Developing Good Relationship with PhD Supervisor

A good relationship is required between the PhD student and supervisor (professor) for the success of the thesis and also for the progress of science as a whole. We are in an age that allows for a good, cordial respectful relationship between the student and professor for students to be productive and innovative especially in advanced places. Sometimes, the supervisor and the student just get along right away but most times, it takes effort for the relationship to work. What can be done to make the relationship work for the success of the project work?

  1. Mutual respect: For the relationship between both student and supervisor to work, both of them have to respect each other. The supervisor should treat the student as an equal and the student should give the supervisor absolute respect. This is the basis for a good relationship.

  2. Know each other before the work begins: Many a times, when the professor is well known in that field, the student can get intimidated with the academic success and prestige of the supervisor. Students should try to meet with their supervisor before the work begins and find out the behavior of the supervisor and know what to expect.

  3. Regular communication: There is need for effective communication between the student and supervisor. Both formal and informal meetings should be considered for the relationship to run deep and smooth. Students should not go long without communicating with their supervisors, the supervisor might be a busy person, so at least once in a week, is ideal. If the supervisor is not around or always travelling, emailing should suffice.

  4. Honesty: Be honest with each other and try as much as possible to address issues as they come. Share your thoughts, feelings and ideas with respect and honesty.

  5. Provision of means: The professor should find means to get basic resources for the project work to be carried out. Nowadays, the supervisor should find ways to get funding or grants for the research work, if possible. The students should also make efforts to make good use of everything at their disposal to attain their goals.

  6. Originating ideas: Normally, the supervisor should originate and create ideas but the student should also add to the ideas and find more creative ways to do what the supervisor suggested. Both of them should take each other’s ideas seriously and find ways to fine-tune the ideas and make it into reality.

  7. Teamwork: Both the student and professor should work together as a team. They should collaborate for the success of the project. In case of any problem, the student should talk to the supervisor and find ways to solve it. The necessary ingredient for teamwork is communication. Supervisor and student should talk and find solutions.

  8. Motivation: The professor should motivate the student and encourage them especially during rough times. Sometimes, when the going get rough and tough and everything goes wrong, the student needs the supervisor as a source of encouragement and motivation.

  9. Monitoring the progress: Professors should monitor the progress of the research work always and help proffer solutions to problems that might arise. The students should also be open to discussing the problems faced with the supervisor after thinking of ways to solve it themselves.

  10. Transfer of knowledge: There should be a transfer of knowledge from the supervisor to the student. The project work is both for the professor and student and the professor must be willing to transfer knowledge to the student. Both of them also have a duty to disseminate the knowledge from their work to the general public through scientific papers, journals etc.

  11. Managing disparity: Conflict can arise when a project work is being carried out. Whenever disparity happens, the student and supervisor should sit to discuss and agree on a way to make things work. Not managing disparity well can cause both the student and supervisor not to get along and cause the project to fail.

  12. Creation of an everlasting relationship: Both supervisor and student should strive for a long-lasting relationship, even one that can last forever. The student should take the professor as a mentor and the professor should accept the student. Both should help the other grow professionally and personally. They should try to maintain a relationship forever.

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