How To Choose The Right Supervisor And To Work With Your Tutor Right?
When you start working with your supervisor on your dissertation, you may expect that this will be the same student-tutor type of relationship. This is the one that you got used to and you most likely feel comfortable with. But you need to understand that working on a dissertation required more than that. We will disclose in this article that you need to pay attention to the interpersonal skills as well. Your collaboration will require mutual understanding and clarity in order to make your work together effectively.
Choosing the right tutor
For undergraduates and Master’s student’s universities usually assign supervisors in advance. This choice is affected by the topic you offer and the field of study, of course. But in fact, the process of choosing the right supervisor can be really challenging for the student. This is one of the most important aspects that will affect all further work on your dissertation. You work with a tutor on your paper will shape and direct your thoughts, approaches, and solutions for the selected topic. So you need to be considering in approving collaboration with one or another supervisor. We have prepared questions you should ask yourself before you will make a choice. This will help you to start good professional relationships with the right purpose.
- Is your supervisor familiar with your sub-field and topic?
You may consider this question weird, but in fact, it is very reasonable. Students sometimes consider that if their supervisor is well-aware of the general field you are working in, he/she will be an expert in your sub-field as well. But in fact, the wider knowledge does not always mean that the person can understand right your topic in the narrower field. Also, you cannot expect that your supervisor has read all the books, articles and works of other scholars in order to get an understanding of the topic (as you might do). Most experienced supervisors understand this and refuse to work with some graduates simply because they realize they have a lack of expertise in the particular sub-field. While some relatively young academics may mistakenly consider that they will be able to help you with your work, even if they do not have enough depth of knowledge. In this case, you need to check the suitability of this person to your dissertation by yourself.
- Does he/she share your choice of direction?
It is okay that you and your supervisor may have minor disagreements during your work. Moreover, some of them may be really important as soon as they are supported by constructive arguments. But you also need to remember that there are approaches in one field that can be completely opposite. So do your best to pick the supervisor who will share the same assumptions as you, instead of starting working with a person who obviously has completely different views in your topic.
- Does he/she share your working patterns and expectations?
By the moment you start writing your dissertation you probably already know what kind of supervisor you need for the productive continuation of your work. If you know that you may procrastinate sometimes and do simple things too slowly, you may look for the person who will be strict enough to stimulate your work and following deadlines. Or maybe you are motivated enough to work constantly and you do not want too much interruption into your writing process. Then you may look for the tutor who will be ready to revise your chapters when you ask them, no sooner or later, providing you with detailed and constructive comments. Do you get the decent level of attention to your work with quality recommendations and good criticism? Does the selected supervisor have enough influence on you to motivate, stimulate or direct you?
- How many students are working with him/her right now?
Some supervisors can be really popular so many students request working with them. But eventually, this may have a bad impact as this can reduce the quality of work with each student. Moreover, in this case, the supervisor needs to switch between topics too often that may cause confusions as well. But another side of the coin is not good as well. If nobody wants to work with a particular person, they could have reasons for that.
Working process with your supervisor
You and your supervisor need to understand that you are now starting the working relationship, which requires mutual understanding, sharing professional views and so on. The form of the relationships you will have with your supervisor will depend on the subject you are working in, but most of all it will be affected by the working patterns that you will choose. Anyway, you need to read and take into consideration our following recommendations.
Work with your supervisor, not for him
Being a student you probably got used to the particular model of behavior and communication with your tutors. During modules, you receive the particular tasks that you need complete in a particular way to satisfy the teacher’s requirements. This model also works during passing the exams when you express thoughts that your professor wants to her. And when you start working on with your tutor on your dissertation you may feel like fulfilling his/her requests as well. Despite the fact that your paper should meet the particular requirements specified by your department, still, you should not be oriented at satisfying your supervisor though. You need to reconsider your attitude and think of your supervisor more like teammate rather than the examiner. You are working together on the same goal and you are the author of the research in the first place.
Just like with teamwork, you need to consider the person you are in collaboration right now. You need to do what you are asked for and do not miss deadlines and tasks. Provide the chapter, draft or the piece of research when you promised to your supervisor in order to keep on the same track and gradually fulfill your paper. But you also need to keep in mind another significant aspect of the working in the team: being clear in what you want to get from your teammate. You can give your supervisor a first draft in order to check up whether you have chosen the right direction. But your supervisor may consider that this is the nearly completed part of the paper and it may cause serious confusion. So as soon as you ask for help, feedback, recommendation, make sure that you have explained on what stage you are now and of what “flaws” of your current version of dissertation you are aware of.
Engage your supervisor at the first stages of work
Most supervisors realize the importance of their control over the early stages of dissertation writing. That is why they often insist on often meetings during this period. But sometimes supervisors may be “hands-off” and do not insist on this way of collaboration. That is the situation when you need to control this aspect by yourself. Involve your tutor in the process of planning as this stage can affect all further work. Defining all the important aspects and directions will guide you in your work on the dissertation and prevent the majority of common mistakes. Moreover, there will be fewer risks that your dissertation will require serious making over. You can get a bunch of useful info from your supervisor, for instance, what books, articles and works to read or what researches to study. With this approach in the early stages, you will get receiving the required theoretical and practical skills that will make your dissertation creation productive.
Arrange often meetings with your supervisor to check the process stage by stage
Nothing in the educational process can be more disappointing than bringing to your supervisor 200 pages of your work and receive the comment that you need to start over because your starting point was wrong. That is why you need to develop a habit to arrange meetings with your tutor as often as possible to check every chapter and the stage of production. Discuss the next steps of your plan and their relevance to the dissertation in general. This will prevent you from being stuck on the same level and you will constantly receive guidelines of what you need to study more to move forward.
Do not think that your supervisor expects only completed work from you. Sure thing, you have to cover minor aspects like grammar check and proper formatting by yourself. But this is not your regular tutor. Your supervisor needs to see your progress and trace it. If you will provide a chapter that looks good and contain no grammar mistakes, you will let your supervisor see the actual content and base his/her feedback on it.
Conduct productive disagreements
You and your supervisor are different people and it is normal if you will have minor disagreements considering the working on your dissertation. He/she does not have to agree with you on any level. But as soon as you have any issues, turn them to the advantageous path. Discuss why your supervisor suggests a different approach or criticize your thoughts.
Do not be afraid of such situations. Of course, it may be daunting when you hear that you might be wrong in the thing that you pay so much time for. But on the other hand, consider this as an opportunity to grow as well as the chance to train your communication skills when you need to defend your views.
Do not be afraid to change the supervisor
There are rare cases when undergraduates cannot make their work with the supervisor productive. The reasons can vary. In some situations you can realize too late that your supervisor does not want to support your ideas, making you write an entirely different paper. Or you may find their comments impenetrable and demoralizing. Or your supervisor does not pay attention to your meeting request and you cannot get in touch with him/her for weeks. Anyway, you can eventually decide that you need to switch the tutor and start working with another supervisor. This is possible and you need to address your request to the head of the department. Do not be afraid to do so as this is your work in the first place and only you are responsible for it.