Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Picking your PhD supervisor

Seeing this interesting piece (as referenced by Steinn->Pharyngula), reminds me that part of the reason I'm an angry physicist is my advisor. He's a superjerk.

And I'm stuck with him. When I apply to other faculty jobs, I need his letter. What would a department think of someone who couldn't get a letter from his/her supervisor? It seems crazy that so many years after getting my PhD, I still have to be nice to this person.


Steinn said...

It has been done...
But an explanation is usually required, usually through a backdoor.
You're better off with 3 good letters and in informal account of why none is from your supervisor, then with a negative letter from your supervisor.
Unless your supervisor has a rep for being harsh.

Actually the very best letter to get is an "ok letter" from a supervisor with a reputation for harshness.

Angry said...

Well, in my case it's not that I would get a negative letter. It's just that my advisor often doesn't get around to sending the letter. Maybe I should simply not tell the search committee to expect one from my advisor, and so, if they do, all the better.

Anonymous said...

I stopped listing my advisor as one of my references in 1996, four years after completing my PhD and about to start my search for a tenure-track position.
I decided to go that way, after much mulling over it, because I just was not sure how strong a letter he would write (and I figured better no letter than a so-so one) and/or whether he would even bother replying to requests for one.
I landed a tenure-track job that year, after receiving two invitations for on-campus interviews.
Though I do not have any "hard evidence", my sense is that at most places where I applied, people did not even notice that there was no letter from my PhD advisor.
It is customary, but not a requirement that the PhD advisor write a letter. After all, PhD graduates are often encouraged by their very advisors to branch out on their own and pursue independent research work. That may lead them to other problems and/or areas of inquiry, and therefore different collaborations. The mot recent collaborators can be regarded as more reliable references.

Anonymous said...

It has been three years since I picked my PhD thesis advisor. I know that I have gotten enougth results for my dissertation, but my advisor try to keep my as much as he needs.

i have ever seen in my whole life.

Anonymous said...

It has been three years since I picked my PhD thesis advisor. I know that I have gotten enough results for my thesis, but it seems to me that my advisor is intentionally trying to hold me as much as he needs. Thing is without my advisor’s approval I can not finish my dissertation. Within three years, I published only one paper (the idea was fully mine) and subject of the paper did not relate to my current thesis work because my advisor filled patents using my results. He said he did not want to expose the results until patent come out. No doubt, I agreed with that! But recently I discovered that he did not put my name on it. I asked why you did not put my name on the patent, but he said “My company lawyer did not approve your name and I will put your name in another patent”
Now I am no longer trust my advisor and I am in very difficult position what to do.
Do I need to fight my advisor or act like an idiot to accept my advisor’s behavior?
Friend of mine told me that change your advisor and fight to him, but I have no idea this time. The problem is if I move or change my advisor I will begin everything again.

Anonymous said...

That sounds really unethical. If there is someone in your department you can trust I would talk it over with them and consider reporting this behavior. Is the head of your department aware of your conflicts with your advisor?

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