Supervisory Team Terminology

GW4-CAT HP PhD Supervisory Team

The Wellcome Trust funded GW4-CAT HP PhD Programme Supervisory Pool is structured to take into account the terminology and definitions used at the four institutions within the partnership so that all concerned experience a level playing field. 


Wellcome Trust GW4-CAT HP Research Training Fellow

The clinical PhD fellow will have full ownership of their project, act as Principle Investigator and develop skills not only in research, but also as a research leader who will ultimately be developing an independent research career leading a research team. 

Senior Supervisor

This term will be applied to all the individuals that appear on the GW4-CAT HP Supervisory List.  Senior Supervisors are senior academics who have the experience and capacity to take responsibility for the PhD fellow with regard to university regulations and have a thorough understanding of the requirements and expectations of the Wellcome GW4-CAT HP Programme.  They will have significant experience of supervising PhD students and fellows to successful completion.  Senior Supervisors can take on a supervisory role for more than one GW4-CAT HP fellow where the expectation is that they will provide oversight of the project and training rather than regular day-to-day supervision.  We expect that the Senior Supervisor will have input into the clinical fellow training and development on an ongoing and regular basis, be responsible for ‘training the trainer’ where more junior academics are filling the Lead Supervisor role, and have responsibility to inform the GW4-CAT HP Directors on the progress of the project and the clinical academic career development of the PhD fellow.

Lead Supervisor

The Lead Supervisor is the academic who will be working directly with the fellow, providing day-to-day supervision, but who has not yet met the criteria required for Senior Supervisor.  They will meet the criteria for PhD supervision set by the host organisation and have responsibility for monitoring progress of the PhD fellow and local reporting.  Lead Supervisors are expected to benefit from involvement with the Programme and may join the list of Senior Supervisors in the future.  A Lead Supervisor can only fulfil this role for one GW4-CAT HP PhD Fellow at any one time.

  • A Senior Supervisor can also be Lead Supervisor, but not vice versa


The GW4-CAT HP Directors expect that the supervisory team will include supervisors from more than one of the Institutions involved to maximise the value of the GW4 partnership to the fellow’s project and environment.  Once the Senior and Lead Supervisor are selected, all other members of the supervisory team will be co-supervisors.


We anticipate that some projects will require specific input from other sources, such as international experts in specific techniques or curators of major resources.  For example, the fellow may need to attend a centre of excellence to learn specific laboratory skills for a short period of time. Leads in these areas will be considered Collaborators in the project.

Justification of Supervisory Team

To engender a robust research culture, team science approach and an understanding of how the supervisory team will work with the fellow for the duration of the PhD fellowship, we ask for a written statement that justifies the inclusion and roles of all supervisors and collaborators.  The fellow will adopt the principles of good research practice in developing the supervisory team and produce a document outlining the agreed roles and responsibilities, including an agreed plan regarding publication authorship.

Director Approval of Supervisory Team

The GW4-CAT HP fellow will be interviewed on the PhD project and supervisory team prior to starting their PhD.  The Director and Co-Directors will work in an advisory capacity when preparing the PhD project and will have the final say on the choice of supervisory team.

Quick Q&A

Q. What is different from the terminology used before?

A. The term of Senior Supervisor is now in place to reflect the experience and authority that this person brings to the team but recognises that other members of the team may be more involved in the day-to-day supervision of the PhD Fellow.

Q. Hasn’t this always been the case?

A. Possibly, but in some contexts this may have meant that the Supervisor previously identified as “secondary” (now Lead Supervisor), did not receive the appropriate credit for the major supervisory role.

Q. Why, is this different in other centres?

A. Yes, each institution in the partnership uses slightly different terminology and this can impact on career progression and reporting.

Q. What if the PhD Fellow doesn’t want a cross-GW4 supervisory team as is suggested here, but just one main supervisor?

A. The nature of the GW4-CAT HP Programme is that fellows are required to have a supervisory team drawn from more than one of the institutions. 

Q. Can Senior Supervisor also be Lead Supervisor?

A. Yes, this can happen.

Q. Can Lead Supervisor be Senior Supervisor?

A.  No, but the named Lead Supervisor should be aiming to become a Senior Supervisor in the future.

Q. Who can I speak to about this as it sounds confusing?

A. Please speak to the GW4-CAT HP Programme Manager in the first instance and at any time during the preparation of the PhD outline.

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