Strength of supervision more important than prior ability in determining doctoral performance, Australian study indicates
Environment matters more than innate ability in shaping doctoral students’ fortunes, Australian research suggests.
This will not be an earth-shattering conclusion, as anyone who has supervised a student knows this. Good supervisors recognise their role and live up to it. Poor supervisors (and we’ve witnessed many of those and had to deal with the aftermath for some students) have the potential to ruin a person for life! This reinforces the importance of professional development for, and the accreditation of, HDR supervisers.
Scholarships also have a massive influence on students’ capacity to complete and publish, while poorly guided students are up to three times as likely to drop out as those overseen by experienced supervisors.
“The findings question the utility of assigning PhD scholarships solely on the basis of student academic merit, once minimum entry requirements are met,” the researchers argue in the journal Plos One.
“Strengthening research infrastructure and supervision teams may be more important considerations for maximising the contribution of PhD students to a university’s international standing.”
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