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I just admitted and enrolled in a thesis-based master of applied science program in electrical engineering a month ago.

My supervisor sends me different papers sometime to read and I also schedule some meetings with him to talk about my research interests bi-weekly.

The thing is that I am so stressed about the situation going, sometimes I don't understand different terminologies in a paper or even cannot grasp the main idea of the papers that my professor sends me.

I cannot even come up with new research ideas at all. During the meetings sometime I ask some basic questions and my supervisor explain it to me but I can feel that these questions are dumb! One time I asked him a basic question and he explained 2-3 times, at the end he said "Is it something hard to understand?"

Overall, I am really stressful that I may cannot satisfy his expectations and disappoint him. Although this is my first semester and he acknowledged that my main focus should be on coursework, but I ask him personally to do some warm-up for research. I even talked to him about the terminologies that I don't understand and he said that it's Ok and I should just grasp the main idea of the paper, but how can I get the main ideas of the paper when I've never seen the basic terminologies used in a paper before?

At this point, I just try to keep my contact with my supervisor, scheduling bi-weekly meetings to ask him my questions, but I feel that the more we talk to each other, he becomes more disappointed of me because of dump questions that I ask.

My supervisor research group has three other MSc students who submitted one conference paper in the late of their first year of study, and I think that I should do that as well to keep my supervisor satisfied, but I really can not see the potential inside me to write a conference paper at the end of my first year in MSc, I roughly have 6 months time left to the submission deadline in the next upcoming conferences that my supervisor usually submits to them.

It seems he has not disappointed yet, or at least doesn't express it, but I need to catch up with his other students as soon as possible I think. So I wanted to ask that how can I control this situation and do something before things get worse than this.

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  • What is your question?
    – user438383
    Oct 8, 2023 at 16:59
  • @user438383 I wanted to ask that how can I control this situation and do something before things get worse than this. It seems he has not disappointed yet, or at least doesn't express it, but I need to catch up with his other students as soon as possible I think. Oct 8, 2023 at 17:03

1 Answer 1

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I think that your expectations of self are (far) too high. What you describe in the first paragraphs are entirely normal. You aren't yet a trained professional. In particular your statement that "I cannot even come up with new research ideas at all" worries me. That is actually one of the harder things for researchers to do, even for your professor.

You can't predict, after a month, what will be the case after a year, much less later.

OTOH, your interactions with your professor seem correct and their advice also seems correct. Relax a bit. Take it as it comes. The technical stuff that you don't yet understand will almost certainly become clearer as you read and think more. And also as you discuss the ideas with the professor and others.

It reads to me like a panic attack, not incompetence. Take a deep breath. Have culturally appropriate beverage. And, yes, focus on the course work and ask a lot of questions.

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