The impact of cross-disciplinary culture on student-supervisor perceptions

Gina Wisker, Silwa Claesson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (SciVal)


Global increases in the numbers of postgraduate students, their growing cultural diversity, and an emphasis on skill development and time to completion are accompanied by an increase in the numbers of supervisors and a professionalization of the training and development processes for both postgraduates and supervisors. Much research on supervision considers variations in practice from the perspective of the traditional functional, dyadic relationship. Other work considers power relations, research communities, and cultural diversity. This research focuses on ‘fields of tensions' in discipline culture, identified by supervisors and facilitators on a supervisor development program on which both authors have taught. The research makes use of data from participant assessment responses, or course papers, and focused interviews with participants. ‘Fields of tension' emerge in the design, actioning, and completion of the research project and in the shape and expression of the thesis, which we argue are inflected by the different disciplinary cultures in which supervisors and students locate research. Disciplinary differences and ‘fields of tension' also emerge in the perceptions of differences in supervision, expectations of roles, relationships, and balances of power in the supervisor-student relationship. This paper examines the cultural differences in academic disciplines and how this is reflected in the supervisory process. We suggest that open sharing and discussion of such disciplinary differences and ‘fields of tension' in supervisor development programs can enable vital, valuable, metacognitive awareness of supervision and research practices for supervisors and their students.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Doctoral Studies
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013

Bibliographical note

© 2012 Informing Science Institute


  • supervision
  • doctoral
  • discipline
  • diversity
  • professional practice


Dive into the research topics of 'The impact of cross-disciplinary culture on student-supervisor perceptions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this