Issues with supervisors


Hi! This is really a great forum.

I've started a Ph.D in Australia this pastsemester. My 2 scholarships are attached to the department that accepted me (I cant request a transfer without a long and complicated paperwork) but this department has an absurdly small staff. My main supervisor is one of them, a friendly non-native english speaker with language problems, very limited knowledge on my topic and a serious disconnect from the relevant authors of the field. The other 2 possible supervisors in the dept. are not much better and do not have time for additional students.

I thought that my option was to get an associate supervisor from a different dept. with experience in my topic. I got one with a terrific C.V, a very knowledgeable person with several great books at the bleeding-edge of theory in the field, but...too busy and distant to help me consistently. We've met only twice this semester, I've got no answer to my e-mails and very little support. The person nevertheless accepted to be my A.S.

What would you suggest me to do ?


Push.. push.. and push....

You don't get any reply to your emails.. so you phone... you don't get any answer to your phone calls, so you leave messages..

My internal examiner was really busy, she took 5 weeks to send me my corrections and then decided to have a holiday like.. 'now', before writing to the exams office, saying she had accepted my corrections... I had to push and push and get my 2nd Supervisor to basically camp outside her door and bug her outside of work... and she finally did what was required.

There is, of course a limit... too much pushing and they'll hate you - but I've found that with some busy people, you need to always take the lead and be proactive.. and when you DO have them on the phone... make sure you schedule a phone call catch up on 'X' date.. that way you know when you'll next speak to them and if they cancel, ask them for another date there and then....


if they're good then they're busy. that might just be the price you have to pay for having a top scientist as a sup.