Supervision issues (or lack of)


Hi All

I hope everyone had a good Christmas break. I need a place to have a bit of a rant as none of my friends have undertaken the journey that is a PhD. I get asked 'are you STILL doing that...?', which is a fair point as I'm about 7 years in (bit more with various breaks in studies) but am part-time and self funded. One once said 'don't they take about 18 months?', to which I thought why don't you do one and find out!!

My main issue at the moment is my supervisor is AWOL and I've not heard from her in months. I've been sending emails since June 2019 and still haven't had any response. I really want to hand in early this year but can't get them to review my chapters. She left the university I'm at this time last year but promised to remain as my supervisor. I've copied in my second supervisor on various emails but they have always been more of a silent partner so that I can use some of their data. The only thing keeping me going is that one of the former post docs is reviewing my work, he isn't even affiliated with the university anymore but is a good friend fortunately and very clever.

I have had many times since I started that I have read posts on this forum about quitting and thought about it but now I have five decent chapters and my discussion chapter well underway. So while I don't want to quit now I want to finish, I can't help thinking I will fall at the last hurdle without some supervisor input. I had my upgrade meeting in August 2019 (only about five years late!) and we discussed the possibility of getting my viva booked in for April 2020. This is exciting and terrifying in equal measure. I just don't want to hand in work that I know isn't up to standard.

Thanks for reading.


Hi Tamecat,
Please don’t give up you are making some excellent progress and you can make it to the end and achieve your PhD! I am an experienced supervisor and examiner and can tell you every PhD journey has its trials and tribulations, but an AWAL supervisor isn’t acceptable. I would contact your research support team and see if something can be done you are paying for support and you should have support, if this doesn’t change your examiners will offer you the chance to comment on supervision at the end of viva and of course this is also a justification for challenging outcomes so your university will act to resolve supervision deficiencies. Are you in the sciences or social sciences?


Hi Tester.

Thanks for the reply. I am in the sciences.

My post grad tutor is aware of the situation and has contacted my supervisor directly but I still haven't had any feedback.

Avatar for rewt

Hi Tamecat,

You done really well to get so far! Don't give up now. I would keep pushing your graduate support team or graduate school for an answer. This is an awkward situation for them and they will try to ignore you until absolutely necessary. So keep pestering them as you are 100% in the right to ask to meet or communicate with your supervisors.