I am currently in the writing phase of my master thesis in a US-based university. Almost all of the feedback I am receiving from my advisor is either linguistic suggestions or just positive supportive kinda of a language. I am the primary investigator from my thesis.

How should I interpret this positive feedback and lack of critical comments? Could it indicate that the work is so weak and not even worth corrections? How can I direct their responses to be more critical?

  • 1
    Do you have to defend the thesis? If so, you might ask about how prepared your advisor thinks you are? That might give you a second prospective.
    – JonSG
    Commented Jan 22, 2019 at 18:54
  • @JonSG No i do not need to defend it.
    – N00
    Commented Jan 22, 2019 at 18:59
  • 3
    Take it at face value. It is unlikely s/he is playing a game. There isn't any point to it.
    – Buffy
    Commented Jan 22, 2019 at 19:05
  • 1
    What is your goal with the thesis? To complete the program? To publish?
    – Dawn
    Commented Jan 22, 2019 at 20:15
  • @Dawn to complete the program and develop a manuscript for publication.
    – N00
    Commented Jan 22, 2019 at 21:42

2 Answers 2


The thesis is probably pass/fail, so I would just be happy and move the thing along.

I recommend to take the attitude that you are the "captain of the ship". If you are doing a good job it shouldn't matter about the advisor. Consider how you would just write an article as solo author to send to a journal. It would be your baby. This doesn't mean not to consider feedback, but I recommend to take the attitude of a Hollywood director, you make the final decissions--great art does not come from committee reports.

My point is that if you are doing a top notch job, it is not the end of the world that you are not getting close readings. Sure, in a world of unlimited time, that would be great to get. But your advisor has to prioritize and may have other students that are struggling, work of his own, etc.

In terms of publication, I would worry about that when you get to that. You may have minor or major transformation required to turn it into journal articles. But deal with that when you are in that, versus trying to make a thesis match exactly a journal article. There are some logical differences of the two. For example longer lit review is normal in a thesis. Or you may show some incomplete work (so at least it is memorialized somehow) or have small innovations in apparatus or methods to share with your future lab group mates. If you are just publishing a monograph, that is a little different, but I would still lean towards just letting that be the thesis itself (this is different in history/lit if you actually go through a book publisher).

Finally, just push the thing along and move on to other work. There is so much to do in the world and master's theses are rarely read. Still do "good work" always. But just try to get this project done and move on to new research. You sound like you are capable of good things.


That’s a good sign. Not all the advisors would take pains to provide you with lots of English corrections. I suggest that you make sure all corrections are made. Some people in academia may be very negative about a paper written in bad English. It might have a very negative impact. You may ask American students to help you out with this simple task of editing your work. Then your advisor might switch to some other recommendations or critique. It might make your work even better if you accelerate the editing in this way. Your advisor will undoubtedly be very impressed. And I’m almost sure some other improvements will be suggested to you apart from constant English language corrections. I would have given the same feedback. I mean first things first. Language should not be dismaying; otherwise, as I said, it can have a very negative impact on your work, while it’s the contents the paper should be judged on. It’s good that your advisor is ready for the nitty-gritty job of plowing through the language of your paper. That’s commendable.

  • I started doing that after the first feedback but that didn't change the type of feedback I am receiving but decreased the number of comments quite a lot.
    – N00
    Commented Jan 22, 2019 at 19:00
  • 1
    That's very good but I would not let up. I mean you can improve it a lot more. You can also give it to more professional editors. You should also talk it out with your advisor. Ask how good or bad your work is apart from broken English. Ask if you need to submit it to more professional editors or it's already okay. Talk it out. Ask for a fair preliminary assessment. That's straight forward but that should be helpful. You should know where you actually stand with your paper.
    – Ken Draco
    Commented Jan 23, 2019 at 10:22

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .