5.2 Code of practice for supervision of doctoral and research master's students
This section comprises the Monash University Code of practice for supervision of doctoral and research master's students and is based in part upon the principles outlined in the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research.
This Code identifies the reciprocal and shared responsibilities of the University, academic units and faculties, research supervisors and graduate research students to ensure that the finest quality of research and research training is maintained. The Code is regularly updated and refined by the Graduate Research Committee (GRC) and the Monash Postgraduate Association (MPA).
For the purposes of this Code and the Handbook, the term 'academic unit/s' refers to centres, departments, affiliated institutes, teaching hospitals, schools and other entities that have been approved for the purposes of doctoral and research master's enrolment.
The Code is divided into five parts:
(A) Responsibilities at the University level
(B) Responsibilities at the academic unit and faculty level
(C) Responsibilities of the supervisor
(D) Responsibilities of the student
(E) Conflicts of interest
The University is responsible for ensuring that appropriate policies relating to research and research training are developed and implemented University-wide. The policies will apply to students enrolled in graduate research degrees at Monash University, including students undertaking research at affiliated research institutes, teaching hospitals and other study locations.
The University must maintain a climate in which responsible and ethical behaviour in research is expected. The research governance framework of the University should therefore ensure compliance with applicable laws, regulations, guidelines and codes of practice governing the conduct of research.
The University should ensure that the following conditions are met.
22.214.171.124 Standards and requirements
- Key documents on the responsible conduct of research, including the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research and the University's own guidelines on the conduct of research, are readily accessible
- Adequate and accurate information is provided and induction procedures are followed
- Clear guidelines exist for all aspects of candidature, including the thesis examination process for examiners/adjudicators, outlining in particular the University's expectations for research degrees
- A safe working environment is maintained for the conduct of research
- A positive culture within academic units and faculties is promoted for the benefit of students
- The University's administrative procedures assist students to complete their degrees as expeditiously as possible.
- All supervisors are aware of the need to implement the relevant national and University codes of practice, policies and procedures for the conduct of research, and of the requirements and operations of the ethics committees
- Adequate provision is made for professional development of supervisors and potential supervisors
- When a supervisor is no longer authorised or is unable to continue in the role, the relevant academic unit is notified so it can initiate procedures to identify and appoint a suitable replacement.
126.96.36.199 Access to resources
- The student, where necessary, has access to guidance and tuition in skills development, English language, statistical advice and general research skills needed to conduct a research thesis
- There is access to appropriate physical space and research resources.
188.8.131.52 Intellectual property
- The intellectual property rights of all parties are protected.
184.108.40.206 Grievance procedures
- There are grievance procedures by which either the student or the supervisor may make representations as appropriate, should significant difficulties arise
- There are appeals procedures setting out the grounds on which, and means whereby, students may appeal against the conduct and outcome of the examination and evaluation of their candidature
- Separate procedures apply in the event of termination of enrolment.
220.127.116.11 Research misconduct procedures
- Students are made aware of the University's research misconduct guidelines and regulations
- There are clear guidelines for dealing with potential conflicts of interest.
18.104.22.168 Authorship and publications
- The University promotes an environment of honesty, integrity, accuracy and responsibility in the dissemination of research findings
- The University's Research Outputs and Authorship Policy is widely disseminated.
Refer to Sections 4 and 5 of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research.
22.214.171.124 Data retention
- The University's Research Data Management policy and guidelines on the safe and secure retention and disposal of materials and research data is widely disseminated.
Refer to Section 2 of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research.
Academic units are centres, departments, affiliated institutes, teaching hospitals, schools and entities that have been approved for the purposes of doctoral and research master's enrolment. Normally, the following responsibilities would be undertaken by the Associate Dean responsible for research degrees (or the relevant faculty graduate studies committee) or academic unit head (or the academic unit graduate studies coordinator or program director). These officers are responsible for advising students to familiarise themselves with the reporting lines and candidature guidelines for their faculty and the academic unit.
The academic unit (as defined above) or faculty should ensure that the following conditions are met.
126.96.36.199 Selection and admission
- The student is appropriately qualified for admission to candidature
- The student appears to have the capacity required to undertake the course successfully and in reasonable time
- The proposed research project is appropriate for the degree
- The academic unit is the most appropriate one in which the research should be undertaken
- Due recognition is given to the research interests and ability of the student in determining the project
- Information is provided to prospective students about the research interests and experience of all staff in the academic unit.
