Tired of the strong supporting the weak culture


Why is it that it is acceptable for supervisors to add more workload to the people who work the hardest and longest and let the lazy people get off the hook.

I am in my final year and throughout my PhD, I have optimised and contributed to a fellow students PhD work who is at the same stage as me. Whilst they focus on there other work and dont even acknowledge my contribution. I wouldnt be complaining if this worked both ways but I have received no help even when I asked. Plus they are so under-handed that I wouldnt even trust them to do it properly. So while they have admitted they were lazy for most of their PhD I have had to work most week-ends. They have waited for me to optimize a technique then have copied me after I had made the protocol.

I dont necessarily need any advice because it is to late but sometimes I just want to know that I am not crazy and things are unfair.

I am not the only one in my group who has experienced this, but in a way I dont know who is to blame. I could say it was my supervisor or my fellow weak student but at the end of the day maybe it is the funding bodies who are less likely to give a supervisor another grant if they have a failed PhD student in their group. Which means that supervisors will do anything to get a weak student over the finishing line even though it is detrimental to other students.

Seriously there have been times where I wanted to act weak just to be treated differently as i can get the how are things conversation rather than the optimise conversation.Arrrghhh


Life is only unfair if you let it be.


I think it is so easy to say "Life is only unfair if you let it be" .
Unfortunately we live in a world where we have to interact with other people and while I don't blame you for making such a comment it implies that the problem is somehow made up. I did start almost three years ago very positive about everything but that all went away when my supervisor showed preferences in terms of who he would give the most support to.

I have come to terms with the fact that a supervisor has to make sure everyone passes but it still hurts now and again. So maybe one day I can come to your level of enlightenment - but looking at other message boards you may be one of the few people who can reach those heights.

Avatar for DrCorinne

Hello Unbelievable.

I understand your disappointment and this is something that many of us face, in a way or another, in the course our PhDs, or more generally in the work environment. I agree, it's not fair, but what I think Dan meant is that you can choose to be defeated by this, or fight your own battle. This doesn't (necessarily) mean that you should argue with your supervisor or lodge a complaint, but that you can carve your own space with or without him/her.

I could tell you some nice stories about my personal experience, but in the end - believe me- people who struggle to achieve anything will always struggle, even with plenty of support. I wouldn't want to be one of them. So far, I have never seen anyone of that type reaching anything worthwhile.

It may be harder for you to establish your identity and reputation in academia without support, but you will make it if you are a capable person, it's only matter of time. If I were you I would take pride in what you have done so far without much help, and focus on your future goals. Sooner or later your hard work will pay off!


So he admitted that he has been lazy through most of his PhD program. Most people would be embarrassed! I know it's small consolation, but what do you think is going to happen to this person once he manages to get a job? It's not going to be as easy to mooch off others. Some try, most fail - eventually. Will he spend most of his life stealing work from his students, and trying to publish it as his own? I wonder. Well, good luck to him. It's good that you will be graduating from your program with the requisite skills and knowledge to excel in your field - you can't get that from mooching.


hi there! I have been absent from the forum for a while, I've just seen your post. I guess we are all in different situations and environments. My supervisor usually does not read anything I send him; its usually last minute, he will only look at it when I come in for a meeting/discussion, and then he asks me something about it, soemthing really basic, and that whole session is wasted because he did not bother to read it before I went in.But i have to admit, sometimes I forget what I have written or what I have done. Then I end up looking really stupid because I forgot what I did or wrote such a long time ago.

Now the UKBA has regulations upon universities for all foreign students to sign in attendance; and because I live away from the university it is difficult to come in and sign. My supervisor calls me and tells me this has nothing to do with him (of course I already know that!). I wish he never said this to me. But what can I do?

In the forum there are lots of very helpful people, its a good place to have your say here. I hope you are feeling better. Have a great week ahead!

love satchi


Hi Guys,

Reading Dan B's post again I can see it in the light it was meant I just guess I had a bad week and so have just been feeling a bit vulnerable. Never imagined that the PhD could be like a pressure cooker. I mean I knew the situation in Year 1 but it didn't really register but coming up to the last three months of lab work everything in the past seems to be linking up. I have now taken some time off and my strategy is just to distance myself from negative energy- which has made me feel much better.

I guess calma will take care of the rest. Thanks for all the comments.

This forum is great though I was a member years ago but somehow forgot about it - which I really regret as the stories/people here are very relatable.