HDR Supervision Procedure
This procedure details the requirements for Higher Degree by Research (HDR) supervision and explains the roles and responsibilities of advisors in accordance with Supervision Section of the HDR Requirements.
The procedure is designed to maximise the likelihood that HDR candidates are provided with high quality supervision that conforms to the standards set by the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015 by:
a. Ensuring that procedures conform to the Higher Education Standards and their reference points including:
b. Establishing a cost-effective method of monitoring the JCU Register of Advisors to ensure that all academic staff are admitted to the Register of Advisors at the appropriate level.
This procedure also aligns with the requirements of:
This procedure applies to any person seeking to qualify to supervise HDR candidates at JCU.
This procedure does not apply to the research advisors of students enrolled in undergraduate and coursework programs, including Honours programs.
Terms mentioned in this document and not defined here are defined in the Glossary of Terms for Policies in the Student and Teaching and Course Management chapters of the University Policy Library and in the HDR Requirements and the Academic Workload Guidelines.
The panel of supervisors appointed by the Dean, Graduate Research to undertake the day-to-day supervision of the HDR candidate as required by the HDR Supervision Procedure.
The Advisory Panel should be assembled with the active agreement of all members and after formal agreement regarding roles.
Each Advisory Panel should include at least one Primary Advisor who is a member of the academic staff (or adjunct staff) of the College in which the candidate is enrolled or is otherwise formally contracted and accountable to the provider for supervisory duties and is on the JCU Register of Advisors with Primary Advisor or Advisor Mentor Status. The Graduate Research School will request approval from the College Dean in any cases where the Primary Advisor is not a paid employee of JCU.
The Primary Advisor will chair the Advisory Panel and take the lead in the day-to-day supervision of the candidate. The Primary Advisor must meet regularly with the candidate. Such meetings may be in person or by telecommunications as agreed with the candidate.
Each Advisory Panel should include at least one Secondary Advisor who is a member of the academic staff of the University and is on the Register of Advisors. Additional Secondary Advisors who are not on the Register may be appointed because of their expertise. These Secondary Advisors may be external to the University and are not required to apply for admission to the Register of Advisors.
The Secondary Advisors must work with the Primary Advisor in their supervision of the candidate. The Secondary Advisors are expected to meet regularly with the candidate and the Primary Advisor in joint meetings.
Each Advisory Panel should include at least one person with Advisor Mentor Status on the Register of Advisors.
The role of the Advisor Mentor on the Panel is to help develop the advisory capacity of the members of the Advisory Panel, individually and collectively. The Advisor Mentor may also be the Primary or a Secondary Advisor of the candidate.
The Committee approved by the Associate Dean Research Education (ADRE) of the College comprising the Chair, the Independent Academic and the Advisory Panel.
The role of the Candidature Committee is to monitor the progress of an individual HDR candidate. It is preferable but not essential for the membership of this Committee to be consistent for the duration of an individual HDR candidate.
Chair of Candidature Committee
An appointment made by the ADRE from the pool of such nominees who have been approved by the Head of the College and trained in the responsibilities associated with the role and listed with the GRS. Usually the College Dean, Head of Academic Group or nominee, the Chair of the Candidature Committee must have attended training for their roles conducted by the Graduate Research School.
The role of the Chair of the Candidature Committee is to chair the meetings associated with the formal assessments of the progress of an individual HDR candidate and to make recommendations to the Dean, Graduate Research with regard to the outcomes of such evaluations in association with the Independent Academic. These recommendations should be informed by the Advisory Panel but the Panel members should not be present when recommendations are decided.
A member of the Register of Advisors who is independent of the Advisory Panel and has been approved for the role by the College Associate Dean Research Education. An appointment made by the ADRE from the pool of such nominees who have been approved by the Head of the College and trained in the responsibilities associated with the role and listed with the GRS. The Independent Academic must have attended training for their roles conducted by the Graduate Research School.