188.8.131.52 Supervision arrangements
- The proposed supervisory team is sufficiently expert and interested in the area of research to offer the student appropriate supervision
- The proposed supervisor(s) meet the University's requirements for Research Supervision Accreditation
- When a supervisor is no longer authorised or is unable to continue in the role, the head of the academic unit formally advises the student within 10 working days and initiates procedures to identify and appoint a suitable replacement in consultation with the student.
184.108.40.206 Workload for academic staff
- The supervision of graduate research students is appropriately identified in performance development profiles which are used to manage the overall workloads for academic staff
- The workload of the supervisor is such as to allow sufficient time to give proper supervision to the student, according to the guidelines in this Code
- Supervisors must be given adequate professional development.
220.127.116.11 Workload of supervisors
- Supervisors must be afforded adequate recognition of the workload required to supervise their graduate research students
- Supervisory load limits for a supervisor are determined by the research supervisor's accreditation level
- In cases of poor supervision performance or serious violation of this Code and on the advice of the GRC, additional limits will be placed on the supervision load and level of an academic staff member, for a period of time deemed appropriate
- If a supervisor is unable to supervise for a period in excess of six weeks, the supervision arrangement should be reviewed and an alternative supervisor appointed prior to the supervisor's absence.
18.104.22.168 Appointment of supervisors
- The appointment of the supervision team is determined and agreed upon in consultation with the student
- On appointment, all members of the supervision team should agree on their respective roles and responsibilities, and this should be communicated to the student
- One member, normally the main supervisor, is responsible for administrative tasks.
22.214.171.124 Graduate Research Coordinator and Program Director
- A senior academic staff member within an academic unit is appointed to act as a graduate research coordinator to monitor the general progress and welfare of students
- A program director is normally appointed by the faculty to assume overall responsibility for program requirements within doctoral degrees;
- The graduate research coordinators, in association with the program directors where applicable, will provide advice on admissions, milestones, scholarships and grievances, and their workloads should be appropriately recognised.
- The coordinator should have access to appropriate administrative support.
126.96.36.199 Provision of information on requirements, policies and procedures
The academic unit should ensure that written information is provided to all students giving details on the requirements, policies and procedures relating to all graduate matters administered by the academic unit including:
- a statement on the facilities and resources available to full-time and part-time students within the academic unit and the University (e.g. library, computing and technical facilities, statistical advice, writing skills, language support and other such centrally delivered skills training and coursework components); information on the responsible conduct of research, and policies on authorship and intellectual property, including the nature and scope of confidentiality agreements;
- advice that the student's program may not be unreasonably influenced or redirected by political, commercial or industrial factors and that publication may not normally be delayed by external sponsors beyond 12 months;
- guidance to students on communicating their research findings through the media;
- academic unit/faculty/Monash Graduate Education (formerly MIGR) policies on the timing and mode of presentation of the confirmation of candidature requirements;
- a clear statement on the applicable policies, procedures and financial support available for fieldwork, conference attendance and research related travel;
- grievance and complaints procedures, whereby students may make representation to the head of the academic unit, appropriate officer and/or academic unit/faculty/University committee, if they believe that their work is not proceeding satisfactorily for reasons outside their control, especially in situations involving problems in supervision or unresolved conflict between students and supervisors;
- advice on data management including the requirement for safe storage and retention of the student's research data for a period of at least five years after acceptance of the thesis, and provision of facilities for same. Note: data retention guidelines in some research disciplines may exceed five years (see Sections 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206).
220.127.116.11 Consultation between faculty/academic unit staff and students
The academic unit should ensure that mechanisms are in place to promote regular consultation between academic staff and students, including:
- orientation programs at the academic unit or other appropriate level for students and their supervisors to outline procedures, give advice and discuss the University's expectations of students and supervisors;
- seminars on research procedures relevant to graduate-level research;
- a regular program of graduate seminars in the academic unit's research areas;
- training workshops on appropriate occupational health and safety procedures;
- seminars on appropriate training in ethical issues and related procedures;
- seminars and courses to provide information and skills development as well as opportunities for all students to participate in the intellectual and social life of the academic unit;
- access to common rooms or tea rooms to encourage collegial interaction within the academic unit.
