PhD Advising and Mentorship

Your doctoral supervisor will serve as your mentor throughout your time here at Penn. It is important that you take steps to take to build a good, successful relationship with your supervisor.

Good practices for PhD students and advisors

Students should keep the following "good practices" in mind as they begin and continue their PhD work:

  • Meetings with your supervisor: are they regular, available when difficulties arise, is progress documented, and research directions agreed upon?
  • Training: are you receiving research training to follow correctly experimental practice and complete records of procedures and results?
  • Feedback: do you receive timely feedback on draft papers and/or chapters of your dissertation?
  • Meeting leading scholars in your field: does your supervisor introduce you to speakers and encourage you to give public presentations on aspects of your research?
  • If you take a leave or conduct research elsewhere, do you have adequate supervision?

Your role in building the student-supervisor relationship

In addition to the good practices mentioned above, which allow you know that your relationship with your supervisor is strong, students should also follow the following guidelines:

  • Your topic: Be sure you know that your research topic and methodology are likely to result in an acceptable doctoral dissertation (yield original contributions to knowledge).
  • Your literature review: Keep yours up-to-date and regularly review literature in your research areas as it is published.
  • Your dissertation committee: You should meet regularly, and you should prepare and present a progress research report and outline future research directions at these meetings.
  • Records: Are your experimental records exemplary, complete, and replicable?
  • Intellectual property: you need to have a clear understanding with your supervisor when it comes to ownership of intellectual property (see intellectual property/patent policy).
  • Completing your degree: regularly consult the PhD Student Handbook and set yourself a realistic timetable.
  • Your writing: Regularly work on and practice developing your writing skills.
  • Meetings with your supervisor: do you make yourself available at mutually convenient times?