BHC: All I am doing is answering your comments, and if you look back it is you who set yourself up as as representative in defence of the actions of my opwn supervisor and that of others. And I am doing something about it, which is what I said in my first post, one which you had plenty of objections to. If anyone in my department asked me what I thought of my supervisor I would say something tactful, maybe 'firm but fair', there is now ay I could express all this without annonymity. I know not all supervisors are like this, that is why I am moving to another one. Goodluck with those students of yours who are progressing slowly. BTW, why do you accept students if you don't think they are up to finishing a PhD?
Mmmm... not sure if we've lost the plot somewhere in the long and convoluted discussion. The bottom line is: if you want to be a supervisor, do the decent thing and learn to be one. Also, take on students in areas of your expertise. This way, the academic world might be a much nicer place. Rogue academics should be named and shamed!
I didn't take on the students. My PI did, who is the official supervisor (and who is currently stateside).
I am a post-dog that provides supervision. If I didn't do it, it wouldn't happen, and there would be no supervision for the PhDers at all. In my experience most of them are grateful that I read their work, provide comments and feedback.
I am also interested in how you "learn to be a supervisor". Is there an accredited course? Or some kind of recognised specialist training? Do let me know as I can imagine it would vastly increase my future employability (and most of us on this board).
Yep! In my university there are Staff Development Training Courses designed for supervisors. Outside uni there is a City and Guilds Course called Further Adult Education Certificate specifically designed to teach Adults to teach other Adults (sorry for the clumsy speech). One important take home message for me was how to give constructive criticism - the skill of delivering a "shit sandwich". Basically, first, tell them how good they are; then how crap they are and finally, how good they are - leaves the person completely confused but not crushed. Nonetheless, mission accomplished. The student usually get the message.
My Uni does offer a course for staff who are supervising PhD students the on-off boyf who used to be v. senior here told me about it. The idea was that all staff should have taken this brief course (one whole day, one half day) before they were allowed to have PhD students. But they all threw a hissy fit saying that it was too much admin; that it wasn't taken into their workload balancing, and they refused to do it...
And that is one of many reasons why my dept is about to lose ESRC recognition... pillocks
BHC: Yeah, the City and Guilds teaching post 16s course is good for instilling some good ideas for all kinds of teaching, including the kind of mentoring that happens at PhD level, but I haven't found it that useful when applying for HE teaching work: I got more sessional work before I started the teaching qualification. Maybe it's different for permanent posts, although judging by the ignorance about teaching which abounds in H.E., maybe not.
I really think the most important thing you can bring to the role of supervisor is basic human respect towards another adult; and to remember you are in a position of responsibility, if only in terms of the fact that you are somebody's mentor.
I'd lay off those poor souls who have been given PhD places even though they aren't up to it, they'll be wading through pits of despair already. Throwing entirely negative criticism at them isn't going to make them bright enough to complete, they will act grateful, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t festering inside. These people need the sandwich method more than anyone BHC.
BTW BHC, writing is the only area in which I have had any useful feedback about my work and I know that could have come cheaper than a grand. I’m also wondering what you are hoping to gain or contribute from this discussion between PhD students, are you looking for insight into the PhD’s perspective? Are you trying to persuade us all to tolerate bad supervision? Bad supervision is the major obstacle to a timely finish. It is not wise to try to persuade us to tolerate it via attempts to justify it. I do very much value your input, but can’t help wondering about your motives.
My original motives were to look hollistically at the situation at Pineapple was in, and to avoid this becoming a demonisation of supervisors, which seems to be an easy default. Later on it became more of an exploration about why certain practices persist in academia and why we are probably all guilty of soemthing (or will be in the future).
Before you say "Hey, I would never do that" think of the direct and indirect criticism that has been levelled at me on this just this thread alone for just posing an alternative position, and you can see how its all to easy to react out of anger and frustration.
BHC, unfortunately, unlike a PhD supervisor I do not get paid to reply to your thoughts and observations and therefore have no requirement to respond in a responsible or professional manner. I am not your mentor. I looked up this thread because I am having very serious problems with my PhD because of bad supervision, so bad that I am going to leave. I hoped to find some much needed moral support and to feel that I amnot alone in this. I found your attempts to justify the behaviour of my supervisor extremely counter-productive. This is a discussion for students who are trying to cope with this very real and very destructive problem.
Just wondering, has anyone out there experienced any combination of a supervisor shouting at them, telling them to get out of their office and that they should think about looking for another sup? All trust is gone and I am dreading our next meeting. He/she also forgot what my main suject was and a vital piece of equipment for some assessed work (which I was subsequently blamed for) I have to get through this until I find another sup, how, how, how? Please don't try and justify this, I have run through the possibilites of my own responsibility and although I am not perfect I can find no justification for this.
mmmm, yes, I think I have done for about the past year. A family bereavement and my own illness have left me on autopilot for about a year. The shouting and throwing out incident happened because I'd had enough and asked to be absolved of responsibilty for my sup's mistake at first sup lied, but then admitted to the error but threw me out of the office. She did not like me developing a spine so, how do I go forawrd until I find a replacement? I really want to pass my first year, I have some really good possibilities elsewhere, but want to move with a good record.
thanks swantje. I have told the head of dept. about this and got alot of sympathy and acknowledgement of what kind of person my sup is, I just hope this translates into support in assessment. I'm seeing the HOD again. Yep, next time I will not be such a sucker...
I'd really like some advice on how people have avoided letting their supervisors walking all over them - any offers?
As many of you know, my ex-supervisor used to be a total nightmare. What I found helped keep him in line was either using a dictaphone to record our supervision sessions (ostensibly "So I dont forget anything important"). This really made him cut down on making wildly ambiguous statements and then not getting pissed off because I wasn't able to fulfil them.
Towards the end I also used to take written records of supervision, and then get him to read and sign them. They agreed specific points that I was able to stick to, and he couldnt just change his mind halfway through without acknowledging that we agreed something else. Both of these helped.
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