18.104.22.168 Human and physical resources
Students are encouraged to make submissions regarding the provision of adequate human and physical resources within their academic unit. The research environment must be sensitive to cultural differences and the special needs of students with disabilities. Students must be advised that the University recommends the following minimum facilities for research students:
- furnished office/studio space, normally with 24-hour access (which may be a shared space for part-time and external students);
- mail box and secure storage space;
- personal computer access (sole use for full-time, on-campus students);
- appropriate level of access to photocopying, printing and stationery, software and internet access and IT support;
- access to unlimited local and internal telephone and facsimile calls for work purposes, and access to interstate and international calls as determined by the academic unit.
22.214.171.124 Duration of enrolment
- The expected duration of the candidature does not exceed four years' full-time-equivalent
- The academic unit must ensure the project is feasible in terms of time, facilities, equipment, technical and resource staff, source materials and funding for the expected duration of candidature.
It is the responsibility of a supervisor to provide ongoing research supervision and maintain a professional relationship at all times throughout the candidature until such time as supervisory arrangements are formally changed.
The supervisors should ensure the following protocols are met.
126.96.36.199 University policy
- Supervisors understand and adhere to the University's policy on intellectual property (see Chapter 6) as it applies to research students
- The direction of the research work is entirely under the control of the University and the student in accordance with University policy.
188.8.131.52 Guidance to student
- Guidance is given to students regarding the requirements and timelines for progress reviews including confirmation of candidature
- Guidance is given to students regarding the selection of any optional coursework and/or training activities that form part of PhD programs
- Guidance is provided about the nature of research and the standard expected, refining the research topic, planning the research program, presenting a research proposal, literature and sources, attendance at taught classes where appropriate, requisite techniques and research methods, and other relevant skills
- The supervisors are to be particularly sensitive to the need to ensure productive use of the student's time, especially in the first year of candidature. The student is encouraged to show initiative and self-motivation so that he/she will be able to pursue independent research with confidence in the final stages of candidature
- Constructive feedback on the quality of English expression and editing skills is given along with appropriate referral to support services if required
- Help is given to the student to interpret and understand examiners' reports and how to meet their requirements.
184.108.40.206 Establishment of timelines
- Detailed advice is given on the necessary completion dates of successive stages of work so that the thesis may be submitted within the scheduled timeand all coursework and/or training requirements completed at appropriate stages of candidature
- A schedule of regular contact (every two weeks for full-time students and at least monthly for part-time students) is established and maintained with the student. Meetings may include tools that allow real time interaction, such as telephone and Skype
- Regular written work, interim reports or research results, including the final draft of the thesis, and details of completed training activities are requested as appropriate and such work returned with constructive criticism, normally within two weeks for chapter-length drafts and as negotiated for longer pieces but normally within one month.
The main supervisor must be satisfied that:
- part-time work proposed by a full-time student to be undertaken during standard business hours (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) will not interfere with the progress of the research program, before the supervisor may approve such part-time work;
- full or substantially full-time employment undertaken by a part-time student meets the conditions of part-time candidature such that on-campus residency requirements can be met.
220.127.116.11 Changes to supervisory arrangements
- Where a change in research direction occurs, appropriate supervisory adjustments are negotiated as required.
18.104.22.168 Occupational health and safety
- The student is adequately trained in safe working practices relevant to the field of research and adheres to the University's occupational health and safety policies.
22.214.171.124 Responsible research practice and ethics
- The student and supervisory team are aware of the Australian Code for the Responsible Practice of Research
- The student and supervisor follow ethical practices appropriate to the particular discipline and relevant profession, and as specified by the relevant University committees and by the ethics guidelines set by any relevant funding body
- External mode and other students who are undertaking research as part of a joint project with a partner organisation observe the ethics guidelines and cultural sensitivity guidelines of both Monash University and the other institution(s)
- The student and main supervisor obtain all necessary clearance with respect to ethics in research on humans, animal experimentation, hazardous materials and biosafety. Further information can be obtained from the Monash Research Office.
- Arrangements are made, as appropriate, for students to make presentations of their research work at seminars of the academic unit and/or faculty.
