7

I am a Ph.D. third year student. In our college for most of the work we have to depend on our seniors as our advisor rarely takes interest in our research. My senior is always rude to me, and never supports me in anything. Sometimes she doesn't talk to me for a whole day, and even sometimes she misguides me. I feel so low. It becomes so difficult to be in a lab where only two people are working and not even talking to each other properly. How can I deal with this?

  • 7
    Remember that the first priority of senior PhD students is their own research and to graduate. You may be asking for more help than he or she can (or is willing to) provide. – user58322 Jul 6 '17 at 7:33
  • 4
    If your advisor doesn't support you, you are in a tough situation. Senior PhD students can't fill that role. What you need to do is learn to rely on yourself. I've been in a similar situation and ultimately that was what not only got me a PhD but also the skills that helped me get a permanent position as a researcher. It's harder than having optimal support but doable and could make you stronger. However, there is also potential for failure as some of my labmates experienced. You could also try to find some postdoc or faculty that would be open for collaboration. – Roland Jul 6 '17 at 9:28
  • 1
    She could be in a very rough spot. She does not have a senior to ask, the advisor seems to not be helpful. She's trying to graduate and supposed to care for you (which should not be her job in the first place). She might have hoped that at the time she is close to graduation you being in your third year need less guidance and now she's stuck. – skymningen Jul 6 '17 at 11:50
  • 3
    "Sometimes she doesn't talk to me for a whole day" - I think this is especially telling that you might be asking for too much. Not speaking to you every day is completely reasonable, you wouldn't expect a faculty advisor to speak to you every day. "...and never supports me in anything." - 'Never' is a dangerous word to use, for your own ability to accurately assess the situation. It's likely if you are feeling like absolute words like that are appropriate, you will be suffering from confirmation bias and make the situation worse. – Bryan Krause Jul 6 '17 at 15:46
  • 2
    in CS I would expect a 3rd year to be reasonably independent... – Fábio Dias Jul 6 '17 at 16:28
8

A friend was in a similar situation during her PhD.

I am a Ph.D. third year student. In our college for most of the work we have to depend on our seniors as our advisor rarely takes interest in our research.

There is really only one bright side to this situation: you will have to become a self-motivated and independent researcher quickly. Even if your advisor does not 'take interest' in your research make sure to meet with them regularly to discuss what you have done and what you are planning to do. This keeps them in the loop and aware of your efforts. To get additional input, you can contact other faculty in and outside your institute to get ideas or feedback on what you are doing. Former students from the same lab are also a good resource.

My senior is always rude to me, and never supports me in anything. Sometimes she doesn't talk to me for a whole day, and

As @Dawn pointed out, your senior clearly does not want to be friends. The best you can do is be cordial in person, and keep all important communication over email.

even sometimes she misguides me.

Attributing this to ignorance, rather than malice, is the most productive solution here. You can take her suggestions/answers/advice but make sure to use your own judgement to verify this - whether from other students/researchers, literature, simulation, etc. This will also help you become a better researcher.

I feel so low. It becomes so difficult to be in a lab where only two people are working and not even talking to each other properly. How can I deal with this?

Treat the lab as your workplace. I have seen labs/groups that feel like family, and others that are unbelievably toxic. Focus on finishing your degree and moving on. Ensure that you maintain a social life with family/friends outside your lab, and get lots of fresh air and exercise.

  • I agree with you. As a third year PhD student, it's even more critical that Tina quickly gains an understanding of how to do independent research and constructively interact with her coworkers and advisor. The fact that she seeks advice from someone (who is essentially doing her a favor), then complains about it, is neither productive for her nor for developing a good working relationship with the PhD senior. If I was the PhD senior and became aware of her behavior, I would likely lose interest in helping her whatsoever. – user58322 Jul 7 '17 at 9:39
3

In our college for most of the work we have to depend on our seniors as our advisor rarely takes interest in our research.

Have you tried to schedule a meeting with your advisor? Perhaps every two weeks? The advisor may be interested in more interaction as the lab is small with few seniors.

My senior is always rude to me, and never supports me in anything. Sometimes she doesn't talk to me for a whole day, and even sometimes she misguides me.

This is really difficult to interpret. It may be that your expectations are unreasonable. If you feel that not talking very much is rude, I would not agree. In some cultures the work environment is very quiet. If you want more social interaction, make friends with people from other groups. In the summer, my workplace is very isolating, so I schedule brown bag lunches with others outside of my office.

In terms of "never supporting" and "misguiding", I think you need to be very clear about the types of support you want/need. She may be misguiding you because she doesn't know the answer and is giving her best guess. You must have realistic expectations for what you need to figure out yourself and what you can rely on her for.

You should try to come to an agreement with her on how she prefers to get questions. Once per day? A set meeting time? You might also consider a more quid pro quo arrangement. If you know she is helping you a lot one week, consider trying to do some of her busy work for her. Offer to do some of the grunt work or to pick up lunch for both of you. Make sure you are also supporting her! Finally, can you get support from people other than her? What about other groups doing similar things?

I feel so low. It becomes so difficult to be in a lab where only two people are working and not even talking to each other properly.

I feel sorry for you because you want her to be your friend as well as your work colleague and she does not want that kind of relationship. You should try to make friends with people outside of your lab. Externalize your focus and you won't feel so low. If you continue to feel badly, consider that it may be something unrelated to the lab situation and seek a therapist.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.