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greenman210

What are the responsibilities of me and my advisor? (MSc)

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Hi everyone

I started my masters and my advisor is a young assistant professor. When I contacted her to before application, she said that she had a project while when I came here (another country), she said that we have to find a topic. The problem is she is new to the field and does not help me at all. She expects me to go and find a topic myself. I tried to have meetings at first regularly, but after a couple of meeting that I noticed she does not give a me helpful feedback I stopped. It has been a more than a month now that I havent talked to her. Today I prepared a table of previous studies and wanted her to take a look at it and then we can have a meeting next day, yet she refused to read it and told me to find a hypothesis and write about it and show her the results.

Guys, I am not sure that if I am a lazy student, or she really does not do her job as an advisor... Please help me to figure this out. 

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Hi everyone

I started my masters and my advisor is a young assistant professor. When I contacted her to before application, she said that she had a project while when I came here (another country), she said that we have to find a topic. The problem is she is new to the field and does not help me at all. She expects me to go and find a topic myself. I tried to have meetings at first regularly, but after a couple of meeting that I noticed she does not give a me helpful feedback I stopped. It has been a more than a month now that I havent talked to her. Today I prepared a table of previous studies and wanted her to take a look at it and then we can have a meeting next day, yet she refused to read it and told me to find a hypothesis and write about it and show her the results.

Guys, I am not sure that if I am a lazy student, or she really does not do her job as an advisor... Please help me to figure this out. 

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You need to find a topic on your own in my opinion. I did for both my masters and phd and I make my students find their own topics and I guide them through their research.

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@anthropologygeek Ok, I agree with you on this, but what kind of guidance are you talking about? would you be kind and explain it a little more? thanks. As I already mentioned, My advisor does not put any helpful idea's on the table.

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You do need to find your own topic. I think this is a fairly standard practice, though some programs do have research opportunities come up for students. However, I don't personally see an issue, if you're having problems choosing a topic, with fleshing out a few ideas and discussing them with your advisor. If I'm understanding your post correctly, it sounds like your advisor wants a proposal to discuss to get the ball rolling.

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It's your job to find a topic. Finding interesting research topics is one of the most difficult parts of being an academic; no one will do that for you. Your advisor can help you talk through why you think something is interesting or what direction is worth pursuing once you have a topic, or suggest readings and potential things to try. She can help you tackle difficult aspects of your readings, help you out when you get stuck, ask you difficult questions about why you made X assumption or what about Y prediction, make sure the project remains a reasonable size so you don't bite off more than you can chew, and help you with your writing and presentation skills. It's your job to get started on this process, and identify the research question (or at least, area and vague problem) you want to pursue. You don't need to immediately have all the answers, but at the very least you need to be able to articulate something about what vaguely you want to work on, and why it's important and interesting. Bonus points if you have already identified the relevant literature and know where the holes are. 

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@fuzzylogician Thank you for the answer...however, I think I am being misunderstood... I know that its my job to find the topic, obviously she cannot find a topic for each of her students. But my problem is that she does not give any feedbacks or as you mentioned help. So far she hasnt been able to answer a single question of mine concerning the literature. Its what stress me out.

I read a post by a master's student that was finishing his 2 years master period and didnt publish anything and was not satisfied with his professor. I just finished my first semester and I worry that I will end up like him.

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One easy way to go about this right now (and without your advisor's help) is to start typing keywords into google scholar - or even type in the name of your field - and see what's out there. Some full articles won't be online, but you can at least see abstracts and references to get an idea of the work. Find major topics that you're interested in (papers/books with a lot of citations, in the thousands), and then look for recent material on those topics to narrow your search down. Start summarizing research papers you're interested in by theme/topic/author. Check the references to find similar research. Find major contributors within subtopics and google scholar them as well to find what other material they've published and with whom they've frequently collaborated. Look up specialized conferences to check out more work. Pay special attention to discussion sections, a lot will have a sentence or two on "next steps" that will be very similar to the present research.

This will take time and can be overwhelming if you're relatively new to research, but it's a required skill in nearly every field. If done for an hour or so a day, you should have at least a superficial idea of what the current issues are that you're interested in within a few weeks, and discussions with your advisor about projects should be much more productive.

