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I'm not sure if many grad students face these struggles, as my advisor is in no way abusive or "bad". In fact, she is extremely nice, but just very unpredictable at times. For instance, the same request or question will elicit a very different response depending on the day, and that's really confusing to navigate. I think predictability is kind of key to any type of managerial work.

In addition, she will also play her cards to get what she want. For instance, the advisor I thought I will have through her actions/words during the rotation period, is different from the advisor I ended up getting (little time to talk about my project now, and doesn't seem to care). This happened again when she was trying to have me stay on longer for a project. I wrote a research proposal, but once she realized I was staying, there was attitude change again. Meetings were post-phoned to the point that we never actually discussed any part of the proposal after two months. Now I'm having second thoughts about the whole thing, but would it seem immature to back out of it now? In general, I can't figure out if this is acceptable behaviour, and if I'm just not learning the best way of handling it.

  • You might want to give more examples of the behavior in question. So far, you state that your advisor is unpredictable, but provide little to no facts. – svavil Oct 23 '16 at 16:55
  • Are you productive? Is she good? Do her students have a good publication/academic record? Then you may overlook her disorganizedness (or manipulatively, depending). If not, you may want to switch. – Captain Emacs Oct 23 '16 at 17:02
  • @CaptainEmacs I have been very productive so far... at producing negative results. Hence the need for mentorship, which is non-existent at times from her end. She is a good scientist, but probably not the greatest manager, although that's not rare in academia. None of her students have publications, since she's a newer professor. – Cornyvita Oct 24 '16 at 3:28
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    Well, you answered your question yourself: she is a new professor, new to the job. Sometimes it may help to give her a indication what you would need from her, very diplomatic, very polite, but clear. If she does not follow up on that, consider switching supervisors. It is fine to back out from a supervisor that doesn't do their job well and do not promise to improve. It is your right to know what you expect from a supervision. – Captain Emacs Oct 24 '16 at 7:33
  • @CaptainEmacs - I think the comments you wrote should go in an answer. Good response. – aparente001 Oct 25 '16 at 3:31
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She is a new professor, new to the job. Sometimes it may help to give her a indication what you would need from her, very diplomatic, very polite, but clear. If she does not follow up on that, consider switching supervisors. It is fine to back out from a supervisor that doesn't do their job well and do not promise to improve. It is your right to know what to expect from a supervision.

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    @Cornyvita - Yes, do provide clear feedback and guidance, i.e. assert yourself gently; but also take a look around you to see what other advisor prospects there are. You wouldn't want to go from the frying pan into the fire. – aparente001 Oct 25 '16 at 12:20

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