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Identifying pleasant PhD supervisors

up vote 14 down vote favorite

I want to pursue a PhD at an institution in Japan that I don't know first hand. As lab websites or personal webpages don't really reveal the personalities of professors, it isn't easy to know in advance which professor's working style and personality could match my own.

Are there ways to determine whether a professor will be a good match for me?

2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accept

In the US, typically, you would speak to current graduate students about their working style. In general, a cold email usually acceptable, but don't pester.

However, you might run into very different cultural expectations if you aren't yourself Japanese, so I would take their perspectives with a grain of salt.

up vote 3 down vote

Asking current PhD students as Azor Ahai recommends is a good source. Another source I like are the PhD thesis of former students. These usually contain extensive acknowledgements and thankyous to the supervisor. Various information about the style of supervision can be gotten there. Note that only positive things are mentioned, so also look out for things supervisors are not thanked for.


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Identifying pleasant PhD supervisors

up vote 14 down vote

I want to pursue a PhD at an institution in Japan that I don't know first hand. As lab websites or personal webpages don't really reveal the personalities of professors, it isn't easy to know in advance which professor's working style and personality could match my own.

Are there ways to determine whether a professor will be a good match for me?


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up vote 9 down vote

In the US, typically, you would speak to current graduate students about their working style. In general, a cold email usually acceptable, but don't pester.

However, you might run into very different cultural expectations if you aren't yourself Japanese, so I would take their perspectives with a grain of salt.

edit

Have you experience with writing cold emails on that matter? For myself, I would probably not write much to a person I do not know(I might depend on the prof's goodwill my whole life!) and definely no negatives on them. - user111388 Feb 12 at 6:25

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