Unfortunately I am having a really hard time with the industry partners that have made me think I should quit. First of all, they are aggressive every time I come up with a research idea, and they shut it down in an aggressive way. I have been having some issues to be there to the secondments (bureaucracy not from my side). It is now on their side how to solve the bureaucracy. They have been trying to convince me the secondments are not important, and I can work for them from abroad. They are not being transparent or providing information about what they are doing to have me in place and finally one of them just got out of control and insane and scream at me in a meeting in front of everyone. Frankly I don’t want to work with these people again.

What should I do in case of having troubles with the industry partner? What are the risks for the project, if I quit?

I have kind of an interesting scenario that I would like to get advice on. I apologize if this is a bit lengthy, but I want to get all the facts out there.

A bit about me first: I have just finished my first year of grad school in an applied math program at a top 40 program in the US. I have undergraduate degrees in both pure and applied math, so I really have a love for both topics, although I lean more towards applied.

I have spent about 9 months doing some investigatory research with a distinguished professor at my school. Let’s call him Dr. G. I have really enjoyed this research and I feel like it is a no-brainer to pick Dr. G as an adviser. He is very active in research, he has plenty of grant money, etc. He is also one of the top people in the world on the work that he does. On top of that, he is very supportive, great to work with, and willing to be my adviser.

So I thought I had definitely found my advisor.

Here is where my doubt comes in. There is another professor, Dr. T, who recently spent 3 hours helping me with preparing for my qualifying exams (this was way above and beyond what I thought he would do). I had so much fun talking about the math with Dr. T. He was so patient and helpful. We talked briefly about my research with Dr. G as well. He told me that sometimes people struggle with working with Dr. G because Dr. G is so busy traveling and such. This kind of made me doubt my decision a little. Dr. G is very busy, but we meet almost weekly, although not for very long. Dr. G has also told me that he is a very hands off adviser…. and I think a more hands on adviser might be better for me.

With all this said, I was considering doing a reading course with Dr. T IF he was interested in having me as a student. I don’t currently know if he is accepting students or not. My thought was that if Dr. T was willing to spend 3 hours with me working out problems together, that he might be much more involved in helping me when I am working on a thesis than Dr. G could be.

I don’t know if I have a misconception on this or not, but those 3 hours that I spent with Dr. T talking about the math problems was what I really pictured an advisor doing for me. Maybe not 3 hours worth, but enough time to really talk and ponder the problem at hand. Maybe someone could comment on the truth of this idea for me… Is it true that some advisers actively work on the problem with you, or do they just check in with you on the work that you have done?

A couple further notes: Dr. G has had about 5 students graduate and Dr. T has had 2 (only 1 recently). I also don’t know about the level of research that Dr. T is doing; however, the quantity is definitely much less than Dr. G.

I would really welcome any advice or comments you may have. *My big question is if I should even ask Dr. T if he is interested in having students or not (I don’t think he has any right now). I just feel like that although Dr. T might not be as flashy as an advisor as Dr. G, Dr. T may be way more involved and helpful. So I am trying to figure out if working with Dr. T is worth looking into, or if I would be unwise to not work with Dr. G.

Thanks for your time.

Background:

  • beginning 2nd year of a M.S.
  • In a computational geoscience lab
  • Past lab mates (M.S. students) have done great and sophisticated research
  • Advisor wants to give me a to-do list and have it blindly executed
  • I have basically done this, but am getting more confident and autonomous
  • I asked him early on if I should be coming up with my research topic, he said no…
  • He gave me 4-5 different topics to do some pre research on last year
  • I did, and ran into problems with each of them
  • In about March we settled on a statistical analysis (even though I don’t have a background in stats, but am learning.)
  • However, he hasn’t spent much time looking at my project
  • Things I brought up months ago, and he dismissed we are finally revisiting (like a really low n….!)
  • I’ve finally ‘caught’ him telling me my statement is untrue, when in fact it is definitively true (even simple things, like the code to check RAM)
  • He’s told me he likes that I think quickly and have great intuition, but I have to be…. …. (more careful? I assumed).
  • I am not a great programmer yet, and so I am slow, but getting better.
  • Funded on a external fellowship this year, will be a department TA next (none of his research dollars, which he has plenty, with 3 more grad students funded by him)

My advisor surely wants me to bite off a chunk of work that is manageable. However, I still have a full year of research to do (with little classwork), and every idea I have to bolster the analysis he suggests not to pursue it, because it’ll be too hard and take too much time. Although, he is finally coming around to some of the ideas.

