<p>Literature about doctoral supervision has concentrated on describing the ever lengthening lists of functions that must be carried out. This functional approach is necessary but there has been little exploration of a different paradigm, a conceptual approach towards research supervision. This paper, based on interviews with supervisors from a range of disciplines, aims to fill this a gap. The main concepts identified are: Functional: where the issue is one of project management; enculturation: where the student is encouraged to become a member of the disciplinary community; critical thinking: where the student is encouraged to question and analyse their work; emancipation: where the student is encouraged to question and develop themselves; and developing a quality relationship: where the student is enthused, inspired and cared for. Supervisors of doctoral students are also trying to reconcile the tensions between their professional role as an academic and their personal self as well as encouraging students to move a long a path towards increasing independence. The concepts are examined in the light of each of these tensions. Finally the research illuminates the power of the supervisor’s own experience as a student and the paper suggests that supervisors need to be aware of both the positive and negative aspects of each of these conceptual approaches.</p
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