Help choosing an institution/supervisor

posted
13-Nov-18, 22:54
edited about 9 seconds later
by PakMan
Avatar for PakMan
posted about 1 month ago
Hi Everyone,

I'm in the process of choosing where to do my PhD and have visited a few potential departments. Out of those that I've visited, I'm having trouble choosing between a very good Russell Group university with a supervisor that I seem to get on OK with and an ex-polytechnic university with a supervisor that I seem to get on much better with. Both potential supervisors are well respected in their fields. If anyone could give me any advice on how to choose, I'd really appreciate it.
posted
14-Nov-18, 11:51
edited about 15 seconds later
by eng77
Avatar for eng77
posted about 1 month ago
Hi. One important criterion is the rate of PhD completion of the supevisor. It might not be sufficient to be a nice guy according to a negative experience I had with a nice supervisor. Another important thing is how would you like him/her to communicate and what is his/her style of communications. Some students like to communicate daily, others once a month. Supervisors are the same. Which way suits you? If there is a chance to contact other PhD students in both groups it would be great. All the best.
posted
14-Nov-18, 12:41
by PakMan
Avatar for PakMan
posted about 1 month ago
Quote From eng77:
Hi. One important criterion is the rate of PhD completion of the supevisor. It might not be sufficient to be a nice guy according to a negative experience I had with a nice supervisor. Another important thing is how would you like him/her to communicate and what is his/her style of communications. Some students like to communicate daily, others once a month. Supervisors are the same. Which way suits you? If there is a chance to contact other PhD students in both groups it would be great. All the best.


Thanks for your reply. I know that the ex-poly supervisor has 4 current PhD students and six previously completed PhDs, with one 'drop out'. I'm not sure about the RG supervisor, but I will email him about that.

I spoke to one current student at the ex-poly. Everything he said was positive, and he's in his 3rd year, but he is quite a bit older than me, with a lot of experience in industry, so I'm not sure how useful his experience is for my situation.

Having visited a number of other institutions, visiting the supervisor at the ex-poly was a refreshing change. We got on straight away, had a lot in common (same undergraduate degree and institution, academic interests, sense of humour, etc.) and she is currently running an MSc program modelled on my MSc from Edinburgh, so said it would be good to get me lecturing on that. I had pretty much decided where I wanted to go, but ended up getting an offer for the institution that was originally my first choice, hence my issue.

Thanks again for your advice :)
posted
14-Nov-18, 13:58
edited about 24 seconds later
Avatar for Tortilla
posted about 1 month ago
If you think their research is comparable and it sounds like you'll get along with either of them. Other things then to consider is:
1) Did they let you talk to their current students? Very important!
2) What is their publication record like? Impact factors/h-index etc etc cause at the end of the day it's good (bit not the end of your career if you don't) to get at least one publication from your PhD.
3) What city would you rather live in? Do you want to be stuck on a tiny campus or have access to the "real world".
4) What lab equipment/library/resources will you have access to? Is one institution better than the other?
5) Will they let you go on conferences or study schools etc? How many will your funding allow? I got to go to one conference or school a year and I think they are invaluable experience in understanding your field and meeting other students.

A prestigious university does have its perks but if you are with a well known person in a field you like I think its more important.
Also a PhD is only an introduction to academia, your first Post-Doc can allow you to move to a place where you can develop research ideas further.
Good luck!
posted
14-Nov-18, 14:33
edited about 49 seconds later
by rewt
Avatar for rewt
posted about 1 month ago
I think it is hard to judge a supervisor from the limited contact you have during the application process. Just go with your gut feeling and don't over analyse it.

Though one thing I would consider is the lab/ wider research group or if the supervisor has any other PhD students. I am in a research group of one, which is massively frustrating. While you will have more support if a supervisor who has a couple of students and post-docs, though the supervisor may be distant.

If you will be their first PhD student, run away, seriously.
posted
16-Nov-18, 04:03
edited about 5 seconds later
Avatar for richard_norway
posted about 3 weeks ago
Choosing a supervisor is tricky because you don’t know much about them until you start working with them. Instead, start by choosing a problem that interests you – it’s easier to do and just as important

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