A few months ago I passed my first Ph.D. review: I got interviewed by an external reviewer on things I produced during my first year. My supervisor was present during this virtual meeting. Through his remarks and comments, I felt like the external reviewer had knowledge of problems in my supervisor's group.

These problems include:

  • The supervisor is busy being busy and simply does not have time to care about our projects.
  • Bad group structure, too many PhDs for only two post-docs.
  • Our projects are too different.

The consequence is really simple: Google is your best friend, and your only friend. No one is able to help each other.

I can handle this, as I am quite able to sustain myself. The only problem is that without advice and help everything is slower. I am worried that it will limit the amount of work I will be able to provide during my Ph.D. I already try to speak to him but he doesn't care and I am afraid that it will affect my relationship with him.

How serious is it to contact this external reviewer to ask about a meeting in order to speak about these problems?

  • Don't discuss these problems with them. But contact them for technical advise if a concrete question comes up. If you are lucky, they can somewhat fill the gap in your mentoring.
    – user9482
    Oct 19, 2021 at 6:59

1 Answer 1


I would suggest not doing this if you don't already know and have some relationship with the person.

Partly this is because you have already diagnosed the problem yourself so have a handle on it. Speaking "out of school" won't be appreciated if it becomes known and the external reviewer probably can't give you advice you can't find elsewhere.

If you want to contact the person, just ask them, without a preamble, if there is any additional advice they could offer, technical and otherwise, beyond what they already have said/written. Let them be proactive if they feel the need.

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