Relations With Supervisor
Strategies for Postgraduate Studies
Postgraduate research is basically a lonely activity'- this is how one postgraduate summed up her experience of studying for her PhD degree. At the start of your degree programme you may feel daunted by the prospect of so many years of problems and effort stretching ahead of you. Yet you can take heart; the majority of postgraduate students do gain their degrees, and there are various strategies for coping With difficulties likely to arise at each stage of your research programme. In this chapter we shall look at some of the more common strategies so that you can adapt them to suit Your own style of working.
In the last chapter we saw postgraduate students' problems from the viewpoint of the supervisor. Now we are looking at the same problems from a student is perspective. Here we shall those four areas identified in the previous chapter as likely to provide most difficulties: relations with your supervisor; choosing and developing your research topic; taking part in formal and informal discussions of academic matters; and planning, writing and presenting your thesis.
Nearly all research students, whether local or from overseas, experience difficulties with their supervisors at some stage of their course. Sometimes these difficulties arise from a difference of personality or expectations. One student complains that his supervisor demands too much contact; he schedules weekly meetings and requires weekly progress reports in writing. Another student feels her supervisor has abandoned her; he is never available in his office, is frequently overseas on his own research projects, and has only spoken twice to her in the whole year. Your own experience is likely to fall somewhere between these two extremes.
Of course the students themselves may contribute to these difficulties. Some students often feel shy about approaching their