All graduate students are required to have a Supervisory Committee. Supervisory committees are to be composed primarily of research faculty members belonging to the Zoology graduate program who hold tenure stream professorial board appointments. Research Faculty, Associate Members, and Emeriti are included under this label, but Adjunct and Affiliate Members are not (see zoology.ubc.ca/people to learn about the appointments of various Zoology faculty members).
Adding any committee member who does not have a research, tenure stream professorial board appointment at UBC requires the approval of the Graduate Advisor and G+PS (for PhD students). The proposed committee member must:
- Provide expertise that is not already available from a UBC faculty member.
- Provide an independent voice from other committee members.
- Have the qualifications to supervise graduate research at the standard of excellence at UBC.
A memo from the supervisor addressing all three criteria is required for approval.
Zoology Master’s students must have a minimum of three faculty members on their committee (including the supervisor). One committee member can be either an Adjunct Member of the Zoology graduate program (list of Adjunct Members) or a non-Zoology UBC research faculty with a tenure stream professorial board appointment.
Zoology Doctoral students must have a minimum of four faculty members on their committee (including the supervisor). One committee member can be either an Adjunct Member of the Zoology graduate program (list of Adjunct Members) or a non-Zoology UBC research faculty with a tenure stream professorial board appointment. Adding a second faculty member from outside of the Zoology graduate program to a PhD committee requires a formal request and written permission from the Graduate Advisor.
Supervisory committees must conform to the policies listed in this section and should be formed within the first academic term. Consult with your supervisor regarding faculty members suitable to act as members of your committee. Choice of members of the supervisory committee is a joint decision between the student and supervisor. Once your supervisory committee has been formed, you are required to fill out the Supervisory Committee Form, which must be signed by the student, the supervisor, and the Graduate Advisor. The same form must be used to indicate any change in the supervisory committee.
Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies requires that graduate students meet with their full committee at least once a year. Students who have not had a supervisory committee meeting within the previous 12 months are not eligible for awards, and their supervisors are not eligible to accept new graduate students. All new students are encouraged to meet with their committee within the first six months of starting the program.
Prior to a committee meeting, students should provide the members of the committee with a brief progress report of 1-2 pages. If the first meeting of the supervisory committee occurs within six months of the program start date, the student can provide a brief introduction and training history with a general plan for research. For PhD supervisory committee meetings that also serve as the proposal defence, the student will provide the full dissertation proposal instead of the brief progress report. For all other supervisory committee meetings, the short progress report should include the following content: (1) date the student started in the program, (2) list of course taken and grades, (3) summary of research conducted so far, (4) research plan for the future, (5) sources of funding, and (6) papers published or in preparation.
Supervisory committee meetings will normally last 1 hour. Students should deliver a brief presentation at the start of the meeting on research progress and future planning. The rest of the time is normally left for open discussion.
Guidelines and Communication
All students and supervisors should read the Handbook of Graduate Supervision provided by G+PS, in particular the The Supervisory Committee section, the Roles and Responsibilities section, as well as the The Graduate Thesis section.
Also consult the Intellectual Property Guide for issues related to intellectual property, plagiarism, and publication.
In addition, the supervisor and students should discuss at the beginning of the term of study such things as:
- Expected work hours, vacation times, etc.
- Frequency and scheduling of regular meetings between supervisor and student
- Lab policies and etiquette, sharing of resources, sharing of lab duties
- Expectations about lab meetings, departmental seminars, journal clubs, etc.
- Policies about opportunities to attend scientific meetings
- Policies about authorship on papers and intellectual property
- Policies about leave (illness, parental, etc.)
Expectations and what to do if they are not being met
Every supervisor and graduate student will have a different relationship, and standards for these relationships differ between fields. Nevertheless, we strongly recommend that all students and supervisors read the Roles and Responsibilities document from G+PS, which lays out general expectations of supervisors and graduate students.
In addition, the Zoology Graduate Program expects that every student will:
- Have access to regular meetings with their supervisor.
- Receive enough guidance and intellectual support to fulfill the research goals agreed upon by the student/supervisor/committee.
- Receive clear guidance and requirements for graduation from their thesis committee.
- Be treated without bias with respect to (but not limited to) gender, race, age, sexual orientation, gender expression, disability, religious or political affiliations, family status, country of origin, and mental/physical health.
- Have a working environment free from bullying, harassment, and microaggressions.
- Have their scientific contributions recognized fairly (e.g. authorship, acknowledgement, etc.)
- Have lab duties and requirements not directly related to their research limited to 210 hours per 12-month period.
- Have reasonable freedom to direct their research goals within the framework of their supervisor’s research program.
If you feel that any of these expectations are not being met, please seek support. How to proceed may depend on the nature of the problem, and some resources for help are listed above in the “where should I go for…” section. However, no matter what the issue, the Graduate Advisors are always available to listen and work on solutions.
Solutions to serious problems in your degree can take many forms, including:
- Identifying concrete actions to work around the problem.
- Mediated meetings between involved parties.
- Having an advocate (usually Graduate Advisor) present at a meeting (usually a committee meeting).
- Changing the composition of the Supervisory committee to create more support.
- Referral to other sources of support who are trained in dealing with specific issues (e.g. bullying, authorship disputes).
- In irreconcilable cases, a student may be switched to a new supervisor.