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How to choose a PhD supervisor

Among the many PhD students I have interacted with, this caught my attention. ”Once a wise man advised me to carefully choose a life partner and research supervisor since they may make or break my career.

Unsupportive PhD supervisor stresses the student in the entire period of study

Some people are fortunate enough to have excellent supervisors who assist their students in all aspects of their lives, including personal and research matters. But that is not the case with me; therefore, I am sharing my story, hoping that someone else will benefit.

According to my observations, most young students are eager to travel abroad and begin their research without considering that receiving an admission notice does not guarantee success. Before leaving for your research experience abroad, thoroughly research your supervisor. Here are some guidelines for prospective students.

1. First, you should be certain of your research topic and your expertise in the relevant field of study.
2.  Before working with any supervisor, you should:
a) Meet his previous students and notice their mental health and attitude.
b) Note the number of students who have completed their research under his guidance.
c) Find out whether this supervisor has any ongoing projects relevant to your research area.
d) Is the professor friendly to his students?

In some cases where obtaining a supervisor is difficult, universities accept your Ph.D. application without an acceptance letter and randomly assign you a supervisor while other universities or supervisors conduct pre-admission interviews. In such cases, students attempt to demonstrate their abilities, efforts, earnestness, and aptitude for that university or research topic. Again, we, as students, assume that they have the right to accept or reject us. 

Likewise, you have the right to conduct an interview with your professor and ask open-ended questions without fear or reluctance. As I stated at the outset, the supervisor is as critical as your life partner; consider joining his lab and researching his profile, projects, and current students’ mental health a hundred times before joining. Ph.D. is a marathon race; some supervisors will push you so hard and drain your energy that you will be exhausted during your first year of research.

In conclusion;

1. Do not run for the scholarship if the supervisor’s research area does not fit yours.
2. Don’t be hesitant. There is no difference between being respectful and being straightforward.
3. Keep all chat/email records.
4. During the kick-off meeting, inquire about your graduation requirements.
5. Change supervisors as soon as possible if they do not respect you, do not provide adequate guidance, or do not provide adequate resources”.


  1. Akshita Gupta

    Hi, it’s really getting so hard to even shortlisted for PhD programme from various institutions. I am just figuring out ,why is it happening so. I don’t have any research experience and I am still in my final semester of masters and applying for PhD programme at various institutes as I have cleared CSIR NET JRF. Please provide some guidance.

    • admin

      Thank you Akshita Gupta for getting in touch with us. W e will advise that apply to various institutions which are aligned to your current Master studies. This can be summarized in your CV too, focusing on your area of interest.

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