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Support and supervision

Supervision needs to be carried out by someone with an interest in, and understanding of, the topic area and should start right at the beginning of the research process when defining the question and scope. Alternatively, or in addition, for a larger project it is helpful to bring together a group of people who will be equally interested in the question. Research within a team is (usually) much more pleasurable than doing it alone: not only can you pool resources, but also a multi-disciplinary group in particular will bring different perspectives to the question to make its outputs more useful and acceptable. This is often one of the great strengths of educational and healthcare research.

Most of this module relates primarily to you as a clinical teacher or academic thinking about your own educational research. Increasingly, as more health professionals have combined clinical and academic posts, you may also be responsible for supervising or advising on the research of others. Many of the principles and activities we have discussed in this module will be appropriate to you as a research supervisor of educational research projects. Lamm (2002) found that research students want their supervisors to be:

  • facilitative, namely:
    • approachable
    • practically available
    • encouraging, interested and enthusiastic
    • helpful with general and specific issues
    • validating
    • mutually respectful
  • challenging, specifically:
    • forcing them to rethink ideas and arguments
    • pointing out weaknesses in research design, methods
    • searching out assumptions.

The implications are that supervisors need good interpersonal and communication skills and departmental and institutional support as well as a good knowledge of the subject area.

See the Teachers’ toolkit Criteria for good practice in research supervision.

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Further information

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Learning activities

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