The Sassy Scientist – Perhaps Communication Isn’t Key

The Sassy Scientist – Perhaps Communication Isn’t Key

Lots of people think that the challenging things in academia all relate to the actual science, the nitty gritty coding, the paper writing, developing methodologies etc. However, I’m sure that you’ll be reassured by the fact that many of us are stuck with even the simplest of things. Thats why Alice has come to us asking:

How can I stay in touch with my supervisor?

Dear Alice,

It sounds so simple, right? They’re your supervisor, their one and only job is to be interested in your work (I’m hoping this sarcasm is coming across strongly).

Of course, we all know that everyone is busy.  However there is such a strong pang of jealousy in the air when someone talks about their amazing supervisor who provides weekly touch ins and update meetings and brings along pastries to their morning coffee chats. Because it seems that so many of us are struggling to communicate regularly with our supervisors for some reason or another – it’s surprising that some kind of support group hasn’t been set up yet to deal with our poor communication skills.

Whilst we wait for some university funded therapy to properly deal with our supervisor-supervisee relationships, let me offer a few suggestions.

  1. Explain to your supervisor the benefits of more regular discussions (i.e. preventing you from self- combusting through stress).
  2. Offer treats to lure your supervisor into your office, forcing a discussion.
  3. If nothing you do works, I’ve found that printing out their picture, sticking it to the wall and pretending I’m talking to them lets me vent a lot of anger and leaves me feeling much better about the situation.

I’d love to think these will help you in some way, but unfortunately some academics just weren’t made for supervising and I can’t stress this enough – that’s their fault not yours! There is absolutely zero harm in outsourcing your support to elsewhere in the department…

Hope you get the communication you crave soon!

Yours truly

The Sassy Scientist

PS: I’ve heard that mad ramblings to oneself are how some of the greatest scientists come up with their ideas.

PPS: Someone should start a blog that lets academics ramble to themselves/the open void that is the internet to fulfil the need for communication.

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I am currently employed at a first tier research institute where I am continuously working with the greatest minds to further our understanding of the solid Earth system. Whether it is mantle or lithosphere structure and dynamics, solid Earth rheology parameters, earthquake processes, integrating observations with model predictions or inversions: you have read a paper of mine. Even if you are working on a topic I haven’t mentioned here, I still know everything about it. Do you have any problems in your research career? I have already experienced them. Do you struggle with your work-life balance? Been there, done that. Nowadays, I have only one hobby: helping you out by answering the most poignant questions in geodynamics, research and life. I am waiting for you right here. Get inspired.

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