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I am an undergraduate student in Computer Science. I asked a supervisor for thesis and he must still send me the first materials for starting. The actual supervisor hasn't yet even told me exactly what I must do and is waiting for me to return from my Erasmus to start. In the meanwhile I discovered that another supervisor is doing something that interests me more. The research area is what I would like to study also in my graduate studies. Is it a problem if I change my supervisor at this point?

Thank you in advance for your answers

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    I disagree with the close vote. Undergraduate research is on-topic here.
    – Nobody
    Sep 2 '16 at 10:26
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The relationship between a research supervisor and student is a relationship between consenting adults. While local cultures may differ somewhat between institutions, the general rule in academia is that you may change supervisors if doing so will advance your own training and professional objectives.

Indeed, changing early --- before the research relationship has even properly begun --- is the best time for everyone concerned. A supervisor/mentor could legitimately be annoyed, or worse, if you leave after s/he has invested substantially in you, and still has little to show for it.

There are at least two important questions to consider, however: whether you should change supervisors, and how you go about it.

On whether: the best source for information about supervisors is the community of other students, especially those further along in the program, including especially those who are current or former supervisees of your prospective mentor. If it is possible to do so, try first to contact some of these students and ask, "What is Dr. X like to work for? Any problems?" Do your research first, before switching.

On how: Mentors are human beings, too, and may not enjoy a perceived rejection. So: first make absolutely sure you have the new mentor's approval to join their group. Then, let the old mentor know. If possible, have this conversation in person, not via email. Emphasize the new mentor's research interests and how they match yours; even if part of the reason for the switch is the old mentor's shortcomings, you need not emphasize those unless pressed.

Good luck.

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  • Thank you for the answer which I find very useful. Actually before choosing my actual supervisor I did a research and found out that the actual supervisor works better with students, he has many phd students who help you and generally he is more available for suggestions, the other supervisor isn't actually a good choice for an undergrad student because he treats advanced topics and doesn't care about your problems.I am hard working and the research topic of second supervisor intersts me more but I am afraid to get stuck with problems without having enigh support from him. That's my dilemma...
    – Sarah T.
    Sep 2 '16 at 13:37
  • I think overall the relationship with the supervisor is more important than the topic. I would go with the supervisor who has a reputation for being available and supportive of students. Sep 3 '16 at 9:39
  • Thank you very much. I think I keep reamining with my actual supervisor. Your suggestion was so useful and I am now more comfortable with the idea.
    – Sarah T.
    Sep 5 '16 at 9:01
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For the universities I'm familiar with, changing either supervisor and/or topic is possible, at least before you have started. I know of cases where the student has changed both topic and supervisor mid-way through their thesis as well, however, I can only say i would not recommend this. It's best you do something you are interested in.

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Its your choice, your free will, your interest. Just do it before it gets too late to change. Changing supervisor doesn't matter unless your university have different rules. but a good decision for your future now is better for your future studies.

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