Brief overview of the roles and responsibilities

Thesis supervisor and co-supervisor

  • By the end of the third session of registration for PhD students and the second session of registration for masters’ students, help students choose a research topic.
  • Discuss expectations, the terms of the collaboration, and the requirements for a thesis.
  • Make sure questions on research ethics, copyright, intellectual property, and joint publications are clarified very early on.
  • Inform students about matters of general financial support such as scholarships, teaching or research assistantships, travel grants, etc.
  • As appropriate, provide infrastructure, materials and equipment for data gathering and analysis.
  • Help students with the interpretation of raw data and findings.
  • Make sure that copies of raw data, lab books, etc. related to the student’s research are being maintained.
  • Be available for discussions with students. Notify them of any absences longer than a week and ensure appropriate support mechanisms are available during absences (for instance, telephone number and e-mail address).
  • Give timely responses to written materials (research papers, chapters of thesis) submitted by students—normally within two weeks, unless alternative arrangements have been mutually agreed upon.
  • Assess the student’s self-evaluation reports. Complete and sign each progress report. Forward this report to the academic unit and provide a copy to the student.
  • Inform students when their progress is unsatisfactory and advise them on what can be done to improve it.
  • Assist and counsel students applying for scholarships and financial support. This includes writing quality letters of reference.

Academic unit

  • Establish and promote clear objectives for the graduate program.
  • Provide a well-structured program of study and program of research appropriate for the degree sought.
  • Provide a research infrastructure that is adequate for the program being pursued.
  • Ensure that all students are advised in writing of the sequence and structure of the program and of the expectations of the academic unit and the University in terms of progress toward completion and any other relevant issues.
  • Inform students about sources of financial support such as scholarships (internal and external), teaching and research assistantships, travel grants, assistance for interlibrary loans, etc.
  • Acquaint new students with the research interests of professors authorized to direct theses and help them identify a professor suitable to direct their research.
  • Establish appropriate criteria for the evaluation of students, particularly for directed studies, comprehensive examinations, seminars and theses and ensure that the criteria are fully understood by the students.
  • Assess students’ progress systematically and in all cases at least once a year.
  • Implement and publicize appropriate policies for the financial support of students.
  • Create an environment conducive to the development of professional skills.
  • Monitor the performance of thesis supervisors in terms of, for example, the quality of direction, as evidenced by the time to degree, the attrition rate of students under their direction, their availability, and their ability to determine research topics of appropriate scope.

Home Faculty

  • Ensure that all graduate students are aware of the regulations specific to their program and faculty and of the regulations of the University.
  • Ensure that thesis supervisors are aware of and meet their obligations with respect to their students.
  • Facilitate resolution of student issues that remain unresolved following initial review within the student’s academic unit.
  • Develop policies relating to the academic, financial, or material support for graduate students within the faculty.
  • Maintain consistency with regard to the academic aspects of graduate programs in the faculty.
  • Monitor the thesis evaluation and defence process within the faculty.
  • Participate in the development and implementation of the University strategic plan in relation to graduate studies.
  • Oversee and co-ordinate the administration of all graduate programs
  • Oversee the evaluation and defence of theses, and provide support and advice in the case of theses needing revisions either before or after the defence.
  • Select the external examiner for doctoral theses; reimburse expenses incurred for travel.
  • Review student requests for major exceptions to the general regulations.
  • Facilitate resolution of student issues that remain unresolved despite having been reviewed within the student’s academic unit.

The University of Ottawa

  • Set and uphold academic standards.
  • Provide a set of general regulations for all graduate programs, monitor their application, update them where necessary.
  • Administer financial support (all types of scholarships) and travel grants for graduate students.
  • Monitor trends in graduate studies in Ontario, Canada and the world at large and introduce appropriate innovations.
  • Facilitate the offering of professional skills training.
  • Act as expert resource for all within the University of Ottawa seeking guidance or information about graduate and postdoctoral studies.
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