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What should I do if I have lost faith in my PhD advisor (leadership, research direction, everything)? I have worked in this lab for three years and from my observation, none of my advisor's project work out and zero publications so far. Since I already had a gut feeling that everything would eventually go on a dead march, I have tried to propose to him an alternative approach but my advisor never listens (or only listens passive-aggressively). Guess what, my advisor ran out of funding, and he blamed us (the graduate students) for no publication. Now we all have to serve as TAs. I somehow manage to pump out my own project but my advisor didn't quite like it unless it's his idea. He told me he had no funding for my proposal and continue to gamble on his own project. (Come to think of it, no funding was a lie.) Recently, I am publishing my paper and the way he edited my manuscript is always cursory, mindless and pushy. I have a feeling that I am destined to fail the moment I joined this lab, any advice? Any experience similar to mine?

I joined the lab because his research topics are interesting but found out later that all his approaches to the problem just don't "hit" the point. For example, you know you need different tools to solve a problem but he just keeps using the same one again and again and my mind just get narrower and narrower. Also his work were simply a rehash of the previous one, like switching apple to orange, and everything else stays the same.

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    What's the reason you have not changed your advisor yet? – scaaahu Jan 25 '14 at 2:59
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    @user10694 I do not believe you answered scaaahu's question. Why are you still with that adviser? The normal thing to do in your situation is to change advisers. – earthling Jan 25 '14 at 5:49
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    Why are there so many downvotes on this question? It's sort of personal, but I don't feel that this is a bad question per se. – xLeitix Jan 25 '14 at 11:18
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    @xLeitix - I agree with aeismail about the "backstory," especially when you consider the source. This isn't the first time 10694 has gone off about jealousy, egos, and alleged abuse, about an advisor who "never listens", and the frustration of getting advice from soneone who "isn't smarter" than the student. Too much "everyone's out to get me" as a recurring theme raises my skepticism. Even if there is a valid case here, though: either buck up, grit your teeth, and finish; or else find a new advisor. – J.R. Jan 25 '14 at 13:40
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    Cuz I beat him — Get out. Get help. – JeffE Jan 25 '14 at 16:05
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but found out later that all his approaches to the problem just don't "hit" the point

...

I guessed he hate me for that and trying to stall my work

...

Any risk that he will rant me to the co-supervisor?

...

I just had that bad feeling about the project he led and many of his direction doesn't make sense to me. Doing his way or my way is doomed anyway.

There is only one suggestion that we can give you. Get out of there. There is no telling whether his research is indeed "doomed", or whether you just have different angles of attack and ideas. In the end, it does not matter. You have no respect in his guidance and will need to find an advisor whose advise you actually trust.

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we get along okay

You don't.

Look at your question (and if you're so inclined, look at your previous questions). As user11171 and xLeitix point out in a previous answer, the advisor-student relationship is broken.

At this point, it almost doesn't matter whose fault it is (but see below). Since the trust in the relationship is gone, even well-intentioned gestures will be misunderstood, and unless there's a strong desire on both sides to repair things, the best bet is to leave.

For the future though, as you look for a new advisor, it's important to keep in mind that on average advisors are not malicious agents trying to harm their students. Again, I emphasize on average. Which means that behavior that carries multiple interpretations can be interpreted as benign but neglectful rather than as malicious.

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Sounds like you two just don't get along. You are not interested in what the other is working on, and there seems to be no respect between the two of you. You need to think about working with someone else, or you need to be more open-minded about your advisor's suggestions and his ideas.

I think that a very small percentage of advisors are universally terrible for everyone. Most student-advisor problems come from the fact that you are incompatible. You either need to make serious effort to understand one another, or you had better get out before it is too late.

  • we get along okay (at least respectfully) but I just had that bad feeling about the project he led and many of his direction doesn't make sense to me. Doing his way or my way is doomed anyway. – user10694 Jan 24 '14 at 23:50
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    I joined the lab cuz his research topics is interesting but found out later that all his approaches to the problem just don't "hit" the point. For example, you know you need different tools to solve a problem but he just keep using the same one again and again and my mind get narrower and narrower. Also his work were simply a rehash of the previous one, like switching apple to orange, and everything else stay the same. – user10694 Jan 25 '14 at 2:26
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I am sorry for your situation. I think many of us had confronted situations like this some time in our academic tenure.

Although you should make your own mind about how to handle it, I personally suggest looking for another adviser. If you feel uncomfortable and you don't want to end your relationship in a bad term (assuming your current adviser will not take your decision easily), you can always think about adding a co-supervisor. This way you'll be on track and will be mostly working with your second adviser.

  • Any risk that he will rant me to the co-supervisor? – user10694 Jan 25 '14 at 4:26
  • @user10694 Do not assume that your new adviser will be swayed by someone more than they will be swayed by you. When I hire someone (in industry), I care much more about the interview than I do about a single reference. – earthling Jan 25 '14 at 5:52
  • In most academic environments, advisers do their best in keeping a professional relation. It'll be less likely to rant about a current student with no point. And remember, he/she also wants to resolve the issues, for you and for himself. – NeoN Jan 27 '14 at 20:42

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