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How To Get The Most Out Of An Academic Advisor When Writing A Thesis

Posted in category Master Students

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Student-Advisor Relationships

Student-Advisor Relationships

This post is about how to make the most of your relationship with your academic advisor when you are writing a Masters’ Thesis. In general students can only choose an advisor when they undertake doctoral study, at masters level it is more likely that an advisor with expertise in your area of study will be appointed for you. If you do select your own advisor that is even better because you can research on the one you think best suits your area of interest as well as working style.

The Research Area

You should work as closely as possible with your advisor right from the beginning. One of the things that students find difficult is formulating a research question in their area of study. Your advisor will be able to guide you in narrowing down your field of inquiry to make the project manageable. Most masters theses are between fifteen and twenty five thousand words, that might seem like a lot but in actual fact it isn’t and your area and your writing needs to be quite tight and focused if you expect to get a merit for your study.

Regular Meetings

Universities differ on their supervision and advisory packages. Some students may be lucky enough to meet with their advisor on a weekly or fortnightly basis but in many cases it will be monthly meetings. You need to get as much as you can out of these meetings and the only way to do that is to go fully prepared with a list of things that you want to cover. Your advisor in their turn should keep a tutorial record of your meetings that details what you covered in the meeting and what your advisor wants you to do in the time between one meeting and the next – this might be suggested readings that will help to round out your thesis and provide the knowledge base on which you are building. In most cases tutorial records are signed by the academic advisor and the student and each has a copy of the document. Using tutorial records is regarded as good practice in many institutions and it is a good way for both you and your academic advisor to keep track of your progress.

Successful Academic Relationships

A successful student/advisor relationship is a two way process. Just as you expect your advisor to give you good advice and to make sound recommendations, so your advisor should be able to expect that you will make steady progress and will not just listen to their advice but take it on board and incorporate it into your work. You should always attend your tutorials well prepared, this means having done the work agreed at the last tutorial as well as any questions you may have. If you don’t fully understand anything your advisor says then keep asking questions until you do. Your advisor will expect this and will take it as a sign that you are serious in your approach to your studies.

Finally

If you have a tutorial booked and something happens unexpectedly to prevent your attendance, let your advisor know as soon as possible. Successful relationships depend upon mutual respect. If you follow these guidelines then you should get along with your advisor.

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