Dissertation supervisor

(5 Posts)
franklyshankly Thu 07-Apr-16 12:08:57

Hi all,

I'm currently in my final year of my undergrad so not at the same level as most of you but was hoping for advice from people who have been through the process.

I'm two weeks away from handing in my dissertation. At the start of the year my supervisor pushed me towards an advanced qualitative method which I was happy to take on. I submitted a full draft a few weeks ago. I'm worried- my supervisor is mentoring myself and one other students. He appears to favour the other student/her project. At the start of the year we would often have three way meetings where he would concentrate solely on her project. As a result, my fellow student and I pushed for seperare meetings so he would look at my work.

I got feedback back on my draft submission last week- very harsh feedback on what I think is a genuinely good and interesting project. I also received my feedback almost a full week after the other girl. My supervisor requested a meeting to discuss my feedback which I happily agreed to. He was in an absolutely foul mood. He berated me for not bringing a full paper copy of my project- i had emailed him a copy and by the wording of the email I had thought the meeting was more going over his own feedback. He couldn't remember any of the feedback he had given me. He told me I had to get my head out my arse (this hurts as I am an organised person and have never missed any meetings/deadlines). He asked why I hadn't done a certain section. I have done this section- it's included on the contents page and is clearly labelled. I don't think he read it. I asked him a question about whether I should move a paragraph to another section and he refused to tell me saying that I should have this all figured out by now.

What's worse- during our discussion it become clear that i may have a better grasp of the methodology than him. It appears he hasn't used/studied this method before and only has a layperson knowledge of it. I'm not sure if this is common in academia or not but I'm now terrified that I am going to be marked down for this project.

Thanks for reading- I just really need some advice about what to do next/ if this is a normal experience. Thanks.

Parietal Thu 07-Apr-16 21:35:00

Sorry you are having a hard time. I think you have been very unlucky in your supervisor - not all supervisors are like this.

do you have an academic tutor you can discuss this with? Or someone else within your university in student support?

In the end, your dissertation will be marked by 2 people and your supervisor should not be able to mark something down without a very good reason.

MatildaBeetham Fri 08-Apr-16 09:48:41

That doesn't sound good. If you don't have a personal tutor, is there a programme manager or course director you could approach for help?

Bear in mind that some undergraduates will make complaints quite strongly when the problem is more with their expectations or willingness to work, so I would advise you to be very calm and measured about your concerns, keeping the focus on your desire to get the right support to do well in your dissertation, rather than a list of issues with your supervisor's conduct.

Your work will be moderated, so it's extremely unlikely your supervisor will be able (or will want to) mark you down spuriously, but I'd imagine you're more worried about not producing your best work due to a communication problem or unhelpful feedback, right?

So first step, have a word with your academic tutor (if you have one) or if you don't, the person in charge of the programme. Good luck with sorting this out.

Muskey Fri 08-Apr-16 10:01:53

From what you say it sounds as though you are doing a psychology degree. If that is correct your tutor should not have encouraged you to use methodology that you have not been taught. If they have then they need to provide the support in order for you to use that methodology. I do question Your assertion that the tutor only has a lay persons understanding of the methodology as they couldn't /shouldn't be in that position. If that is the case then you certainly do have cause for concern. You should speak to your own tutor and ask for advice as to the way forward.

k33wells Thu 14-Apr-16 11:29:28

Some supervisors are just a pain. When I was working on my dissertation, I was doing the whole thing on my own simply because my supervisor just didn't want to get involved in my research and if I had questions, his answers were so vague that I had to look for answers myself. Anyways, in the end the paper turned out to be pretty good and yeah my supervisor wasn't the only person who was grading it.The other person did like my work though I still have no idea whether or not my supervisor liked it. As usual he talked vaguely. I guess that is his style. And there was nothing I could do about it. I believe the same is with your supervisor. You definitely cannot change his attitude towards you but you can do your best with writing your paper and defending it properly. Without a good reason he won't be able to degrade your work. And unfortunately our education system depends on professors who are definitely subjective in their judgements and as mentioned at researchpaperwritings blog there may be a ton of ideas to change the system but since a human being is in charge of it, there is a high chance this won't be a drastic change. That's why my advice would be to do your best and defend your work.

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