Responsibilities of the Advisor

A Faculty Advisor's primary task is to guide and inspire their students to reach their scholarly potential. The Advisor should promote conditions conducive to a student's research and intellectual growth, providing appropriate guidance on the progress of the research and the standards expected. Good supervisory practice includes the following:

  1. Facilitating the student's intellectual growth and contribution to a field of knowledge.
  2. Guiding the student, with the assistance of the Advisory Committee, in the development of a program of study.
  3. Assisting in the development and execution of a research program or project.
  4. Being reasonably accessible to the student via telephone, electronic communication or in person for consultation and discussion of the student's academic progress and research problems. What constitutes "reasonable accessibility" may vary according to discipline, stage of research, etc. However, an Advisor must be in contact with the student frequently enough to be able to make an informed judgement on the student's progress on a semesterly basis.
  5. Thoroughly examining written material submitted by the student, making constructive suggestions for improvement and informing the student of the approximate time it will take for submitted written material to be returned with comments. Normally, comments should be returned to the student within two weeks, although circumstances such as absences from campus or unusually heavy workload may require that the Advisor take longer than two weeks to review the student's work. Timing of submission and review should be negotiated between student and Advisor.
  6. Advising the student as to the acceptability of the draft thesis or research project prior to submission to the Advisory Committee. If the Advisor believes the thesis or research project is not ready for submission or will not be ready within a particular time, the Advisor should so indicate with written reasons to the student. In cooperation with the Chair or Departmental Graduate Program Coordinator, the Advisor will help to organize qualifying and final examinations.
  7. Assisting the student in learning about all appropriate deadline dates and regulations associated with thesis review, examination and submission, as specified in the Graduate Calendar and/or by the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and/or the Department or School.
  8. Giving ample notice of extended absences from campus such as research leaves, and making satisfactory arrangements for the advising of the student when the Advisor is on leave or on extended absence from the campus. Where a faculty member knows that they will be on leave for part of a student's program prior to the start of the program, the student should be informed of this at the outset. Depending on the length of absence and the stage of the student's program, it may be necessary to make arrangements for an interim Advisor.
  9. Making reasonable arrangements, within the norms appropriate to the discipline and the limits of the material and human resources of the University, so that the research resources necessary for execution of the student's thesis or major paper research are available.
  10. Advising the student of regulations designed to provide them with a safe environment. These include relevant safety and/or workplace regulations as well as policies designed to protect individual rights and freedoms. The Advisor will alert the student to any personal risks that may be encountered in the course of the research and provide training, guidance and adequate equipment appropriate for those risks.
  11. Chairing the Advisory Committee. Responsibilities will include:
    • holding regular Advisory Committee meetings with the student, normally no less than once per semester
    • submitting evaluation reports every semester, when required by the program of study, in consultation with and signed by the Advisory Committee, to the Departmental Graduate Program Committee and the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies
    • formulating a written plan of action with the student and the Advisory Committee to address any problems that have been identified as a result of a semester progress review, and
    • when a semester progress rating of "Some Concerns" or "Unsatisfactory Progress" has been assigned, providing written notification, including the signatures of all Advisory Committee members, to the Faculty of Graduate Studies.1
  12. Complying with any commitment of financial support made to the student as part of the offer of admission. In the event that expected financial support becomes unavailable, the Advisor will work with the Department and the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies to ensure support for the student.
  13. Acknowledging, in accordance with University policies, the contributions of the student in presentations and in published material, for instance through joint authorship.
  14. Immediately disclosing to the Department Chair any conflict of interest that arises with the student. Conflicts of interest will arise when there are sexual, romantic, or familial ties between the Advisor and student or when there are irreconcilable interpersonal conflicts, and in such cases it is expected that the faculty member will withdraw from the role of Advisor. Conflicts of interest may also arise when: 
    1. the Advisor or student have a financial interest in the outcome of a research project (in these cases, the decision as to whether withdrawal is appropriate should be made in consultation with the Department Chair) and
    2. the Advisor is the instructor of a graduate course in which their student(s) is/are the sole registrant(s) (in these cases, the Department Chair (or designate) should ensure that work for grading is also evaluated by a second Graduate Faculty member with appropriate expertise.)

A "satisfactory" evaluation represents normal progress on course work and research. A "some concerns" report is compatible with an expectation for successful completion of the program, but indicates some specific concerns regarding the student's current performance and/or progress on course work or research or both. An "unsatisfactory" report is a clear indication of concern about the student's ability to complete the program. Such concern may be based on poor performance in course work or research or both. Unsatisfactory progress could include failure to meet agreed research milestones, including the timely preparation of a research proposal.