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Developing Networks Near and Far

Getting the Most Out of Your Doctorate

ISBN: 978-1-78769-908-3, eISBN: 978-1-78769-905-2

Publication date: 24 April 2019


Supervisors and other academic staff can provide PhD students with invaluable professional support and opportunities for advancing their careers. This stems from the strong academic and networking provisions often offered to PhD students by nature of the supervisory mentorship. Although this professional relationship is highly beneficial in itself, many PhD students also wish to develop social and more personal friendships with their supervisors, in addition to academic connections. In this way, PhD students may seek a space to comfortably share their personal lives, identities, and experiences with supervisors and develop a working and personal relationship that extends beyond their doctoral program.

In order to better support how and why PhD students build social and personal relationships with their supervisors, this chapter draws upon evidence from an international collaboration across three institutions in the United Kingdom and China related to doctoral students’ social transition experiences. Building on our experience using an innovative mixed method combination of social network analysis, longitudinal diaries, blogs, and in-depth interviews, we explore the complex, dynamic, and, at times, turbulent social relationships between PhD students and supervisors. Specifically, this chapter provides tips for PhD students to manage and maintain social relationships with their supervisors in order to build lasting connections. This includes advice for establishing personal acquaintanceships between students and supervisors and bridging the gap from supervisor to colleague to friend. Altogether, readers will consider actionable steps for developing socially meaningful and sincere relationships with supervisors or other mentors.



Mittelmeier, J., Jindal-Snape, D., Rienties, B., Zhang, K.Y. and Chen, D.Y. (2019), "Developing Networks Near and Far", Dollinger, M. (Ed.) Getting the Most Out of Your Doctorate (Surviving and Thriving in Academia), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 83-99.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Jenna Mittelmeier, Divya Jindal-Snape, Bart Rienties, Kate Yue Zhang and Doris Yakun Chen