126.96.36.199 Meetings and student's involvement in academic unit activities
- The student is encouraged to meet other researchers in the field and to attend meetings or conferences as appropriate
- The student plays a full and active role in the intellectual life of the academic unit. This is particularly important for part-time students and those whose major work is being conducted away from the academic unit, under external mode or in a joint project with a commercial, educational or partner organisation.
188.8.131.52 Support services
- Advice is given on the availability of relevant academic and other support services provided by the University.
184.108.40.206 Publication and co-authorship with students
- The student is encouraged, where appropriate, to publish and disseminate the results of his/her research responsibly
- The student's findings are accurate and reported appropriately
- The student is made aware that works of others are cited accurately and appropriately
- The student is made aware that it is not acceptable to submit the same research findings to several publications, except in particular circumstances such as review articles, anthologies, collections and translations; and the student therefore takes reasonable steps to obtain permission from the original publisher before republishing research findings. Publication must include information on all sources of financial and in-kind support for the research and any potential conflicts of interest
- The student is made aware that publication of his/her research may not be unreasonably influenced or redirected by political, commercial or industrial factors and is aware of the nature and scope of confidentiality agreements and the extent to which any contractual arrangements may restrict, delay or limit publication (although not normally by more than 12 months)
- Advice on formally communicating one's research through the media is available
- Agreement is reached with the student concerning authorship of publications and acknowledgment of contributions during and after candidature. There should be open and mutual recognition of the student's and all supervisor's contributions on all published work arising from the project. It should not be automatically assumed that a supervisor's name or student's name will appear on all such published work.
Refer to Section 4 (Publication and dissemination of research findings) of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, the University Research Outputs and Authorship Policy and Section 6.2.2 of this Handbook.
220.127.116.11 Peer review
- The student is made aware of any responsibilities to participate in peer review appropriate to the discipline, and assistance is given to develop relevant skills.
18.104.22.168 Intellectual property
- The student is fully aware of the University policy and guidelines on intellectual property and implications for his/her research.
22.214.171.124 Regular advice on progress
- The student is required to consult their supervisors when preparing for candidature milestones. The main supervisor must endorse any reports prior to presentation and confirm the completion of any training requirements
- The student is made aware, of inadequate progress, by the main supervisor who specifies the problems and suggests ways of addressing them
- Supervisors who think they may become obliged to recommend that a student be terminated because of unsatisfactory progress, must do so in accordance with the current Monash University (Academic Board) Regulations and relevant policy and supporting procedures.
- Reports are made regularly as required on the student's progress to the relevant bodies as appropriate.
126.96.36.199 Thesis preparation and presentation
- The thesis is properly presented and is worthy of examination
- The research and writing embodied in the thesis are that of the student except where due reference is made in the text
- Thesis work submitted must not contain any material which has been accepted for the award of any other degree or diploma in any university or other institution. The student must affirm that to the best of his/her knowledge the thesis contains no material previously published or written by another person, except where due reference is made in the text of the thesis
- Any assistance provided during the research phase, or any editorial assistance in the writing of the thesis, has been appropriately described and acknowledged
- Where the thesis is based on conjointly published or unpublished work, both the extent and the nature of the contributions of the student and the co-authors are stated
- The thesis demonstrates the student's capacity to carry out independent research.
188.8.131.52 Nomination of possible examiners
- The mainsupervisor advises the head of the academic unit or dean of the names of possible examiners, after consultation with the student.
184.108.40.206 Retention of data
- Original data are recorded in a retrievable, confidential, durable and appropriately referenced form and stored safely for a period appropriate to the discipline. The period for most cases suggested in the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research is at least five years from the date of publication. However, for specific types of research, such as clinical trials, 15 years or more may be appropriate. For areas such as gene therapy or work that has community or heritage value, research data should be retained permanently.
220.127.116.11 Absence of the supervisor
- The main supervisor must notify the student of his/her intention to go on leave for a period of two weeks or longer
- If the period of leave is longer than six weeks, an alternative main supervisor must be appointed prior to the supervisor's absence.
18.104.22.168 Resignation or retirement of a supervisor
- A supervisor must notify the student of his/her intention to cease employment at the University as soon as practicable.
It is the responsibility of the student to maintain a professional relationship at all times with the supervisor and other University staff and in relation to the following protocol.
