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    This Category: > PhD Advice / Support


    Supervisor Concerns

    User: lordfarquaat - 10 January 2023 12:50

    Hello there.
    I'm hoping someone can advise on this. I'm three months into a creative practice based PhD after twenty years working as a practitioner in a related field. I knew it would be something of a struggle going back into academia, but had no idea it would be this difficult to navigate.

    My main issue is lack of engagement and a deeply worrying sense of paternalism in what is a very traditional academic department. It is early days, and although I like my supervisor on a personal level, he shows very little interest in my methodology or process and never asks questions about what I want out of the relationship. I've just submitted my PA after having several conversations where I've been told rather than asked what my research is about, I've been told to steer clear of a subject matter expert I want to work without being told why, and I've hear three times now, 'don't try to compete with the real academics, you're just a creative'. I was given no input into my panel selection, and when I tried to suggest a subject expert to bolster a funding bid, I was closed down without discussion, because it wasn't the person my supervisor suggested (someone he felt added to the bid but had absolutely no relevance to my research).

    It all just feels very tick-boxy, that I'm here as a token practice researcher, and that if you suggest things outside of the established norms its frowned upon. It's especially concerning because I'm self funded, and I'm all in with the PhD, so I can't afford to make any decisions that could completely derail it. Is this normal for academia? Should I be trying to switch my supervisor at this early stage. My concern is that there aren't many other people in my faculty who do my field, and I'll be left high and dry with a reputation for being difficult. I've also considered ditching it altogether before I've committed all my funding, and starting afresh at a new institution, but I've heard that this is very frowned upon.

    Any advice would be welcome. Many thanks in advance.

    User: tru - 11 January 2023 07:31

    Dear lordfarquaat,

    So, you are three months in, self-funding, being dismissed constantly and not having any say in your research plan nor panel? Why on earth would you stay in such a dysfunctional relationship?

    You are three months in and can jump ship without needing to explain a gap in your resume. You are self-funded so have a good chance of being accepted into a new team that you want because hey, who doesn't want a student who pays. A self funded student should have every say in the research plan and panel.

    I would suggest that you have a look at other potential supervisors within or external to your university. Research the supervisors, talk to the students and postdocs in the group to see if you like the environment. Don't tell you current supervisor until you are ready to jump ship.

    User: lordfarquaat - 18 January 2023 11:32

    Thank you for the response, Tru,

    I guess I'm sticking it because I'm doubting myself. He's a nice chap who I get on with personally, but professionally struggle with. I've struggled with the structure of academia in the past (have been freelance and self reliant for 20 years), so wonder if it's just me. But then I mentioned my feeling lost with it all yesterday and was told curtly that we all have our imposter syndromes and we just need to suck it up. There's just a total absence of mentor/coaching skills and it feels like he's phoning it in. (He admits he's too old for the hassles of academia and I get the impression he's seeing out his time).

    Anyway, that's my rant for the day. Yes, will look around and speak to the faculty lead.

    Thanks again.

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