Attention supervisors and PhD-students

Conflicting demands are common but important to address

  • Christofer Rydenfält
  • Henrik Szentes
  • Diogo Volpati
  • Niko Gentile
  • Tomas Liljenfors


The relationship between a supervisor and the PhD student is an important facet of a partnership that aims to successfully deliver a noble research work. It is solely from the endeavor and ambition of both parts that the objective can be achieved. Different expectations are naturally germinated around this relationship, creating a fertile ground for tensions between parts involved. In this essay we study tensions experienced by PhD students and supervisors by interviewing supervisors and PhD students. Five themes of tensions were derived from the empirical material, and then elaborated on using literature on organizational tensions and PhD education. One important conclusion is that the experienced level of control over one´s situation is important, and that the level of freedom for the PhD student evolves during the journey.