"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."
- Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina


There is much to object to for any attempt at discussing research supervision in general. Besides individual differences, academic disciplines are wide apart in their culture and practice, in research as well as supervision. It certainly is possible to come up with basic principles that are agreeable to all but they probably would be too general to be useful and instructive in specific contexts. Anna Karenina Principle is a good general reminder but dwelling on such principles for long is neither interesting nor very useful.

What then may we do usefully if research supervisors of different disciplines are to come together for a discussion? If we are to “train” colleagues new to research supervision, what would be an appropriate programme for it? What should professional development in research supervision be like? If we are taking precious time off colleagues’ academic pursuits, it had better be at least as interesting as their own research.

A promising idea may be this: treat professional development as a reflective research inquiry into our own practice and experience in research supervision in CUHK. A training programme, undertaken early as colleagues get into research supervision, would be preparation for their joining in the reflective inquiry, becoming not only supervisors in their own disciplines, but also collaborators in a long-term university-wide research programme in research supervision.

CLEAR envisages two components for such a programme: (1)reflective inquiry; (2)seminars. The booklet presents the first component, an agenda for reflective inquiry into research supervision, initiated by CLEAR with a view to be developed as field surveys are conducted to collect views of both supervisors and students, and regular open seminars are held for disseminating and discussing ideas of interest to research supervisors.