Supervisor Comments and Emancipation from Supervisor


1. I'm in the unfortunate situation that I cannot read the handwriting of my supervisor. Anybody else experienced this? It may appear trivial but it is a major issue. In my case to late to do anything about. Illegible comments means no feeback!

2. How do you deal with being generally fed up with supervisor crticism? Imagine you completed a thesis, your supervisor is not in your field but very experienced. So he/she critisizes without understanding it. Is it really necessary to simplify the language to the extent a 3-year old understands it? Or will that offend examiners even more?


one of my supervisors is a medic. massive cliche, but they have the medics handwriting! i just ask them for clarification and wherever possible they use track changes on word to give feedback. perhaps your sup just isn't aware of their terrible writing!

on point 2, i'm sorry things are working out that way...either they're right and you need to simplify it or you need to, as you put it, emancipate yourself.

good luck


Takes practice I'm afraid - it does become legible eventually, usually because you recognise certain illegible squiggles as being a comprehensible word.


Both supervisors have difficult writing, but my problem is they comment both favourably and critically and sometimes, when the paper is covered with comments I think, oh no, they don't like any of it, and then I find that they do - well some of it anyway! luckily in the era of electronic wizadry they now use the computer program to write comments, which menas at least I can read them


I don't think you should simplify unnecessarily, because I think the examiner expects to find the language that you find in journals etc. that relate to your field, but on the other hand I don't think you are supposed to use a llong or obscure word if there is a simpler one that fits the bill. Supervisors are to be tolerated and given respect, but you are allowed to make faces at them behind their back!


I can barely read one of my supervisors' handwriting, which is a huge problem because he's now 500 miles away and I can't just show him the bit of paper and ask "What does that say?" I've tried to get used to his handwriting over the years, but end up trying to decipher things a letter at a time and it's a long, drawn-out process. Far from ideal. Particularly exasperating because he gives very detailed feedback.


I really wish the administrators would finally modernise the forum. Then I could scan some examples and show them here. 80% impossible to decipher, even after spending all day (excluding procrastination).

It is so annoying, because I'm generally open to criticism and are interested to read and understand all the red ink comments. All I see is red ink, but I don't know what he is saying!


Did I mention that he is now in Australia for the next two months?


Why not scan in your work, send it to supervisor, and ask him to type them out for you? Or ask another lecturer/research student in dept to help you decipher, who s used to his writing. If other people in dept can't decipher the writing either then clearly it's him who has to change.


my supervisor is a medic and HE can't even read his own handwriting...


Um Sometimes I come across notes I've made a while ago ... and I can't read my own writing


Illegible handwriting is a tell tale sign that the writer is a "hard to reach" character, closed, wrapped up in their own little world and generally a difficult person: my previous supervisor was such a character.
Commenting on work that is not their area of expertise is simply disastrous. Having to dumb down your writing so that it can be understood by them is just so condescending : my current supervisor fits this profile and is just about to be sacked, by me.
What have you done to rectify the situation?