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Reflections on the Link between Supervision and Provision in Academia - Hüsnü Yilmaz

Reflections on the Link between Supervision and Provision in Academia

Hüsnü Yilmaz


One of the core objectives in academia is to establish a dynamic communication between student and supervisor. A mutually beneficial relationship between all parties, especially during graduate studies, has the potential to produce sustainable knowledge. This writing contest is principally organized in pursuit of a similar end, namely to benefit from the experiences of graduate students in terms of creating mutually productive ties between young researchers and their professors. In this regard, this contest aims to combine the reflections of graduate students on how a good supervision may promote academic development and success. It also provides an intellectual platform by which students at different stages of their doctoral research may come up with ideas about the impact of this particular relationship on their professional careers either after or outside academia. 


What makes the supervision of my supervisor special to me is not only related to his academic contributions to my research. This exercise makes me think of the encouraging and enlightening role my supervisor has also played in the process of writing up a story from scratch. It contains my individual reflections to acknowledge his role in making our story as a family real, which is for me equally important to his crucially important academic guidance so far. Put differently, this short article is an expression of my gratitude to my supervisor. Besides his priceless assistance in my academic orientation, I continue with the central focus of this text, which is the significance of my supervisor in our challenging journey in the past few years.


Academically speaking, I should admit that I have benefited from the scholarly expertise of my supervisor at crucial junctures of my doctoral research since the Winter Semester of 2017-2018. Among other things, his critical role in redesigning my research and providing several references, which opened up different possibilities for me, were decisive in the development of my research. I needed his constructive interventions when I was a mentally tired and confused beginner at earlier stages of my work. What was of equal importance was his advice on choosing a new methodological approach, which helped me benefit from the expertise of young scholars in the department. The letter he wrote in support of me was also important in receiving a travel grant from the Graduate Academy for the astonishing ECPR (the European Consortium for Political Research) 2019 Summer School. Similarly, his positive feedback and support for my application to the HGGS (Heidelberger Graduiertenschule für Geistes- und Sozialwissenschaften) was one of his key contributions that enabled me to become a member of an interdisciplinary research community. Moreover, both in the initial application process and while submitting the interim reports, his feedback made it possible for me to obtain and extend my doctoral research grant from the esteemed Gerda Henkel Foundation. Taken altogether, all of his efforts played a pivotal role in sustaining my academic focus, which was only a part of the whole story.


Our move from Turkey to Germany in August 2017 was a first step to make a new start as a family – myself, my wife and our 2-year-old daughter. It was a journey into the unknown, symbolically speaking. Thanks to a two-year research grant from the Gerda Henkel Foundation, I was lucky enough to have my family with me on this journey. I consider myself fortunate because I was able to resume not only my academic life but also keep my family united. That I could manage to resettle myself as a graduate student at the University of Heidelberg came after a challenging process that began in August 2016. In the political atmosphere in Turkey following the attempted coup in June 2016, my doctoral position in Istanbul was first suspended and then ended permanently. It became more chaotic for us after my wife and I had our working contracts terminated. Finding it very difficult to continue in the homeland without access to fundamental rights to work and education, it became urgent for us to move to a welcoming place, namely a ‘hostland’. After a challenging year, it was an honor to become registered in Heidelberg as a Ph.D. student at the Institute of Political Science. It goes without saying that it was my supervisor himself who was the key actor to make all this happen. 


Heidelberg represented a big ‘relief’ for us despite all the questions and anxieties we had in the beginning. It provided us with a ‘normal’ after experiencing a year of ‘state of emergency’, as well as an opportunity for us to rewrite our story. In this story, apart from the chapter of my doctoral research, two ladies in our family have their own parts too. It is a great pleasure to see that in the last three years my wife could achieve considerable progress to continue her profession in a new working environment and culture, and similarly it was an enormous joy for me to witness how well our daughter is adjusting to her new socio-cultural setting. My supervisor has always been an important character in this story, who provided enough room for us to progress. He has done this with the utmost care and sincere attitude. Whenever we were in need of some help, he was there for us. Not just physically definitely, but he has always been with us in the last three years during which we are happy to develop a sense of home here. Everything he has done made things easier for us.


Viewed from this perspective, my supervisor embodies the characteristics of an enlightened personality and presents how academic supervision could be merged with the crucial provision of assistance in the creation of new stories. He shows the potential that ‘academic supervision’ and ‘academic provision’ can go hand in hand through which personal narratives could be rewritten. He exemplifies the quality of combining different values in the implementation of a successful academic supervision. It is this noble and intellectual profile of its scholars that makes the University of Heidelberg so valuable and distinguished to attend. 


It seems that this text has become more like a collection of personal reflections expressed from a purely subjective perspective. In writing it, I felt free to come up with my own personal story as encouraged in the announcement of the contest. Keeping my firm belief that there will be many promising stories to be recorded in this wonderful university in years to come, I would like to show my appreciation to the Graduate Academy and the HGGS to have the opportunity to pay homage to the warm welcome and sincere contributions of my supervisor.



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