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PhD student Anna's story

Anna is 30 years old. She has been a PhD student for almost two years. She is happy with her work and has a good mentoring relationship. But at the same time she does not hide the fact that there may be conflicts and her relationship to the supervisor goes a bit up and down.

She describes the work with the PhD dissertation as follows:
– The Thesis work is very personal. It's a huge personal effort involved as well, and it's also personal because you are dealing with your own thoughts, and sometimes it's just a pain to write and to continuously disclose oneself in writing.

Anna talks about her anguish before giving up texts, that she almost never feels completely satisfied with the text, and that the meeting with the supervisor is sometimes loaded with a high degree of emotional energy and nervousness. But she also describes times when she feels that it all runs smoothly and works all well. Anna's picture of dissertation work resembles a roller coaster, which periodically oscillate between good and bad periods.

Anna is careful to keep the line between private life and work. However, she experiences that her supervisors have little harder for it. The supervisor would often meet for tutoring in her own home environment, which Anna thinks is a bit strange and inconvenient.
– I want to have a professional relationship, but we have met at the home of my supervisor several times. On this one can have many comments. It's challenging the boundary between a professional attitude and a private relationship. I can feel that it is quite uncomfortable, even if it's hard to put the finger exactly on what does not feel that good.

She has not dared to talk about this with her supervisor, nor with anyone else. So even if she is experiencing this as a problem, she tries to endure and manage it all through an attitude of quiet acceptance.

Anna also describes that she has an assistant supervisor, who she meets at times, she is a bit older and sometimes get quite moody about things.
– I like her very much, but she can get a little angry sometimes, or rather loudish. I try to think that she in this particular way resemble my dad, and I try to handle it in the same way as I handle him. I'm used to dealing with dad's bad temper, she says.
Anna is quite fond if her assistant supervisor, but she may find the relationship a little uncomfortable at times.

Anna is broadly satisfied with their supervisors, except the things she complains about concerning the fragile boundaries and mood swings. Anna has not bothered to talk to other students or with anyone responsible for the post-graduate program of her problems. She thinks she probably has to live with some of these minor problems, and all in all tutorial work just fine.

Sometimes Anna wishes that she had someone to talk to about her concerns regarding boundaries and her supervisor’s mood changes. But she says that if she could talk to the head of the research school, then her supervisor surely would get know about it - for they are all friends with each other and at the same age - so it makes the most sense for Anna to avoid such calls.

Contact person for Advice for doctoral supervisors

Margareta Jernås
Phone: +46 (0)31-342 94 33
Send e-mail to Margareta

These web pages were created by Silwa Claesson and Gina Wisker.

Page Manager: Olof Siverbo|Last update: 1/17/2013

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