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This Category: > PhD Advice / Support


First meeting with supervisor

User: Rockstar - 13 October 2008 15:02

Hi everyone.

I recently started a PhD and have my first official meeting with my supervisor in 2 days time. I was wondering if people could share some information on what their first meeting was like, what it was about, how long it lasted etc?

Is the meeting agenda completely up to me? Am I expected to have a list of questions to ask him (i.e. direct the meeting) or is it just a small informal chat that maps out what I'll be doing over the next week?

I've never had a supervisor/student relationship before so I'm not sure on what to expect. I'd appreciate any info you guys could share. (up)

User: a116 - 13 October 2008 15:20

My first meeting with my supervisor was very laid back.  In fact, I've just looked in my notes (keep notes of supervisions is my first piece of advice).

Work since last supervision (this was my first sup but I'd been at the uni for a week by then):
availability of training
booking training
familiarising self with upgrade regulations and student regulations
attended induction
developing time plan for the year

Summary of discussion
Training needs agreed
Continue to develop time plan
Start work on literature review

By next supervision?
Develop a draft methodology for systematic review
Make contact with [insert key stakeholders/contacts!]
see [insert name of another expert lecturer within the department]
see [insert Research Managers name] re previous research in this area done by supervisors which wasn't published.

I also arranged all my meetings with both supervisors for a whole year. Try not to panic.  Go along with your silly questions (I asked my supervisor if what I was wearing was appropriate...shame...) and you'll soon find out how the relationship will work.

Good luck


User: jouri - 13 October 2008 15:21

Quote From Rockstar:

I recently started a PhD and have my first official meeting with my supervisor in 2 days time. I was wondering if people could share some information on what their first meeting was like, what it was about, how long it lasted etc?

I've never had a supervisor/student relationship before so I'm not sure on what to expect. I'd appreciate any info you guys could share. (up)

If you want to make a good impression, don't talk too much. Listen to what your supervisor has to say and take notes. Apart from that, try to avoid making silly comments which you might regret later. Agree on the frequency of meetings, never leave a supervision meeting without setting up a new one. Remember, at this point you don't know if your supervisor is supportive (i.e. any good) or not (i.e. useless). So be careful and alert...

User: smoobles - 13 October 2008 15:24

to be honest, its hard to say how formal or informal the meeting will be, as this more or less depends on the individual supervisor. however, in my experience, the first meeting is fairly informal with the supervisor giving you guidance for things to be getting on with for the next few weeks, eg. they might have a few papers for you to read to get you started. they might also want to make sure you have a desk sorted out, computer access, etc if you haven't already. you don't need to direct the meeting as such, they should do this to begin with to guide you, but it would be good to have a few questions prepared (about the project or about general uni stuff) just so you look interested and enthusiastic. the meeting probably won't last that long (again this depends on the supervisor), i would expect it to be around half an hour or so but don't be surprised if it takes 5 minutes or 2 hours!! the important thing to remember is that they don't expect you to be an expert so don't be afraid to ask basic questions about the research if there is anything you don't understand. as time goes on, the meetings will be more led by you but to start with they should be giving you lots of help. good luck! :-)

User: phdbug - 13 October 2008 16:23

Well, had mine just now. First bit was usual form filling, deciding on meetings, written work submission etc. But the most of it was spent in discussing a book on which we both had strong views :-) and other scholars and well it was 1 hour of 15 mins admin issues and 45 minutes a lovely intellectual talk! Of course, we fixed dates for next meeting, what i shall write and what we discussed etc etc...But i must admit though, this is my MSc sup continuing as PHD sup so, had already had other meetings before this first phd meeting..

User: rockstar - 13 October 2008 23:35

Hi A116 - thanks for your reply, liked your approach in taking notes... the dress-code question made me laugh, probably because it's something I'd ask, ha.

Hi jouri - thanks for your reply, not really sure on what my supervisor is like yet, so yeah it'll be a good chance to see which direction our relationship is heading. No overly silly comments, point noted!

Hi smoobles (smoobles sounds amazing by the way), great advice thanks... I've started preparing a few questions...

Hi phdbug, thanks for the info on your meeting, I doubt I'd be having anything remotely like an intellectual discussion...

Thanks again to all, genuinely appreciated the time you all took with the comments (up)

User: stressed - 14 October 2008 15:16

I think so much depends on your personal supervisor. Mine is very informal, but then I've known him now for 4 years through BA (diss sup) and MA (sup) so we have a lot of years of supervision behind us. But then that is his style anyway - he's very informal, very chatty, he was the first lecturer I heard use the word cr*p in a lecture, but you mess with him and he'll eat you alive ;-) I had my first PhD meeting with him last week. We went through that admin stuff, then made some plans for the next few months in the run up to the first supervisory board meeting and a general - we'd hope to be doing this by yr 2, this by yr 3 but lets see how it goes type discussion. He then asked me if I had any more questions - some stupid, some not had a chat about life, the universe and everything, gave me another telling off about my lack of confidence, arranged the next meeting and generally went over everything. I was in there just under an hour.
If this is the first time you've met properly then it will be different, but within our uni and our dept the emphasis on the supervisor/student relationship is on a close working relationship - you're part of the dept, not a 'student' (although of course you are, but its not like BA), and from what I've seen of students further on they have a very friendly, chatty, almost like mates with one who just knows a damn site more and will ritually sacrifice you if you miss your boards lol lol lol.
Some are great, some are awful, mine is the former, absolutely fantastic and wrote the original hypothesis I'm testing so has a vested interest in my work - even if I prove him wrong lol lol lol 8-)

User: mm - 14 October 2008 16:03

The best advice I can give, is to be assertive and pro active from the first meeting. I would establish from the outset the frequency of the meetings and discuss the roles and expectactions of both of you...I like my supervisor as a person but the meetings have turned out to be on a very ad hoc basis and I am basically on my own when it comes to publications/papers etc as he is not interested at all in anything apart from the PhD drafts (unless I beg!). So I would say its a good idea to establish all of these factors from the start, so you know the score...

User: AliHadi - 30 January 2020 20:16

I am a bachelor degree graduated with first honor and a Msc in mechanical engineering with good grades searching for a phd program in my field of study. I want to know the steps of having an international funded phd.

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