Comments from your Supervisor

October 7th 2011

One thing I really hate is… stock phrases.

The supervisor-student relationship is a tricky one; on one level a student is looking for guidance as to the key issues and style-points that raise a piece of writing to doctoral level whilst the supervisor is simultaneously attempting to stimulate originality from the student and not do too much. As a student I want to hear about specific points where my writing is unclear, formulaic, unsubstantiated or simply not analytical enough – my supervisor wants me to get to a point where I can make those judgements on my own, wants me to edit and prove my own ability; I want to make key points and I need to know my supervisor has seen and understood them – my supervisor knows the areas of the field that have been well-covered and wants to see me engage with them.

This leaves us both edging backwards and forwards in the middle ground – trying to coax each other to tell us the things we think are important. My supervisor is actually quite good at highlighting areas that need work and nudging me towards more effective structures without insisting on a particular form. But.. by the time I finish this I know I will never want to hear anyone tell me I need more ‘sign-posting’ again!

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