I am posting this on a throwaway account. I am 2.5 years into my PhD in Canada and to keep the long story short, my main supervisor proposed me a research discipline that he never worked on before.

( That much I understand, your supervisor might want to venture in a new adjacent domaine). I struggled a lot and I am not confident I am in good hands to finish. My main supervisor added a co-supervisor at the start. This co-supervisor was at the time of my phd 2 years out of her own and never had prior post-doc experience, so she is untenured..

My main supervisor is not really collaborative but is accessible for discussions. I would say he does 95 to 98% of the supervision. But I also go out and seek resources on my own (I secured funding on my own, I sought out other researchers (I am now on a visiting position), and bought textbooks. I know PhD is not meant to be hand-holding.

My co-supervisor does the bare minimum for the last 2.5 years. It was very obvious from email exchanges that my supervisor was doing most of the job. She attends meetings but thats about it. Her comments are like ' But you don't need to understand the whole article right', 'Its your thesis you should figure it out'. Scientific discussion and input from her was minimal. One time she talked down to me (sure everyone has bad days) but I never get a good vibe from her generally.

Another time I needed to know who to sign a form after doing my research on immigration stuff for visiting position. She kind of made me follow her advice on immigration procedures for my visiting position and refused to listen to what I have to say (I said kind of made me because they refuse to look at the form I showed them). My main supervisor took her side until it was proven I did my homework. From then on, I dont feel good about this because to me, such procedures are in black and what, not science, nothing to debate about. I honestly do not feel a benefit to this co-supervision.

I decided to let it rest since my main supervisor is head of department, and I figured someone untenured needs opportunity until my mental health suffered. I knew my progress was behind, its new research area and not resources to help me apart from charity email responses from other researchers and stack exchange.

I reached out to my graduate program director who at first told me 'Oh it could be done that she be your committee member and we shift roles around' and add the visiting supervisor as co-supervisor officially. So I was happy with that until he came back to me 2 hours later and say 'Well nothing stops you from adding visiting supervisor as a co-supervisor but the current co-supervisor's role will be important when you do Y.' Thing is she doesn't give much input on Y, and its likely I won't do Y. And it seems to me I have no right to remove her as a co-supervisor. I have a feeling the program director consulted my main supervisor and he for whatever reasons (could be she's included in a grant, he's looking out for her career , does not what to create a fuss)'.

  • Can I still apply to do a PhD elsewhere? People might see me as a red flag. Should I just suck it up and try to finish? What are my rights? I feel like I am forced to have her as a co-supervisor unless I quit...


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