Characteristics of a Good Supervisor- Who should be your PhD/Masters Supervisor?

Question: Characteristics of a Good Supervisor. Who should be your Ph.D./Masters Supervisor? A circle model to identify the best supervisor avoiding dysfunctional supervisor.

Characteristics of a Good Supervisor


Many Ph.D. and Masters’s students complain regarding supervisor(s). Some research students leave their Ph.D. or Masters due to the dysfunctional supervisor. Moreover, many research students feel very uncomfortable due to the inefficiency and lack of cooperation of supervisors during their research tenure. As a result, more than 32% of Ph.D. students are at risk of having or developing a common psychiatric disorder, especially depression. Moreover, many Ph.D. students complain that they face discrimination from their supervisors. As a result, most of them discourage others for Masters by research and Ph.D. However, all these can be avoided if the right supervisor can be selected. In this article, I am going to present some good characteristics of a supervisor in a brief way so that a student can select a good supervisor before he or she is being grilled by dysfunctional supervisor(s).


Characteristics of a Good Supervisor-Who should be your PhD/Masters Supervisor?
Figure 1: Characteristics of a Good Supervisor

Characteristics of a Good Supervisor

The 6 Characteristics of a Good Supervisor are Good Communication skills, Enthusiastic, Expertise, Active, and Important Note.

1. Good Communication

Let’s say you have got a supervisor, but still, you have time to log out of his or her domain if he or she does not reply to your email within a reasonable time. You should not stay as a supervisee of a supervisor, who sometimes responds to your email with comments after 2-3 months. Additionally, you must not stay as a supervisee of a supervisor who sees your WhatsApp messages but never replies. Moreover, you must not remain as a supervisee of a supervisor who does not meet you within one month after you request an appointment. Such an inactive supervisor will always create problems for you directly or indirectly, so leave him instantly. Your ideal supervisor should be responsive to your email and even WhatsApp or other communication processes with constructive feedback. 

2. Enthusiastic

An ideal supervisor should be enthusiastic about students’ work. If you find a supervisor who is not interested and excited about being your supervisor and never motivates you with words, he or she is not a good supervisor. A good supervisor should be empowering and motivational. Now, if you do not find these in your supervisor, please leave him as soon as you can. 

3. Expertise

Your supervisor must be knowledgeable and have expertise in the field of your study. Your supervisor should also have excellent knowledge regarding research methodology. Otherwise, he or she cannot be a good supervisor. 

4. Supportive in the Students’ career:

You should not carry with a supervisor who never supports in establishing students’ careers. A good supervisor normally introduces students to his or her colleague. Moreover, a good supervisor should inform Ph.D. or Master’s students regarding seminars, conferences relevant to their research, career. Furthermore, a good supervisor also facilitates the process of publication of student’s research output. 

5. Active

Some faculty members are inactive in terms of research, but they take Ph.D. or Masters’s students to sustain their careers in the universities. Now the question is ‘how can I understand either they are active or not?’. Firstly, try to visit google scholar or research gate or academia Edu or other scholarly websites where you can find the target supervisor’s research papers. If you see very few papers where he is a first writer, you must avoid him because an active researcher cannot always sit behind other scholars in many articles. Such a supervisor does not read much and will never be able to give constructive comments, feedback, and suggestions in your research work. He will only make broad comments or identify grammatical mistakes that really do not make sense and eventually create a huge problem. 

6. Important Notes

There can be many more characteristics of a good or ideal supervisor. You can also track down research students supervised by the supervisor you are thinking of selecting; please do not hesitate to ask those students about their experience. They would be able to opine regarding the style of supervision. Don’t feel shy to do so because asking previous students is not a crime but is an excellent opportunity to know.   

Never think your research is only your work to do. Here, your supervisor(s) has/have also significant role in successful competition because your success gives him or her credit. You never be shy to change your supervisor because it is better to change rather than continue with a dysfunctional supervisor. 

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