Category: Dissertation/ThesisHow to put up with a difficult and unaccommodating PhD supervisor?

Oh God! I don’t know where to start, lately my supervisor has been giving me a headache… he has asked me to revise my draft so many times, frankly I have lost count! I have kept with the corrections he had suggested to me for my first few chapters but with my draft continuously being rejected it is very hard to feel that the time I am investing in revising and correcting is really getting me anywhere. This time he has asked me to work on revising the entire conceptual framework. He also wants me to add 50 new references and the last time he had asked me to add references, after I had added the references he was like “these do not seem relevant, remove them” I was stunned! First I’m asked to add references and when I go through all the trouble to add them, you ask me to remove them??  And each time this happens he gives me a lot of negative feedback without any constructive suggestions for improvement that leaves me more demoralised than before. I almost feel like giving up on my thesis.  I don’t know what I could do that would get him to approve my draft, I feel very dejected and don’t even feel like submitting another draft to him knowing he will only send it back! Has anyone had a similar experience where your supervisor just wouldn’t be happy with you, no matter what you did, how did you motivate yourself to keep going on in such a situation? Please help! I’m badly in need of advice

asked on 10 Feb 18Rajshree TamangRajshree Tamang Staff
1 Answers
answered on 13 Feb 18

Hi there.. Yes I have been there and even I harbored thoughts of giving up on everything.. You would be surprised to know that at that time I was on really bad terms with my supervisor.. but we got over it and now he advises me on almost everything..

If you ask how it worked for me.. Well, once I had an outburst and had a confrontation. It’s funny now when I think about it.. But then after that, both me and my supervisor started to have more conversations… Probably my supervisor realized that I was having a breakdown. Jokes apart, but once we started talking, things began to work out between us. Once everything started to fall into place, we were able to converse about almost anything and everything. It was at a later point when I realized both of us were at fault. I understood only half of the things my supervisor advised me on, was reluctant to ask again on things which I was unclear on and kept everything to myself, which eventually piled up on me. And my supervisor also assumed that I was super smart and kept on adding things that I was expected to do, and the list was never-ending. So, after a good discussion, we decided to take things slowly one at a time.

Also, one tip that I followed while re-drafting my thesis was, I used to note down all the comments he gave me and get it double checked and approved by him, before actually proceeding further. Also, when references come into picture, it is always better to get the list of references reviewed by your supervisor before actually using it in the thesis. That way you can avoid possible changes in future.

And I know that the process is never easy, and one never gets used to it. But please don’t give up. Be positive and try to look at the plus points. If you try to focus on the positives, it will keep you motivated. I hope that you are able to resolve all your issues and have a smooth way. Good luck!

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