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    Hi all,
    I wasn't sure where to post my 'supervisor problem' topic, but being as I'm new, I'll introduce myself here.

    So hello, I'll try not to give too many personal details away, in case word gets to my supervisors, but I've recently submitted my PhD thesis in marine science and have been fortunate enough to get a job straight away, in a reputable marine science company.

    I'm still waiting for my Viva date and as part of my job objectives, they'd like me to submit three scientific papers (and have two approved) for publication this year. A good opportunity to publish some of my PhD thesis chapters, I thought!

    Well, sort of...

    Here, at my work, one of the members of staff who interviewed me was a chief-in-editor for a major journal and has been very helpful with me, with regard to the publication process. He's also well known here for speaking his mind, but I was pleased to hear that he read the draft paper manuscript and thought it was actually not bad! He made some useful suggestions, which I amended to and then he read it again and thought it was good. Not earth-shattering stuff, he said, but publishable and publication worthy all the same.

    So, I sent the manuscipt to my PhD supervisors (as the work was conducted at Uni, they're to be co-authors) thinking they'd say 'yep, fine, go ahead and try and publish it.'

    They didn't.

    One of my supervisors has never really done anything remotely useful and has actually been a hinderence throughout my PhD so I expected nothing back from him. The other though, said if she was reviewing it, she'd reject it and made out the entire thing was complete rubbish. She'd write comments in the margin in capital letters, like "POINTLESS" or "WHY OH WHY OH WHY?"

    I showed the ex-chief-in-edito who I mentioned and he couldn't believe how destructive her comments were, especially as she'd seen and approved my related PhD chapter of the same work.

    So, I'm getting no where. Myself and the ex-editor just don't agree with what she's written on my work, but I can't send it off without her approval, as she's supposedly a co-author.
    I just wish she'd say 'I don't like it, i don't want my name on it.' At least then, I could try my luck at publication. But I can't - I sent her another draft with amendments where I thought necessary. She was pretty furious that I hadn't amended to each and every one of her comments.

    She's hard to get hold of, especially now I live far away. Today, I sent her ANOTHER draft (this has been approved by the ex-chief-in-editor as well as an expert in my area) but she doesn't seem to think their opinions and expertise matter. Anyway, I (politely) explained why I'd left some things as they were and tried to justify everything. I'm waiting for a response but don't think it's going to be a nice one!

    What should I do - it's taken 3 months to get no where. I wanted to have this paper sent off so long ago. I really wish my PhD viva had been and gone and passed off, so I didn't have to rely on the uni any more.

    It's so frustrating! Thank you for your help in advance
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    It may not be correct protocol but after explaining and justifying why you've left it the way it is and getting opinions from your ex editor in chief and the other expert I would either send it off or send it off and take her name off. Especially since from the sounds of it she's just being difficult and has been the in the past because she already approved the PhD chapter that the work is from.

    Good luck!
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    This sounds like an issue to discuss with your head of department at uni...

    It is very hard to understand your supervisor's behaviour: is it possible that she would like the material published elsewhere?
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    Thank you both.

    The problem is, shortly after I started my PhD, I realised she knew nothing about my chose subject area and without wanting to sound big-headed, now I've submitted, I feel I know more on the area than she does, so I feel what I've written is relevent and justified.

    As you say, I could take her name off it, but I'm not sure how I'd feel about doing that while I still have to return to Uni for my Viva. I think it won't be the best of atmospheres as it is. There'll still be at least two other chapters I want to get published after this one, and I imagine she'll be as awkward with those as she has been with this. If their publications happen after my Viva though, I wouldn't hesitate to say (in a polite way) "If you don't agree with what I've written, I really don't have a choice but to take your name off it."

    I would also bring it up with my head of department, but I've come from a very small campus, where there's only a few members of staff. They all go to lunch and drink together and are very close. I feel if I told the head, he'd take her side, purely because of how friendly they are together.

    Yesterday I sent her a polite e-mail, with my latest manuscipt (I'm not even aksing for her opinions and comments on it, I've only ever attached it as a reference, so she knows what I've been up to) and in the e-mail, wrote out her comments and explaine why I have or haven't amended to them. Still no reply, but if she gets angry about things again, I'm struggling for what to do next! I'd probably have to give her the choice of letting me at least try getting it published, or taking her name from it. What a nightmare!
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    (Original post by cb87)

    The problem is, shortly after I started my PhD, I realised she knew nothing about my chose subject area and without wanting to sound big-headed, now I've submitted, I feel I know more on the area than she does, so I feel what I've written is relevent and justified.

    SNIP

    I would also bring it up with my head of department, but I've come from a very small campus, where there's only a few members of staff. They all go to lunch and drink together and are very close. I feel if I told the head, he'd take her side, purely because of how friendly they are together.

    Yesterday I sent her a polite e-mail, with my latest manuscipt (I'm not even aksing for her opinions and comments on it, I've only ever attached it as a reference, so she knows what I've been up to) and in the e-mail, wrote out her comments and explaine why I have or haven't amended to them. Still no reply, but if she gets angry about things again, I'm struggling for what to do next! I'd probably have to give her the choice of letting me at least try getting it published, or taking her name from it. What a nightmare!
    Very strange!

    The role of a supervisor is to manage your research in a new area, not to be an expert in that area. So a good supervisor should acknowledge that they may not be an expert on the student's topic, and what is certain is that by the time the thesis is written the student knows far more about the area than does the supervisor. My PhD supervisors at the Open University (who were both superb) were very clear about this: if you didn't know more about your research area than does your supervisor, something would be very badly wrong. There is no reason for her to be defensive about this, but perhaps you had unrealistic expectations and so damaged your relationship with her. It sounds as if you don't respect her because of her lack of subject knowledge, and yet most supervisors have expertise in directing research and so can be invaluable to their students.