He say’s that it irritates him when I come up with something when he is paused trying to think… He has repeatedly told me he wants me in the lab, but that he’s just making sure I will be out in a year from now.

I am two months of actual work in and am getting some initial results, that aren’t that compelling, don’t add to the knowledge base and I don’t believe would ever get published. But, he has repeatedly told me to start writing my thesis around these preliminary figures. I have started to, as it can be helpful to write down your thoughts, but why waste a bunch of time perfecting figures and editing when you don’t think the content is any good?

It’s as if I am his puppy on a tight leash, and am sniffing around tugging on the leash, he ignores that the puppy might smell something he doesn’t and yanks me back-justifying it as training. But, he is in a sense more aimless (and less motivated by the walk and seems he just wants it to be over) and eventually all the puppy tugs, alter the inertia of the walker and his puppy.

This ‘method’ of mentor ship works, I guess, its just very slow and painful. How should I handle this? I have confronted him about holding too short of a lease and he got angry but was eventually receptive and instantly changed the subject to an non relational topic(even though I said, “great, lets talk about this.”). To me, it seems like there is a huge power dynamic that he wants to keep, and that whenever I come up with something, he forgets about it then comes up with it a month later in his own words so as to ‘own’ it? I don’t care who owns it, I just want a decent relationship with my mentor and add(or remove) a tiny chunk to (from) my field.

Do I confront him on my suspicion he is just ‘putting up’ with me, and just wants me out of his lab? Seems like that’s a good way to get the boot. Is it just a conflict of personalities? How to tell? Furthermore, what good is a M.S. to go into the workforce if you don’t even get a good recommendation from your advisor?

I’m doing a masters. My thesis supervisor made our relationship a bit more personal and friendly: added me on Facebook, invited me for couple of dinners and we used to hangout sometimes and talk on articles at bars. Now he’s for some reason avoiding me, answers emails/messages after couple of days (he used to do it in less than a day tops) and very cold and short. A very big problem is that I’m taking a lot of credits with him this semester (individual research work) and not only I have this fear that he might give me bad grades (he can do that simply by calling my work low quality; there’s no objective criteria for the kind of individual course that I’m taking), he might end up not writing me a reference letter for my PhD, which is bad because first, a lot of credits under the name of individual work will remain unexplained, and second, I suppose it’s awful that the one that I have worked with a my supervisor doesn’t write me a letter.

What should I do?

PS: He’s not physically accessible until the end of summer, except that for a 2 days conference that we’ll be meeting in a week.

I was discussing some matters with a potential MSc thesis advisor. However, when I pointed out a mistake they had made, they kept on stubbornly denying it and just dismissed my claims. This annoyed me as I had spent a lot of time verifying that
it was in fact a mistake and building up strong evidence, and this professor didn’t even seem to make an effort to listen to my arguments. In the end I had to give up because I was not making any progress.

In your opinion, should I still consider this person as an advisor? The thesis will take up 2 semesters of work. I fear that if my advisor is not able to admit their own mistakes, this could seriously compromise my work. Should I interpret this episode as a red flag that tells me not to work with this person? Or is it possible that as time goes on they would start trusting me better and consequently be more willing to accept my remarks? Keep in mind that aside from what I just said, this person seemed the ideal advisor for me right now.

