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My advisor is very young full professor who has been an advisor for only less than 10 years. She has many diverse projects. The project which I've started is 1 year old and this field is quite New to her and she is not so good at it.

However, the main problem is that she does not have enough time to help me. She is chair of academic courses and has lot of industry projects. So currently she is more like manager managing money and resources for projects.

So my problem is:

  1. Whom should i approach when I'm stuck ?

  2. I have many ideas, but i find very little utility in discussing with her as she understands nothing. What should i do ?

Thanks in advance

2 Answers 2

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Ten years sounds like plenty of time for your supervisor to become an experienced researcher. If they are young, don't discredit their abilities as a supervisor. If they are busy — well, all professors are busy. It's unlikely a replacement supervisor would help, there.

Most PhD projects stray sooner or later from the comfort zone of their supervisor — the very nature of a PhD research project implies that there will be novel work completed. It's also not the role of the supervisor to solve technical problems on behalf of the student (in my institution I receive less than 2 hours per week ‘workload allocation’ for my PhD students).

Trust that your PhD supervisor can guide you through the process of completing and writing up the project, and bring additional people into the project that can assist from a technical perspective. One of the best ways to do this is to contact active researchers in your field and invite them to be co-authors on your papers in exchange for technical input. They might not be able to put in any more time than your actual supervisor, but their different perspective might be enough to see you through.

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Whom should i approach when I'm stuck ?

How would we know? We have no idea who the candidates are.

I would suggest identifying someone locally to help you navigate this.

  • Ideally, the professor herself, if she is reasonable. Obviously you'll need to raise this very carefully, to avoid antagonizing her or suggesting that you cannot meet her expectations without "extra" supervision
  • Her past or more senior students may be wiling to give advice if they have had similar problems with her
  • The graduate advisor, or another trusted professor

Some possible solutions to explore:

  • Is there a post-doc, senior student, or collaborator in industry who could be formally assigned as your day-to-day supervisor or mentor?
  • Could a co-advisor be named?
  • Could she promise you a weekly or bi-weekly appointment? (though this may not help you, if she is not helpful)
  • Could you change your thesis topic? (not sure if you are willing to do this)

Failing that, it may be a matter of looking for a better advisor.

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