Well I had supervison and having looked at my draft, I have to cut out almost half of the content-which is something like 30,000 words. I left the office early in a right state, tearful and upset after an intense grilling. I was told as feedback to provide the reader with background and theoretical groundings, so I did, but it looks as if I provided too much detail. I integrated most of the feedback comments into the report, but it's frustrating to be told different things from different academics, which results in confusion and ambiguity.
I just feel that all I ever do, no matter how hard I work, it's is just not good enough and I really don't feel I can take much more of this and I'm seriously thinking about dropping out. I feel I've come along way in terms of my postgraduate life, what I don't need is to be made to feel like an idiot, which I'm not (and that's how it felt yesterday). Time and time again I'm having to deal with constant relentless criticism and have to keep picking myself up from the floor. I'm not sure how much longer I can stand to be placed in this situation.
There were a few positives, but overshadowed by major criticisms. I'll just have to pick myself up again.
*Pineapple*, you need to be strong and focus on what you really want and what you are prepared to do in order to achieve it. If the environment you are working in - not only your supervisor - makes you feel so uncomfortable, you should consider changing uni rather then dropping the project. BHC suggestion about recording meetings is a good one, but not sufficient when your supervisor is a manipulative person. You need to establish your reputation outside, with other academics in your field. This leaves little space for manoeuvre to the nasty sup.
Thanks for the tip about the dictaphone BHC. I think I will probably only have about two more meetings with my sup before leaving (fingers crossed) and hopefully this method will be ok for that time. Pineapple I feel for you, I have decided to cut my losses and move on. Truely nasty sups/people don't change and I guess if that's what you're dealing with then presservation of your self esteem and mental well being demand a move. I honestly think that if people accept this kind of behaviour it effects them and the kind of lecturer/professional/person they will be. Good luck.
This message is for Eska.
Don't take the crap anymore. Send them to the cleaners. Make sure your case don't collapse procedurely ie follow the university's complaint procedure.
Remember, your supervisors are expandable and they are only as powerful as you allow them to have power over you.
I know that the message was not intended for me, and in principle I agree with you Harui. But I think that you also need to bear in mind that some of these supervisors have a long career in academia behind their shoulders and they are rooted in that environment. Also academia is a small place where people tend to stick together as soon as there is a small cloud approaching, so it's vital that you are careful in the way you deal with this, because there could be much worse repercussions for your future career in academia if you don't. It may appear sad or strong, but this is the reality, and I tell you this for personal experience.
Well, Corrine, it is the fear of the future which makes all PhDers pull back from doing the right thing, and rogue supervisors grow in confidence with behaving badly. When I sent mine to the cleaners, the Post Grad Research Tutor reminded me of my future career in academia saying that my supervisors were worldclass academics (NOT!). That remark just spurned me on. Nobody and nothing is going to make me a spineless academic. Yes, the "old boys club" is small, but its not that small! And they can't be experts in All areas. So perish the fallacy about the invincibility of supervisors. In reality, they fare dismally in the real world.
I just feel that between doing 'nothing' about it and going through the Uni complaint procedures, there may be other ways to deal with the problem. We do not know the people involved and the details of what happened, and it would be inconsiderate on the basis of a few posts to encourage people towards a choice that could damage them rather than help. This doesn't mean that they have to seat and wait for a solution to fall from the sky, and I certainly don't feel a 'spineless' person because I use a different approach to problems. Actually, I feel much stronger now than before I started the PhD. I just think that every situation is different and you cannot generalise.
Pineapple - is there another PhD student around who you trust and who's perhaps a bit further on than you are? I wonder whether sitting down with someone neutral but sympathetic and talking through your draft and the comments might help you to focus a bit more on the praise and figure out how to move forward with the outstanding issues? I wonder from what you say, if the problem with the report as it stands, is that you can't see the wood for the trees: i.e. because you've tried to explain every aspect, the actual project is getting lost and that's what your supervisor is getting at asking for such large cuts. If so a fresh pair of eyes might be invaluable as it's really hard to cut your own work. Oh and save anything you do cut out now - it may be useful elsewhere in the thesis.
pineapple, i feel EXACTLY the same way as you do.. what you said , echos exactly how I feel!
i too feel that nothing i produce is ever good enough for them. and although their critism are probably valid, its the way they say it, just leaves me completely deflated and i just feel like not bothering and packing it all in. maybe i am just not cut out for academic phd life.
i just want this phd over and done with so i can move on..and hopefully find a career that i am happy with.
sorry i cant offer any advice. but i just feel the same way as you do.
luckily i dont want to stay in academia. so in the grand scheme of things, if i fail my phd, it wont be the end of the world. and i really dont care anymore what my friends or family will think if i fail. they will just have to accept it and leave me alone about it.
my experience has completely turned me off of academia and science. i want a completely different career.
i know every job comes with critisism etc... but with a phd its just different.
Thanks for the suggestions and encouragement people. I doubt I'll make a formal complaint though because I've already decided to move on, even if it means putting the PhD on hold while I look for a better sup. I know an official complaint would be the 'right' thing to do on a universal scale, but I need to make sure I survive, both in terms of reputation and emotional energy. Although I admire the courage of anyone out there who takes that route, I will be voting with my feet. Just hope I can get through my first year assessmentts alright.
hairui: what kind of impact do you think your complaint made on your career?
I did not come make the decision lightly. Infact, I was 6 months to submission when it blew up in my face. I had crap supervision from Day 1 but hung on because I thought that a PhD was all about independent research and that supervisors were meant to be nasty. After 3 and half years, I just could not take another ounce of crap from them and my self worth was more important than the PhD. I should have walked out after the upgrade viva but stayed on in the unhealthy relationship because I wanted to do the PhD so much. I have no regrets about taking them to the cleaners. I'm sure you will do what you feel is best.
Good luck with your upgrade.
Thanks Hairui - it sounds like you had no option given our situation and your self esteem. I am now even more resolved to get out while I still have a healthy degree of sanity. We should NOT tolerate this.
My sup also bangs on about how fabulous the university is and how fab she is. Funny, but when I've studied in truely fabulous places, with truely fabulous academics, nobody feels the need to harp on about themselves.
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