1

For my doctoral programme, I have 2 supervisors: 1 academic (i.e. a professor) and the other an industrial.

Over the past few years I've found that my industrial supervisor isn't really able to contribute to my research that much. It's not that he isn't smart or anything like that, its just that he doesn't seem interested in me producing actual research and would rather I just implement existing literature or settle for something that doesn't fulfill my research aims.

I don't really want to go into too much detail but essentially my industrial supervisor has a low opinion of me because from their perspective it seems like I just do whatever my academic supervisor tells me. This isn't true at all.

Before knowing this (he told me himself in no uncertain terms) I felt like I could respect my industrial supervisor and talk to him about my work but now I don't really want to talk to him unless I have to.

What is the best way to deal with my situation?

For context, the current contact arrangements are that I speak/video call my industrial supervisor every weekday. With my academic supervisor its a back and forth email chain with a video call when we can't express things in an email. Prior to COVID, I would work at my industrial supervisor's company everyday and have to arrange skype calls from the office to my academic supervisor. This was difficult to do, so I only really spoke to him once a month and saw him in person every other month (its a 600km round trip).

  • 2
    There is always a conflict between academic blue sky type research and industry research, where there is a problem that requires a solution 'immediately'. Your academic supervisor needs to discuss the expectation of your research with the industry supervisor. Your industry supervisor needs to understand what is academic research, and that you won't get a PhD from doing industry work; i.e., you are not a low paying staff member he/she can exploit to get things done. – Prof. Santa Claus Jul 6 at 22:58
0

While there are lots of ways to go about this, one is to have your primary (academic) advisor intervene in some way with the other person. The industrial person needs to understand that your doctoral research comes first and shouldn't be compromised.

But, this assumes a few things that might not be true. First is that the industrial person can't put a veto on your work somehow. But better that the two "senior" people have a discussion about priorities than you fighting with a more senior person.

But analyze the situation before taking any advice, including this one. It is you that is at risk.

And, for what it's worth, your preference for the academic advisor is certainly appropriate.

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    This does seem to be the right thing to do. The only concern I have is that I could lose a significant portion of my stipend if the industrial leaves. Aside from that, I don't think they can veto anything or prevent me from graduating. The industrial person needs to understand that your doctoral research comes first and shouldn't be compromised My director of studies has had to do this already for a different yet related reason. I'll speak to them to let them know what has happened recently so if things get worse it won't be a surprise. – user2272296 Jul 6 at 22:12

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.