Thesis Advisor

Why Thesis Advisor is Important

When deciding to go to graduate school, you should get the ball rolling with the decision of which university you head to. What is the most important thing to do at this moment, just after restricting your research interests? Someone might say that you should consider the title of the university or its location, or tuition fee. Yes, these are essential when balancing options in your hands. But I would say, finding Thesis Advisors and listing them up is one of the most important things at the moment. The importance of a Thesis Advisor can’t be overemphasized; they’re crucial to your research career. (In academia, they are used to refer to Academic Advisor as PI (Principal Investigator) but in the PhDGO.com we would say Thesis Advisor.)

Why Thesis Advisor is Important

Yes, Thesis Advisor matters. They will have influences over while you’re staying at the university, and even after graduation if you’re still in academia. How and why? Let’s put it this way to help your understanding; as a graduate student, you’re going to work on research in a lab affiliated with your Thesis Advisor for 2 to 6 years. During this time, they will be your boss since they will be responsible for overall research management and even finance your research (tuition fees for example, and sometimes even living costs).

In the corporate world, it is likely that you’re transferred to another department or change jobs to another company. That makes organic drift apart from your ex-boss. But in the academic world, you’re under the umbrella of your Thesis Advisor (your boss and employer), as long as you’re staying in academia.

A Thesis Advisor is not just a boss, in general terms. They are going to be your role model as they are the very first boss at the first company whether or not you want them to be. They are not only your potential employer but also a potential parent in academia. How huge their influence is? On (almost) everything: your habit formation, research style, and research area, etc. That their research area will be yours empowers them over your life as a researcher.

The quality of your life in graduate school depends on choosing the right advisor as well. When everything goes right, it is okay but let’s see the dark side. Supposing the issue has arisen in your lab. When there’s discord in the workplace, it affects everybody and makes the lab environment uncomfortable. It can also negatively impact your research. The key to navigate from the difficulties leans on whom you’re working with. When everyone is working together under great leadership to solve the problem, it eventually helps to improve the productivity of researchers. The leader’s role is that important.

Above all, let’s do the maths to know the time spent in the lab during seeking the degree. Exclude sleep time (8 hours a day) from the full-time graduate student, the student should stay at least 10 hours in the lab. It is approximately 60~70% a day. Assuming the degree granted in 6 years, overall time spent in the lab is about 17,000 hours (10hours*5days*52weeks*6years) to drill down the research. That’s another reason you should be prudent when deciding on your Thesis Advisor, to invest your precious time.

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How to find and choose the right Thesis Advisor

Let’s get back to the point; choosing the right Thesis Advisor is the first step of your research career. If you’re lucky, you will be contacted by and get offers from professors. But it is no use in staying still in your spot no matter how talented you are. You should be agile to let potential advisors know your name and achievements, make them consider you as prospective amongst others.

Now that you understand how important a Thesis advisor is, what should you do is find professors and list them up as your potential advisor. You should consider their personality, leadership/teaching style, or academic achievements. But the first two are not enough for being the criteria since it is based on subjective judgment. In contrast, academic achievements are distinctive and objective. You could see it from research papers; through the Impact Factor, how many times it is cited by other scholars.

You can get this information from PhDGO.com by searching your research interests as keywords. What we paid attention to is providing the publications of each professor as the criteria of academic achievements. You’ll see the factors aforementioned such as Impact Factor in the section of Papers on the Advisor Profile page. It also helps restrict research areas as a good reference to restrict the research areas for potential students. I hope you fully leverage the information we provide to find your best-fit professors and help you take the first step as a researcher.

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