As others see us; What PhD students
say about their supervisors
Carol Haigh
Lee Yarwood-Ross
Background
 Student satisfaction surveys are implemented by
Universities in the United Kingdom annually
 Postgraduate Re...
Question
 What do PhD students REALLY think about their
supervisors?
Methods
Data collected from the post
graduate forum website
Forum set up in 2002 so 10 years
worth of data available
Se...
Sample and analysis
175 pages of
text
> 3000 threads
10 threads from
each year
50 postings
from each
thread
100 threads
50...
Results
Communication difficulties
Things remain the
same, even after 2
years. I have met him
only once in 5 months
Difficulty get...
Academic bullying
He has called me stupid, although my academic record is very
strong. He sneers and becomes vicious if I ...
Desertion
My supervisor moved 500 miles
away. He suggested transferring
to the new university but that
wasn’t feasible...n...
Lack of trust in supervisor
 Is it normal for supervisors to nick
your ideas and use them as their
own?
 I say report th...
Some just made us smile
 I told my supervisor I was in love with him and
now he won‟t see me on his own anymore.
 “One t...
So, we think we are…
Doctoral students think we are…
Be cautious….
In Conclusion
Doctoral students want us to…
Thank you for your attention
As others see us
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As others see us

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We looked at an online PhD discussion forum to find out what doctoral student REALLY think about their supervisors

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As others see us

  1. 1. As others see us; What PhD students say about their supervisors Carol Haigh Lee Yarwood-Ross
  2. 2. Background  Student satisfaction surveys are implemented by Universities in the United Kingdom annually  Postgraduate Research Experience Survey results (2011) indicated that supervision was rated by students as the most important factor in their degree  Little research is available examining the actual experiences of the supervisory process particularly from the perspective of the PhD student
  3. 3. Question  What do PhD students REALLY think about their supervisors?
  4. 4. Methods Data collected from the post graduate forum website Forum set up in 2002 so 10 years worth of data available Searched forum using search terms „supervisor(s) and supervision
  5. 5. Sample and analysis 175 pages of text > 3000 threads 10 threads from each year 50 postings from each thread 100 threads 5000 posts Thematically analyzed & summarized using Tagxedo
  6. 6. Results
  7. 7. Communication difficulties Things remain the same, even after 2 years. I have met him only once in 5 months Difficulty getting appointments Supervisors slow with feedback I had to wait 18 months for my first feedback and then only got it because I had been pushing Can’t talk to supervisor I’ve spent the last few months just drifting. I’m not comfortable talking to my supervisor about this, our relationship isn’t great Supervisors have too many students She is supervising a much greater number of students than when I started and is less accessible now
  8. 8. Academic bullying He has called me stupid, although my academic record is very strong. He sneers and becomes vicious if I report other staff for harassing me or if I get nervous around him. There is so much...My supervisor is abusive toward me, although he always praises my work
  9. 9. Desertion My supervisor moved 500 miles away. He suggested transferring to the new university but that wasn’t feasible...not least because of their rules on taking on existing students My supervisor left last year and this year has been a really difficult time. All the systems supposed to be in place failed miserably
  10. 10. Lack of trust in supervisor  Is it normal for supervisors to nick your ideas and use them as their own?  I say report them. I have had that happen to a fellow student with an evil prof. They did not report him and he continues to wreak havoc in the department stealing ideas and having no original thought of his own
  11. 11. Some just made us smile  I told my supervisor I was in love with him and now he won‟t see me on his own anymore.  “One thing I do know for certain though - academics are selfish, ego-maniacal lunatics”  Is it normal for a supervisor to insist on candlelit supervision?  supervisor-wise…well we‟re talking academic bullying multiplied by twenty plus a little bit of sadism thrown in for fun and next to „control freak‟ in the dictionary, you will find a picture of her face
  12. 12. So, we think we are…
  13. 13. Doctoral students think we are…
  14. 14. Be cautious….
  15. 15. In Conclusion Doctoral students want us to…
  16. 16. Thank you for your attention

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