Worried about supervisor/publications

30-Nov-12, 20:20
by s0phie
Avatar for s0phie
posted about 6 years ago

Sorry in advance for the moan.. I am in my 3rd year of my PhD - I always feel bad for moaning about my supervisor as he is really nice and friendly, however when I have a meeting with him to discuss my latest results he never remembers the things i told him in the last meeting. In our group meetings he'll be really surprised at new data that i showed him 2 weeks before. I've had a few major problems with my work recently that looking back with hindsight I think he should have been able to foresee (only because he had a previous student doing something similar). Feel very demotivated about it all, I have to repeat all the work i've done over the past 6 months because of this and do it slightly different! Just really annoyed by this!
should I say anything to him about how i'm not very happy with my work recently?
Also I wrote a draft of a paper that I don't think will ever get submitted 9 months ago, he's always saying things like "this work will be a paper" but these papers never seem to get written! I feel like he says things just to keep me happy and to stop me from pestering him about publications.

Does it matter for my future job prospects if I don't get any publications during my PhD if I want to PostDoc after?

30-Nov-12, 20:30
edited about 5 seconds later
by sneaks 5 star member
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posted about 6 years ago
I got to this stage - you suddenly realise your sup isn't some god of academia, but is actually pretty flawed!

You don't have to have publications, but it helps (and will vary by discipline). realistically though, if you want papers, YOU need to write them, you'll be first author, so you write them, send him a draft and say "I'm going to submit to XYZ journal, can I have your thoughts on this by [date] otherwise I'll assume its fine to be submitted"

You also need to work out whether its better to spend time on your thesis - I lost a year trying to do publications that never really got off the ground - I would have been better spending the time on the thesis (although writing the studies up as publications did help me bring together the arguments for the thesis).
01-Dec-12, 21:15
edited about 5 minutes later
by Pjlu 4 star member
Avatar for Pjlu
posted about 6 years ago
Hi Sophie,

my supervisor makes a note of what we discuss in meetings and checks it over
before we start the new meeting-so she can remember what we need to talk about.

However, if your sup is a bit too scatty to do this (or overworked or whatever), then why don't you minute the conversation and email it to him prior to each meeting:

"Dear overworked and scatty supervisor,

Last meeting we discussed 'beans on toast' by Heinz as a great metaphor for the modern dilemma of work, time and the quality of life problem. You told me to look at SPC's version of "Spaghettios' as another source to help me with my final analysis.

I am sending you a podcast of my 4 year old nephew's reaction to spaghettios and the consequent impact on his busy parents and childcarer to view, as I am not sure whether this verifies or challenges my conclusions, so could we discuss this, in relation to our previous discussion?

yours in organised happiness,


PS I have started that article and am attaching the first section as an email, so would love to have your opinion on my opening section as well.

Is it fair that you have to do this? Maybe not. Will it help you? Hopefully, which is why it might be worth a try. I think it is a good idea to get publications before finishing your thesis if possible and most advice from academics at my university supports this.

You don't have to have your supervisor do much other than support you in the writing. (But their name still goes on as second author). The article and paper published from my Masters, has been really helpful and I pretty much did it without my Master's supervisor. It just had her name on it and everything was cc'd to her during the peer review and publication stage but it was pretty much all down to me to do-from the writing, to submission to rewrites after review to final publishing proofs.

I'm hoping to do another one by this time next year on an aspect of my new study, with my (different) PhD supervisor in a similar way. The supervisors have been there in a sort of 'cheer leader' capacity more than anything else, it seems. Which is what your supervisor sounds like-from what you have written.

Best regards, can imagine just how annoyed you are, so this is not meant to trivialise your moan in anyway.
01-Dec-12, 21:20
Avatar for DocInsanity
posted about 6 years ago
Learning how to work with your supervisor is part of your development - after all, you'll have colleagues to work with in the future who are even more difficult to work with.
05-Dec-12, 14:44
edited about 16 seconds later
by s0phie
Avatar for s0phie
posted about 6 years ago
Thanks for all the advice, I think I just need to motivate myself - the idea of having to start writing whilst still getting lab work done and writing papers has overwhelmed me slightly. In meetings I have to present slides with data on, so definately having a slide just summarising our last meeting will help.

Also I feel miles better after being a half way through a week off!


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