Ground Rules

The best way to initiate an effective relationship with your graduate student is through early meetings in which you discuss and clearly define your roles and expectations. Here is a list of “ground rules” that should be clarified in initial meetings between a graduate student and his/her supervisor:

  • How frequently you will meet and for what purposes (progress updates, literature reviews, etc.).
  • Who will initiate the meetings and prepare meeting summaries.
  • The student’s role with regard to the data collection and analysis.
  • The supervisor’s role with regard to the student’s data collection and analysis.
  • Who will train the student to do technical work, and what is the role of the program technician.
  • Standard hours for office space, weekend work or labs.
  • A timeline for the research program, which may include experiments, data analysis, manuscript writing, and thesis writing.
  • Safety considerations which may need to be completed before working, such as training programs, standard office or laboratory etiquette, or laboratory attire.
  • The use of university computers and accounts for research, net surfing, games, personal work, etc.
  • Applicable funding sources and the duration of such funding.
  • Presentations at conferences and meetings: how many, how often and who pays.

In addition, University Policy 85 requires that research conditions for all involved in a research team be outlined in a letter from the principal investigator before team members become engaged.

Letters are to cover issues such as compensation, supervision, authorship practices, records of data, ownership and/or use of data, publication rights, and commercialization. The templates provided here should be adapted with information specific to the program.

Our Forms Centre provides a sample Graduate Student - Supervisor Agreement for your information.