In some ways, the biggest challenge in supervision is ‘time’. Time to review students’ work (in a timely fashion); time to meet with students; time to fulfil other work roles; the ‘clock ticking’ towards the deadline for a timely completion by the student; the student being able to use their time effectively given their own pressures of work, family; and so on.
How to overcome this ‘time poverty’?
With student, supervisory and institutional imperatives for completion, supervisors could try and develop what Green and Bowden call a “completion mindset … in which timely and successful completion is viewed as the major goal upon which all planning and operational decisions are made”; so focusing on both “pragmatics and quality” (Green and Bowden, 2012, p 71 and p 73). Of course this is easier to say, than do. It is common to get bogged down on the ‘small things’ which (of course) build up to the ‘big picture’.
Hopefully the supervisor is working in an environment where there is a research culture which values research and doctoral supervision, so that an appropriate allocation by those in charge of resources (ie staff time) is made in terms of workload/time to enable the supervisor to deliver the ‘supervisory experience’ they would like to.
What do you think the biggest challenges in research supervision are?