22.214.171.124 Regulations and guidelines
- Be familiar with and adhere to the appropriate degree and academic unit guidelines and other information including national research codes of practice pertaining to graduate research
- Undertake mandatory induction and research integrity training, any relevant activities, and/or program requirements as soon as practicable after commencing enrolment and by relevant milestones as required
- Full-time students devote at least 4 days each week between Monday to Friday inclusive and during normal business hours on each of those days, to the pursuit of their study program.
- Part-time students devote at least 2 days each week to their study program, where at least one of these days is between Monday and Friday inclusive, and during normal business hours on each of those days.
126.96.36.199 Use of resources and facilities
- Use the resources, facilities and opportunities available in a timely and responsible manner to facilitate progress in the research project
- Acquire or improve the skills and knowledge required for completion of the research project.
188.8.131.52 Academic unit activities and meeting with other researchers
- Contribute to the development of the intellectual community provided by the academic unit
- Be aware of opportunities for meeting other researchers in the field and attend seminars, meetings and conferences, as appropriate.
184.108.40.206 Safe working practices
- Adopt, at all times, safe working practices relevant to the field of research and adhere to the guidelines established by the University's Occupational Health and Safety Policy Committee, and as adopted by the University Council.
220.127.116.11 Adherence to ethical practices
- Develop a personal ethos of appropriate research practices and conduct
- Adhere to research practices laid down in the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research
- Comply with provisions in Procedures for Investigating Complaints Concerning Research Misconduct
- Follow ethical practices appropriate to the particular discipline and relevant profession, and as specified by the University's ethics committees and policies on ethical human and animal research and biosafety and the ethics guidelines set by any relevant funding body
- Seek clarification and further information from the supervisor or other appropriate senior researcher on any aspect of research policy and conduct, as required
- When undertaking research as part of a joint project with a commercial, educational or industrial partner, observe the ethics guidelines and the occupational health and safety requirements of both the University and the partner organisation
- Prior to disseminating the results of the research by publication or other means, consult with, and obtain the agreement of, the supervisor
- Ensure the research is not unreasonably influenced or redirected by political, commercial or industrial factors.
Refer to Section 5 (Publication and dissemination of research findings) of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research.
18.104.22.168 Retention of data
- Ensure that original data are recorded in a retrievable, durable and appropriately referenced form and stored safely for a period appropriate to the discipline, but in any case at least five years from the date of publication. (Note, however, that for specific types of research such as clinical trials, 15 years or more may be appropriate.)
22.214.171.124 Meetings/communication with supervisors
- Initiate discussions or communication with the supervisors on the type of guidance and comment considered most helpful, and agree to a schedule of meetings which will ensure regular contact
- Notify supervisors of any planned leave or unexpected absences from the academic unit
- Negotiate planned leave with the supervisors and follow appropriate approval processes
- Discuss with the supervisors, graduate coordinator or Associate Dean (Research Training) any concerns regarding current supervision arrangements and any intention to investigate new supervisory arrangements prior to approaching potential replacement supervisors.
126.96.36.199 Meetings/communication with supervisors in the case of external candidature
- Negotiate with the supervisors an effective means of real-time communication and a schedule of on-campus attendance or equivalent research activities, such as attendance at a conference when a supervisor is also present, thus ensuring that the student is able to participate in the intellectual life of the academic unit.
- Before accepting employment, consult with and gain the approval of the main supervisor to ensure such work does not unduly impede the research work and that it complies with the University's employment guidelines for HDR students.
188.8.131.52 Grievance procedures
- Take the initiative in raising problems or difficulties and seeking solutions to these problems
- Be aware of grievance procedures, but seek negotiated solutions to any problems before recourse to those procedures (see Chapter 8 of this handbook).
184.108.40.206 Documentation of progress
- Document the progress of the work and any training requirements as agreed with the supervisors, and present written or other material at agreed times including milestones, according to general requirements laid out in Section 3.9 of this handbook as well as any faculty-specific requirements
- Undertake, in association with the supervisors, other reports as required
- It is the responsibility of the student, as well as the supervisors, to bring to the attention of GRC any problems that may have hindered the progress of the research.
