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So I am working on some research

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Senior Manager
Senior Manager
Joined: 14 Jun 2007
Posts: 397
So I am working on some research [#permalink]

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New post 07 Feb 2008, 13:03
I am in a masters program and I found a mentor to guide me with some research. He will be a secondary author on my work (which seems fair).

SO... I am asking you PhD folks what I should expect from my mentor. We trade a few emails a week and I spend maybe 20 minutes talking to him after class about ideas, and thats about it (I am at the conceptual stage for a project). Is this a good level of interaction? I figured as I start to pull something meaningful together I will get more face time (? I hope?)

Also, is it strange that I feel like this professor is not necessarily really reading, thinking, understanding my ideas (based on some of his comments, which don't seem to make sense to me or connect to what I am trying to say). Should I expect them to sort of breeze through my stuff, and only really pay attention when I have something substantial (like a concrete concept, a hypothesis, design, lit review, etc.)

And finally, I was proof reading one of his articles and I caught some post hoc analysis going on (I know because of something he mentioned in class.) I brought it up in passing and he got really offended. It wasn't my intent to piss him off... but in light of all the info above should I try to find another mentor for my independent studies (keep in mind he is *really* a cool guy, and I don't think I will be able to find anyone else at least until the fall... if EVER. IMHO, the clock is ticking and I'd like to get a conference paper under my belt before I apply to PhD programs)

Joined: 15 Aug 2003
Posts: 3454
Re: So I am working on some research [#permalink]

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New post 08 Feb 2008, 10:33
Unless your work directly builds on your advisor's work, expect very little as far as research is concerned. Critical feedback would be one area where I would seek help. The more you expect from your advisor/mentor, the more it will hurt you in the long run and the less glowing your letter of recommendation will be.

You want to be able to answer the question - Whose work is this? your's or your advisor's?-- with a resounding " We only brainstormed ideas and I sought feedback, but this is entirely my work" -- Your advisor's letter of recommendation should back up this statement.

If you say he is that cool, offer to go for lunch together once every two weeks or so. It is much easier for you to bond with your mentor in an informal setting.

Even if you find weaknesses in a published paper, advisor's or someone else's, do not expect the author to take it well. Be politically astute. A paper should ideally always state weaknesses and discuss them in detail, but a lot of this depends on the editor and the reviewers.

I am not sure if you should look for some other mentor -- my guess is that if you see a change in tone and it does not change over time, just walk away. The only thing worse than an advisor that does not provide help is an advisor who does not really like you.
Joined: 24 Feb 2007
Posts: 56
Re: So I am working on some research [#permalink]

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New post 29 Feb 2008, 00:05
Late to this...

I'm not a PhD type, but I can share what I've gone through when prepping my own papers.

Advisers come in all types... I've met control freaks who insist that the model be a certain way and citations to follow a certain form, and I've had advisers who just jumped in occasionally to make sure I knew what I was doing and to provide insights on research methodology.

But I would say yes, it sounds like you can expect your professor to be mentally absent until you have something substantial to report. Keep in mind, you're primary author, a title which comes with all the weight. You're the Top Dog, Big Cheese, Head Honcho... so it's your paper. If you want to, take it and run with it.

And remember... even the most laid back academic will have an ego. Be very diplomatic. Don't be a yes man, but don't be the Young Turk on the block.

I would agree with Praetorian... if he doesn't really like you, then it's time to worry. Until then, you still have options on how to conduct your research.
Re: So I am working on some research   [#permalink] 29 Feb 2008, 00:05
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So I am working on some research

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