Poor supervisor - what do to?


OK, so I'll try to avoid ranting here. I'm having trouble with my supervisor and things need to be sorted out now before they get worse. I have my 2nd year meeting/interview tomorrow and I would like to work out what to say. This involved both my supervisors and outside people in involved in the project. I want to continue with my supervisor because I think things would be even worse without him, but at the moment I am greatly questioning his integrity and ability to have his students best interests in mind.

About 6 months ago we had a long conversation where I was visibly upset about a number of things. After this meeting I thought things would get better but they haven't. My concerns at that time were mainly...
-The increase number of students. The student to supervisor ratio had doubled since I started. He said he was not planning on increasing student numbers.
-Despite the increased students they were getting far better quality supervision in there first year compared to me. My supvisor admitted this and said he had 'failed my during first year'. How's that!

But fast foward to now.
A new PhD student has just started with a project directly related to mine. I found out she had been accepted into the lab pending immigration approval (international student) since the beginning of the year (before out big talked previously). I brought this to the attention of supervisor and was given the verbal run around and no apology - not impressed. Added to this I am expected to teach her the ropes and complex biological preps I do. She has no science or lab experience and I would have to teach her from high school level upwards. I simply do not have the time in my third year to do this. I told my supervisor my concerns and again was given the run around along the lines of 'you will both benefit greatly from this and later on she will teach you coding which will benefit you'. Coding (computer programming) was never part of my project and I have no plans to make it so, so as far as my opinion goes, it's a pretty poor deal. So basically I don't believe he is taking my concerns seriously. Other problems are mostly put down to very poor communication.

There are other things that have come up I'm not happy with, but this is currently the mos pressing. So tomorrow is the interview and my big chance to tell someone in an official setting about what's going on. The trouble is I am unsure of how to do it without looking like I'm just whinging. It can be confidential too (supervisors step out of the room) but if no one can tell anyone, then nothing is going to happen to make things better.

So any advice on how to approach this would be greatly appreciated.



Obviously the reason you are being asked to show the new student the ropes is due to your supervisor being busy due to the increasing amount of students. I believe that PhD students need more than one supervisor even if they are not that strongly involved, have you tried getting help from them (if you have one).

I think you have a right to complain about there being too many students and you feel this is inpacting on the quality of your supervision. however, I know it must be annoying that you feel the new students are being treated better than you feel you were but I dont see what you will gain by complaining about this (except annoying your supervisor, no one likes critisism), It looks like he has realised the mistakes he made with you and is learning from them, I think you should just take solace in this.

If you really do feel you are not getting the supervision you feel you deserve then you have the right to complain and should do. Regarding you showing the other student what to do, that is you supervisors duty and what he is paid to do if he cant cope then he should not take on so many students, if you have too much work to help this other student then your PhD should take priority over the other students. If you can help out then it would be a nice thing to do but you are not duty bound to do this, however, your supervisor is.



Hopefully you can avoid the dilemma I have had and won't have to go to the same extremes but I have just posted a longish peice on the thread called "failing a PhD; there is no help", that might be of some use to you.