My supervisor never criticises me!!!Advice?



I was wondering if anyone else had this issue - I feel a bit weird for bringing it up - but my supervisor never really criticises me. I get a lot of praise; that my work is 'innovative' and 'truly excellent' - she is known to be quite complementary. Once I queried her on it and she said I should take her praise seriously as with some people she feels she can never muster anything positive to say. However it makes me feel a bit paranoid and 'weak' - I've never had to defend my work to her (and I've also avoided conferences these part years because of lack of confidence, although I'm currently rectifying that). In a way its decreased rather than increased my confidence. I know its not really in her interests to build me up for no reason, but still I just wish I could take her praise and leave it at that.

I'm worried that I'm not getting enough practice for the viva or for defending my work more generally. Our department is total crap so I've never had the opportunity to even discuss my work with my peers. This only adds to my insecurity.

Has anyone had this experience? What do you do?


Hi Keyboard Plodder,

My experience isn't completely identical but my supervisor is very supportive and rarely critical. My first draft of my first year progression report was described as 'a bit lumpy but a start'. Even after re-drafting this, I only scraped through my progression and onto my second year and felt in hindsight that my supervisor could have been more honest and critical.

My confidence was very low in terms of presenting (I would go bright red and sweat and come away with a migraine!) I'm actually a lot more confident now after 5/6 conference presentations (so I think it does get better with practice). The main one that boosted my confidence was presenting at a postgraduate research forum at my university. It was dead informal and just me presenting to 6/7 other students and getting about 20 minutes for feedback and questions. It was a daunting idea but really helped my confidence and my writing. It helped my confidence in seeing the things that me and my supervisor take for granted when discussing my thesis, for once I was having to explain and justify all those little steps that I wouldn't normally in a supervision (but might have to in my viva!). Maybe see if your uni hold informal forums like this to present your research at or even book a small room and send out an invite to your presentation on a postgraduate mailing list!?

Hope that helps.


PS. I just sent you a private message RE: another post. Clearly spending far too much of my Friday night on here :)