The role of the Independent Academic is to attend the meetings associated with the formal assessments of the progress of an individual HDR candidate and to assist the Chair of the Committee in making the recommendations to the Dean, Graduate Research with regard to the outcomes of such evaluations. The Independent Academic should be external to the line management responsibilities of the Chair of the Candidature Committee. The independent academic and the Chair should endeavour to reach a consensus recommendation but may make separate recommendations to the Dean, Graduate Research.
A person with Primary Advisor Status who is nominated by the Dean of College at the time of the candidate’s enrolment to undertake the role of Primary Advisor should the Primary Advisor become unavailable during the candidature for unforeseeable reasons.
The Replacement Advisor is ideally a member of the Advisory Panel from the commencement of Candidature.
Qualified Secondary Advisor
A person with Primary Advisor/Advisor Mentor Status who is nominated by the Dean of College at the time of the candidate’s application to undertake the role of Primary Advisor/Advisor Mentor if the Primary Advisor is on a fixed term contract at the time of enrolment.
If the nominated Primary Advisor does not have a continuing appointment with JCU, a formal agreement between the Primary Advisor, and the Qualified Secondary Advisor at the time of application of the HDR candidate is required.
Register of Advisors
A list of staff, Adjunct Staff and Industry Partners of the University who are qualified to be appointed to the Advisory Panel of a HDR candidate. (https://secure.jcu.edu.au/pkg_auto/research/advisor_register.html).
Dean or Nominee
This term refers to the academic staff member with responsibility for the HDR Candidates enrolled in their College.
1. The Candidature Committee and Advisory Panel
1.1 The Candidature Committee of a HDR candidate must include, but is not limited to:
NOTE: The Chairs of the Candidature Committee and Independent Academics must have attended training for their roles conducted by the Graduate Research School.
1.2 The Chair of the Candidature Committee and the Independent Academic may change during the candidature but must always be independent of all members of the Advisory Panel i.e., must not be near-relatives, partners or members of the same research group.
1.3 The Dean, Graduate Research will approve the Advisory Panel for each HDR candidate on the advice of the Dean of College.
1.4 The function of the Candidature Committee is defined in Table 1 above with respect to the outcomes of:
1.5 The Advisory Panel must include:
1.6 The Advisory Panel will be responsible for the day-to-day supervision of the candidate in accordance with the requirements of the JCU Code of Responsible Conduct of Research, the JCU Code of Conduct, and the Higher Degree by Research Code of Conduct.
1.7 Members of an Advisory Panel must affirm their commitment to: (1) the JCU Code of Conduct, (2) eliminating sexual harassment and sexual assault, and (3) meeting JCU standards in relation to appropriate staff-student relationships, bullying and academic integrity and acknowledge that the consequences for breaches of that Code could include: removal from the supervisory relationship with that student in the first instance, and disciplinary proceedings.
2. Register of Advisors
2.1 The Register of Advisors for HDR candidates is maintained by the Graduate Research School.
2.2 Applications for admission to the Register of Advisors should be made by completing the appropriate Application to Register of Advisors Form.
2.3 The essential criteria for admission to the Register of Advisors at the level of Secondary Advisor include all of the following:
2.4 Appointments to the register will be for 4 years. Renewal is dependent on participation in an ongoing program of professional development including a quiz demonstrating knowledge of HDR Supervision Policies and Procedures at JCU, plus additional professional development as determined by their Performance and Development Plan; and
2.5 In addition to the essential criteria specified above, the criteria for admission to the higher levels of the Register of Advisors are as follows:
Table 1: Criteria for admission to the JCU Register of Advisors. Note the additional ways in which an advisor may be (re)classified as Advisor Mentor in 2.5b above.
Successful Completion of GRS Advisor Training Program and 4-yearly updates
Base Level of Publications(1)
‘Research Active’ as Measured by the Research Performance Model
Successful HDR Supervision(2)
(1) Authorship of least one ERA recognised publication (or equivalent creative outputs) in the preceding two years.
