‘You and your PhD Supervisor: problems and solutions’ RESEARCH HIVE DOCTORAL DISCUSSION SERIES

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Grace Jones from Student Life Centre talking at the You and your PhD Supervisor Hive Doctoral Discussions event
This event was organised by the Hive Scholars using Eventbrite to protect attendees’ identity and to allow frank discussion, and took place on 25th April 2017 12-2 pm
We had a fascinating discussion with a range of PhD students and university support staff- our thanks to everyone who attended. In order to respect privacy and protect anonymity of attendees’ comments, this blog post simply present various comments and observations we heard during the event:

  • Use your peer network
  • Be honest and open with your supervisor
  • They need to understand your needs as well
  • Meet twice a month at least or even more frequently
  • There can be external supervisors from other universities
  • It is common to go into hiding in your first year when problems occur, such as writing  and then receiving negative comments
  • What about if I’m a non-native speaker and I’m worried my English is not perfect or good enough? Or what about if I want to improve the impact of my writing?
  • SUGGESTION: Take writing courses from SCLS (Academic Development: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/languages/english/acadev) to improve your language skills, the Researcher Development Programme for improving your academic writing (not language skills), or otherwise, the Royal Literary Fund (see Study Direct page which should already be visible to you).
  • Commons problems include:
  • Absent supervisors/ supervisors moving:
  • If supervisor is on sabbatical what do you do?
  • Take initiative
  • Document your meetings: after each meeting write up what you have agreed to so all parties are on the same page
  • If they are leaving what is the protocol?
  • Most supervisors will give you at least a term’s notice that are leaving
  • Where should you go if you have problems and want to change supervisors?
  • Go through your PGR convenor or Director of Doctoral Studies in your School (DDS)
  • PGR reps (where there is one- these positions are not always filled) can offer independent advice if you feel you don’t want to see the Director of Doctoral Studies (especially if they are also your supervisor).
  • What about if I just want to get something off my chest and I’m really worried?
  • Speak in confidence to the Student Life Centre- most of the PhD concerns are about their supervisors, so don’t feel you are alone!
Key words: be honest   change supervisors  problems  initiative  Student Life Centre   non-native speaker support     absent supervisors   document your meetings
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Tom Ottway is Research Hive Scholar and lecturer, and is doing his PhD in Creative Practice in the School of Media, Film & Music on Sonic Home and Homelands
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