«Congratulations on being enrolled as an Honours student in the School of Community Health at Charles Sturt University. We hope you find your Honours ...»
Note: Reference to a student’s supervisor in this handbook means the principal supervisor, where there is more than one supervisor.
Working with your supervisor(s) You need to negotiate with your supervisor appropriate timelines for each aspect of the research. Working collaboratively, you and your supervisors are responsible for initiating and holding frequent and adequate discussions about progress of the research.
Throughout your Honours candidature you should meet regularly with your supervisor(s). Depending on your specific needs at any stage, you should negotiate the timing and regularity of supervisory meetings. Initially you will need plenty of support to enable you to explore your research problem and to refine an appropriate research question. As you progress through Honours and gain more confidence in research, you will be able to work more independently. However it is very important to maintain good communication with your supervisors at all times to avoid any misunderstandings and unmet expectations.
It is also vital that supervisors are provided with drafts of written work, with adequate time to make comments and provide feedback. You will be able to develop your writing skills more effectively, if you utilise your supervisor’s support and expertise.
Supervisors vary greatly in their style and method of supervision, just as research students vary widely in their particular needs and expectations. Consequently it is impossible to have hard and fast rules with respect to how to conduct the supervisory process. Every effort should be made to ensure that the relationship between you and your supervisor is intellectually fruitful, constructive, focused, responsive to individual needs, reliable, and free of personal conflict. The central task of all those associated with the supervision of research students is to help and assist students to realise their maximum scholarly potential. If at any stage - and for any reason - you experience difficulties with your supervisor(s), please firstly discuss these issues with them and if necessary, advise the school Honours co-ordinator.
Responsibilities of Honours Supervisors
Honours supervisors should:
assist the student in the preparation of a research / study program;
advise the student of any sources of funding or support that may benefit his/her research, and to apply, or assist in the application, for such support via the CSU Research Office ( http://www.csu.edu.au/research );
suggest ways that the student can make the most effective use of time;
maintain close and regular contact with the student and establish, at the beginning, the basis on which contact will be made;
require written or other work from the student on a pre-arranged and agreed schedule so that progress can be assessed at regular intervals;
monitor carefully the performance of the student relative to the standard required for the degree, and ensure that inadequate progress or work below the expected standard is brought to the student’s attention;
help with developing solutions to problems as they are identified;
complete progress reports as requested by the School Honours Coordinator;
ensure the aims, scope, and procedures to be adopted in the research project are reasonable;
ensure the student is aware of the best methods of reviewing relevant literature for the research project;
ensure the availability of all equipment and other resources required by the student to complete the research program successfully;
ensure that the student is aware of the standards of conduct required by the University and community in all areas of research and scholarship, and ensure that the student is not expected to partake in any conduct during the course of his/her studies or research that will diminish the good name of the University in any way;
ensure that all the necessary licenses and permissions required to conduct the proposed research are obtained and maintained by the student (or, where appropriate, by the supervisor or co-supervisor) prior to the commencement of the work (this includes, if appropriate, authorisation from the CSU Human Research Ethics Committee or Animal Care and Ethics Committee);
ensure that the student is actively engaged in the research and study components of the Honours course and that the student’s progress is satisfactory;
educate the student about good writing, correct grammar, appropriate referencing techniques, etc. by modelling these skills once or twice, on the student’s work, and thereafter letting the student edit their own work;
comment critically and constructively on each assessable piece or component (the literature review, research proposal, ethics application, and any one part of the dissertation) before they are submitted, a minimum of once to a maximum of three times.
When asked about their expectations and wishes regarding their supervision, Honours students mention the following attributes and practices: patience; support, encouragement, and guidance (emotional and academic); comfortableness to discuss any issues; honesty about performance and progress; provision of practical tips, e.g.
literature searching, research focus, research methods; assistance with a timeline for Honours study; reasonable and negotiable deadlines for writing; timely feedback – within 3 days; knowledge of research area and guidance about field of inquiry; and notice of breaks in availability, e.g. annual leave/study leave.
Roles of a Principal Supervisor
A principal supervisor should:
assume primary responsibility for the oversight and progress of the candidate;
be the point of contact through which the University exercises control of the candidature and through which it accepts its primary duty of care;
invite students to attend school seminars as well as any other relevant seminars;
contact and ascertain the willingness of possible, suitable examiners of the student’s dissertation (masters level qualification or higher) at least two months before the student is due to submit the dissertation for examination;
forward the phone and email contact details of two agreeable examiners to Linda Beverly ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) at least 6 weeks before the student is due to submit the dissertation for examination;
certify that the dissertation is properly presented and formatted, conforms to the regulations, and is worthy of the award for which it is submitted;
ensure the student meets commitments made regarding storage of data; and at the conclusion of the Honours course, obtain and retain the data collected in the Honours research and ensure it is securely disposed of at the time specified in the ethics approval conditions.