(2) Supervision to successful completion of at least two HDR candidates in the preceding five years, one as Primary Advisor.
2.6 Advisors may apply to be reclassified on the Register of Advisors at any time by submitting an updated Application for Register of Advisors Form. As part of the reclassification process, the Dean Graduate Research will require advisors to attend additional professional development.
2.7 Relevant line managers should include a review of HDR supervisory performance as part of annual JCU Performance and Development Plan discussions in order to recognise individual supervisory achievements, provide enabling support and facilitate skills development where required. Consideration should be given to the expectations of academics at the relevant level and focus, outcomes of current and recent HDR candidates and such aspects as the timeliness of HDR completions, changes of advisor or withdrawals, results of their candidates’ progress, milestone reviews and thesis examinations, publications, conference presentations and other indicators. The advisor’s record will be available as an annual report provided by the Graduate Research School as explained in 2.7 below.
2.8 An annual report from the Graduate Research School to the relevant Dean of College in each College will provide information on each advisor with respect to their: (1) meeting/not meeting the criteria of their current level on the Register of Advisors, and (2) supervisory performance.
2.9 Advisors who are not meeting the criteria of their current level on the Register of Advisors will not be approved for membership of any additional Advisory Panels at that level by the Dean, Graduate Research until the relevant requirements have been met.
2.10 Advisors deemed to have unsatisfactory performance by the relevant line manager will not be approved for membership of any additional Advisory Panels by the Dean, Graduate Research until their performance has improved and any requirements have been met. Indicators of high performing HDR Advisors and potentially unsatisfactory supervision performance are summarised below.
2.11 The record of individual advisors will also be considered by the JCU Research Education Sub-Committee Executive during the award of HDR scholarships and Advisor of the Year Awards.
2.12 Line managers should refer to the Attributes of High Performing HDR Advisors (below) when considering applications for Advisor of the Year Awards, promotion and other professional development of HDR Advisors.
Attributes of High Performing HDR Advisors
2.13 Line Managers should refer to Table 2 to identify and manage unsatisfactory supervisory performance. These indicators must be considered in the context of other information about the circumstances of the relevant HDR candidate(s). For example, the record of an advisor may be distorted by a history of ‘rescue supervision’ of candidates who experience considerable problems during their candidature.
2.14 An advisor may benefit from the implementation of an intervention strategy developed by their line manager. The strategy may include augmentation of an Advisory Panel with another advisor, provision of a mentor, review of the advisor’s workload, or re-allocation of current supervisions
Table 2: Checklist of potential indicators of unsatisfactory supervision performance by an advisor of HDR candidates. This checklist should be considered in the context of other information about the circumstances of the relevant HDR candidate(s) (see Item 2.12 above).
One or more of the following Indicators:
1.The advisor fails to meet the minimum expectations as defined in the Academic Performance Expectations Framework  for their level and focus
2. The advisor has failed to meet the agreed professional development requirements as stipulated in 2.3d and their line manager during the Performance and Development Planning process
3. The advisor has had a disproportionate number of HDR candidates request transfer to another advisor
4. The advisor has had a disproportionate number of candidates withdraw from the University
5. HDR candidates of the advisor regularly fail to demonstrate satisfactory performance in milestone reviews
6. HDR candidates of the advisor are regularly overtime in a way which demonstrates lack of effective progress monitoring
7. The HDR completion rate for the advisor is low
8. The HDR candidates of the advisor are not developing other expected scholarly research skills e.g., conference presentation/publication of work
9. The advisor has been identified as ineligible to supervise due to not meeting one or more of the eligibility criteria
10. The advisor has had an allegation of serious research misconduct upheld against them
11. The advisor has had an allegation of staff misconduct upheld against them
* the advisor may have their supervisory load capped (for example, no further new supervisions until the securing of completions from current load), or be downgraded from the current level of Register of Advisors supervisory accreditation or be de-registered from the Register of Advisors.