    It is good that she has a close relationship with your head of department. The role of the head of department is not to take sides, but to look at the situation objectively and apply their experience as an academic in order to find a solution. Presumably there is some reason for her behaviour, and she might be more willing to explain her concerns to a close and senior colleague than to you.

    You final paragraph gives some clues as to what might be wrong. You sent her a complicated message yesterday, and are complaining that you have not yet had a response! Be realistic: academics are busy people and always have deadlines to meet. They cannot possibly drop everything in order to respond immediately to a student. You could reasonably expect a response to that kind of email in about a month or more. If your expectations of her have constantly been unrealistic, it is not surprising that you now have a poor relationship.

    I also suggest that you find out a bit more about the examination process at your university. At many universities the supervisors do not take part in the viva (at the OU the supervisors are present there, but their role is to be the candidate's advocate rather than do any examining). All in all, I think you need a good and honest conversation with your head of department.
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    Thank you for your reply.

    I do appreciate that it may take her a while to reply, as like you say, she's bound to be busy.

    I did expect to know more than her by the end of the PhD (in my area) but I think she might be a bit too proud to admit that. Eitherway, it doesn't matter to me, but my main concern is that she said my thesis was fine, but now all of a sudden, she's rubbishing my scientific paper content, which is based on one of my chapters.

    I asked her about this and she's now denying all knowledge of having read my final chapter. I've dug through my e-mails and have found three e-mails which prove she has read the final versions. I don't want to be petty though, and show her these e-mails - they were really for my own peace of mind. So I'm now thinking; If my thesis was that terrible (despite the fact that at the time, she said it was good), surely my Viva's going to go horribly wrong.

    As you say, perhaps the head of department is my best bet.
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    If publication is just a "job objective" rather than a condition of continuing with the job, I'd be inclined to go to your manager, explain the situation and tell them that publication won't be feasible (or advisable, by the sounds of it) until after you have your Phd in the bag - and bear in mind that it won't necessarily end with the viva if you come away with corrections.

    At the moment, the employer sounds a lot more negotiable than the academic.

    I wouldn't worry about what your supervisor said about your publication/final chapter. She obviously has some sort of agenda or problem of which you're not aware and getting her approval is now going to be impossible. Sounds like you're flogging a dead horse in that direction, I'm afraid. Just be confident that she was happy with your work up to a some kind of invisible cut-off point, and that as long as you can defend it to an external, then all will be well.
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    I think you need to get your Viva done and dusted, and get this Uni off your back as soon as possible.

    I dont work in a science area but my advice would be to put all this article stuff on hold until you actually have your PhD. Its clearly way too complicated trying to do both, and once you ave effectively severed ties with this Uni, then you can publish what you like. You dont need your supervisors endorsement once you have graduated.

    Congratulations on the job. Sounds like you have at least one person on your side!
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    change supervisor
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    (Original post by returnmigrant)
    I think you need to get your Viva done and dusted, and get this Uni off your back as soon as possible.

    I dont work in a science area but my advice would be to put all this article stuff on hold until you actually have your PhD. Its clearly way too complicated trying to do both, and once you ave effectively severed ties with this Uni, then you can publish what you like. You dont need your supervisors endorsement once you have graduated.

    Congratulations on the job. Sounds like you have at least one person on your side!
    In many ways this sounds like good advice, but...

    If research is accepted for publication by a peer-reviewed journal, that demonstrates that it is good research. If a PhD thesis includes references to accepted journal articles presenting its findings, that strengthens the thesis and makes the examiners more likely to allow it to pass. So everyone involved stands to gain from that work being published, and publication could make the difference between passing the viva and not passing.
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    (Original post by Voyager_2002)
    publication could make the difference between passing the viva and not passing.
    No it wouldn't. The PhD thesis must stand or fall on its own merits - and its own merits alone.

    No examiner would be swayed by knowing chunks of it had appeared in print or been presented as a conference paper. If they are, they shouldn't be examining a thesis.
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    (Original post by dinus13)
    change supervisor
    How is that supposed to work when they've already submitted the thesis?:confused:
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    (Original post by hobnob)
    How is that supposed to work when they've already submitted the thesis?:confused:
    I suspect they didn't read the post, only the title.

    OP - I think Klix and Returnmigrant have given you good advice. You might not be 'done' with your supervisors until some time after your viva, so try not to ruffle too many academic feathers. Though, I don't see how she/he thought saying they hadn't read your final chapter was a good argument - how is that good supervision?!

    Good luck - internal politics and ego massaging is never pleasant.
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    (Original post by flying plum)
    I suspect they didn't read the post, only the title.

    OP - I think Klix and Returnmigrant have given you good advice. You might not be 'done' with your supervisors until some time after your viva, so try not to ruffle too many academic feathers. Though, I don't see how she/he thought saying they hadn't read your final chapter was a good argument - how is that good supervision?!

    Good luck - internal politics and ego massaging is never pleasant.
    This is very sound advice. Pissed off supervisors can make your life difficult in all sorts of ways in your current position (choosing a real ******* external; making your life hard with thesis corrections etc etc). Just grin and bear it until you have the thesis examined and finally accepted.

    Then you can send the papers to your supervisor with a "Take it or leave it" message and submit. If you do this, though, you will probably have o deal with referee comments without any help from a disaffected supervisor. Also, be aware that the ex-editor might be wrong. We all like to hear good rather than bad news but honest opinions are important for you.
 
 
 
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