Second Supervisor

The GSHS strongly recommends that all doctoral candidates should include a second supervisor in their supervision agreement within 12 months of starting their doctorate unless they have already done so at the beginning of the doctorate.

 

All doctoral students have a university lecturer as first supervisor to guide them through their PhD. The relationship with the first supervisor is a close and important one that helps define the student’s experience of the studies programme, but it is also one that can lead to a high degree of dependency on one person, who is also likely to be responsible for evaluating the PhD. This dependency can be particularly high when the student also has an employment relationship with the same supervisor.

A second supervisor can, therefore, bring new insights and perspectives to a research project – be it with regard to the content or methodology of the doctorate, the provision of information on other aspects of the research process (e.g., academic publishing or conference participation), giving advice on professional development, or on how to prepare for a stay abroad etc. – and significantly augment and enhance the doctoral studies experience.

The appointment of a second supervisor, or in some cases even a supervising team, is fast becoming the norm both nationally and internationally and has already become part of some JGU doctoral regulations.

Unless otherwise specified in the respective departmental regulations, the second supervisor (or supervisory team) can also come from another department or faculty, from another university, or even from abroad. In many cases, this is even advisable. Furthermore, it is not absolutely necessary for the second supervisor to take over the second review of a dissertation. Students should take note of the relevant requirements on this in their doctoral regulations and discuss it with their first supervisor.

The second supervisor (or supervisory team) can represent a subject, research focus or methodological approach that is of particular interest to your research question but not covered by your first supervisor. It may be that he or she has good contacts to working groups, research institutes or other bodies that would be of interest to you. These may even include international contacts. The second supervisor can thus help you build up networks within and beyond the academic community (including companies and cultural institutions) which may prove very useful for your future career.