Tuesday, 24 June 2014

That love-hate supervisor relationship

What? I've not even started this blog post yet and you've already got a problem.


A mentor, a role model, a leader, a helping hand. These are all terms that could describe that voice of reason encouraging your next step. But when it came to reports and manuscripts, my supervisor always made me see red. Red pen that is.

Just wait a minute I'll get on to it soon.

No, I'm saying what you did. That's the point.

My PhD supervisor kept a certain red pen that he saved especially for colouring in my reports. Don't get me wrong, I was very grateful for all the feedback and insightful comments. Only it was sometimes quite hard to pick out the wise words amongst all the scribbles that appeared in the margins, on the figures and generally in any part of the paper with the smallest bit of blank space available. I spent hours writing up my work and of course felt some pride when presenting good results. All I ever wanted was just the smallest sign of approval, a pat on the back, a simple 'well done'.

Thanks! Finally some approval.

Ok I'll move on.


Thanks to comments from my supervisor, I have learnt the proper use of a semicolon and when it is wise to avoid 74 word sentences. I'm sure (I'm almost sure) that he always wanted the best for me, but the criticism sometimes gets hard to take. Yes, he has years more experience than me, but come on, when was the last time he did a real experiment? There's no way he could still actually get in the lab and create the data that I was producing, right?

What! But I think you actually mean "your data are crap"?

 Are you sure? It looks correct to me.

Ok, ok. Maybe I'll scrap it all. I should never have started this blog post in the first place.

I actually had a very good working relationship with my supervisor and he tells me it was only for this reason that he felt able to fully unleash when it came to marking my work. Likewise, I was comfortable taking the criticism, knowing (hoping) that it would only make my writing better in the end.

I wanted to end by pointing out your obvious superiority and how indebted I am for all your help...

Thanks, thought I would just give it a stab and see where it went.



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  2. Are these all real comments from your supervisor?

    I'm pretty lucky to have a supervisor who tends to be nicer than "NO! FUNDAMENTALLY WRONG!" and from whom I've had a lot of useful feedback on my writing.

    1. All totally real. Got to be be cruel to be kind sometimes and it makes it more amazing when you actually find a positive comment!

      I've got friends who have struggled to get any feedback at all, so I'd much rather have it this way.

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