Psykologisk Institut

Sarah van Mastrigt

Lektor

SUPERVISION OF MASTERS THESES- 2016

 

This document is intended to give you an idea about the guidance that I am able to offer and how I generally approach my task as a supervisor. All supervisors and students are unique and work the way that suits them best individually. It is therefore important that you understand my view of the supervision process and that we agree on what we might expect from each other before deciding to work together.

 

My Philosophy

My starting point as a supervisor is the belief that you hold primary responsibility for driving the thesis project and that the final product is yours, not mine. In addition to generating new content-specific knowledge on your thesis topic, I expect that you will take an active role in developing transferrable skills in relation to:

-          Critical analysis of a complex topic

-          Effective academic writing

-          Working independently and in groups to prepare and execute a project within a set timeframe

I view my role as supportive, with the primary aim of helping you to develop the above skills. I can make suggestions about how you may enhance the quality, content, and form of your work, but my starting point is that you are ultimately responsible for the process as well and the final product. I also believe that your fellow students can be a great resource and that you can learn a lot from each other. At least some of your supervision time will therefore occur in groups with other thesis students working on their projects at the same time.

 

What Kind of Supervisor am I?

My expertise lies in the fields of criminology and the social psychology of crime and punishment.  I am willing to offer guidance on both empirical and theoretical topics related to these fields. Unless the topic falls very precisely within my particular areas of knowledge, my ability to provide content-specific guidance will be limited. I therefore assume that you will become the expert in your specific topic (e.g., based on your reading of the literature, etc), whilst I will provide supervision at a more general level. You can, for example, expect guidance in relation to problem formulation, argument construction, and thesis structure. If you have chosen to write your thesis in English, I am also willing to provide some guidance in relation to writing style, flow, etc. If you are writing in Danish, I expect that you will seek guidance on your writing style from friends and/or colleagues.   

I try to tailor my supervision to the individual students’ learning style and needs. This means that we may focus on the structure, content, or writing process to a smaller or larger extent based on your own assessment of your needs. I expect you to think critically about where your strengths and weaknesses lie and to seek particular assistance in the areas where you feel you need the most help. In most cases, the structure of the thesis write-up will be a central topic of discussion throughout the supervision process.

 

 

 

Before we Start

Before we start, I expect that you:

-          Have familiarized yourself with the formal requirements of your thesis as outlined on the psychology department homepage. This applies to ensuring that you know about the forms that need to be submitted, word limits, submission procedures, etc. I also expect you to have familiarized yourself with the criteria for evaluation of the thesis as outlined in Studiordning for Kandidatuddannelse.

 

-          Have a relatively clear idea of the topic you would like to write about (see below). Although it is natural that the details of your problem formulation may change during the project I expect you to present me with a brief summary (1-2 pages) of the topic you would like to explore, including some initial ideas regarding problem formulation/hypothesis/how you might go about structuring your investigation (e.g., in relation to particular theories/methods, etc). Generally, I will ask for this the first time we are in contact about starting the supervision process.

 

-          Join a dropbox group for your thesis group

 

Your Topic

Your thesis is your project and the primary responsibility for choosing a topic is in your hands. My role is to advise you on which theories, literature, and methods might be best suited to examining the topic of interest that you have identified. Often, my role also involves helping you to refine and limit your topic to ensure that you can realistically complete your thesis within the time frame and word-limits allowed.  I will not ‘give’ you a topic. If I feel that you need to further clarify your topic before we meet, I will encourage you to take a couple of weeks to explore the literature and formulate a more specific proposal before we move forward.

 

The First Meeting

The topic of our first meeting will focus on your problem statement/hypothesis and a discussion of any written outlines you have sent to me beforehand.  As a general rule, you should upload to dropbox any materials you wish to discuss at the first meeting a minimum of 2 working days ahead of time. In addition to refining your topic, our first meeting might also include a discussion of the theories that you are considering applying to your topic, and the most appropriate methods/literature to draw upon. Given the restricted time frame of the project, it is advisable that you start your literature search as early as possible, and preferably before our first meeting. In the case of joint supervision, I expect that you will read your co-students’ work before the joint meeting and be prepared to contribute feedback on the above topics.

The expected outcomes of our first meeting will be:

-          An agreement regarding our mutual expectations for supervision and how we will proceed with the supervision process (e.g., decision as to whether we will meet according to your request or on a regular schedule, format for group supervisions, etc). The agreements that we make at the first session are meant to be general guidelines. If you run into problems, we can always revise our agreement.

