How Can the Ph.D. Supervisor Guide the Doctoral Students?

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Undertaking doctoral studies is a serious commitment. The decision is not made lightly, as we know that we have several years of financial hardship, crazy working hours and suffering locked in our mind to endure. The possibility of failure is there even if it is slim. Imagine the horror of having done work for several years only not to succeed. Your doctoral supervisor can influence this trip positively or negatively, depending on whether you and they chose wisely. Many disciplines make it easy for applicants because they advertise for doctoral students to participate in specific projects. However, others work on students proposing a topic themselves, and professors get to choose which student they want to tutor.

Particularly from the student point of view, the choice is not easy. Many of us forgo other career opportunities and markets to follow our academic calling. We might have given up well-paying jobs so that we can return to university. Or we expect that this will have a life-changing effect on us. In any case, we wish to succeed and get great benefits from completing our doctoral studies. Benefits can vary from the perfect lifestyle, the ability to share our research with others and educating others in the process. To achieve this, we might have to make concessions when it comes to our choices regarding the supervisor and the institution we want to graduate from.

The perfect scenario is a well-renowned institution and a supervisor that is truly interested in our work. We get the best of both worlds, so to speak, as the name of the institution might hopefully open doors for us in the future, whereas the supervisor might make our road less stony while doing the project. Depending on the Higher Education sector you are studying in this is easy or difficult to achieve. When the sector charges a fair amount of tuition, and you are shining brightly based on your previous research, it might be quite easy to get this perfect scenario going for yourself. In a sector with meager tuition fees, you have to shine so much more among your competition. The ideal case is that the professor knows you from previous studies, thus is aware what you are capable of. Your credentials will get you far in this scenario.

The second best scenarios are those where the student has to prioritize. We might get the perfect supervisor but at a less prestigious institution, or we might get the institution, but the supervisor is not that interested. It is a choice no one can make for you, as only you know what you want to achieve with your studies. The institution’s name will influence future employers and might even your path but if that is not your primary concern having the most supportive supervisor is possibly more beneficial.

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Brandon has been working with PhD and Master’s candidates for their thesis and dissertation since 2007. He is a sports enthusiast and has completed his PhD in 2009. He works closely with students and candidates for consulting on academic documents.

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