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So, my advisor works in a group style, meaning we have these weekly meetings, where all of his PhD students and RAs are present. We plan the work ahead and set aims, but these aims are always very general and non-specific.

For example, it is always like "you must publish in the X journal something about improving the 4G network, because that's where the money is". He usually asks for publication planning without having done the work first.

We rarely have 1-1 meetings and even when we do, he does not provide any guidance, he just sets aims and I have to work alone to achieve them (no one else in our group works on the same topic).

This gets even worse by the facts that:

  1. I do not enjoy the topic that much. Long story short, I was assigned this topic after changing supervisors for logistics reason (Worth mentioning the relation with my previous supervisor was excellent, but unfortunately as I said, I cannot go back to him due to logistics).
  2. More importantly, he is very cautious with sharing his research and does not like to work with people outside the group.

As an example of the 2nd, I had asked him if I could write a paper with another researcher outside our group. He said yes, but after a month of work and 2 days before the deadline, he changed his mind and said I should remove the other person's work and name from the paper, otherwise we are not going to submit.

I am 2.5 years into the PhD out of a 5-year long program, so half-way through. However, I cannot work alone on a topic I do not enjoy, with a person I do not get along with. What should I do? Should I change supervisor again, keep working alone or quit maybe with a MRes?

Some people I have talked with say this situation is common and normal.

1 Answer 1

Some people I have talked with say this situation is common and normal


It is going to be a very hard process to change how your advisor work! Most of the time, you won't be able to! So, you will need to learn to adapt. You need to consider the following;

  1. This is not your first PhD! You changed advisors before.
  2. You are half-way through your current PhD (only you knows how many years you wasted or what's your current family situation).
  3. You need to graduate!

So, my advice is to follow your adviosr and be flexible.

When I first started my PhD, a new PhD student joined my grouped and have similar issues like yours. He changed advisors, schools and wanted to continue publishing with another researcher (his friend who have finished his PhD from a previous school where he joined before). The bottom line is, my advisor tolerated him for sometime but then gave him two options;

  1. If he [the student] continues the "drama", he can leave. If fact, he told him that he knows a professor in another school that might be willing to take him.
  2. Follow the process and get his degree!

To me, that student was very brilliant, had very unique way of thinking and solving for solutions! But, it was very clear that he needed to do everything on his own (and way)! Many advisors do not like that (especially, well-known ones).

I get that sometimes you can get a project that you do not like! So, what!! Do you think that you ganna be always working on projects that you like! I doubt that! At this level, you are a researcher (try to be a professional one). Think of it this way, if you are a surgeon, you operate on people! You can not say, "No, I do not want to operate on this guy because I do not like him" This may sound harsh, but in a way, is true!