There are other bad behaviors not listed here. The sign that a student has a bad advisor is when deadlines are missed, forward progress is attenuated, and no end is in sight. Becoming a victim of the Stockholm syndrome should not be the only way to get a degree. Count the cost of a bad advisor. They may have lived in undesirable places. They may have lost wages because they were geographically tied to the degree-granting university and unable to seek the best paying job elsewhere.
They have lost years of life when they could have been doing something more enjoyable and less costly in time and money, which is why graduate students may become doormats for bad advisors.
They are afraid their entire investment will be lost if they protest their treatment. If your advisor has any one of the nine above-described characteristics, or others that are impeding your forward progress, you need to seek help.
It only takes one bad behavior on the part of an advisor to make your graduate experience a nightmare. This Website and several others in the same network specialize in assisting students from the time they choose a research topic to the end of the oral defense. The key to surviving a bad advisor, or later, a bad boss, is to develop the skills to manage upward.
Graduate school is professional school, and students should act like the professionals they hope to be from the first day they set foot in the department. That means dressing well, keeping an appropriate social distance from members of the faculty, and keeping the majority of their personal lives to themselves. Students should choose an advisor as carefully as choosing a partner in life.
The student should interview graduate students a year or two ahead in the program, or better, some who have graduated who had the same prospective advisor. Those who are still in the department may not want to say anything negative about their advisor because their own degrees might be threatened if negative remarks got back to their advisor.
Some departments assign an advisor in an effort to level the work load, and the student has no choice. The bad advisors get the same number of students as everyone else, and they can hide in the numbers. Before making a choice students should go to the library and find the last two or three theses or dissertations a prospective advisor has chaired and look at the format, the depth of the statistical analysis, the length of the review of literature, and the intensity of the detail.
This should be done by every graduate student. Advisors tend to repeat themselves student after student. If a student has an advisor with any one of the bad behaviors listed previously, or another behavior that is delaying forward progress, that student should seek help immediately. The Website you are on is part of a network of Websites designed to help graduate students and others with their writing projects, whether they have a bad advisor or not.
Send him or her e-mails on a regular basis, and keep it up the entire time the thesis or dissertation is in process. Advisors like to know students are working hard and should be impressed with your enthusiasm and dedication, real or not. When a deadline approaches, remind the advisor 4 weeks in advance, and again 2 weeks before the deadline occurs. Put a box somewhere at home and keep every scrap of paper pertaining to your graduate degree program.
In particular, keep a CD copy or a hard copy of every corrected manuscript the advisor hands back. Keep all e-mails from the advisor. These records are for the graduate dean, if needed.
Keep track of how many weeks or months of work have gone into the proposal to do research, and the thesis or dissertation as a whole. The average thesis project beginning to end should not take more than one semester. The average dissertation should not take more than two semesters. If your advisor assigns tasks that are outside the thesis or dissertation process, or are personal in nature, refuse politely.
Students pay semester hours to work on their graduate degrees, and nothing else. If your advisor fails to acquaint you with a the thesis or dissertation process, including deadlines; b the need for approval for use of human subjects and what committee makes those recommendations; c graduate school editorial requirements; or d any other organizational requirements that must be met before graduating, you should track down all the information.
Then put it all in an e-mail to your advisor asking for confirmation so it is on the record. A reasonable amount of time for an advisor to hand back work is 2 weeks. When the draft does come back, if it has been more than 2 weeks, send an e-mail to note the number of days it has taken to return the work.
If your advisor riddles your work with hundreds of corrections, hire an editor to help. Never, ever, tell an advisor that an editor has been hired. Human nature will cause the advisor to find fault with the editor to prove his or her superiority. Instead, send the advisor a series of e-mails noting how much hard work you are doing, mention the major changes in the document, and note approaching deadlines.
Note that the finest editor in the world cannot stop an advisor from making changes, but an editor can improve the professionalism and correctness of your work.
If your advisor only reads a few pages, then tells you to continue through the rest of the draft with similar corrections, send it back and tell the advisor the directions were not clear and to please clarify what changes should be made in the rest of the manuscript. It does no good to be a doormat and allow an advisor to behave badly.
If your e-mail is met with further comments about following his or her directions, or there is a long delay with no word from the advisor, call and make an appointment, then present all the pages that had no corrections on them and ask how you can improve them.
At this point you may need to bring a tape recorder to your meetings with your advisor. If you reach the point where you are certain your advisor is not acting in your best interests, gather all your evidence together and go see the editor or an assistant dean of the graduate school. In writing, request a change of advisor. In all probability, your request will be denied, but you will have activated the chain of command.
That person will then call your advisor and ask for comment. Good graduate deans will monitor your progress. If you have been polite and professional from the first day of work with your advisor, you have nothing to fear. If your department head believes that there can be no amicable resolution to the problem, he or she can appoint one of the members of your committee to the role of advisor. Remember that there are inner-departmental rivalries and friendships among faculty that you know nothing about, and you may step into fresh trouble.
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Our editors are current and former academics who have worked with literally thousands of graduate students on their final projects as thesis and dissertation editors, mentors, advisors, and graduate committee chairs , which allows us to not only edit your work but to provide personalized dissertation and thesis coaching services to suit your particular circumstances.
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May 17, · An advisor who fails to apprise a student of a) the ground rules of the department or graduate school, or b) the ground rules of their personal process for moving a student through research and writing a thesis or dissertation.
While your advisor should be your first avenue for dissertation help, many students encounter advisors who are distant and unavailable, and don’t provide the in-depth writing feedback, dissertation editing help that students need.
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