confront your supervisor


Has anyone had enough and confronted his/her supervisor?
I am in the 9nth month of first year PhD and counting ,without any progress and i cant continue any more. Im thinking to confront my supervisor as i can't kept silent anymore! It drives me crazy. I have talked only to my advisor and university counselor because i dont want to confront my supervisor... after all he is going to decide if ill continue with PhD or not.


Confront your supervisor about what?


about the lack of progress and his responsibility about it.

From my part i know im working really hard but he is not appreciate any effort. He blames me for not understanding the project and more or less he is saying that im useless in everything ...
I can't be that useless!


it's not really about pleasing your supervisor, it's about publishing your work and writing a thesis of publishable quality at the end of it.

i would send a paper to a conference (admitedly you need you sup's permission), and learn from the reviewers' comments.

if it gets accepted your sup should start believing in you. if you get a bad response from the reviewers you know you need to be more productive or pull out.

i felt useless the whole of year 1 until i had my first paper accepted to an international conference and then i knew where my intellect slotted into the phd plane.


MichaelA, I am in exactly the same situation. Have also been to student support etc but I am no nearer an answer. I have recently started applying for jobs as I really cannot continue. I wish I had never applied for this PhD in the first place.

I feel like my dream of doing a PhD has been runined.


My last comment was uncalled for, I should remain professional and not make personal attacks on my supervisor. Just very frustrated and stressed, sorry folks.


Supervisors are some of the most giving human beings around I've found. And they work crazy hours under high pressure for low salary.

PhD supervisors, unlike undergrad tutors, mustn't be hand holders as they're encouraging their students to be independent.

By year 3, you should be able to publish and carry out research totally independently without any supervisory help.

My supervisor is now a great friend, and we laugh about those early PhD days


HI MichaelA, it is normal to feel lost in the beginning of your PhD. I think the relation between a PhD student and his supervisor is a complex one. Working hard is a vague term in PhD because u need to develop research skills and to know your thesis domain very well. You don’t need to confront him/her it is not a war!!! Try to find the reasons of being behind in your research together. If you feel it is his fault tell him how you feel in a “polite” way, no need to be aggressive or afraid about it. At the end of day the supervisor is there to help you, if he cant/wont help after talking to him find someone else.

Good luck

M is normal to feel lost in the beginning of your PhD. I think the relation between a PhD student and his supervisor is a complex one...

What is not normal is to have a supervisor who ignores every "achievement" and remembers only negative thinks, who pays no attention whatsoever to what your saying, who has meetings with you in the present of another student,who doesn't make even the slightest effort to concentrate during meetings and keep checking his emails or asking the other student to check out if there are shower facilities at Honolulu airport!!!....


this sounds quite need to earn their respect.

PS. are there shower facilities at honolulu airport?


Has anyone seen those programs on Sky and the like called 'pets gone bad' (with normally cute kitties going psycho and leaping six feet in the air and so on...) or 'weather gone bad' or just seems like the right time to mention them.
'Supervisors gone bad'.
I guess there are some good supervisors out there, but while UFO says 'supervisors are some of the most giving human beings around I've found. And they work crazy hours under high pressure for low salary' I'm sure he/she realises there are some REALLY bad ones too...and it just seems so unfair for those who are landed with the bad ones.


As for low salary - I've been thinking about this a lot recently. I've been looking at postdoc positions (which I'm not going to apply for), and it really shocks me that I could be paid £100 per day (365-weekends) for what I'm doing now - and (forum aside) I work HARD! Maybe it's just my upbringing, but does that not shock anyone else?? And that's a postdoc salary of £26k!!! The minimum in academia (in science, from what I've seen).


I agree with Sue. There are good and bad supervisors, and unfortunately this can make a huge difference in your PhD, in the opportunities that you may have to teach in your dept., present papers, publish, etc. Of course it is your PhD and you must be able to make headway on your own, but the idea that hard work is enough to achieve objectives, is a bit too simplistic I am afraid. We all need to feel we are valued and supported, and supervisors should be there for that. I had problems with mine and it was very hard to keep the motivation going. I spoke with others in the dept. and also with my sup directly. I know that I cannot expect much support from this person, but at least now the relationship is civil, which is already a big achievement.


The supervisor relationship is really difficult to define - the PhD is your way of showing you manage your own project independently, but the supervisor is supposed to guide you in achieving that. Where the boundaries between too much/little guidance fall aren't clear. I think you need to talk to your supervisor about your expectations - don't see it as a confrontation, but as a discussion where you go over what each of you expects from the relationship. Tell him you feel you haven't had support in certain areas and discuss what can be done, but you have to calm down and not see this as an argument. You're obviously feeling let down, but your supervisor may see it a very different way


I had a talk with my supervisor about the overall "progress" of my project...He sugested that i can change project and try something that is "easier" from what im doing at the moment.
However i have already started writing the report for my current project and with only 2 months left before submitting i really can't see how changing project that will help...