The present paper investigates PhD supervision meetings, using material from naturally occurring speech of ten hours by PhD supervisors and students who all use English as a lingua franca (ELF) for research purposes. The recordings have been transcribed in their entirety, with conversation analytical procedures and additional ethnographic interviews with the PhD supervisors. The present paper is a follow-up to the two previous studies by the author (in European Journal for Applied Linguistics 3, 2015, and The Routledge Handbook of English for Academic Purposes, 2016) and focuses on linguistic competence and content knowledge as factors possibly mitigating the power asymmetry present in the interactions. The findings show no observable power asymmetries manifested in the interactions or in the interview responses by the supervisors. The analyses showed that the supervisors' and the students' level of linguistic competence seemed very similar, which was further supported by the supervisors' self-reports of their own English and their informal evaluations of their students' levels of proficiency. When it comes to content knowledge, the students overall showed very good command of their subjects, disciplinary conventions and their projects in general, further supported by their supervisors' evaluations in the interview data. Based on these findings, it is suggested here that in ELF interactions of this particular type where the speakers have similar levels of linguistic competence and content knowledge, power asymmetries become less visible.
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