I’m a new assistant professor in the UK in Electrical engineering. I’m in the process of setting up my lab and I work in a “hot” area. Thus, I have the chance of getting good students funded by industry or funding bodies.

I know of professors with 10+ PhDs and others with 2-3. The group I did my PhD in was in the second category while my postdoc in the first.

However, I am wondering, what should be my target? Any studies have been made? Any personal experience?

I currently have three PhD students.

My M.Sc. Thesis’ abstract got accepted for presentation at a conference this year and I am about to send the paper. Should I give the paper to my current supervisor (of my Ph.D. in a different University) to read it and have an opinion?

EDIT: Including answers to comments

My previous supervisor has read it and gave me feedback. He suggested me sending the abstract and his relationship with my current supervisor does not exist since they don’t know each other.

I started working on my master thesis a few weeks ago. When I talk to my supervisor and try to discuss new ideas she always starts to explain very basic material that is only tangentially related. Sometimes even repeating what she said in our last meeting.

This leads me to believe my supervisor assumes I do not know what I am talking about when presenting my ideas. And even worse not knowing some very fundamental stuff even after she explained it to me.

I know it is hard to judge what other people know, but this makes it very hard to discuss my thesis with her.

How can I politely let my supervisor know of the level of my knowledge to have more interesting discussions about my work?

I am currently a math Ph.D. student. I meet my advisor, on average, once every two weeks for about one hour. I am worried about the way we are doing this. I have been here for over a year. I took the first six months to study the basics of the topic. Once I did this I felt ready to start working on my research. By this, I mean being able to read papers and understand. However, I have no clear vision of what my advisor wants me to do. During our meetings, I always try to discuss my research ideas, propose topics and show my results. However, he seems to agree with everything I say, and at the end, I don’t think I am really having any feedback from him. I don’t know what topic he wants me to do research in. This always comes from me. I ask myself the questions, he agrees and then I try to answer them. I am not sure this is the most productive way to do research.

Is this normal among math Ph.D. students? If not, any advice on how to handle this?

EDIT: This is not a duplicate of the other question. In that one, the student is in computer sciences, and he is reading and discussing papers with his advisor: I am not doing any of this.

I am doing my PhD in data mining / artificial intelligence and am at the beginning of my second year. I have had three master students so far, whose performance varies quite a bit. The worst (he already finished) got a very clear, cut and dry task for his thesis and still did not mange to do it as expected. The best so far (close to the end of his thesis) had a very vague task, and still got pretty nice results. The third is in the middle of his thesis.

In each each case, the really creative ideas, the innovation if you will, always came from me. Currently I have this third student in the middle of his thesis who has quite a few ideas how to use existing techniques, but I get the impression he is not really able to invent his own. Possibly I am not creating a good environment?

My students seem to lack quite a bit in technical know-how (pragmatic aspects of programming), mathematical understanding and knowledge of existing machine-learning methods. This is understandable – the end of your master is by far not the end of learning and I am happy to help them by explaining those things to them. Still, I struggle a little with that, since this is a road blocker. This is just learning, and not yet creating.

Now I have new task that I would like to have solved and which would make a fine master-thesis topic. However, no solution exists for the problem yet and it is pretty challenging, requiring quite a bit of creativity. A more or less completely new algorithm is required.

My questions are:

  1. Is there a point giving this task to a student or should I forget it and solve it myself?
  2. More general: What creativity can I expect from master students to create new methods? Am I expecting too much?
  3. How can I foster creativity in my students?

I am doing my PhD in Data Mining / Artificial Intelligence and are at the beginning of my second year. I have had three master students so far, whose performance varies quite a bit. The worst (he already finished) got a very clear, cut and dry task for his thesis and still did not mange to do it as expected. The best so far (close to the end of his thesis) had a very vague task, and still got pretty nice results. The third is in the middle of his thesis.

In each each case, the really creative ideas, the innovation if you will, always came from me. Currently I have this third student in the middle of his thesis who has quite a few ideas how to use existing techniques, but I get the impression he is not really able to invent his own. Possibly I am not creating a good environment?

My students seem to lack quite a bit in technical know-how (pragmatic aspects of programming), mathematical understanding and knowledge of existing machine learning methods. This is understandable – the end of your master is by far not the end of learning and I am happy to help them by explaining those things to them. Still, I struggle a little with that, since this is a road blocker. This is just “learning”, and not yet “creating”.

