Tips and tricks

Supervision is a very important factor in the success of a PhD track. Here we provide some general tips on collaborating successfully with your PhD student.


Discuss from the start, for example:

  • What is the expected output at the end of the project?
  • What are your expectations for the coming weeks?
  • How do you intend to communicate about the project, and how often?
  • Should the candidate make appointments for consultation in advance, or can she/he just walk in in case of questions?
  • How are appointments organised? For example, you can ask the PhD candidate to send an agenda for the meeting one week in advance, and to make the intended outcome of the meeting explicit. Also, minutes of the meeting help to keep the process structured.
  • What is the candidate’s budget for research expenses, courses, and conference visits?
  • For which issues should the candidate contact the supervisor, and for which issues the co-supervisor?
  • How are the project tasks distributed between the candidate and the (co-)supervisors? Who does what?
  • Is the candidate allowed to contact other research groups (and possibly) collaborate?
  • Ask the candidate to make a project planning, possibly as input for the annual Assessment and Development interview.
  • Take into account cultural differences. Motivate foreign PhD candidates to approach you regularly and timely in case of questions and problems.
  • Confirm important decisions or agreements in writing (by e-mail).

Provide continuous feedback, for example:

  • What are a candidate’s strong points?
  • What are a candidate’s points for improvement?

Ask for continuous feedback to get to know your candidate's needs, for example: 

  • Do you meet too (in)frequently?
  • On what subjects does the candidate need more/less feedback?
  • What is, and what is not working for both of you?

Stimulate the PhD candidate to take responsibility for her/his own development process, for example, by inviting the candidate to determine the agenda for the meetings and for the supervision.