Tip of the Month
by Diane Kennedy
Dealing with The
Advisor from Hell
Resolve to take control of the dissertation process today. It is your life, your project, your document, and your doctorate.
Take action. Let your advisor know today, via certified mail, that you need his/her assistance to complete the document, and that you expect frequent contacts and timely review of drafts which you submit.
Recognize the political aspects of the dissertation process and learn to use them to your advantage. Remind the advisor of the advantages of completion for you both.
Insist upon written feedback on every draft you submit. It is your right and the advisor's responsibility.
Keep records of every contact between you and your dissertation advisor. Make submissions via certified mail or email; keep hard copies of everything.
Schedule regular meetings with your advisor. Tape record all meetings, and follow up each meeting or other contact with a letter outlining what was discussed and what your advisor directed you to do.
Don't settle for an advisor who refuses to help. Go to your department chair, explain that you want a new advisor, and explain why. Follow up with a letter outlining your discussion.
Understand that you and your advisor both have rights and responsibilities in the process.
Examine the reasons for your failure to move forward. Are you writing every day? Are you submitting drafts to your advisor on a regular basis? Is your advisor giving you specific, written suggestions for improving your drafts in a timely manner? Make sure that you are not blaming your advisor for your own procrastination.
Take advantage of the many types of assistance available to you, including our Dissertation Management Counseling, and other services designed to help you deal with your advisor and complete your dissertation.