Role of the supervisor

What can I expect from my promotor?

The "promotor" (also called "supervisor" or "thesis advisor") is the professor who has taken the responsibility to supervise your research towards the preparation of a PhD dissertation.

The "good" promotor:

  • provides the necessary infrastructure (office, computer, Internet connection...) you need to do your research
  • helps you to find the necessary funding
  • guides and supervises your research, making sure that your plans are realistic
  • evaluates and gives feedback on what you have done
  • puts your ideas in a broader context, pointing out links with other research
  • suggests methods and approaches to tackle the questions you raise
  • brings you in contact with other people, organizations or publications that are relevant for your work
  • stimulates you to present, write down and publish your work
  • if satisfied with your work, will promote and support it towards the rest of the academic community (e.g. during the thesis defense)

However, in general the promotor:

  • cannot guarantee funding
  • does not always have time to see you or help you
  • expects you to study and work largely on your own
  • cannot do the research or write a paper for you (though s/he will in general contribute)
  • has many other responsibilities, including teaching, administration, organization, application for funding, and supervision of other students
  • expects you to share the burden by assisting in some of these non-research tasks (though most of your time should remain devoted to research)
  • may have the responsibility towards the agency that funds your research to deliver specific results and therefore can request you to concentrate on these, even though you (and him/her) may prefer to tackle different issues

For more details, see the official VUB document "Profile of the good supervisor".