Student/Advisor Relationship

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Figueiredo, A. D. (2009). Everything you always wanted to know about the student/advisor relationship (but were afraid to ask). [PDF slides] (Research Methods, Part III – The Praxis of Science).

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Student/Advisor Relationship

  1. 1. Recent Courses RC Everything you always wanted to know about The Student/Advisor Relationship (but were afraid to ask) RESEARCH METHODS PART III – THE PRAXIS OF SCIENCE
  2. 2. 1. THE IMPLICATIONS OF A PARTENERSHIP 2. THE MOTIVATIONS OF THE STUDENT 3. THE MOTIVATIONS OF THE ADVISOR 4. PARTENERSHIP IN SCIENTIFIC PRODUCTION 5. CONCLUSIONS
  3. 3. 1. THE IMPLICATIONS OF A PARTENERSHIP 2. THE MOTIVATIONS OF THE STUDENT 3. THE MOTIVATIONS OF THE ADVISOR 4. PARTENERSHIP IN SCIENTIFIC PRODUCTION 5. CONCLUSIONS
  4. 4. 1. THE IMPLICATIONS OF A PARTNERSHIP A sustainable partnership requires that every part be concerned, not only with its own benefits, but also with the benefits of the other part. In a partnership (be it a commercial society, a married couple, or the relationship between PhD student and advisor), if the benefits revert only to one of the parts, the partnership deteriorates. The sustainability of a partnership requires, thus, a genuine effort from each part to understand the motivations of the other and contribute consistently to their fulfillment. This is rule number 1 of any sustainable relationship.
  5. 5. 1. THE IMPLICATIONS OF A PARTENERSHIP 2. THE MOTIVATIONS OF THE STUDENT 3. THE MOTIVATIONS OF THE ADVISOR 4. PARTENERSHIP IN SCIENTIFIC PRODUCTION 5. CONCLUSIONS
  6. 6. 2. MOTIVATIONS OF THE STUDENT The six most common motivations of a PhD student: •  To obtain a good PhD thesis. •  To acquire the competence to defend successfully the thesis. •  To acquire exceptional scientific knowledge and skills in the field of the thesis. •  To acquire top competencies for publishing, presenting and publicly defending his/her scientific production. •  To acquire the research competencies to let him/her pursue autonomously a high level scientific career. •  To move one step up in his/her professional or academic career.
  7. 7. 1. THE IMPLICATIONS OF A PARTENERSHIP 2. THE MOTIVATIONS OF THE STUDENT 3. THE MOTIVATIONS OF THE ADVISOR 4. PARTENERSHIP IN SCIENTIFIC PRODUCTION 5. CONCLUSIONS
  8. 8. 3. MOTIVATIONS OF THE ADVISOR The three most common motivations of an advisor: •  To strengthen the competence and scientific projection of his/her group. (The financial survival of a research group and its correlated ability to attract good collaborators depend on its acknowledged competence and scientific projection). •  To strengthen his/her personal curriculum. (The progress of a researcher in his/her academic career depends directly from his/her personal scientific curriculum). •  To enjoy a stimulating intellectual partnership. (One of the major motivations of a scientist is the fun of facing interesting intellectual challenges together with intellectually stimulating partners).
  9. 9. 3. MOTIVATIONS OF THE ADVISOR As the task of PhD advisor is usually carried out for free, any PhD student who does not contribute to fulfill the above motivations is a waste of time and effort. Examples of unattractive PhD students: The students who do not exercise their self-sufficiency, act as employees with no imagination, keep waiting to be told what to do next, do it without commitment and quality, and sometimes even forget the suggestions and recommendations received. Examples of attractive PhD students: Those who act with initiative, autonomy, enthusiasm, and sense of accomplishment and contribute to intellectually stimulating and scientifically rich challenges and debates.
  10. 10. 3. MOTIVATIONS OF THE ADVISOR When the advisor’s motivation toward the partnership with a PhD student starts to diminish, the advice to that student unconsciously steps down many positions in his/her priorities. The advisor will gradually start showing lack of time to support that student, which is a sign that the partnership is in danger.
  11. 11. 1. THE IMPLICATIONS OF A PARTENERSHIP 2. THE MOTIVATIONS OF THE STUDENT 3. THE MOTIVATIONS OF THE ADVISOR 4. PARTENERSHIP IN SCIENTIFIC PRODUCTION 5. CONCLUSIONS
  12. 12. 4. PARTNERSHIP IN SCIENTIFIC PRODUCTION Partnership in scientific production is the main corollary of what has just been said. A student/advisor relationship that does not lead to scientific production shared by student and advisor is doomed to failure. In most research groups, a student who publishes a paper on his/her own, or publishes with other groups without the advisor’s approval, seriously infringes the principles of student/advisor partnership. In the academic tradition, this may cause the immediate rejection of a student. In any case, the motivation of the advisor to keep advising that student is likely to decrease very much.
  13. 13. 4. PARTNERSHIP IN SCIENTIFIC PRODUCTION TRADITIONS FOR AUTHOR LISTS: LIBERALIST TRADITION: The name of the student is placed in the first place and the name of the advisor takes the last place (the names of other contributors may be placed in between) (the advisor stimulates the student to venture into the ‘wild world’, but covers his/her back) In publications where the advisor develops personal ideas that give strategic framing to future work, the name of the advisor may comes in first place. CENTRALIST TRADITION: The name of the advisor goes first (even when the advisor did not give any visible contribution to the publication). (the advisor is the ‘boss’, and everyone should follow)
  14. 14. 4. PARTNERSHIP IN SCIENTIFIC PRODUCTION CREDIT TRADITION: When other authors contribute, besides student and advisor, all the names may be placed in the decreasing order of their contribution. ALPHABETICAL TRADITION: When other authors contribute, besides student and advisor, the names may be placed in alphabetical order. COMBINATIONS: Combinations of the above traditions may happen. In some institutions, the combinations turn out to be so ridiculous or unfair that author’s lists have become a topic of frequent jokes (e.g., http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=562)
  15. 15. 1. THE IMPLICATIONS OF A PARTENERSHIP 2. THE MOTIVATIONS OF THE STUDENT 3. THE MOTIVATIONS OF THE ADVISOR 4. PARTENERSHIP IN SCIENTIFIC PRODUCTION 5. CONCLUSIONS
  16. 16. 5. CONCLUSIONS The principle of reciprocity, which supports any sustainable partnership (society, marriage, thesis), requires the permanent effort of each part to grant value to the other part In the case of the partnership between PhD student and advisor, this requires from the student a permanent reflection on questions such as: •  I am being an attractive or an unattractive student? •  What results did I get in strengthening the competence and scientific projection of the group to which I belong, contributing to the scientific curriculum of my advisor, and offering him/her and my group a stimulating intellectual partnership? •  What efforts in that direction shall I make in the near future?
  17. 17. The author is Emeritus Professor of Information Systems at the University of Coimbra, Portugal. These slides summarize one of the 40+ modules of his course on Research Methods for PhD students. An expanded version of this module has been converted into a chapter of the author’s upcoming book on Research Methods. Comments and suggestions for the treatment of the topic in the book are welcome and will be duly acknowledged. Author’s URL: http://adfig.com Please cite as: Figueiredo, A. D. (2009). Everything you always wanted to know about the student/advisor relationship (but were afraid to ask). [PDF slides] (Research Methods, Part III – The Praxis of Science). Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/adfigueiredo/ © A. Dias de Figueiredo, Coimbra, November 2009

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