Reader survey: Have you advised — could you advise? a Ph.D. student online? Or have you been so advised?

Jason Starr asks a great  question in the comments to the previous post:  if you are a Ph.D. advisor, to what extent do you think you could advise a graduate student who you rarely or never physically met?  If you’re a graduate student, to what extent do you think you could thrive if you rarely or never saw your advisor in person?

Tagged , ,

3 thoughts on “Reader survey: Have you advised — could you advise? a Ph.D. student online? Or have you been so advised?

  1. anonymous postdoc says:

    This might not be what you mean, but here’s my own experience.

    During my PhD I was able to visit a researcher in the US for 6 months. After returning to Europe, this researcher continued to advise me — weekly meetings via skype+online-whiteboards+graphics-tablet made this quite possible (these days, g+ hangouts are an even better tool I suppose).

    Without it, I probably would not have finished my PhD, let alone continue afterwards.

  2. I think this is possible depending on the student and professor. I would not feel comfortable advising a young student entirely this way. But after whatever point when I gained confidence in the student’s skills (both technical and critical thinking skills), I would be comfortable advising them via skype, chat, email, etc.

    I think the hardest part about it for me would be guaranteeing distraction-free time for advising conversations. It’s a lot harder to make plans with and get thoughtful responses from busy professors when you aren’t with them in the flesh.

  3. Andy Putman says:

    I just noticed this post. I actually spent about 9 months visiting Georgia Tech while I was in graduate school (my father had died, and I wanted to spend time with my mother). I suppose “visiting” GT is a bit of a misnomer — mostly I worked by myself either at my mother’s house or the GT library. I spoke to Benson (=my advisor for the non-Jordan people reading this) by phone every few weeks, but for the most part I was on my own.

    This was actually one of the productive periods for me during graduate school. For instance, this was the time when I developed a lot of the ideas about the Torelli group which turned into my thesis and a lot of my early work. But I’ve always worked best in solitude — even when I’m collaborating with people, most of my contributions come from things I think of away from in-person meetings.

    I suspect that my experience is atypical, and I don’t think I would be comfortable advising a student that I couldn’t meet with and keep track of in person. But for the right kind of person, it can work.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 546 other followers

%d bloggers like this: