Carey Philpott


The literature on doctoral supervision frequently identifies the importance of aligning supervisory style to the particular needs of students.  Much of this literature is based on research carried out with students on traditional PhD routes.  The purpose of this paper is to explore the extent to which the needs of students on professional doctorates differ from those on traditional PhD routes.  Exploring this topic is of particular importance if we accept that supervisors’ own experiences of supervision as research students are likely to affect their approach to supervising.  The paper concludes that it is not helpful to regard the needs of professional doctoral students and more traditional PhD students as falling into two separate groups.  The diverse and evolving nature of all doctoral provision means that these needs are shifting and likely to be converging over time.   However, it is helpful for a supervisor to develop sensitivity to issues that are likely to be more common among professional doctorate students.  The important differences are most likely to be found in the motivation, identity and identity formation of students and it is these that we need to be sensitive to so that we can adjust our supervisory approach accordingly.