ETA: okay, so I should actually read what OP asked, it sounds like you're further along. But a lit search on specific topics can always help re: scope and approach or topics, unless your questions to your advisor are more logistical in nature.

Edited by OhSoSolipsistic

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46 minutes ago, greenman210 said:

I read a post by a master's student that was finishing his 2 years master period and didnt publish anything and was not satisfied with his professor. I just finished my first semester and I worry that I will end up like him.

Lots of students (most students!) finish their Masters without publishing anything. You have to have realistic expectations. Frankly nothing you've described your advisor doing so far sounds outside the ordinary to me. She wants you to come up with a research question first, then you can work together to shape it into a feasible project that has the right kind of scope for a Masters project. It sounds like you haven't done that yet and instead you keep coming back to her with nothing to show, and she keeps sending you out to do the work. Do the work. 

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I'd follow up fuzzy's advice with, if you want to publish based on your research, that should be included in the proposal you give your professor, ideally under some kind of deliverables section. However, if you've never published anything before this will take research as well because you'll need to state which journals you intend to submit articles to regarding your research (each journal within a field will typically require articles of different lengths, format, and often have different focuses within that field). You should also realize journals don't accept all articles and that many journals have a huge backlog, so even if your article is accepted it might be a while before it's in print. 

If you'd like to be involved with other research that should lead to publications while working on your own research, find out if any professor's taking on grad students for a project and the deliverables they intend to produce for that project. However, just because a project involves a professor doesn't mean the publication process will take less time or that an article will ever actually be published.

At present, I'm working on several articles for various publications based on research I did with professors during my M.A. and intend to write up articles based on my own research once my final report is approved and turned in. However, I'm trying to temper my joy at writing these things with the reality that, even if accepted, I may not see my words in official print for a long time.

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2 hours ago, greenman210 said:

@fuzzylogician

I read a post by a master's student that was finishing his 2 years master period and didnt publish anything and was not satisfied with his professor. I just finished my first semester and I worry that I will end up like him.

I feel like you are talking about me. I have posted a similar thing. I am glad you have realized it earlier (in your first year). I still believe it is your responsibility to identify your research interests, find something that relates to your advisor research. If you think your advisor is not giving you opportunity try to talk to him/her straight that you want to get involve in research project possibly in a publication(this is what I never did and I regret). If you think that your advisor is not actually 'advising' you, responding to your emails in timely manner, not involving you in his/her research project then that is a sign of BAD supervisor (that was my case and I regret again I did not do anything).

My advisor is one of the leading researcher in his field in Canada and I believe in world, so I can expect delays in his email response but in your case your advisor is new, he/she might not be familiar with rules and regulations of advising.

My supervisor's attitude was same with other students and 2/5 people change the supervisor early in the program...may be you can also think of changing your supervisor.

GOLDEN ADVICE: Never work with someone who is well known in the field and new to field. I definitely think about this when I will apply for PhD in 2 years.

Edited by Anka

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5 hours ago, greenman210 said:

Hi everyone

I started my masters and my advisor is a young assistant professor. When I contacted her to before application, she said that she had a project while when I came here (another country), she said that we have to find a topic. The problem is she is new to the field and does not help me at all. She expects me to go and find a topic myself. I tried to have meetings at first regularly, but after a couple of meeting that I noticed she does not give a me helpful feedback I stopped. It has been a more than a month now that I havent talked to her. Today I prepared a table of previous studies and wanted her to take a look at it and then we can have a meeting next day, yet she refused to read it and told me to find a hypothesis and write about it and show her the results.

Guys, I am not sure that if I am a lazy student, or she really does not do her job as an advisor... Please help me to figure this out. 

To clarify, did she say that she had project for you before you came. This sounds like she mislead you. I don't know what field you're in. But in the field I'm in there are POIs who have funding for projects and put master's student on those projects. So I would say its not necessarily common for master's student to come up with a topic completely on their own. I guess it depends on the field. 

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35 minutes ago, Anka said:

GOLDEN ADVICE: Never work with someone who is well known in the field and new to field. I definitely think about this when I will apply for PhD in 2 years.

That varies a lot. I know the type you're talking about and they're not hard to find, but some profs are just amazing - really well known or new, and really attentive and a good mentor. The best way to tell is getting in contact with current or recent students who the POI advised and ask them about their relationship.

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