When’s the last time you sat down with your supervisor and talked about your work? And I mean your research work, not everything else that’s going on in your life or that you’re doing as part of being a grad student (TA-ing for example) or an actual job you might have.
I think it’s really important that both supervisors and grad students are working to make sure that both are on the same page. If you aren’t, then problems can arise. And people can end up being unfairly blamed when things go wrong. And I think this responsibility should be shared equally with both parties (supervisor and grad student) but, that it’s always your responsibility to make sure stuff like that’s happening. Which means, if you’re supervisor is not going out of his/her way to schedule meetings, that the fact you haven’t had one is not their fault.
So why should you have these meetings?
- First of all, to reiterate what I said above, is to make sure that you’re both on the same page. That you both know what progress is being made and that you both know where your research currently is.
- This leads into the next reason: if there is a problem with the research, it’s better to catch it early. Sometimes having those discussions with someone else who is intimately familiar with what you’re doing is the best way to catch if something’s not working and fix it before it becomes a bigger problem.
- Which is another reason – if there is a problem, both of you should be working on finding a solution. Sure, as a grad student, you’re responsible for the more nitty gritty details. But, your supervisor should be supervising and suggesting alternate solutions and brain storming with you. The entire weight should not fall on you.
- Progress. Are you making sufficient progress in your research? If you’re meeting regularly with your supervisor, it is very difficult to hide a lack of progress. And, the excuses for why you didn’t get work done for another week become old fast. There’s only so many legitimate ones before it simply comes down to you failing at time management (and usually excelling at procrastinating). Your goal, and your supervisors, should be for you to finish your degree in a reasonable amount of time. I’m not going to specify specifics, because there’s a lot of variables and factors at work, but it will require that you make continual progress. If you’re not making progress, it’s better for your supervisor to know early, so they can work with you to find a solution to why and help you find what you need to change it (or re-evaluate the program).
Do you meet with your supervisor on a regular basis? If not, how often do you usually touch base? Would you say your supervisor has a good idea of what you’re working on and your current progress?