For many master’s students, once teaching and exams are over, there’s only one thing left to focus on – the dissertation or extended project.
Working over summer any year means there’s a bit of extra planning needed for keeping in touch with staff who might be taking annual/study leave. This year, while we still face disruptions due to the pandemic, it’s important that you work out the best way to communicate with your supervisor, so that you feel supported but also understand what their role in your work is.
Know what’s expected
Each school has different expectations around the number of meetings and contact expected between masters’ students and their supervising academic. Know what yours are and know who will take the lead in setting up the meetings. Don’t be afraid to be proactive in getting the process started.
Once the process is underway make sure you know ask about contact outside the formal structure should you need to – are they still holding virtual office hours? If not, can you make an appointment to see them? Are they responding to emails daily or only working certain days?
Also be clear about what they want to see and when in terms of drafts and what exactly they are happy to look over for you.
Know what you want
Whenever you have a meeting, make sure you know what you want to discuss beforehand. Knowing exactly what you want to find out will help you get the most out of the meeting.
Also as you get further along expect to receive feedback and to be challenged. Try not to look at it as criticism and learn how to respond in a positive way – by questioning further or accepting you may have missed something.
If you need another academic…
Remember, you are allowed to consult other academics for advice and guidance . Whilst they will not know your project as well as your supervisor, they can be a useful point of contact for reading suggestions so if there is someone with relevant expertise then try to make contact. Remember to leave plenty of time though – as it’s not as simple as popping to office hours.
Ask the right people
Academics are very busy people so make sure they are the right person to contact. Remember your school admin team are still available and so for some questions, it is often better to contact your department’s student support staff.