I mean constructively argue? If you were to be sent to a class to attend, would you argue with the lecturer if you found some of the facts are wrong and need to be addressed? Same goes with the supervisor?
If lets say that during a presentation, the person who's asking is insisting a question that is obviously wrong to be answered, what would you do?
Lectures are public places and I would not argue in front of a whole class of other people, that, I think, would be rude and a bit confrontational and not constructive at all. However a private meeting might be possible, perhaps you could ask to see them to discuss the lecture and you could then voice your own views on the subject in the context of the whole lecture. Argue is perhaps the wrong word, debate is more the tone you should adopt, because they deserve respect.
I think the same goes with supervisors. Supervisors are not there to tell you what to say or think or write, but are there to guide and support. They too deserve respect, but you should be the expert in your area and therefore should know more about your particular bit of the subject than they do. However they will debate points with you, that helps you refine your ideas and can highlight areas that you need to consider. It isn't a contest with you on one side and them on the other (in the vast majority of cases anyway) they want you to succeed and will therefore try to make sure that all the 'i's are dotted and the 't's crossed. treat such meetings as a secure place within which you can experiment with ideas about your area with those who are sympathetic to you.
Neither lecturers or supervisors are your enemy, they should not be treated as such.
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there are ways of getting your own point of view across. I guess it depends on the subject you are studying as to how much you can debate with them. How much is nailed to the wall fact and how much is open to interpretation. If you want to get your own interpretation across you should have hard evidence to back it up, if it is just an idea then it should be treated as such and debated calmly in a 'what if' kind of way. If you are a relative newcomer and they are experts in their field then things are more difficult because they may well know something you don't. If they are less experienced then questioning is possible, but should still be treated with caution because it is possible that the ideas conveyed are the prevailing ideas, or may be the ideas they have been told to present. Either way a sofly softly persuasive approach is always better than confrontation.
I agree with Joyce. It's fine to disagree with them, but repeatedly doing it in their lectures is not going to be appreciated. If it's a pattern then it may look like you are deliberately going to undermine them. You don't have to be a parrot and nod but, if you think about conferences, people limit their questions comments and don't bring up every little query they have. The nature of a lecture/short talk means they can't go into as much detail as may like, so I would try to give people the benefit of the doubt sometimes.
I would agree with the others - it's about being courteous, respectful and also remaining open to the possibility that you are the person who is wrong. I remember being convinced my supervisor was completely wrong about something only to discover several months later that she had been 100% correct, and had I listened I wouldn't have wasted quite a bit of time following up something fruitless.
I've also seen a number of train crashes at conferences in particular, where an arrogant PhD student decides to agressively question a speaker on a point that everyone else in the room knows the student is wrong about (it tends to be at the start of a PhD when the student has yet to realise that they don't actually know as much as they think they know). It tends to end badly...
I agree with the other responses as well, I think that criticism is something that is very easy to get wrong, and so it needs to be thought through properly so that you don't make yourself look foolish/argumentative. I'm not a particularly confrontational or confident person and would never criticise anyone's work/presentation in front of people, even if I believed myself to be correct; although I have wanted to in the past. I think that unless you are a respected academic and/or an expert in a field, your criticism will be taken with a pinch of salt. But that is just my opinion.
In terms of my supervisors, I don't really criticise anything, I just offer new ideas - sometimes they do contrast with theirs but most of the time it leads to an interesting and productive conversation. They seem to like this and have complimented me on my maturity with listening to feedback etc.; I think that the relationship you have with your supervisors is important and also quite fragile so it would make sense to be very careful with opinions and criticism. As time goes on and you become more of an expert at certain things than your supervisors the relationship changes, but it should always be respectful and without unnecessary confrontation.
I was marked down for facts in my assignment which were correct. I pointed them out in a one to one but feel I have since jeopardised my relationship with that person who could acually have helped me. Professors do not know everything. one factor to gaining qualifications and knowledge, is to be more considerate of the opinions and knowledge of other people. During lectures, presenters should be prepared to discuss issues.
I have read this thread with interest, mainly because I've had no one to academically argue with! My Director of Studies changed midstream, the first was too involved with the sound of her own voice, the second was clueless. The second supervisor was a little man who tore me apart consitently - me, not my work - but last week I picked up my thesis(es) all leather bound and gold lettered and consider myself self-taught - am all the prouder for it :)
Surely an offspin of doing this is that we are keen observers, in my case, of social worlds and individual psyches (behaviours) which makes us have an opinion on every interaction we have. Yep I allow myself the luxury of shouting at the telly but no, I wouldn't do it in public. Mind you, I have reduced my number of conference attendances as in 'that's an hour I'll never get back' and eschewed various publishing opportunities because well... not really wanting to include my work with that collection.
On the othe rhand I have learned to give my students every opportunity to question, question, question. It's something I didn't have and I would have valued it and so don't want them to miss out too - risky though ;-) but to my mind, the right thing to do.
Dr Potentilla x
I think from a personal perspective, for me a lecture is a no-go in terms of debate. It's in the public domain, and whilst you may be 'right' or hold a different view, there will be plenty of other people in the room who don't necessarily need to be party to a discussion. In the past if there's something I've disagreed with strongly, I made a note on my class notes - and I'd incorporate that into the assignment/exam. Besides, it shows you can critique and think intuitively rather than just parrot off facts said in a lecture.
Supervision however, I have a completely different view of. I don't know whether I've struck it lucky in terms of supervisors - but I get on with each of my supervisors equally well. One is a senior lecturer who's not from my academic discipline, the other is from my discipline and is a professor. This means the one with lesser grip on what I'm doing is around much more than the one who can actually advise me more. BUT that's not worked to my detriment. I sat back for basically a year, as we always have joint supervision sessions between the 3 of us. After taking in the power dynamics and style of supervision for a year I finally met them individually to discuss aspects of supervision I wasn't happy with. Result: everyone is happy and I feel like I have much more of a grip on my research project - and more of their respect for it.
Anyway, I'm rambling. In supervision we ALWAYS debate. My supervisor actively encourages this and I constantly have to defend WHY I'm doing what I'm doing - be it in terms of theory, method or analysis. I think this is great and an aspect of supervision I really value. There's nothing worse than stand-offish supervisors who basically don't give two hoots about your research. If you debate about something, that shows you're putting in some form of intellectual investment and for me that shows that they are as committed to your work as you are. So in my mind, yes - debate away. I'm lucky to have that kind of relationship with my supervisors where I'm happy to do that and they're happy to talk to me in that manner. I do think some supervisors shouldn't be supervisors though from what I've seen - particularly in terms of bullying students etc.
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