I am doing my bachelor's (undergraduate) thesis in a research lab. My supervisor, who is head of the lab, has assigned a junior professor and his PhD student as my direct point of contact. With both of them, I have a weekly meeting where I present the work that I have done.

I get severe doubts while reading the literature, etc. Should I approach my PhD point of contact for this? How often should I approach the head of the lab?

The PhD student seems willing to help. But, as a new researcher, am I supposed to ask him the conceptual doubts I am getting? The way you ask professors after a lecture? The topic of my research is completely new to me (I haven't been taught it formally before).

  • Possible duplicate of Problem with undergraduate research supervisor, how to proceed?
    – Poidah
    Aug 23, 2019 at 7:54
  • Welcome Awani. Have a look at another thread as another student has had a similar experience and there has been extensive discussion there.
    – Poidah
    Aug 23, 2019 at 7:55
  • Thanks Poidah for your comment, but my case is a bit different where the supervisor is willing to help.
    – explorer
    Aug 23, 2019 at 9:19
  • No problems Awani. Consider trying out the various grammar checkers out there. I find it has helped my writing and give really useful feedback on punctuation, phrases, etc. Some can be installed into web browsers or your word processor too.
    – Poidah
    Aug 23, 2019 at 10:21
  • I met my B.Sc. supervisor twice. Once to discuss the topic and the second time for the thesis defense. :-) But this was because I had an industry supervisor with whom I discussed my work once every two or three weeks, just to give another number/example.
    – asquared
    Aug 23, 2019 at 16:11

3 Answers 3


My undergraduate project meant I had a meeting once a week for 10 minutes... Some meetings left me with 3 weeks work... So it depends but for an undergraduate, once a week is ample.

Some PhD students have daily conversations, others less often, but that depends on the topic, field and the people involved.


For a bachelor's, I would say a weekly meeting is above average (lucky you!). If the PhD student is happy to help, then don't feel guilty about approaching them.

If you're meeting them on a weekly basis already, then I wouldn't want to interrupt many more times outside of that meeting. Try to save up a list of questions to be answered all in one go rather than giving constant interruptions to the PhD candidate. I've been in this position, and whilst I was always happy to help, I was always MORE happy to help if I could see that the student had really tried to work out the answer to their questions. If you go to them showing no effort on your part then their goodwill may run out quickly.


Once a week is fantastic and it is ok to sit with your doubts and concerns. Expectations are not high when it comes to undergrad research and your confusion is universal as people move away from a structured coursework environment into the more chaotic research arena. Learning to manage your doubts and frustration is an important skill as well.

Another way to break the long one week stretch is to email the PhD student and junior professor a couple of days before your meeting. Emails are usually well-received and allows both of them time to think about the issues before meeting you. Emails also force you to articulate and write out your confusion which is a great way to learn and practice writing. Just make sure you clarify that do not expect a reply and that you are just keen to maximize your weekly meetings. You may have already solved or come up with solutions by the meeting, that is great and you can present your new understanding but at least by emailing beforehand you have made given them a sense of your progress and your problem solving skills.

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