I think these are great tips. Has anyone else had to patch up a relationship gone bad after it was all over? How I broke up with my supervisor. Treat your supervisor right! Great article…the advices are very useful, however bullets 1 and 2 are not feasible, at least at my institution…at the end you usually do what your supervisor wants….
There is no such thing as a smooth Ph. D, so once you accept this simple premise, things will start to make sense during the Ph. Not everyone is cut out for a Ph. It is highly unlikely not impossible though.. D journey to be possible… TIP 3: My view is not to over-publish during your candidature, just do an article or 2 will assist with your examination and primarily focus on your piece, at the end of the day, supervisors only care about their careers not yours..
D, and then publish post completion or have manuscripts ready post completion, with or without them! Never sign any documents before you have read them. When supervisors are exposed and the relationship has soured, they will resort to anything.. If you are not happy with the feedback, and the supervisor is not prepared to comment honestly, sign the doc, and pass it on to your legal team, AND make a comment via email to your additional supervisors or head of school, that you signed the doc, despite it being far from the truth… TIP 6: Always document events in a memo kind of style, preparing for the worse..
If it feels wrong, it probably is… Draw a plan before you start a fight, just like a Gantt chart. Never be emotive in public, unless you are dealing with your head of school.. You are always going to find somebody that will be on your side, so act smart, and be positive, as you will only get one chance to tell your story. And I know something about nightmare supervisors.
Mostly the ones about not showing emotions and only honestly talking to HoS. What if your super is HoS?
Do you honestly think HoS will always be understanding and wont pass things on? They cn only act if you agree to any action being taken or any information being passed on. You have to figure this out based on people surrounding you. It is very sad that a post like this on the relationship between supervisors and students continues to be relevant. But I know bad English it is a good post for those of us going through similar problems to read and learn from in that you have provided concrete tips for us to follow.
Well done to you for getting through and how lucky any future students if you ever become a supervisor whom you may one day supervise will be — you will have been through the wars and can advise them based on this experience.
Thanks for sharing your story. Responding to the latest post — When good supervisors go bad… I am responding to this post to say thank you-thank you for sharing information that helps me realize that I am not the only one who has experienced this type of situation.
My experience with my doctoral dissertation mentor was similar and I can certain relate to the feelings of frustration, trepidation and shame. I had a motorcycle accident in which I was severely injured, including a traumatic brain injury. Then after a year of trying to recover, my husband abandoned the marriage and everything fell apart ever more from there.
And through it all, my once active, supportive mentor seemed to disappear. I finally had to go to the doctoral advisors to get any response at all. My greatest fear, of course, was that since she was faculty and I was just a doctoral student, she would either make it my fault or get so pissed off that I had had the audacity to complain, that she would sabotage my efforts.
However, I stuck to my guns and stayed the course. Finally things got better. I had spent so much of my time isolated from my peers, in fear that I could not get help with an unresponsive mentor, that I waited way too long to bring the issues to the dissertation board.
I wasted 2 years of my time and money. In what was once a friendly working relationship, issues developed with a postdoc supervisor I had that resulted in all out psychological warfare, including: The bullying reached such extremes that at one point I had actually contemplated ending my life over it.
I agree wholeheartedly about making yourself visible, but as well as doing so within your department, I strongly recommend doing so to people outside of it as well.
Internal departmental politics may not always work in your favour. That sounds like a carbon copy of my old supervisor. This person refused to meet with me, got stroppy when I declined to meet at their private residence instead of the faculty, refused to sign ethics paperwork I needed to conduct interviews, made me do unnecessary work, and made me look foolish in presentations.
My supervisor was the golden child of the department and everyone knew he was screwing me over but did nothing about it. I spent over two years trying to go up the chain of command to get into a better situation. In the end the stress and financial pressure took its toll and I left. This story, and the stories in the comments, are sickening. He went bad in much the way described in this blog post. Thanks for sharing the story.
It is truly a horrible ordeal when supervision goes bad and not an uncommon experience. It is great to read the learnings from the situation. We learn an amazing amount about our resilience following such incidents. I also am in a very similar experience. In my view, many academics do not allow their students sufficient time or guidance to grow into this new being, expecting and wanting it to happen with little input from their side.
They are often unable to support over a distance. They are often unable to manage power in a relationship. They are unable to look for facts in cases and take sides along power lines. It is a small inbred group with very long memories. They have all the power so it is best to shut up and try to understand what they put over so poorly — using a liberal honey brush in the process.
What matters is constructing a narrative that protects the advisor and preserves the authority of the university. Paying attention to the facts just gets in the way. I had a similar experience. My biggest mistake was fully trusting my supervisor and even considering her my friend. She gradually stopped communicating with me and became angry and mean when I attempted talking to her. My confidence, sense of identity and drive took a massive hit from which I am still recovering.
All this has drained me mentally, psychologically, physically, financially and has affected my personal life as well. Hello Ivy, Although you did not give much detail, I can really relate with losing confidence, losing the drive to work or write, and losing joy. My supervisor has done absolutely nothing to help me grow academically. I doubt that the degree once earned is of much value, because I did not learn much, and whatever I learnt, I did on my own.
I grieved so much in the process that I totally isolated myself from colleagues, not wanting to be reminded of everything they had that I did not have. Almost a total waste of precious years and funds. Thank you for sharing your story. This is post will help grad students that are in a similar situation. Reblogged this on Tuchanuane. Part of our job as senior faculty is helping less experienced mentors manage the crisis of confidence that they are eventually going to have with every graduate student.
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