I am just done with 2 years of my Ph.D. study. I have some issues with my supervisor. He is repressive, forces his vision on me, e,g, he wants publications in one particular area (and loads of them) to bolster his reputation. He is rude and arrogant and behaves bossy for no reason.

More importantly, I believe that I have not learned the skills which I wanted to during my study. I spend all my time writing mediocre papers and learning very little. I want to mention that in my six-monthly report.

Now the question is that I cannot change my supervisor, I do not care to either. Fighting with him is not my goal. He is incapable of teaching me the skills I want to learn and I have to learn by myself, which I will do. But I wonder if I must say what I feel in my report truthfully and boldly. If I do that, it will annoy my supervisor and there is a good chance he might even decide to not support me in future if I need something.


  • 16
    Now the question is that I cannot change my supervisor, I do not care to either. — Oh dear God, why not? What do you think you're going to get out of enabling this bully? Do you really think they're going to suddenly become supportive when you defend your thesis, or when you ask him for recommendation letters? Get. Out.
    – JeffE
    May 14 '17 at 14:51
  • Yes, they will never support me. But in order to change I need another advisor and mine is a politician, so no one wants to antagonize him.
    – user58480
    May 14 '17 at 15:14
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    I didn't say change. I said get out. Don't waste five+ years of your life being abused and then have nothing to show for it. Fire your advisor and move on with your life.
    – JeffE
    May 15 '17 at 0:46
  • 1
    @YemonChoi Is wasting three years with nothing to show for it really that much better?
    – JeffE
    May 15 '17 at 2:15
  • 1
    Hey, guys, the question is about what to do with the 6-monthly report. I am not quitting my Ph.D. Being an international student I learned about cultures of other countries and now I am in a position to go anywhere in the world and work with people. And I still have 1 year to learn what I can, have not given up. My question is that should I be bold in the 6-monthly report? --The period of bullying is over. I won't let that happen anymore.
    – user58480
    May 15 '17 at 2:25

First and most important suggestion: Seriously consider changing supervisors, and if you can't, give serious thought to finding another university/institute at which to do your Ph.D., contacting relevant researchers and if you find someone who's willing to advise you, making the switch.

But about your actual question:

A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.

― Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist

Only be honest and forthcoming in your report if you want to have an out-and-out fight with your advisor. You might want to do that for various reasons, but assuming you aren't, don't write what you've told us.

Instead, bury it into nuance and insinuation. i.e. without denigrating what you've actually written and where you've published, put it in the context of the hope of writing something deeper or more meaningful, or publishing someplace more central. Also, mention things you would have liked to have done these past 6 months, and explain how the efforts gone towards preparing publications have not allowed you to invest as much time as you would have liked in the other pursuits. That sounds super-polite and respectful while giving off enough hints.

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