Needed: Thesis Supervisors that are Mentors

Experience has shown that the most important part of any postgraduate study is your thesis. Some times called project work in Nigeria, your journey to a postgraduate degree is not complete without the some times tough stretch of producing a thesis.

A thesis (project or dissertation) is an extremely long essay, written according to set guide lines, that presents the result of a thoroughly researched topic. The need for depth, both in technicality of subject matter, art of presenting  and publishing, and the logical coherence of commucation to faculty members, makes it very important to have a Thesis Supervisor.

A thesis supervisor is a academic staff of the institution, who is well researched in a specialization, and is expected to guide and tutor a student in his/her research work. This student can be at undergraduate or postgraduate levels of study. This article focuses on postgraduate level of study (postgraduate diploma, masters and doctorate).

The Need for Role Model Thesis Supervisors

The postgraduate student and the Thesis supervisor are normally expected to work in synergy, with the student doing much of the work, while the Thesis supervisor offers direction. A kind of mentorship. The University of British Columbia graduate school agrees that your supervisor is the key person in your graduate degree program. Graduate education is greatly affected by the nature of the supervision and the quality of communication between graduate students and their supervisors.

Unfortunately, this expected synergy is not always the case. Many times, this academic mentorship journey becomes a master-slave relationship, where the Thesis supervisor could be anything from cynical and condemnatory, in mild cases, to down right mean wickedness at terrible times. These makes the already hard work of making a thesis, become even harder.

While there are good thesis supervisors, my personal experience has shown that it is a matter of the Thesis supervisor’s temperaments. The postgraduate student’s action only ease or mark worse the situation. In a university in the south west, I experienced hell at the hand of my thesis supervisor. A man, who was using his students to research his M.phil work, in an area totally unknown to the students. With virtually no guidance, i made many terrible mistakes, wasted time and money, and almost failed the 6-unit course. Reverse was the cash at my Master degree programme, where i received mentorship, like I never imagined. End result; I had a good grade, co-published my thesis findings an international journal, and presented at a conference.

Thesis supervisors need to begin seeing their postgraduate students as apprentices, learning the academic trade. While they may be bothered with many other activities, as lecture classes, overseas travel & their career progress, a little attitude change can make the difference. Thesis writing students are not necessary evil neither should they be treated as duty. Rather, thesis supervisors should nuture the next generation of researchers and academics. As they say, like begats like. Postgraduate students also should not take their Thesis supervisors for granted. The partnership is necessary for growth and fullfillment.

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