2018年03月09日

WhentherelationshipwithyourPhDsupervisorturnstoxic

EmmaBaker*feltlikeafailurewhenshequitherPhDafter18monthsandstartedagainfromscratch.

Butthepreviouslyhigh-achievingstudent,whohasafirst-classbachelor’sdegreeinscience,

saysshefeltshehadnochoicewhentherelationshipwithhersupervisorbecametoxic.

“Myexperimentsweren’tworking,whichisfairlycommon,”

shesays.But,ratherthansortitoutwithabitofguidance,shewasleftto“bumblethrough”whilehersupervisornevershoweduptothelab.

Afterreachingbreakingpoint,shepleadedwithhimforhelp,anditdidn’tgowell.

“HetoldmemyexperimentsfailbecauseI’mbad,”shesays.Alreadyoverwhelmed,

thecommentknockedherconfidence.Afterunsuccessfulattemptstofixitwiththehelpofanadvisor,

Bakerleftthe“toxiclabenvironment”andrestartedherPhDwithanewsupervisor.“

Therewasthishauntingfeelingof‘you’reabadscientist’overmyheadthewholetime,”shesays.Sheleftsciencesoonaftergraduating.

Supervisioncanmakeorbreakyourpostgraduateexperience.

Thelatestpostgraduateexperiencesurvey,carriedoutbytheHigherEducationAcademy,

foundthatsupportfromacademicstaffmadethebiggestdifferencetohowstudentsfeltabouttheirstudies.

Manysupervisorrelationshipsbreakdown,

likeBaker’s,beitduetoconflictingworkingstyles,micromanaging,

orevenbullying.Sowhatdoesatoxicrelationshiplooklike?Andwhatcanyoudoaboutit?

Alackofsupportasapostgraduatecanhaveabigimpactonyourlife.

LucyStewartgotstuckwithasupervisorwhowasdisinterestedinherwork.

Hedidn’tcheckinwithherformonthsatatime,shesays,leavingherisolatedandstressed.“

Idevelopedananxietydisorder,”shesays.“Ifeltalotworseaboutmyself.”

Incontrast,HannahRichardsfeltbulliedandmicromanagedbyheroverbearingsupervisor

.“Wehaveverydifferentworkingstylesandexpectations,”shesays.“Sheplansmeticulouslyearlyon,

butIprefertopullthingstogetheratthelastminute.Andsheisn’tflexible,”

Richardssays.“Sheforcedmeintothislittlebox.Idevelopeddepressionanddidn’tfinishmythesisintime.”

Mostoftheproblemscomedowntopoorcommunication,saysIanFairweather,

aresearcherdevelopmentmanagerattheUniversityofManchester.“Sostartaconversationearlytosetoutexpectations.”

Butevenrelationshipsthatstartwellcanbecometense.“Therewillbeupsanddowns,soknowwhat’snormal,”saysDarceyGillie,

fromthecareersserviceattheUniversityofSheffield.Don’tchoose“thenuclearoption”straightaway;theymaynotbeawareoftheproblem.

Ithelpstoturntootherstudentsforsupport,saysAdamDunn,anassociateprofessorattheAustralianInstituteofHealthInnovation.

“HalfwaythroughmyPhDmydadwasinjail,mygirlfriendleftmeandstarteddatingtheguyinthelabnextdoor.Ifeltisolated,stoppedeating,

andlostalotofweight,”hesays.“Iassumemysupervisorhadnoidea.”Becauseofhisexperience,hetriestobebetterwithhisstudents.

“Studentstendtobelievethateveryoneelsegetsonfinewiththeirsupervisorandit’sonlythemwhodoesn’t,”

saysFairweather.“Butmostpeoplehaveadisagreementatsomepoint.”

Ifallelsefails,youmaybeabletoswitchsupervisors.Universitieshavedifferentapproachestohowandwhenyoucandothis.

“Explaintoyourpostgraduatecoordinatorwhyyouthinkit’snotworking,”Fairweatheradds.“They’llknowhowtogoaboutit.”

Ifyouhaveaco-supervisor,theymaybeabletoswaproleswithyourmainsupervisor.

Talktosomeoneimpartialandconfidential,likeacareersadviser,tothinkthroughanyimplicationsforfunding,

schedulingandtherelationshipsinvolved,saysGillie.

Goodsupervisionisapartnershipandamentorship.“Likeamarriage”,sheadds,itneeds“honestcommunication,

trust,understanding,sharedgoals,andtheabilitytocompromise”.

Ifyou’vedoneallyoucantofixabadsupervisoryrelationship,knowyou’renotaloneanddon’tblameyourself,

saysBaker.SheeventuallycompletedherPhDwiththehelpofhernewsupervisor.

*Somenameshavebeenchanged.


タグ :教育

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