I am a PhD student in the best-ranked university in my country (not America or the UK) and pursuing my research in a field that I am (was?) passionate about. All was fine for a couple of years – I loved my work, did fruitful experiments and presented a paper at the best conference in my field. I also successfully defended my PhD candidacy and got good comments from my panel which boosted up my morale significantly.

Things started going downhill from this point.

I had enough data to publish in a journal just three months after I had presented my conference paper. So, I prepared the manuscript and sent it to my advisors (I have two). Without even bothering to read the manuscript, they wanted me to aim for a journal with a higher impact factor rather than the one I was targeting and so, they asked me to pursue a few more experiments. After four more unsuccessful months, I get the news that a similar work to mine (same experimental design, same goals) was just published by a group from another university.

Now, my advisors turn into PANIC mode. They accused me of being too slow and not making enough effort. In fact, they didn’t even remember that I had sent them the draft manuscript four months ago.

My relationship with my advisors turned sour after this. They did not respond to my emails calling for meetings, failed to go through important presentations and never responded positively to my ideas. In the midst of all this, I lost my grandmother and they didn’t even offer a word of condolence (perhaps I’m expecting too much?).

Furthermore, I was working on another side project which also gave promising results and was accepted to a prestigious conference. My advisors did not have a look at the draft manuscript for this conference paper, hardly offered any comments or suggestions and did not respond to my email asking them to have a look at my presentation. I travelled alone to the conference (to another country) and presented my paper without any feedback from my advisors. After returning back, they did not even ask how my presentation went.

As a result of this and more, I have gone into a depressive state, lost my motivation for the field I once loved, become a social recluse and lost out on my mental health. It has led me to ask myself “Why did I join this place?” every single day. I have even sought professional help from a therapist but that seems to be of no help.

Apologies for the long post but any advice will be helpful. Criticism is welcome. Thanks for reading.

I am a PhD student in the best-ranked university in my country (not America or the UK) and pursuing my research in a field that I am (was?) passionate about. All was fine for a couple of years – I loved my work, did fruitful experiments and presented a paper at the best conference in my field. I also successfully defended my PhD candidacy and got good comments from my panel which boosted up my morale significantly.

Things started going downhill from this point.

I had enough data to publish in a journal just three months after I had presented my conference paper. So, I prepared the manuscript and sent it to my advisors (I have two). Without even bothering to read the manuscript, they wanted me to aim for a journal with a higher impact factor rather than the one I was targeting and so, they asked me to pursue a few more experiments. After four more unsuccessful months, I get the news that a similar work to mine (same experimental design, same goals) was just published by a group from another university.

Now, my advisors turn into PANIC mode. They accused me of being too slow and not making enough effort. In fact, they didn’t even remember that I had sent them the draft manuscript four months ago.

My relationship with my advisors turned sour after this. They did not respond to my emails calling for meetings, failed to go through important presentations and never responded positively to my ideas. In the midst of all this, I lost my grandmother and they didn’t even offer a word of condolence (perhaps I’m expecting too much?).

Furthermore, I was working on another side project which also gave promising results and was accepted to a prestigious conference. My advisors did not have a look at the draft manuscript for this conference paper, hardly offered any comments or suggestions and did not respond to my email asking them to have a look at my presentation. I travelled alone to the conference (to another country) and presented my paper without any feedback from my advisors. After returning back, they did not even ask how my presentation went.

As a result of this and more, I have gone into a depressive state, lost my motivation for the field I once loved, become a social recluse and lost out on my mental health. It has led me to ask myself “Why did I join this place?” every single day. I have even sought professional help from a therapist but that seems to be of no help.

Apologies for the long post but any advice will be helpful. Criticism is welcome. Thanks for reading.

I’m a rising senior studying Psychology, and will be applying to PhD and Master’s programs in the Fall. I have already shortlisted the advisors from the schools I would like to work with and whose research I find fascinating.

Would sending them a quick email now (late May) asking whether they are taking graduate students and expressing an interest in being a part of their lab in 2019 be too early? Should I wait until the term starts in September/October to reach out to them?