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Kelpie1
Tuesday, 4 June 2019 at 4:33am
Friday, 7 June 2019 at 1:28pm
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Thread: Relationship with supervisors unworkable months from finishing

posted
26-Jul-19, 01:41
edited about 6 seconds later
by Kelpie1
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posted about 3 weeks ago
So I have some updates and also another request for advice.
I have totally fallen behind. I got over myself and started working on the thesis again - but then had a meeting with my committee about what happened and while they agreed this was unaccaptable behaviour and is bordering on bullying (but also thought that formal complaint might not be the best avenue) - they critisized me for "seeking acknowledgement" and became very negative. So then a whole cycle of procrastination later I started again only to be "greeted" by the flu and then the ailments of late-stage pregnancy :/. So overall I am where I should have been two months ago.
On the flipside - I still can ask for extentions, as I have only been given a very minimal one. (Our university is very strict - 3 years, with only up to a year extention, so 4 total. I am only up to 3y2mo). With mat leave this gives me enough time, but it does mean I will have to come back to this horrid thing after (and during) mat leave.
The thing is - over these 2 months, I haven't been in contact with me supervisors and haven't come to the office - and they havent contacted me either. But I would like to re-establish some communication because we need to finalize some things, ask for the extension and submit a paper.
Question is - how to go about it? Anything to avoid? I am not trusting them so want to be "prepared".

Thread: Relationship with supervisors unworkable months from finishing

posted
07-Jun-19, 13:28
by Kelpie1
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posted about 2 months ago
To everyone - all of your comments are helpful!
I guess one of the things unique to this position as a PhD student is the solitude, so just having people relate to what you are going through , or sharing their stories give you a healthier perspective.
One of the things my husband told was - "think of the worst thing that can happen (not get a PhD). Now imagine it. It's not so bad is it? the worst possible scenario is disappointing - but not an all consuming disaster!". And I gave to agree. Almost everyone I know deals with some type of crap or failures in their lives.

With regards to complaints - at this moment I am giving my supervisors the benefit of doubt, but I did fully involve my committee. I thing that (at least two of them) are genuinely non-malicious (the third guy - only god knows, as he keeps fighting with everyone else) - but because this type of horrendous behaviour that does verge on bullying is sort of "encouraged" - they feel free, and even obliged, to act like this. And my main supervisor, instead of making it very clear to them that "this is NOT OK" , keeps laying the blame back on me. They also have some social issues - the perks of doing a PhD in engineering.

All in all I think getting some support and understanding from peers goes a long way. After 6 years in paid work, with crappy bosses and annoying colleagues - i have to say the PhD experience is a lot more challenging, and not necessarily for the "right" reasons.

Thread: Relationship with supervisors unworkable months from finishing

posted
05-Jun-19, 02:35
by Kelpie1
Avatar for Kelpie1
posted about 2 months ago
Thanks for your reply guys/gals!
I'm trying to muster up the strength of character needed to push through. The idea of rocking up to my graduation with 2 kids does sound appealing :).
I bet you do remember the process though - how demoralising it is, and how it can make you feel like a failure.

Thread: Relationship with supervisors unworkable months from finishing

posted
04-Jun-19, 05:46
edited about 23 seconds later
by Kelpie1
Avatar for Kelpie1
posted about 2 months ago
Hi All,
I would really appreciate some advice - especially since I have no one to consult with that is in a similar position.
I have been doing my PhD for the past 4 years (incl. mat. leave and a switch to part time) and am very close to completion. I initially had 8 months, but then found out I was pregnant again so that cut my time in half - which put me on a super tight schedule. So obviously this is a stressful situation.
This is made much worse by my supervisors: their constant and unrelenting criticism of everything I do, and much worse - everything I AM. It has been a problem since the start, but recently has gotten worse to the point where i feel it borders on bullying.
These 'episodes' are triggered by short, benign, technical (one might say boring) conversations which then end up with as 5-hour explorations into what is wrong with me as a person. I never know when "what do you think of this figure" will spiral into "why you don't deserve a phd".
Also there are no other students in my lab - just two postdocs who are hardly there, and the trio of people constituting my supervisory team. So really no one to have a conversation with who can understand what I'm going through, offer advice or just hear me out / provide positive interaction. My main supervisor doesn't acknowledge the extent of the damage caused, and thinks the problem lies with me. I am of quite a mature age - nearing 40, so obviously this is not the first time I have a boss, or a job, and even doing a research degree. In ALL previous instances I have always found a way to work collaboratively with people I don't necessarily like, ending with very good outcomes.
Together with the stress of time, the pregnancy hormones, and the fact that I can't afford a week of doing jack and just recovering mentally - mean that I really haven't been dealing with it well at all. I am also worried about being so stressed and depressed during pregnancy.
I am a bit stumped as to what to do. Quit - even though I am nearly finished? Continue - even though I don't have a working relationship with my supervisors? I have no interest to continue in academia , but also wouldn't want the last 4 years to have been in vain.
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