How to Choose and then Build a Good Relationship with Your Dissertation Supervisor

| June 5, 2012 | 0 Comments

Over the period of your taught Master’s degree course you will have found tutors whom you like and some whom you don’t get on with very well. When choosing your dissertation topic, you should choose an area in which a tutor you get along with can supervise. Many post-graduate students are lost when it comes to choosing a topic for their research, so your choice of supervisor could help you in doing this.

There is a problem, in some post-graduate student-supervisor relationships because you, the student are becoming an expert in a field in which your supervisor is already considered an expert. This can lead to conflict as the supervisor may not be ready to accept that you are becoming an expert and so a rival in his/her chosen academic field.

You should talk to the tutor you feel is most supportive of you and ask if he or she is considering a move during the period of your dissertation writing. If they are planning a sabbatical year or term, then you may want to rethink your choice. You also need to be sure that they are planning on staying with the university you are attending, as although you could move with your tutor, this is usually done by invitation from him/her. From my own experience I know that it is very difficult to adjust to a new supervisor half-way through your dissertation.

You have to accept that your supervisor is an expert and you should trust his/her judgment and advice. There needs to be respect on both sides and without this the relationship can be extremely difficult.

You might find that your tutor has channeled you into doing research will ultimately help in his/her own research topic, and you will have to analyze how you feel about this. You will need to decide if this is actually the field you want to do your research in. If it isn’t, after consultation with your tutor, you may want to change tutors. One problem with this kind of tutor who wants you to help their research is that the dissertations tend to be academic, with you doing the hard, time-consuming part of your tutor’s work. The plus side is that you will almost certainly be cited in his/her finished work and that is important in academia. You have to decide what it is you want to get out of your dissertation and your degree.

You should realize that although you are almost an expert in your chosen field, and may actually know more about it than your supervisor, you have to be respectful and curb any arrogance if you are to have a good relationship with him/her.

Choose your area of study and your supervisor very carefully as the supervisor is the person with whom you need to have an excellent relationship during your research and writing up your dissertation.

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Category: Dissertation Writing Guide

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