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Adelaide9216

Advisor overestimates my ability to conduct research

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Hello,

Ive known my advisor for like 5 years and I get this feeling that she trusts me too much in the research process. I'm pretty much on my own, doing things without being sure that I'm doing them right...it's the first time that I am doing a research project and I don't know how to tell her that I actually need more guidance than what she currently offers me because she trusts me. I know it's a weird issue, but I need supervision, I'm new to the research process...I think it's because I was a A student in undergrad (where she met me) but things are different at the graduate level and I need help and don't know how to tell her.

Edited by Adelaide9216

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6 hours ago, Adelaide9216 said:

Hello,

Ive known my advisor for like 5 years and I get this feeling that she trusts me too much in the research process. I'm pretty much on my own, doing things without being sure that I'm doing them right...it's the first time that I am doing a research project and I don't know how to tell her that I actually need more guidance than what she currently offers me because she trusts me. I know it's a weird issue, but I need supervision, I'm new to the research process...I think it's because I was a A student in undergrad (where she met me) but things are different at the graduate level and I need help and don't know how to tell her.

Prepare two agendas for a brief check-in meeting (no more than 30 minutes). The first agenda could provide a broad brush outline of the questions/topics you'd like to discuss in the meeting as a handful of bullet points. The second agenda, which you'll keep to yourself at first, develops each of the bullet points into summary/talking points/questions.

It would not hurt if you were to run both agendas past a fellow student in your field as well an interested and sophisticated listener/reader. If either cannot "read back" to you accurately the first agenda, you have more work to do. (The readback should sound something like "You are preparing a research project on X topic to answer question A. You wish to have a meeting with your advisor to gain clarity on Issues 1-5.)

When you've got both agendas squared away, communicate with your professor that you'd like to arrange a project status meeting. You can phrase the need for the meeting as you see fit. Ranging from a confident "I am pretty sure I am on the right path, but I thought it would be best to double check with you" to a very candid request for a flotation device ("Glub, glub, glub...") I would recommend a middle ground in which you explicitly say "I need help--your help." The key here is that before you ask for this additional support, make darn sure that you've gone as far as you can go on your own...and a couple of steps more. You want to avoid a situation in which you're asking where your glasses are when you're holding them in your hands. 

You want to create a situation in which it's abundantly clear that you've done your due diligence so that when she indicates the next steps to take, you nod as if to say "I thought so..."

Please keep in mind that there's a distinct possibility that you're doing much better than you think AND you're making mistakes AND missing something obvious.

Please understand that if you can find a way to say "I need help; I need YOUR help,"  this exercise is a win. 

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15 hours ago, Adelaide9216 said:

Hello,

Ive known my advisor for like 5 years and I get this feeling that she trusts me too much in the research process. I'm pretty much on my own, doing things without being sure that I'm doing them right...it's the first time that I am doing a research project and I don't know how to tell her that I actually need more guidance than what she currently offers me because she trusts me. I know it's a weird issue, but I need supervision, I'm new to the research process...I think it's because I was a A student in undergrad (where she met me) but things are different at the graduate level and I need help and don't know how to tell her.

I think you want to ask yourself to questions: 1) Am I underestimating myself (and is it my own insecurity) and 2) Do I communicate to her I need more help?

An advisor cannot look into your head. And additionally, for them to be able to help, you have to be very clear on what you NEED from them. Just 'help' is too general for them to be helpful. Is it formulating a research question, analysis, outlining a paper (writing is too general), etc. Think about how you can communicate what you 'need' from them and open up about what you need. An advisor is as good as you being able to specify what you need 'advise' on - if it's not clear, they also won't be able to give you the help and support you need.

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