Supervise a PhD thesis

Supervising a doctorate is an integral part of a professor or senior scientist’s role, but there are many different ways to go about it. On this page, you'll find tips on some of the key aspects of supervision, such as recruitment and setting up quality supervision.

Don't forget to consult the legal bases governing supervision in your faculty, as well as the UNIL Directive 3.11 on the supervision of doctoral thesis.

Recruiting doctoral researchers

Selecting the right person for an SNSF assistant/doctoral position, or agreeing to supervise a thesis, is a task not to be taken lightly. Doctoral researchers need to demonstrate a range of knowledge, skills and attitudes in order to succeed in this lengthy process.

The "How to get the right PhD candidate" guide from Delft University is an excellent resource to help you define your recruitment criteria. It also presents various tools and sample questions for assessing the skills of your future PhD researcher.

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In addition, the question of funding must be taken very seriously. As thesis director, it is your responsibility to ensure that the thesis is carried out under the right conditions. Doctoral researchers wishing to complete their thesis in Switzerland should have at least CHF 2,500 per month at their disposal.

The "Funding a PhD" page gives you more information on this topic.

Establishing and maintaining a good relationship

To establish a good working relationship, both parties need to share their expectations, needs and objectives as early as possible. This will enable them to establish a clear and calm working framework, in which different elements elements are defined, such as the frequency of meetings, the types of feedback expected, and training needs.

Several tools can help you to initiate this discussion and keep track of it

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Code of Practice for the Doctorate

The official UNIL document, defining the rights and duties of doctoral researchers and their supervisors.

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Standard thesis agreement (in French only)

A document drawn up by the Faculty of Arts on the basis of the Code of Practice to focus the discussion and keep a record. You can use this document to draw up a thesis agreement with your doctoral researcher.

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Establishing a Good Relationship from the Beginning

A grid to help you define your supervisory style and compare it with that of your doctoral researcher.

Adapted by Anne Lee ( from various versions.



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