Has some kind of plan been put into place to rectify the problems? ie. is the supervisee given some sort of roadmap on what to fix, when and why--or are they left to flounder in a sea of distress and confusion? If the supervisee fails to perform as expected after these steps are taken its a far cry from just telling someone they aren't meeting expectations and doing nothing more.
Yes, supervisees be they employees or PhD students need to be self-motivated and take responsibility for what they do. Just as a work place would not tolerate someone who did not show up for work, why should a PhD programme have to tolerate that? Just as not doing your job tasks at work would not be tolerated, why would a PhD programme have to tolerate that?
BHC, I wonder if the slackers in your programme have ever had a "real" job? ie not a studenty part time sort of thing? If they never have, the real world will be a cold hard blow of reality. I think that people who have had "real" jobs and know the drill of meeting expectations, etc in the work place, bring some good skills to a PhD programme, such as a work ethic, a sense of responsibility for their own work, and some maturity and communication skills!
i had the same problem with my supervisor. i had a talk with him once and told him that his way of criticising me was making me depressed and wasn't helping me with my work at all. he admitted that he had poor people skills and said that he wasn't good at constructive criticism. at the time he was my only supervisor.
about a month later he announced that i would have a second supervisor and now our meetings are always together (the three of us). my second supervisor is very good with constructive criticism and has good people skills and my first supervisor is less harsh and soul-destroying when she is around now that we've talked about the problem i sometimes tell him to watch out when he's overdoing it (we share an office together).
so this is why i have two supervisors...
The point of it was really just to get some support, and to see if other people are experiencing something similar. I consistency work hard, I work very long hours and I'm by no means a slacker. My project is very new investigation into something, and we all feel that this is new ground for us all. Feedback from other academics is that this is a new interesting field, worthy of a PhD and an ambitious attempt. All I'm saying is that I'm finding it hard to keep dealing with hurdles no matter how hard I work. I am being pushed to the limit, and although I'm getting the results from it, all I'm saying is this is the hardest thing I've ever had to do-and I'm constantly having to pick myself up again and again. It's using and draining all of my personal resources and I'm just feeling hollow and deflated, although I have the drive to continue, sometimes I'm ok, other times, like today, I'm not; a rollercoaster ride of emotions.
Thanks for your support and comments though. In fairness to my supervisors, I've failed the first hurdle, and I've made the decision to continue. Their just doing their job in order to ensure that I pass this time and I think they are perfectly in their rights to have a lower confidence level in my abilities due to my previous report-which was shockingly bad! The criticism is just constant and soul destroying. I just have to remember that no one is forcing me to do this, I'm putting myself through all this stress and distress! I made the decision to continue onto next year; I could have decided not to continue.
Furthermore, it would be probably easier for them just to not let me continue on, they could have denied my wish to continue on, but they didn't; which I'm taking as a positive. I have a few weeks just to focus on my report, and boy, I'm going to make it a good one! I've included and acted on all of their criticisms from the previous report, I can only improve above and beyond what is required. I agree that their criticism is just in a response to working at doctorate level so, by definition, their expecting a lot from me. Lord knows what kind of state I'm going to be if I get there! :S
Pineapple--I totally sympathise when you talk about how this PhD process can be so draining of your internal resources, your resolve, your well-being...a few months ago I struggled through what I posted on here as my "dark night of the soul" when I was really at a low point. I am glad to say its resolved, at least for the moment, and I think that having ebbs and flows of well being are unfortunately part of something as intense as a PhD. As my supervisor puts it, its a very unnatural thing to be doing!!--all the high level thinking, long hours of isolation, constantly under real and self imposed deadlines, not seeing completion or closure for years...its a hard slog!
pineapple, i know how that feels, to have your supervisor have such low confidence in you. i know what you're going through. its perfectly natural to have ups and downs. your experiencing a down. but i do commend you for picking yourself up and working through it. its not easy. phd is hard enough as it is, without having to fight through the feelings of despair. you sound like you're working very very hard. instead of having that acknowledged they push you even harder. i cant offer any advice. but all i can say is i have felt like you have felt, and i dont blame you one iota for feeling how you feel right now, if i were you, i would feel exactly the same way.
If you have a big report coming up, no wonder you feel drained and tired--no doubt somewhere in your brain is the memory of what you are trying to overcome with this new one being successful! That's a lot of PRESSURE! But it sounds like you have done all you can to prepare for it and respond to the concerns raised to you--and you, and anyone, could do no more!!!! Good luck on how this turns out, but I've got a feeling its going to be JUST FINE!!!
Badhaircut, indeed there are good students and bad students, in the same way as there are good and bad supervisors. I am certainly not the kind that starts working at lunchtime and leaves at 3.00. I appreciate constructive criticism and I don't think that I would have got an AHRC + two other bursaries prior to that, just because I am good at blinking my eyes around. The point is another: the complete lack of support. I have never presented a paper because I have been encouraged to do so, or done anything else other than reading and writing, because it was suggested by my supervisor. Of course, I am capable of taking initiative by myself, but I think that here we should have clear what the supervisor's role entails - other than criticize (when four times a year, he finds time to meet you!)
As far as Pineapple is concerned, perhaps having been open with her supervisor about her personal problems was not appropriate . Nonetheless, I think that it's matter of reciprocal respect not to judge a student/ supervisor on the basis of her private life/ problems.
hang in there pineapple! i too have had to suffer critisism, and was given the challenge to produce a first draft of my thesis in 3 weeks time. so you can do it! i know you can do it!! we're all here rooting for you and hope we can support you. the best way to show them you are capable is to prove it to them through action, ie the report. so make it the best report you can make it , more for yourself then for them! then they will have to eat humble pie!
good luck!! you can do it
i was given the challenge to produce a first draft in 3 weeks. my deadline is tommorow.
trust me, if i can do it, i am the biggest procrastinator in this forum, anyone can do it!
and i have every confidence you will produce a great report!
I've been a teacher and a line manager in a business environment and in both cases we were held much more accountable for our behviour, and the quality of our supervision. For academics, it seems anything goes. You can be harsh, nice, attentive, neglectful - it hardly matters as far as repercussions on the supervisor are concerned.
Corinne - sounds like you have my kind of situation. 4 times a year is about right. I never did a first year report or have an upgrade meeting of any kind (just got a letter out of the blue last year telling me it had happened). Sometimes I feel like I have been given a lot of rope.
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