1

I am an international PhD student, in the last lap of my PhD, and have a little more than a year to defend my thesis. My work is in theory, and our simulations take a lot of computing time. As we are working on wrapping up my first paper now, I want to only focus on projects which will lead to publications since our Faculty requires 4 papers(published and/or submitted to journals) to be able to defend one's thesis. I have tried to talk to my supervisor about this, but he only spared 13 minutes listening to the project ideas I have had and did not get involved with ideas or give any input. I am guessing there is a bias how he handles my involvement in his projects since a relatively new PhD student(who is a local and have been in the department since his Bachelor's) receive a lot of his attention. It is not about that my supervisor should be more involved in my prospects, but at least he should give it as much attention as any other. He also holds many other positions, one of them being department head and trying to solve a serious work-environment issue in the department in a different group. So he remains quite busy in meetings since the last few months.

So, what should be my way of communicating my career prospects in the year to come with him and my team so that we can work towards achieving them in a specific time frame? I do lack the field-insights which my team has and in that respect, they can help me a lot to plan efficiently.

  • 1
    Some supervisors are more interested in the "new" projects, like readers are in the newspaper of today, not yesterday. Especially if they are overloaded with admin duties, they need something to take their mind off it, and it's most likely that a project that is fresh has more "refreshment value" than a project that is several years old. In other words: it does not have to have to do with you in particular, rather with the novelty value. Try to set up fixed slots, half-hour if an hour is too much, with a clear agenda for your supervisor. Help him supervise you. – Captain Emacs Aug 24 at 19:19
  • 1
    @CaptainEmacs can you move your comment as an answer to this? I really found it helpful and it is one of the solutions to my query. – Wandering_Alice Sep 1 at 17:00
  • Transformed into an answer, as per your suggestion. I didn't expect it be answer-quality, but if it helped you, it clearly elevates it to that. – Captain Emacs Sep 2 at 3:07
0

Some supervisors are more interested in the "new" projects, like readers are in the newspaper of today, not yesterday.

Especially if they are overloaded with admin duties, they need something to take their mind off it, and it's most likely that a project that is fresh has more "refreshment value" than a project that is several years old.

In other words: it does not have to have to do with you in particular, rather with the novelty value of your work vs. the new student's work.

So my advice is: try to set up fixed slots, even just half-hour, if an hour is too much, preparing a clear agenda ahead of time for your supervisor. Help him supervise you.

| improve this answer | |
0

These 13 minutes of which you speak, was that a meeting that you planned in advance? Or did you happen to meet him at a random moment? If it was a planned meeting, you should insist on another planned meeting of at least an hour to discuss this point and only this point. If it was a random moment, your supervisor might already be late for another urgent appointment.

| improve this answer | |
  • To extend this a bit... definitely try to schedule time with your advisor well in advance and at a time of his convenience. Additionally, make sure to speak with the team before talking with your advisor, as you indicate that they may be able to help you refine your ideas. – eykanal Sep 1 at 20:05
-4

You have less than a year to defend your thesis. You haven't published anything and need four publications before you can defend. Publishing four papers in a year is problematic: You have to write the papers, submit them, and wait for reviews. Can you manage that four times in the time you have? If so, great, go do it. Otherwise, speak to your supervisor about an extension.

Discussing new project ideas with less than a year surely isn't a viable way to finish on time. You need to focus on work that's nearly complete. If you don't have such work, speak to your supervisor about an extension.

I don't agree that your supervisor should give you as much time as other students. All students deserve a certain level of supervision. This level will vary as a student progresses: New students need more attention than older students. A supervisor may go above-and-beyond for some students at their discretion, likely benefiting better students, who significantly further the supervisor's interests.

| improve this answer | |
  • 3
    "Better students deserve more attention than weaker students. " I think that is a poor work ethic issue, quite opposite to being an effective way of working. Once a PhD becomes a part of a research group, it is a joint project until the completion of the thesis. – Wandering_Alice Aug 25 at 9:30
  • 1
    @tachyon I disagree. Supervision is both an investment and a commitment. Some students should be asked to leave, if they cannot deliver on their duties. The strongest should get additional time, if useful. Ultimately, supervisors have duties too. PhD students help them fulfil those duties. Time must be distributed to ensure better returns. – user2768 Aug 25 at 9:37
  • 2
    @user2768 I may agree with "Older students need less supervision than newer students." I do not agree with "Better students deserve more attention than weaker students" unless the student has really failed to apply themselves, become antagonistic, or are just lazying off. Once the superviser has accepted the student, they are co-responsible for the student's success. Of course, they cannot compensate everything, but it is a very cynical view to drop a student because they are not as successful. A wrong project direction can easily hold a good student back and make the "effectively" weaker. – Captain Emacs Sep 2 at 3:12
  • 2
    @user2768 Yes. But the selection ahead of time for a PhD needs to be so careful that a failure will very rarely happen. I consider a failure at PhD level to a significant degree a failure of the supervisor, especially their vetting of the candidates. – Captain Emacs Sep 2 at 9:48
  • 2
    @user2768 All agreed, and we have that, too. I was just quite concerned about your formulations that came across as if less successful students are essentially sidelined. One special problem with PhDs as opposed to undergrad and Masters is that it is not necessarily the student that is weaker, but the problem that is harder. This makes such tiering particularly prone to unfairness. – Captain Emacs Sep 2 at 10:12

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.