education, 23,
Guven, B., Kerem, E. A., & Ersoy, E. (2007). Lisansustu egitim sıras-
ında karsılasılan sorunlara iliskin ogrenci goruslerinin belirlenmesi.
[Defining student views regarding problems in postgraduate study.]
Lisansustu Egitim Sempozyumu Bildiri Kitabı, 308-318.
Habley, W. R., & Crockett, D. S. (1988). The third ACT national sur-
vey of academic advising. In W. R. Habley (Ed.), The status and fu-
ture of academic advising (pp. 11-76). Iowa City, IA: American
College Testing Program .
Haladyna, T. M. (1997). Writing test items to evaluate higher order
thinking. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon
Heath, T. (2002). A quantitative analysis of PhD students’ views of
supervision. Higher Education Research & Development, 21, 41-53.
Ince, M. L., & Korkusuz, F. (2006). Lisansustu egitim hedeflerini gel-
istirmede ogrenci ogretim uyesi etkilesimi: Bir disiplinin farklı uni-
versitelerde ve farklı disiplinlerin bir universitedeki durumu proje
raporu. [Student and faculty member interaction in developing post-
graduate study objectives: A project report of a discipline at different
universities and of different fields at the same university]. TUBITAK
Proje No: 104K093
Kam, H. (1997). Style and quality in research supervision: The super-
visor dependency f a c tor. Higher Education, 34, 81-103.
Karmer (2011). Kariyer planlama ve gelistirme el kitabı [Handbook of
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 17
career planning and development]. Turgut Ozal Universitesi Kariyer
Planlama Uygulama ve Arastırma Merkezi. URL (last checked 4
August 2012).
/files/Kariyer_kitpacik _v1 .pdf
Kennedy, D. (1999). Academic duty. (5th ed.). Dubuque: Wm. C.
Brown Publishers.
Knox, P., & McGovern, T. (1988). Mentoringwomen in academia.
Teaching of Psychology, 15, 39-41.
Koklu, N., & Buyukozturk, S. (1999). Egitim bilimleri alanında
ogrenim goren lisansustu ogrencilerin arastırma yeterlilikleri
konusunda ogretim uyelerinin gorusleri. [The views of faculty mem-
bers on research competency of postgraduate students studying at
educational sciences.] Education and Science, 23, 18-28.
Lipman, M. (1994). Thinking in education. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Mainhard, T., Van der Ri j s t, R., Van Tartwijk, J., & Wubbels, T. (2009).
A model for the supervisor—Doctoral student relationship. High
Education, 58, 359-373. doi:10.1007/s10734-009-9199-8
Marsh, H. W., Rowe, K. J., & Martin, A. (2002). PhD students’ evalua-
tions of research supervision issues, complexities, andchallenges in a
nation wide australian experiment in bench marking universities. The
Journal of Higher Education, 73, 313-348.
McAlpine, L., & Norton, J. (2006). Reframing our approach to doctoral
programs: An integrative framework for action and research. Higher
Education Research & Development, 25, 3-17.
Miles, M. B., & Huberman, M. A. (1994). An expanded sourcebook
qualitative data analysis. London: S a g e Publication.
NACADA (2011). AS Standards for academic advising. URL (last
checked 8 August 2012).
Odabasi, H. F., & Kabakci, I., (2007). Ogretmenlerin mesleki gelisim-
lerinde bilgi ve iletisim teknolojileri. [The significance of informa-
tion and communication technologies in professional development of
teachers.] Uluslararasi Ogretmen Yetistirme Politikaları ve Sorunları
Sempozyumu Bildiriler Kitabis. 39-43, 12-14 Mayis 2007, Baku:
Ozturk, N. (2008). Akademik kimlik ve etik. [Academic identity and
ethic.] Akademik Dizayn Dergisi, 2, 47-56.
Pace, R. C, & Kuh, G. D. (1998). College students experiences ques-
tionnaire (4th ed.). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University.
Paul, R. (1995). Critical thinking: Basic questions and answers. In J.
Wilsenve, & A. J. A. Binker (Ed s.) Critical thinking: How to prepare
students for a rapidly chancing world (pp.489-500). Santa Rosa, CA:
Foundation for Critical Thinking.
Pearson, M., & Kayrooz, C. (2004). Enabling critical reflection on
research supervisory practice, International Journal for Academic
Development, 9, 99-116. doi:10.1080/1360144042000296107
Poock, M. C. (2001). A model for integrating professional development
in graduate education. College Student Journal, 35, 345-352.
Rugg, G., & Petre, M. (2004). The unwritten rules of PhD research.
New York: Open University Press
Sayan, Y., & Aksu, H. (2005). Akademik personel olmadan lisansustu
egitim yapan bireylerin karsılastıkları sorunlar uzerine nitel calısma.
Dokuz Eylul Universitesi-Balıkesir Universitesi [A qualitative study
on students studying postgraduate degree without being academic
staff]. Buca Egitim Fakultesi Dergisi, 17, 59-65
Seagram, B. C., Gould, J., & Pyke, W. (1998). An investigation of
gender and other variables on time to completion of doctoral degrees.
Research in Higher Education, 39, 319-335.
Tan, S. (2005). Ogretimde planlama ve degerlendirme. [Planning and
evaluation in education.] Ankara: Ani yayincilik.
Topping, K. (2000). Tutoring, UNESCO, international academy of
education ınternational bureau of education, Educational practices
series-5 Switzerland. URL (last checked 8 August 2012).
ns/EducationalPracticesSeries.pdf/ prac05e.pdf
Tosun, I. (2001). Bilim adami yetistirme toplantisi acilis konusmasi.
Bilim adamı yetistirme lisansustu egitim TUBA bilimsel toplantı ser-
ileri: 7. [The opening speech in the meeting of raising scientists.
Raising scientists, postgraduate study, and scientific congress series
of TUBA.] TUBA Yayınları
Turker, R. K. (1997). Bilim adamı yetistirme, dunyada ve Turkiye'de
lisansustu egitim (pp: 21-34). Ankara: Turkiye Bilimler Akademisi,
Bilim Adamı Yetistirme Toplantısı, Lisansustu Egitim Konferansı
UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Or-
ganization) (2002). The role of student affairs and services in higher
education: A practical manual for developing, implementing and as-
sessing student affairs programmes and servic es. Paris: UNESCO.
Vella, F., de Meis, L., Mehler, A. H., Rombauts, W., White, H. B., &
Wood, E. J. (2000). Recommendations of the committee on educa-
tion of the international union of biochemistry and molecular biology.
Standards for the Ph.D. degree in the molecular biosciences. Bio-
chemical Education, 28, 2-11.
Wadee, A. A., Keane, M., Dietz, T., & Hay, D. (2010). Effective PhD
supervision mentorship and coaching. Amsterdam: Rozenberg Pub-
Wood, E. J., & Vella, F. (2000). IUBMB updates Ph.D. standards.
BioEssays, 22, 771- 773.
Wrench, J. S., & Punyanunt, N. M. (2004). Advisee-advisor communi-
cation: An exploratory study examining interpersonal communica-
tion variables in the graduate advisee-advisor relationship. Commu-
nication Quarterly, 5 2 , 224-236. doi:10.1080/01463370409370194
Yildirim, A. & Simsek, H. (2005). Sosyal bilimlerde nitel arastırma
yontemleri. [Qualitative research techniques in social sciences.] (5th
ed.). Ankara: Seckin Yayınevi.