I am a master student, my advisor gave me a topic he is not an expert at, a new field to him. The point is he is not an expert in the field he threw me in. He doesn't even give me technical advice in the topic when I ask. He is very old and lazy and the topic is a bit different than what he used to publish in so he doesn't understand much of what I am saying. Partly because he doesn't have a background in the field, our meetings are not productive. I stopped visiting and now he blames me in front of his colleagues!

I am very irritated as I am not benefiting from the meetings. Why should I waste my time when I am fine working on my own?

How to politely tell him "your meetings are not beneficial and I will work on my own"?

  • 15
    There is lots of other types of advice you can get from an advisor that doesn't directly related to the nitty gritty of the task you're working on. Are you sure you don't just have a conflict of expectations rather than truly getting nothing out of it?
    – Bryan Krause
    Nov 8, 2020 at 2:02
  • 4
    'the topic is a bit different than what he used to publish in so he doesn't understand much of what I am saying' Check the published marking criteria for the thesis. It's possible that one of the skills on which you'll be graded is your ability to make your work understood by someone who's not a specialist in the field. Nov 9, 2020 at 13:12

1 Answer 1


The goal of a master's degree is (among others) learning the first steps of doing research. Most master students are not great at that yet. That's what your advisor is for. They are the persons that can help you to become a better researcher, on how to structure your thesis, on what your priorities should be, how to approach people who might be experts in this field.

Another thing that this advisor might be able to help you with is your communication. You say that he doesn't understand what you are saying because he does not have a background in the field. I've heard/read (forgotten the source) an idea along the following lines:

If somebody doesn't understand what I am explaining, it doesn't mean that they are not intelligent enough to understand, it means that I should explain it better.

This only holds up to some degree, but given that this is an academic advisor, you should be able to explain your ideas and thoughts in a way that they can understand.

Abandoning the meetings doesn't sound like a way to handle this where you end up with a good thesis. Your advisor will be grading you and it is your best interest to make the thesis in such a way that they understand and are comfortable reading.

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