Monday, April 27, 2015

The case of stubborn advisee

I am sure, seasoned advisers must have dealt with this situation before; hence the question:

How do you deal with stubborn advisee's who do not take any of your advice regarding courses, research, experiments, way to do experiments, writing etc.

1) Do you push for sometime, give them sound advice and let them do whatever they want?


2) Do you give them advice and then push them to follow what you are suggesting (because you know better)?

Style 1 is not that hard; I give advice; student wont listen and I will let them be. The chips may fall where they may. This is easy in practice but there are funds being given to the student and time being wasted (on his stupid ideas)

Style 2 a lot harder to practice and implementation. Not to mention a drain on my limited energy resource.

So blogosphere what has worked for you? and what hasn't?


  1. What worked is 1) with cutting the student loose sooner than he was ready. He was a wonderfully capable individual, but not worth the hassle. Had he been willing to listen he'd be en route a faculty position. This way he'll forever be a super postdoc.

    I have another one right now who similarly gets on my nerves.

    Students need to understand that 1) they have to show me they can do what I ask them to do; 2) on top of that if they have ideas to do more or better or differently, then I will be delighted to hear them out. Once a student has established trust as competent and hard working, then I give them more leeway and freedom in how they do stuff.

    But if they keep wasting time and money on idiotic ideas instead of doing what I asked them to do, then get rid of them ASAP. Most students are actually not geniuses to whose intellectual greatness the advisor, with much more experience, is supposed to bow. Most who think that are tools with delusions of grandeur.

    Your sanity will thank you for removing the stubborn student from your orbit.

  2. I hear you xykademiqz and m working on it.

    Yes, most students are actually not geniuses; but there are delusional ones :@