I am a newbie in the PhD world (just started out). I have just finished my proposal and therefore committed to a problem I want to research and solve. However, my professor does not advise me much. However, when asking him he always tries to help me as good as possible, but that`s only the case if I am directly asking him about something. We have irregular meetings and I would like to use these meetings as good as possible, because I am fearing that organisatorial issues may come up later if I do not ask him now.

I was wondering what are the most important questions to ask him after the proposal stage? Any organisatorial stuff that will later be important for me?

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    Keep in mind the possibility that your professor may simply not know how to advise you. I've seen several people placed in positions of authority who simply don't have the depth necessary to advise.
    – Marxos
    Commented Jul 20, 2014 at 18:04
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    @MarkJ Thx a lot for your answer! Yes that maybe true ;). He also does not have a lot of time for me, therefore I want to use our irregular meetings as good as possible. Hence, if I am asking him important stuff, he will probably help me now than later. That´s the reason why I am asking this question. btw I updated my question!
    – Carol.Kar
    Commented Jul 20, 2014 at 18:07
  • -1 Unclear what you are asking. How to arrange regular meetings? How to prepare for meetings? The last two questions ("What should I ask him?" and "What organisational stuff will be later important?") are not answerable. Please try to emphasize the main issue.
    – mmh
    Commented Jul 20, 2014 at 18:45

1 Answer 1


First of all: If you are not happy with the way your professor advises you: tell him. It is possible that he wants to help but does not know how or that he wants you to have as much freedom as you want. However, it is also possible that you are expecting more guidance but you should (in his opinion) be able to figure it out yourself.

So, now to your questions:

What are the most important questions to ask him after the proposal stage?

(in no particular order)

  • Do you think that the problem I want to solve is possible to solve?
  • Do you think it is interesting?
  • Do you know related literature I should read?
  • [Explain what you are planning to do - as short as possible] Is it clear what I am planning to do or have I left out important steps? Do you think this is the best way to approach it?

Any organisatorial stuff that will be later important for me?

That depends too much on your situation, but that is another question you could ask (However, it may be possible that he does not know anything about that, some postgrad coordinator/secretary or whoever is responsible might be more helpful there. And, most importantly: ask the other PhD students).

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