After a one year leave from my PhD program due to illness, I recently resumed my studies and submitted a chapter to my adviser. I had hoped for some positive reinforcement during our feedback session but was instead given a run-down of what didn't work exclusively. This said, I certainly don't need to be handled with kid gloves and welcome constructive feedback, nonetheless, I'm feeling a bit deflated and am wondering if my adviser has given up on me. Another factor playing into this equation may be cultural differences. As a North American, I've been trained to acknowledge my students' work with at least one positive comment (even if said comment is as simple as "thank you for your work"). Given that I'm now studying in the UK, I can't help but wonder if the truncated length of PhD programs necessitates that advisers pinpoint problems without lingering on kudos. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
I think that in the UK you are less likely to get positive reactions purely because of our national psyche! Compared to Americans we do tend to see the negative more. I remember a lecturer in my undergrad telling us about why he thought American companies would win more work when bidding against British companies. He said that the American approach when they saw a problem was to react with "Sure, we can sort that out!" regardless of whether they thought they really could, whereas the British response was to say "Well, that might cause issues..." again, regardless of how tricky the problem was!
Having said that I wouldn't expect exclusively negative comments unless there really wasn't anything positive to say. How was your supervisor before you took leave? I wouldn't read too much into one meeting. He/she may have just been having a really bad day for instance or may have felt that you needed a kick start to your work again. I would wait till you meet up again and see what the reaction is to the work you do in the mean time. To be honest I don't remember my supervisor having ever given out very much praise, but I know that that's just how he is.
Hope this helps a bit.(up)
======= Date Modified 18 Sep 2012 08:25:38 =======
I think you might be right about your sup just being inclined to cut to the problems, though I suspect it may be more to do with individual supervisors' personalities than course length since I know of some who are quite capable of finding time to give positive comments.
I think it can initially be a dispiriting change from undergrad level because there's a sudden assumption that you should have more awareness for yourself of what works and what doesn't and that you don't need telling what's good without by any means implying that everything is bad.
Thanks Culpea and Screamingaddabs! Your thoughts have been very helpful as I regroup after my meeting. I'm aware of how hard I worked and what I did right... regardless of receiving my advisor's praise or not. I suppose a big component in the process is being your own cheerleader which I'll keep in mind.
Jwhoah, I think that's a healthy mindset. In my case, when I get a negative feedback from my sups, I just remember that they're not there to cheer me on, they are there to point out my work's weaknesses. So they're just doing what they are supposed to do, abusive remarks aside. Goodluck with continuing your PhD.
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