I'm a master's student and my thesis supervisor is quite a perfectionist. She's too much focused on pointing out errors relating to formatting and typos, and less on the content. She gets absolutely furious at even the slightest use of passive voice in thesis, and whenever she comments on the content, she just writes "why?" at the end of the sentence. How can I handle this problem?

  • 5
    How do you know she is “absolutely furious”?
    – Dawn
    Jun 13, 2018 at 9:38
  • 7
    You need to give us more to convince us that this is a problem. Pointing out formatting and typos is legitimate. Pointing out a substantive problem with "why?" is legitimate to; you need to provide the content, not the advisor. Maybe you can elaborate on "absolutely furious" as @Dawn suggested? Jun 13, 2018 at 9:48
  • 8
    Well, maybe the content is just okay. My former supervisor would correct the colours used in my presentation if he could not find anything to criticise - and I never thought about that as a problem.
    – The Doctor
    Jun 13, 2018 at 9:56
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    When I read a student's work, I sometimes find it hard to get around the silly mistakes to the meat of the paper, especially if there are many mistakes. One of the most important things an academic or research needs to learn is clear, concise communication.
    – Peter K.
    Jun 13, 2018 at 11:30
  • 6
    I tend to get increasingly emphatic on my comments if I have to repeat them multiple times. Not ideal, I'm aware, but might come across as "furious" for the uninitiated. Are you sure it isn't the case? Jun 13, 2018 at 14:39

1 Answer 1


Talk to her, openly and honestly. Try to figure out what bothers you most. Is it the extra work? Or is it the absence of response or guidance on content? In the latter case, maybe you could arrange an extra supervisor or sounding board for that part. I understand it can be annoying. I had a supervisor once, who book keeped whether all his comments were addressed by me, and not only his comments, also the comments of other supervisors. On the other hand, your thesis will be online forever. It is a public document. Your name and your supervisors name will be on it. So a little bit perfectionism now will benefit you in the long term.

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