Now I have new task that I would like to have solved and which would make a fine master thesis topic. However, no solution exists for the problem yet and it pretty challenging, requiring quite a bit of creativity. A more or less completely new algorithm is required.

My questions are:

  1. Is there a point giving this task to a student or should I forget it and solve it myself?
  2. More general: What creativity can I expect from master students to create new methods? Am I expecting too much?
  3. How can I foster creativity in my students?

I often hear from PhD students that they see their supervisor only 30 minutes per month, or 30 minutes per semester even. According to my calculations, this adds up to a whopping 13 hours and 6 hours respectively over a three year period (if there’s no contact during the holidays). This is less than the typical amount of contact hours during an undergraduate week of lectures.

This made me wonder: To what extent does such a PhD supervisor really help you? Even if this supervisor is a star professor, does 6 to 13 hours over a period of 3 years, really help you that much with your PhD?

To formulate the question differently, let’s say you’re getting 10,000 education/career points out of your PhD. How many would you get if you got rid of the supervisor and basically had to do it without official guidance?

Currently I have reached the final stage of my Ph.D study in Germany. Nevertheless, I want to find a new supervisor within the same university or in other German university for Ph.D defense, is this possible?

Long story short, due to the fact that my current supervisor could provide hardly any technical advice nor funding support for my PhD project in the last 2-3 years, the relationship between us became unpleasant and I seldom communicate with him (what can I expect?). Few months ago he told me that he would cancel the duty of supervision because of poor communication, but I can still defense my thesis under his name. I guess the actual reason why he was mad because I was not giving him the source codes of my work (literally for free).

Now my Ph.D thesis is almost finished (time mainly spent on numerical solvers programming based on open-source codes), and I want to find some professor who could at least give me some advice for my final work, and finish my Ph.D defense within 3-6 months. Assuming my future supervisor would agree with this (potentially continue working with him/her after the defense), but does this violate some regulations for Ph.D degree which requires someone staying in the university for a minimum period of time (e.g. enrolled semesters).

I have started my PhD three month ago in UK. I am a biologist, but my project lies more on the synthetic chemistry field and all the experiments I have to do are completely new for me.

My problem is that at the moment, I am alone in my group because everyone else finished his PhD/Masters/Postdoc and left and I have no one to ask when I am stuck with something. My supervisor tells me to do experiments that I have never heard about, gives me a very general and brief description and that’s it! No protocols, no one to show me at least for the first time. In the labs where I have worked in the past it was completely different-PhD students have someone to show them (a Postdoc or a technician) and they don’t feel lost searching on the internet for the right protocol or method to follow.

I want to ask you if this is normal for a PhD? Or is it how PhDs are in the UK? I know that we have to work with minimal supervision, but is this normal? How am I supposed to start a new protocol involving sensitive instrument usage (like HPLC) with noone to show me?

Thank you in advance for your answers!

This is not my directly personal situation, but that of a family member who is to start a Master’s program (natural science), in Canada. You are, as a rule of thumb, admitted with your advisors specified on the offer of admission.

Their primary advisor (with whom I happen to have professional ties) has abruptly resigned from the university to take an administrative position elsewhere. For them, it is a great career move. However, this advisor is contractually unable to start new projects in January, so they have dropped the family member as a student. The secondary advisor appears to have done the same because they lack expertise in half of the project area. The primary advisor further says that the project is cancelled; the project was in collaboration with a government body which would have provided funding.

From what I’ve gathered so far, it might be possible to get the collaboration going if another prof would be supervising but it looks like a Hail Mary option. The department that Master’s was to be done in is very small and the profs have fairly different areas of expertise. Going with a different advisor and project would mean (a) finding funding in three weeks (b) a radical shift in research area and (c) finding a prof who can take on an extra student.

This opportunity arose slightly in part from my ties to the original primary advisor. I would be able to advise my family member during the Master’s based on my expertise in the field (this is the field of expertise that the original secondary adviser lacks, whereas I have a Ph.D. in the broad topic) but a formal supervision, aside from my not having any formal link to the university, is completely out of the question! So, if a prof could be found that would be comfortable with such an arrangement where I informally assist my family member with the parts that the adviser (original secondary or otherwise) is shaky on, that could be an option. And precisely for this reason everything seems like a Hail Mary!

As it stands so right now, my family member is being completely screwed over by the original primary advisor out of the money and an education. I have in addition advised my family member to go see the university’s ombudsman to see what they think or advise. Otherwise, I myself am out of ideas, because the options I can think of so far are long-shot Hail Marys.

What else can be done here?