Top 10 Questions to Ask Your PhD Supervisor
If you have chosen a PhD track for yourself, then make sure you know in advance who your supervisor will be. Most PhD students already have an idea of who they wish to work under, and try and pilot their proposal to suit the research interests of the desired supervisor.
Once you have your supervisor, you can expect her or him to be your guide and mentor. There are a number of aspects which your supervisor will initiate you into, of their own accord. However, there are a few questions which you will require to ask your supervisor yourself.
You can begin by asking your supervisor about their own research experiences. Related questions could deal with the challenges they faced and the factors which motivated them. A second important question to clarify at the outset is the frequency and duration of your meetings. You should get your supervisor to suggest the manner of communication. Should you have a fixed weekly/monthly meeting or should meetings happen on need basis.
Further, you must clarify with your supervisor if you need to possess certain specific skills in order to make headway with your PhD. For instance, should you learn research methodology skills, statistics, a new language, IT skills et al. Some universities require that students should be involved to some extent at least, in departmental activities. Your fourth important question can be related to the degree of involvement the department expects from you in seminars and other activities.
Fifthly, let your professor know that you are eager to advance your career and hence should be kept posted about relevant opportunities such as ad-hoc teaching etc. Your supervisor is likely to be a busy person, hence make sure you have established a means to communicate when your supervisor is travelling.
Seventh, if you have any doubts about ethical issues, pertaining to your research, do not hesitate to clarify these with your researcher, since you do not want to be floundering at a later stage. Eighth, try and get a sense of the amount of time your supervisor takes to give you feedback. This can help you organize your research in a timely manner and will also save you time.
Ninth, ask them for tips on how to defend your PhD thesis in front of the review committee. Your supervisor is the best person to guide you in this regard. Finally, ask your professors to keep you posted about the latest developments in your research field, so that you do not lag behind.
Your task is made a great deal easier if you have a good rapport with your supervisor. Maintain a professional working relationship as far as formal. Sometimes, your supervisor may take a personal interest in you and act as a mentor and guide you through difficult situations you may be facing. A good supervisor is a boon. However, the onus is on you to extract the best possible knowledge from her or him, and so you must ask the right questions.