**The Advisor will be de-registered from the Register of Advisors.
3. Supervisory Workload
3.1 Supervisory workload should be assigned to teaching or research in accordance with the JCU Academic Workload Guidelines.
3.2 The line manager should allocate the workload of the supervision of an in-time full-time HDR candidate at the rate of 42 contact hours per annum (i.e., 126 actual hours) per Advisory Panel (of at least two and no more than four advisors). The allocation should be divided among the Advisory Panel based on the percentage of supervision load each advisor undertakes. The total Primary Advisor load should be at least 50% (i.e. 21 contact hours or 63 actual hours). The load of a part-time candidate should be calculated pro-rata. The line manager should not normally allocate work load for over-time candidates, except in the case of ‘rescue’ supervision
3.3 The relative weightings of the roles of Advisory Panel members allocated to a HDR candidate should be recorded by the relevant College(s).
3.4 Staff and Adjunct Staff who have “Primary Advisor” status on the Advisor Register should not be the Primary Advisor of more than three HDR candidates. Exceptions to this practice will only be granted by the Dean, Graduate Research with the written agreement of the relevant College Dean.
3.5 Staff and Adjunct Staff who have “Advisor Mentor” status on the Advisor Register should not be the Primary Advisory of more than seven HDR candidates to minimise the risk to the university if they become unavailable to advise candidates due to unforeseeable circumstances. Exceptions to this practice will only be granted by the Dean, Graduate Research with the written agreement of the relevant College Dean.
3.6 Continuing staff who have signed an agreement to take over as primary advisor of a candidate whose primary advisor’s contract ends must agree that, if as a result of their so-acquiring additional primary advisor responsibilities they become above their allowable quota of HDR Candidates as defined in the HDR Supervision Procedure, they will discuss the resultant workload issues and risk to JCU with their College Dean.
3.7 Any restrictions on the award of stipend scholarships to applicants with Primary Advisors in particular categories will be outlined in the Scholarship Scoring Procedure.
4. Establishing good research practice within the candidate/advisor relationship and avoidance of conflict of interest
4.1 Advisors are responsible for guiding the professional development of HDR candidates in all matters relating to research conduct in accordance with the JCU Code of Responsible Conduct of Research, the JCU Code of Conduct, the Higher Degree by Research Code of Conduct and the HDR Requirements.
4.2 The JCU Code of Conduct states that staff must “avoid placing [themselves] in direct positions of responsibility relating to the employment or studies of a person, where they have, or had, a close personal relationship with that person.”
Hence Advisory Panel members must not have a marital, de facto, intimate or close family relationship with the candidate, nor should there be any reason to believe that there is such a relationship between an Advisor and a HDR Candidate.
In addition, the Primary Advisor must not be the immediate line manager of a candidate who is a continuing employee of JCU.
If any of these circumstances arises during the candidature, both parties must inform one of the ADRE, Dean of College or Dean, Graduate Research within 10 working days to make consequential changes to the Advisory Panel and any other necessary arrangement. Failure to divulge such information will be considered a breach of the JCU Code of Conduct.
4.3 The JCU Code of Conduct states that staff must “take reasonable steps to avoid, or disclose and manage, any conflict of interest (actual, potential or perceived) in the course of employment”.
Hence an Advisory Panel that includes members who are near relatives or partners must also include at least one member who is independent of that relationship to enable the University to deliver its Duty of Care to the candidate. The Advisor who is independent of the relationship between the other advisors must be actively involved in the supervision of the candidate and must sign off on all HDR Candidature Milestones. If a circumstance where the advisory panel consists only of near relatives/partners exists or arises during the candidature, there must be consequential changes to the Advisory Panel membership. Both parties must inform one of the ADRE, Dean of College or Dean, Graduate Research within 10 working days. Failure to divulge such information will be considered a breach of the JCU Code of Conduct.