Roles of a Co-Supervisor The role of the co-supervisor will vary from student to student. The proportion of work undertaken by a co-supervisor will also vary, depending on the composition of the
research team. In general however, a co-supervisor should:
provide supplementary advice;
facilitate access to additional resources and skills; and assume the role of principal supervisor in the absence of the principal supervisor.
Changing your topic, supervisor(s), or enrolment status Considering the amount of work you invest in developing your research area during the first session, it becomes increasingly more difficult to change your research topic as you progress through 3rd year. If it seems likely that you will need to change your research topic, it is advisable to organise this before the start of the second session in year 3.
You should feel free to discuss any problems or prospective changes regarding your supervision and/or study arrangements, or enrolment status with your principal supervisor in the first instance. You may also discuss any issues with the School Honours coordinator or your course coordinator.
BEING AN HONOURS STUDENTWorkload
Obtaining a good Honours degree can be very hard work. Your time management must be excellent to balance the requirements for Honours with the work you need to do for your other subjects. You also need to make time for family and social commitments as well as for paid employment. Stress management, including adequate exercise and sleep, is an important area for attention, to ensure that you maintain good physical and mental health. Workload will vary across the year, but you must take care to ensure that you work consistently on your Honours research, including preparing written assessment tasks for review and comment by your supervisor(s). Leaving your research work until the last minute will create additional stress and impact on all areas of your study.
If you experience any difficulties with your studies you should discuss these at the earliest opportunity with your supervisor(s) and should access the University’s student support services as necessary. In this way, you can ensure that the precious hours you invest in your study and research are maximally effective, with as little time as possible being wasted on misdirected work.
Responsibilities of an Honours student
Although the supervisors have a responsibility to advise you on aspects of your research, you are responsible for the details of your work. You should aim to develop independence of thought and a mature critical faculty, while consulting closely with your supervisors.
You should be sure to submit all necessary assignments and your final dissertation on time. The four main reasons why students fail to submit their work on time, or not at all,
a slow start, perfectionism, distraction from the main research questions and task requirements, and inadequate data collection resulting from inadequate planning and/or a late start.
The standards to which you are expected to conform should become clear early in your Honours course by paying close attention to the assessment rubrics for each task. As you progress through Honours and gain more confidence in research, you will be able to work more independently. However, the need for direction and supervision will possibly change several times during the progress of your research. Therefore, regular honest communication between students and supervisors is essential at all times, to ensure that needs and expectations are met by all parties.
As an Honours student you are expected to:
engage actively in the research and study components of your Honours course and to progress satisfactorily;
complete all tasks outlined in the HLT333 and HLT441 subject outlines;
maintain close and regular contact with your supervisor(s);
decide with your supervisor(s), at an early stage of your candidature, which research journal(s) you believe would be most likely to publish research on your chosen topic – read as many relevant articles in these journals as possible to familiarise yourself with the research designs and styles of writing acceptable to these journals;
work with your supervisor(s) to prepare a research/study program;
work with your supervisor(s) to identify equipment and other resources required to complete the research program successfully;
present written work to your supervisor(s) on a pre-arranged and agreed schedule so that progress can be assessed at regular intervals;
provide at least three days, preferably one week, for your supervisor to provide feedback on your work;
either respond to feedback given to you by your supervisor(s) or share your reasoning for not acting on their feedback;
discuss difficulties and problems with your supervisor(s);
ensure that the dissertation is properly presented and formatted, conforms to appropriate regulations, and is therefore, prima facie, worthy of examination;
present a draft of the completed dissertation to your supervisor(s) at least two weeks before it is submitted for examination;
submit your assessment tasks and final dissertation on time;
abide by the standards of conduct required by the University and community in all areas of research and scholarship, and not to partake in any conduct during the course of your studies or research that will diminish the good name of the University in any way;
ensure that all the necessary licenses and permissions required to conduct the proposed research are obtained and maintained prior to the commencement of the work (this includes the School of Community Health Human Research Ethics Committee and, if appropriate, authorisation from the Animal Care and Ethics Committee); and familiarise yourself with the University’s academic regulations http://www.csu.edu.au/acad_sec/academic-manual/.
To pave the most successful possible path through your Honours course, you are asked to proactively ask for what you need from your supervisor(s); meet deadlines and commitments; be on time for meetings, and cancel in advance if necessary;
consider negative feedback (even if you initially feel offended or overwhelmed) and make changes based on this feedback; allow adequate time to receive feedback on your writing, and to develop further drafts, before your work is due for submission; and keep meeting summaries to keep everyone on track.
Code of conduct for research
On 3 October 2007 Academic Senate approved that the CSU Code of Conduct for Research be replaced by Part A: Principles and Practices to Encourage Responsible Research Conduct in the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research issued by the National Health and Medical Research Councils, the Australian Research
Council and Universities Australia and published at: