Trust Me! project: resources for doctoral supervisors

Trust Me! is an ongoing research project led by Dr Kay Guccione and funded by the Leadership Foundation for HE, investigating the behaviours that are important in building trust and creating 'quality' doctoral supervision relationships. Phase one examined supervision narratives, and documented the relationship vulnerabilities and tensions; how trust is built and broken. Phase two is a case study of PGR Tutoring – what works in supporting doctoral researchers and supervisors to resolve a supervision issue.

Throughout the project students and supervisors alike spoke of the need to achieve clarity of purpose, and find good ways of working together, seeking to make the uncertain processes of the PhD more predictable; reducing feelings of insecurity, worry and stress for all involved.

The resources below have been developed and collected in response to the findings, and are intended to be helpful to supervisors. This resource is under continuous development, linking to new resources, blog posts and articles every week. Please use the evaluation form here to let me know what you’d like to see added or created, or to signpost me to a good resource you have found.



Supervisor blog: This blog initially collected data as stories of supervisory relationships, and is now a blog designed to share research, opinions and resources for supervisors. ‘Community Acuity’ blog posts are from supervisors, to supervisors. They share the thoughts, experiences and reflections of the highs and the challenges of supervising doctoral students.


Getting off to a Good Start (5:38): Collated in this video are some ideas about the expectation clashes that can cause tension in the student supervisor relationship. What conversations can you have up front with your students? How can you build up certainty within an uncertain process. See also this blog post. Fullscreen here.


Supervising Stressed Students (4:31): How can you recognise the symptoms of stress in those you work with, and how can you support your students in a way that doesn’t make things worse, or patronise them? What can you do 'in the moment' and over time to acknowledge stress, and help? See also this blog post. Fullscreen here.

reading list

A publicly available reading list of the supervision literature is in construction. If you have published on supervision, or read something you'd like to include I'd be glad to hear from you.


Structured reflection on a difficult relationship: It’s often easier to understand with the gift of hindsight how a supervision relationship developed, what influenced the partnership, and where things went right and wrong. This is a tool that can be used as a private reflection, or as a way of structuring a conversation with a supportive colleague, mentor, coach or manager.


Recognising and building on trust at work: This is a tool that can be used as a private reflection, or as a way of structuring a conversation with a supportive colleague, mentor coach or manager. To complete this reflection, you will need to think about a colleague or colleagues, past or present, who you have trusted i.e. you were willing to rely on them, or you felt safe to reveal a weakness or vulnerability to them.


The full Trust Me! project research report is in review and is coming soon! It covers what trust in supervision might look like, and the behaviours that build and break trust in supervision relationships. It makes some recommendations for supervisors, and for HEIs on how we can support students and supervisors to work together.


Difficult conversation planner, for Supervisors: Sometimes we all have to deliver unwelcome news, difficult feedback, or unexpected messages, and there is no easy or right way to achieve this. This conversation planner might help you think it out.


BIG QUESTIONS for Supervisors: The big questions about what 'doctorateness' is, are difficult, because there is no clear answer to them. Making some notes about your own understanding of these issues will help you discuss them with your students.


From the research: a mapping of tensions and vulnerabilities supervisors reported.


From the research: a mapping of tensions and vulnerabilities students reported.


This is the evaluation form for this supervisor resource. Please click through to let me know what you think of the page and resources, to make suggestions or share articles, or to pitch a blog post.