4.4 Advisors who employ candidates on casual or fixed-term appointments must be mindful of: (1) the potential for conflict of interest if a candidate is too often required to prioritize the paid work for the advisor over their own research; and (2) the differences between advisor/candidate and employer/employee relationships. If difficulties arise, the Dean, Graduate Research will work with the College Dean to organise alternative arrangements.
5. Research programs pursued at other approved organisations
5.1 Where a candidate’s research program is pursued at or in partnership with another approved organization, the Advisory Panel must include an appropriate person associated with the organisation in which the research is carried out.
6. Allocation and Replacement of Advisors
6.1 Applicants for HDR candidature are required to nominate potential advisors as part of the application process.
6.2 The Advisory Panel will be: (1) endorsed by the Dean of College in the College; and (2) approved by the Dean, Graduate Research as a condition of the candidate’s enrolment in a research degree program.
6.3 Advisors who anticipate an absence from the University, or will be leaving the University’s employ, should take into account the necessity for ongoing supervision of their HDR candidates and plan accordingly.
6.4 If an advisor ceases to meet the requirements for continuing HDR supervision or for other reasons is not available to supervise a candidate for a period exceeding six weeks, and no prior arrangements have been made, the Dean of College or their nominee shall immediately, and in consultation with the candidate, nominate an alternative supervisory arrangement (normally involving the nominated Replacement Advisor) for approval by the Dean, Graduate Research.
6.5 Alternative arrangements may include but are not limited to:
6.6 Any change in Advisory Panel membership, including the addition of members, should be initiated by the candidate, the Candidature Committee and the College Dean (or nominee), who must complete of the relevant HDR Variation to Candidature form. Such changes must be approved by the Dean, Graduate Research. The Dean will only approve more than two changes to the person appointed as the candidate’s Primary Advisor under exceptional circumstances.
6.7 Should the Advisory Panel cease to comply with this Procedure, the College Dean must make reasonable efforts find a suitable and approved replacement as soon as possible.
6.8 In instances where a candidate’s Primary Advisor becomes unable to supervise the candidate and no suitable replacement can be found after reasonable efforts by the Dean of College and the Dean, Graduate Research, candidature may be discontinued.
6.9 Exceptions to this policy may be made for candidates enrolled under a co-tutelle agreement as specified in that agreement.
7. Recognition of Exemplary HDR Supervisory Practice
7.1 The Advisor of the Year Awards aims to encourage and reward staff who excel in the supervision of higher degree by research candidates.
Dean, Graduate Research
Date for next review:
20 May 2016
26 May 2016
Added that there must be written approval from the College Dean to be the primary advisor of >7 HDR candidates.
9 March 2017
14 March 2017
Added positive attributes. Added must be written approval from the College Dean to be the primary advisor of >3 HDR candidates if Primary Advisor level on the Register of Advisors (above rule for Advisor Mentor status advisors.)
18 July 2017
18 July 2017
Primary Advisors on Contract must have at least 3 years of contract at time of application to take a candidate AND must have signed an agreement with qualified secondary advisor.
|17-3||17 Oct 2017||17 Oct 2017||Chairs of CC and Independent Academics must be trained. Align Procedure with recommendations of Broderick Review. Supervisory workload usually relates to "in-time" candidates.|
|18-1||15 Feb 2018||15 Feb 2018||Advisor mentors can maintain their status if they have completed 2 HDR candidates as advisor mentor in the previous 5 years.|
|18-2||4 June 2018||4 June 2018||If a Primary Advisor is not or ceases to be a paid employee of the university, the College Dean must approve their continuing to be Primary Advisor to their HDR Candidate/s.|
|18-3||16 August 2018||17 August 2018||Contract/Adjunct staff with contracts of any length can supervise. Qualified replacement advisor must sign agreement.|