Some general points are made in this paper about the nature of postgraduate research degrees, and the process which results in a thesis is set out These are followed by considering the degrees in a nursing context and also in relation to the social sciences Next the aims of postgraduate research degree programmes are considered Approaches to the matching of students are set out Among those discussed are mentoring, collegiality, classification and framing, and the use of workshops In the conclusion, some desired outcomes of the supervisory process are suggested