- Prepare the thesis for examination, including arrangements for its production, proofreading and binding after consulting with the supervisor, as appropriate, regarding matters of style and presentation
- Ensure the research and writing embodied in the thesis are the student's own except where due reference is made in the text
- Thesis work submitted must not contain any material which has been accepted for the award of any other degree or diploma in any university or other institution. The student must affirm that to the best of his/her knowledge the thesis contains no material previously published or written by another person, except where due reference is made in the text of the thesis.
- Acknowledge and describe any assistance provided during the research phase or any editorial assistance in the writing of the thesis
- Where the thesis is based on conjointly published or unpublished work, state both the extent and the nature of the contributions of the student and the co-authors.
220.127.116.11 Electronic thesis
- Students should be aware of the University's eThesis procedures and adhere to the eThesis Policy, if they wish to submit an eThesis
- Students choosing to publish their eThesis will need to ensure that, prior to publication, their thesis content does not breach copyright laws, privacy laws or any other conditions relating to ethics clearance or culturally sensitive contact
- If a student chooses to publish their thesis via the Monash University Research Repository the entire thesis will be available to the worldwide research community. If a student chooses not to publish their thesis online other persons will only have access to the bibliographical details, title and abstract of the thesis. Access to the full text will only be made to authorised persons for non-commercial personal research purposes. All eThesis abstracts will soon be exposed through Google and other resource discovery mechanisms. Subject to embargo, the University retains the right to supply the thesis in whole or in part under Section 51 (2) of the Copyright Act for document delivery purposes.
Refer to Section 8 of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research and to the University's Conduct and Compliance Procedure - Conflict of Interest (including Conflict of Interest in Research).
Academic units, students and supervisors should be aware of potential conflicts of interest relating to research and to the student–supervisor relationship.
Conflicts of interest are defined as situations where there exists or appears to exist a divergence between the interests of the supervisor and those of the student, or between the interests of the student and supervisors and those of the University, such that an independent observer might reasonably question whether the professional actions or decisions of that person have been influenced by his/her own interests.
Potential conflicts of interest may arise in relation to the following.
18.104.22.168 Affiliation/financial involvement related to the research project
- Students and their supervisors must fully disclose to each other and their respective academic unit(s) any affiliation or financial involvement with any organisation sponsoring or providing financial support for a project undertaken by the student. Financial involvement includes direct financial interest, provision of benefits (such as travel and accommodation) and provision of materials or facilities.
22.214.171.124 Participation of student in submission of grant or funding application
- Students and their supervisors are to ensure a student's involvement in the preparation of a grant application does not impede progress in the research degree
- Students are to be:
- informed of the progress of the grant application and the outcome;
- involved in negotiations which may include, for example, continued participation in a project where a chief investigator relocates elsewhere; and
- informed of all key decisions with respect to the discharge of the obligations of a successful grant application.
126.96.36.199 A supervisor overseeing the employment of a student
- Academic units must be aware that a conflict of interest may arise where a supervisor oversees the employment of his/her student as a staff member of the University, whether this be in a teaching or other capacity, and must have in place mechanisms to allow recourse for students in the event that such conflict interferes with the progress of their research program.
188.8.131.52 Relationships between supervisors and students
- Academic units will not appoint a supervisor who is a relative or close associate (e.g. friend, spouse or business partner) of the student and which could give rise to undue advantage or disadvantage to the student. Should a close association subsequently develop during the course of candidature, the academic unit would normally make arrangements for alternative supervision if such association could give rise to undue advantage or disadvantage to the student in relation to the candidature.
184.108.40.206 Relationships between examiners, students and supervisors
- Academic units will not nominate an examiner who is a relative or close associate (e.g. friend, spouse or business partner) of either the student or a supervisors, which could give rise to undue advantage or disadvantage to the student.
220.127.116.11 Academic decision making and awarding of financial and material assistance
- A staff member will be prohibited from participating in academic decision making and assessment procedures (including the determination of a final result) for a relative or close associate, and from having involvement in the awarding of grants, scholarships and other forms of financial and material assistance to such persons.
18.104.22.168 Privileged relationships between supervisors
- Academic units must be made aware of privileged relationships between students and prospective supervisors or between prospective supervisors (such as marriage or other close personal relationships) which might potentially create a conflict of interest in their supervision of the student. Where possible, the appointment of supervisors having privileged relationships should be avoided. Such an appointment will need the student's informed approval and the approval of Graduate Research Steering Committee.