My supervisor gave a lot of feedback (in actuality they are mostly complaints) about a part of my thesis (while I have let others read my work and they were more understanding of what I wrote). There are a few helpful things but overall I found lots of her comments are related to not having a deep understanding about the science and the "end goal" of such experiment i.e. how the data can be used to best contribute the world (She is not a big expert in this area of research albeit having some experience).

She seems to dwell excessively on the "writing side" i.e. simply write a publishable "technical report" following what others have reported in similar experiments (which there are tonnes of things I dont like and I am not alone, there are numerous critique papers in this field of research that criticizes how things are unreliable. She attributed it as I have not read others' works because my format and content seem to deviate from others, but in fact I have read tonnes of them but I just found too many flaws).

I am more on writing for a full account and for the sake of science and advances (I know it may sound naive, but I really gave a lot of thoughts before I decide how my data should be used and interpreted but she thought they are excessive and didnt understand why I need to write them). While her comments may be useful in the sense of publishing a manuscript in a certain journal, however, I am under the impression that a thesis should be more free and more of a full account of what I can make the most out of my research, rather than straight up a manuscript catering to a certain journal.

However, there is no way I can pass my thesis without passing my supervisor, so how should I approach it?

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    It's your supervisor's job to teach you how to produce publishable content in your field. From what you said,your supervisor appears to be doing their job. You should probably be thankful that someone is looking out for how your work will be perceived by the professional community. Proceed as if there are reasons for the norms being enforced here that you are not aware of. There may be valid concerns with the system, but you won't change it by writing in an unconventional way on your thesis. You will just give people the impression that you are unfamiliar with the discipline. – transitionsynthesis May 5 at 22:50
  • To be frank, I am not really interested in dumbing my thesis down according to my supervisor's wish, for the sake of publishing it. I already tried to organize the "extra-discussion" in separate sections so if she wants to publish it, some simple editing to remove those sections should work. I have no idea why her comments are very negative in general, some reflecting a very shallow understanding of the subject matters. I have let others read my work and they have much more positive opinion. – RicardoR May 6 at 1:42
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    It is very hard for me to understand your complaint about your advisor. Everything you stated suggests that her comments are helpful. It sounds like you don't have a positive relationship with her and you instead regard her feedback with defensiveness, which is unfortunate. – 6005 May 6 at 2:35

Would you rather pass your thesis, get a degree, and start to get control of your career or get blocked? It seems to be an easy choice.

Don't lose track of the fact that this work isn't, hopefully, going to be the best work you ever do in your life, only the first (or an early one).

Fighting with a supervisor who can be a block is seldom (never?) a good path to success.

Take her advice on this. Get finished. Get a good letter of recommendation. Move on. Make you own choices then, when it doesn't have negative consequences.

Think of "getting done" as the big win, not winning an argument.

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  • Thanks for you comment. Maybe indeed this is the way I should go for, less conflict the better. – RicardoR May 6 at 1:43

While her comments may be useful in the sense of publishing a manuscript in a certain journal, however, I am under the impression that a thesis should be more free and more of a full account

You did not mention your field of research. In some fields, a thesis is a collection of manuscripts that could be published separately in a journal. If you are in one of those fields, you should certainly write that kind of thesis.

The reason a thesis is written like that is because you and your supervisor will be judged based on your journal publications more than on the content of your thesis. The thesis proves that the journal articles are coming.

You can have it both ways:

  1. Write journal article thesis.
  2. Publish journal articles in good journals.
  3. Write comprehensive thesis.
  4. Graduate.

My interpretation of your supervisor's advice is that you should never do step 3 before step 2 because step 2 is important and step 3 is a luxury.

I did all four steps in that order. My supervisor should have told me not to bother with step 3. I got no benefit from doing it.

Other fields of research are different.

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  • Yea, thanks for your answer. I probably will just delete those "extra bits" and reorganize a bit. The biggest problem is not her will to make it in a directly publishable format, I think her view about having extra things = bad quality is very wrong (especially I am writing a thesis, not a manuscript) . – RicardoR May 6 at 1:46
  • It may be wrong, but it might also be that everyone in the discipline thinks it, and you cannot change their minds. – Anonymous Physicist May 6 at 1:49

I am an undergraduate but if I know what I want, I KNOW WHAT I WANT. it is your thesis after all, and you are the one which life it is going to affect. I wouldn't let this go like she wants. Of course fighting and bad attitude is not a good choice but I would try to let her know that it is YOUR decision, after all. Comments and suggestions are more than welcome but thesis is a huge thing for me, I wouldn't let my thesis represents anything else than myself. Unfortunately, our mentors are often experts in other fields cause there is no time to commit yourself to everything, but they tend to put themselves on the top cause they have the title. So sad. Fight for your idea. Try to be civilised. Good luck.

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    Thanks. I wish the world were this straightforward :( – RicardoR May 6 at 1:47
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    @RicardoR it can be - do it your way and then don’t have the degree, it represents your choice. – Solar Mike May 6 at 6:08
  • I thought that no one can take your thesis away? You write it. Mentor is there to show you the way. Not to sabotage you. Am I wrong? – Visnja Jovanovic May 6 at 8:40

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