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Choosing A PhD Supervisor

Choosing the right PhD supervisor can make a huge difference to how successful you are in your project - your research can become a frustrating and lonely process if you do not have a good supervisor to support you when you need help.

Make sure your supervisor is a good fit academically, and is interested and enthusiastic about the project you are undertaking.

Be aware that although a potential supervisor has spent the past 15 or 25 years researching and writing about a particular topic, does not mean they will always be keen to guide you through your PhD on it for the next 3 or 4 years.

It is also important that your personalities do not clash and that you get on reasonably well with your supervisor.

This doesn't mean becoming best friends, but if there are fundamental differences in your personalities, it will not be a pleasant experience for either of you.

Therefore we recommend you meet in advance with prospective supervisors if at all possible, since they will be playing a significant role in your life over the next few years.

Make sure they have the time and dedication to supervise you properly, and that any criticism and help you receive with your work is constructive.

Some supervisors prefer to let the student proceed on their own and not get involved with how their research is progressing.

In the worst case scenario it may be possible to transfer to a different supervisor, but this is a situation you should try and avoid by putting a bit of time and effort into finding the right person to supervise you from the start.

Also keep in mind that your supervisor will probably be your primary referee when searching for postdoctoral jobs, as well as a stepping stone into your chosen career.

Having someone who kows the extent of your abilities and can vouch for your good character can make a significant difference in getting your first job.