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Graduate Student Responsibilities in the Advising Relationship

  • Schedule regular appointments with your adviser even if you are experiencing difficulties with your research.
  • Make effective use of meeting time with your adviser by preparing in advance.
  • Ask your adviser to help you organize and structure the work and develop a realistic time frame for writing and completing chapters, conducting the research, analyzing data, etc.
  • Make specific agreements about the content and structure of the thesis.  This will help avoid misunderstandings later when your adviser or committee members request substantial revisions.
  • Identify opportunities to collaborate with your adviser. There are many ways your adviser can make substantive contributions to your thesis and help you develop stronger research skills in the process.
  • Initiate discussions about your adviser’s expectations regarding the quality of your research and writing, and communicate clearly your personal standards and expectations regarding your own work.
  • Establish specific goals with your adviser and do your best to meet deadlines. If you are unable to meet agreed-upon goals, inform your adviser of the reasons for the delay and propose a new timetable.
  • Keep your adviser informed about the status of your work.  They cannot assist you if they don’t know about your progress and setbacks.
  • Hold up your end of the bargain.  You will have more leverage to negotiate with your adviser if you have consistently done what you said you were going to do with your research or the thesis.
  • Be aware of any personal difficulties that may be interfering with your professional work and take steps to resolve these.
  • Be professional. This is an opportunity to begin establishing yourself as an independent scholar.
  • Recognize the complexities of the relationship with your adviser.  Although there may be a history of conflict with your adviser, professional relationships can generally be improved whenever there is a mutual effort to identify, understand, and resolve problems.
  • Resolve conflicts and misunderstandings promptly and respectfully. Take responsibility for your role in a conflict. Be aware that there is always a potential to misinterpret communications sent via email.