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Posted April 4, 2014

Keeping You and Your Supervisor Happy

Once you start your postgraduate study course, probably the most important relationship you’ll have will be with your supervisor. They will guide and mentor you through your independent research, giving advice and also delivering constructive criticism to enable you to shape your work appropriately. If you want your studies to progress smoothly, fostering a positive relationship with your supervisor is vital in order to gain maximum benefit from their input. Whether you’re just embarking on a postgraduate study course, or are already part way through but feel some additional help in interacting positively with your supervisor would be beneficial, then these five tips provide some great suggestions for getting that critical relationship right.

Be Nice As the old saying goes, “Treat others as you would like to be treated.” This maxim holds as true for your relationship with your supervisor as it does for anyone else. Turning up on time, basic good manners, listening as well as talking and expressing gratitude for the time and effort your supervisor has invested in your work will go a long way towards making a positive impression and ensuring that your relationship has a firm foundation on which to grow.

Take Responsibility At postgraduate level, your studies are primarily your responsibility. It is up to you to use your skills and knowledge to plan and implement your work to the high standard expected for your field of interest. It is important to recognise that this is your work, not that of your supervisor. Whilst they are there to guide, suggest and constructively criticise, ultimately the studies are a measure of your abilities and competence. Supervisors are there to assist as best they can, but it is up to you to get the work done to the required standard and be accountable for any short comings.

Communicate Whether you feel that things are going well or conversely are uneasy about your work and its progress, it’s important to let your supervisor know. Putting on a brave face or keeping silent whilst seething with resentment over some perceived slight is not going to resolve the situation or move things forward. Particularly if there is a problem, try to use non-confrontational language when discussing the situation. Remember that your relationship with your supervisor is not based on personal preferences, but rather on a shared desire to produce high-calibre research. Keep this at the forefront of your thinking when talking with your supervisor and don’t take any criticisms they might have of your work personally. It is only by being challenged to rethink some aspects of your project that the very best results will be obtained.

Use Others if Necessary Your supervisor’s role is to mentor and assess your academic research. They are often not in a position to help if you are having emotional problems, financial difficulties or health issues. If aspects of your life beyond your studies are causing you distress, there are a number of other agencies and individuals who can help, including services such as student counselling or debt management charities. For study problems, as well as your supervisor, your Postgraduate Tutor may a helpful person to speak to.

Accept the Relationship Will Have Highs and Lows Inevitably sometimes your relationship with your supervisor will be warmer than at others. In the same way as friendships or partnerships, there will be high points and conversely troughs where it is difficult to move forward. Remember to keep the lines of communication open and also that lows are normally temporary and the relationship will improve.

These tips will almost certainly enable you to keep your relationship with your supervisor rosy, ensuring you get the very best from this important influence on your postgraduate work.

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1 comment

Nasiru Magaji Dec. 24, 2016, 12:26 p.m.

I really enjoy this section and it is amazing guide.

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