I started my phd this Oct and have two supervisors, one who is based in my lab who i see on a daily basis and one based at another campus, who i have met twice in passing. So far since starting i have had no formal meeting with either of my supervisors to discuss the way the project is going to run or the experimental approach. Every time i try asking my supervisor about the experimental approach to be used and how the experimental work is going to be conducted i just get a very vague response. For the last few weeks i have just been left on my own to do background reading with no idea if i'm going in the right direction, and my supervisor has no idea what i've been up to for the past few weeks. I have tried to approach my supervisor to discuss what i've been doing and which directon to head in but they're too busy too see me. I am starting to feel demotivated by the lack of response from my supervisors and by the fact that i have no idea how the project is going to progress.
No you're not expecting too much. Around here we aim for one sup meeting per month. In reality this varies according to where I'm at (i.e. I may not need one this month or alternatively may need 2 or more in a particular month - it's up to me).
Try sending a formal meeting request, a proposed agenda and pin them down to a place and time.
This has been my situation too (and now I'm in my final year). It is very frustrating as it is difficulat to feel confident about one's ability to plan everything at this stage - afterall - that's why this is a PhD surely and not a post-doc.
Looking back, I put up with too much of this for too long. I did request meetings that either were never scheduled or cancelled. My supervisor doesn't really have the expertise in my area to have much input- could that be the case with yours?
I would email with suggested times for a meeting (ie please pick one) and go with a very clear agenda of questions phrased to elicit clear answers. If he can't answer, he should suggest people in the field you could consult (and perhaps email them himself to be sure they make time for you). Other than that, we have just have to carry on using our best judgement.
I, more than most people understand your frustration. I remember thinking the same as yourself. yes, we as PhD students are expected to work independantly but I remember thinking that my supervisor must of been taking the piss, given how little contact I had with him from the start. Without ever really dicussing my PhD project in any great length with my supervisor, I was left to completely manage my research project. I dropped out after getting mauled in first year review. my advice is:
1) regardless of how little support you get from your supervisor. be proactive. make best of the resources around you, ask postdocs in your group about what ever querries you may have, they should be able to direct you to books, journals papers, help explian theory and experimental methods that are relevent to your project or they should at least be able to point you in the right direction
2) if you havent already done so. get this down on paper: a statement of objectives for your project. what exactly are you trying to achieve? what is the novelty in your work? what are the significant milestones and give some kind of timeline. email this to your sup and ask for feedback.get your review of the literature done asap if you havent already done so and again email this to him
3) In general send emails to your supervisor , stating your issues, asking questions and requesting meetings. if he is none responsive at least you have a paper trail which can work in your favour if you ever make a complaint. Ask someone senior in the department about guidlines for supervision. i.e what is considered to be a reasonable amount of support. you should be able to get a straight answer from someone.
Thanks for the advise, i found it really helpful it's good to know that other people have been through the same and its not just me. I'm finding myself more motivated now after a nice long christmas break and i'm going to get on to my supervisor 1st day back for a meeting to discuss my project and the direction it's going to go and i won't take no for an answer!!
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