The Top 14 Articles About Difficult PhD Supervisors


This list features the top 14 articles  and discussions about Difficult PhD Supervisors and How To Domesticate Them.


1. Bad PhD supervisors can ruin research. So why aren’t they accountable?

From The Guardian

PhD students’ relationships with their supervisors are pivotal; not only in terms of producing a good thesis, but ensuring academic and professional development. But while PhD  candidates’ work is regularly checked by supervisors, it is far less common, to have formal checks made on the supervisors, with students assessing their performance.

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2. I was a terrible PhD supervisor. Don’t make the same mistakes I did

From The Guardian

British doctorates are hard to supervise; they’re not similar to any other type of education. There is no reassuring structure of courses and exams, only the need for a thesis. Research points to high levels of depression among PhD students.

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3. 10 truths a PhD supervisor will never tell you

From Times higher education

There are some important dos and don’ts to bear in mind when choosing someone to oversee your doctoral thesis, advises

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4. What To Do When Your Academic Advisor Mistreats You

From Cheeky scientist

The first day that my graduate school advisor yelled at me in front of the entire lab I went into the handicap bathroom and cried. Just a little. Like one or two tears.

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5. 9 Types Of Difficult PhD Supervisor (And How To Domesticate Them)

From Next scientist

Got a difficult PhD supervisor? Tough luck. Sometimes he ignores you, other times he yells at you, other times he makes you feel stupid. It’s like he is the enemy instead of being on your side.

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6. Bad PhD supervision Experiences

From reddit

I am wondering how many people have had horrendous PhD supervision that cost them time, money and their sanity. I am two months away from submission. My supervisor who has been mostly nice and friendly to me, has become critical, abusive and aggressive. Its a 180 degree turn of personality and I am very confused by her behavior (esp now that submission date is ticking closer).

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7. Accountability for bad PhD supervisors.

From reddit

I struggled with it my first two years. I’m a fourth year now, but it’s been great having switched (almost been 2 years now). It’s an old story that I may have told on this subreddit before a few times. But as people pass through here, they aren’t always up on my personal events, so I like to remind people to share their experiences.

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8. When good supervisors go bad…

From Thesis whisperer

I get a lot of emails from students complaining about their supervision experience. This one, from an anonymous student, stood out. I think it’s the way the student thought they had it all figured out – before it went so very wrong….

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9. The 5 Top Traits of the Worst Advisors

From The Professorisin

In the post, Dr. Isis describes a shocking encounter in graduate school when a mentor informed her that because she had no first author publications, she was seen as unproductive, and not a competitive contender for grants.

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10. How do I deal with a bad PhD advisor?

From Quora

In general, first talk to the advisor as frankly as possible. Be tactful, don’t tell them they are “bad,” or insult them or antagonize them, as they can harm your career. If that doesn’t get anywhere, talk to the director of your graduate program. If you need to change advisors, do it with the least possible drama. Your present advisor may agree that you would be better off in another lab, and the parting should be amicable.

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11. Surviving A Bad Thesis or Dissertation Advisor

From Editing-Writing

There are bad advisors in every institution of higher education in every part of the world. Bad advisors cost students thousands of dollars, many months of unnecessary toil, and, in too many cases, the graduate degree they are seeking. The ABD “degree” (All but Dissertation) is frequently the result of bad advisement. Graduate students are abused by unscrupulous advisors, some of whom may be ignorant of their responsibilities toward the student, some who are deliberately abusive because graduate students represent an unwanted annoyance, or worse, advisors who enjoy the feeling of empowerment over another human being.

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12. If you have a bad advisor in grad school

From Small pond science

In a haphazardly conducted poll, one in four people reported their PhD advisor that was not caring or helpful. Crappy advisors may not be the norm, but we still have 1 in 4 too many.

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13. What’s it like to have a terrible Masters/PhD advisor?

From Quora

My M.Sc. supervisor made two analogies that I really like for a graduate student’s supervisor:

  1.  a PhD supervisor is like marriage, you might like him in the beginning, but he can turn your life into a living hell afterwards. Leaving a bad thesis supervisor is like divorce, a very hard decision that can have grave consequences while staying with him can drive you crazy. The more time you spend together the harder the decision is.
  2. His second analogy, a supervisor is like a watermelon, you buy him hoping he is red, sweet and juicy, but sometimes he is not.

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14. How can I spot a supervisor who is good or bad/toxic before I start my PhD/postdoc career?

From Quora

A graduate mentor is a teacher.  It’s very hard to evaluate a teacher.  If a genius joins a lazy prof’s research group, the advisor will look good even if all he does is proofread papers.  I think the mark of a good professor is someone who is able to vastly improve the quality of the student they get.  So look for folks who are able to transform people, turning them into great researchers.

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