 

-          A time-line for finalizing your problemformulation.

 

 

-          A decision about when our next meeting will take place.

 

-          A short supervision summary uploaded to your dropbox folder within 1 week of our meeting, which outlines the main topics we discussed at the meeting and goals to meet for the next meeting. You will be responsible for writing similar summaries after each of our meetings. These summaries will provide a roadmap of our progress and will ensure that we are on the same page after each meeting.

 

Subsequent Meetings

Unless we have agreed otherwise, I expect that a minimum of 2 working days before each meeting, you will send me an outline of what you would like to discuss and/or any text that you would like me to read and that this will be uploaded to dropbox. I am willing to thoroughly read a maximum of 7 pages at every meeting. Although the text you send need not be a final draft, it should be approximately 80% finished so that I can provide useful comments. Whenever you send text to read, you should also tell me what you would like me to comment on specifically (e.g., theoretical interpretation, flow of writing, quality of arguments, etc). Some students also find it useful to send a short list of questions that they would like to discuss. Sending me materials/discussion questions in advance of our meetings will enhance what you get out of our sessions, as I will have had an opportunity to prepare. If we have decided that I should give you written feedback, I will write my comments into your text. In the case of joint supervisions, I expect that you also read each other’s work.

As noted above, after each session, I expect you to send me a short supervision summary detailing the decisions we made during the session and the steps for action that we have agreed on for the next meeting. This summary is intended as a tool for both of us to set goals and keep track of our progress, and to ensure that we are in agreement about what has been decided at each meeting. This summary must be uploaded no later than 1 week after our meeting.

Please note that with respect to emails and other unscheduled correspondence, I will do my best to get back to you within 48 hours, but I will not generally respond to emails on weekends or holidays.

 

 

Timeline

The formal supervision process begins with our first meeting.  Your project must be submitted within the standard timelines determined by the department.  

 

In total, you are entitled to 15 hours of supervision during this period. This includes my preparation time, e-mails and face-to-face meetings. Typically, once preparation time is accounted for, you can expect that we will have approximately 6 meetings during the writing process. Some of these meetings will involve joint supervision, and others will be individual.  As emails are included in the calculation of supervision time, I encourage you to wait to contact me until you have a number of things to discuss, rather than sending many short emails. If you are stuck on something and need immediate guidance, however, don’t hesitate to get in contact.

How Much Will I Read?

Finalizing the written thesis product is a chance for you to demonstrate individual thought and creativity. I will therefore do my best to guide you throughout the writing process, but will not read a final draft of your whole project/thesis before you submit it. Writing a final, full draft of your thesis is a central part of the independent work expected at the graduate-level.

Although I will not read a full and final draft of your thesis, I am willing to be relatively flexible in reading outlines/drafts of chapters/conclusions. As a minimum, I would typically expect to see:

-          A near-finished draft of your introductory chapter stating your problem formulation/hypothesis and the outline of the thesis structure

 

-          Detailed outlines and/or drafts of theory/analysis chapters

 

-          Detailed outline and/or draft of your concluding chapter

 

Although as a general rule I avoid reading the same material twice, if a particular need arises I might be willing to read drafts more than once. Although I will occasionally comment on your grammar, spelling, referencing, etc, I expect that you will take primary responsibility for proof-reading that you will use your speciale group/other colleagues to help with technical editing. My comments will be more focused on the content covered (or lacking) in what you send me.

 

Examination

Once you have submitted your thesis, my role as supervisor is changed to that of evaluator. My evaluation will be based on the final thesis product only and any draft versions that I may have seen previously will in no way impact on your final grade.  You should therefore feel confident in submitting drafts in the course of the writing process without worrying that the content or form of those drafts will negatively impact your final mark. The external examiner will only see the final product, and our joint assessment will be based on that material only.

Contacting Me

You are welcome to come by my office if you have a quick question, but you must respect that I might be unable to see you because I am in the middle of something else when you knock on my door. The easiest way to contact me is by email.

If you want to postpone a scheduled meeting because you are still writing or need some extra time to prepare, you must notify me by email within 3 working days before the meeting and be aware that there might be a delay before we can re-schedule. If you want to postpone a meeting because you are having a writing block or have been stuck for an extended period of time on a particular section of your thesis, I will encourage you to come for a short meeting instead, so that we can discuss the problem and work together to help you move forward. 

If you have questions regarding the information outlined above, I look forward to addressing them the first time we meet.

 

With best wishes,

Sarah

Email: vanmastrigt@psy.au.dk
Office: 512/1350