Doctoral supervisor development in Australian universities: Preparing research supervisors to teach writing

  • Cally Guerin University of Adelaide
  • Ruth Walker
  • Claire Aitchison
  • Madeleine Laming
  • Meeta Chatterjee Padmanabhan
  • Bronwyn James
Keywords: supervisor training, academic development, research supervision, HDR supervision, doctoral writing


In recent years, Australian doctoral education has diversified and expanded, with concomitant shifts in the format and purpose of the PhD. While there is now a considerable body of research into what constitutes good quality, effective supervision of PhD projects within this environment, there is surprisingly little about the training or professional development supervisors receive in order to succeed in this demanding task. Even less is reported on how supervisors learn to develop their students’ writing. This paper reports on an Australia-wide study that sought to find out how institutions support their research supervisors through centrally provisioned professional development, with a particular focus on elements of those programs related to doctoral student writing. We mapped the current supervisor development offerings in Australian universities through a study of publicly available websites and interviews with key personnel involved in organising those programs. Our research reveals the enormous diversity of the preparation that research supervisors receive, and points to the opportunities this might afford for Academic Language and Learning specialists to play an important role in the professional development of supervisors.

Author Biography

Cally Guerin, University of Adelaide
Careers and Research Training Skills Officer, Faculty of Arts at University of Adelaide
How to Cite
GuerinC., WalkerR., AitchisonC., LamingM., PadmanabhanM. C., & JamesB. (2017). Doctoral supervisor development in Australian universities: Preparing research supervisors to teach writing. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 11(1), A88-A103. Retrieved from
Research Articles