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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

'Challenging from the start': novice doctoral co-supervisors' experiences of supervision culture and practice

Almlov, Cecilia; Grubbstrom, Ann


There is a widespread interest in doctoral supervision, yet novice doctoral co-supervisors' experiences remain understudied. The aim of this qualitative study is to explore how supervision culture and practice are experienced by novices. This thematic analysis is based on focus groups and in-depth interviews with 23 novice co-supervisors from two Swedish research-intensive universities. The study reveals three dimensions related to the challenging experience of the supervision culture, namely closedness, dependence and competition. Moreover, the analysis proves that co-supervisors' practices are embedded within the 'hidden curriculum', here defined as the unplanned and implicit support outside formal meetings and activities. Novice co-supervisors bridge the gap between main supervisors and doctoral students and make the path to the doctoral degree smoother when engaging in emotional, intellectual, practical and mediation support. This study has practical implications and suggests improvements for co-supervision that would also benefit the doctoral students.


novice doctoral co-supervisors; doctoral co-supervision; doctoral supervision culture; doctoral supervision practice; hidden curriculum within supervision

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Higher Education Research and Development
2024, Volume: 43, number: 1, pages: 17-31

    Sustainable Development Goals

    Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

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