So, in my planning phase of my MA thesis in history, my advisor says I should have my research to her by X date. What does this mean? What does this look like? I asked her and she answered me with three more questions. That is what she does, she expects you to find the answer to most any question you pose.

So, I guess I am asking, what do I give her? Primary and secondary? Everything I have looked at or just the important things? I have like 10 or so pages of primary research that is mostly quotes or paraphrases for reference when I begin writing. Do I give her that?

  • 1
    Please explain what are Primary and secondary. You call "quotes or paraphrases for reference" primary, then what are the secondary stuff?
    – Nobody
    Jan 17, 2021 at 7:33
  • Have you tried talking to other current or past students of your advisor? I've been a student in 4 different graduate programs, and in each one of them there was quite a bit of department gossip by students pertaining to all kinds of things about the faculty members. However, the culture and climate where you are might be very different from my experiences (U.S. math graduate programs, but graduate students I've known in other fields say the same, especially in the humanities fields), and thus perhaps more context about your situation would probably be helpful. Jan 17, 2021 at 7:36

1 Answer 1


Unless you have some evidence that the professor engages in improper conduct (stealing the student's work), I suggest that you give her everything she asks for. There is no downside to this if the advisor is honest and helpful. The most likely explanation would be that she is trying hard to keep you on track and wants early warning if you seem to be wandering.

You may not think this is necessary, and it may not be, but some students do wander and lose focus.

So, assuming a good and fair advisor, sharing can shorten your path to success.

But, if you have evidence that she is not a good actor, you should find a way to work with someone who is. Bad actors are rare (I hope) but they do exist.

  • Upvoted, but I think the question isn't about whether to trust the adviser. It's "given that I"m not finished, just have some progress, what to send her?" Jan 17, 2021 at 15:12
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    @gnometorule. Yes, I think you are correct, but wanted to cover the bases. Too many horror stories on this site.
    – Buffy
    Jan 17, 2021 at 15:23

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