Emmanuel socphd blogEmmanuel is a member of Centre for Advances in Marketing, Business and Management Research Institute at the University of Bedfordshire Business School, Luton. England. His research investigates the framework of print advertisements for consumer banking services in the UK in terms of visual communications (images) and appeals and understanding customer’s perceptions of visual communications. His research interest lies in visual consumption and communication of corporate designs.  You can follow Emmanuel via his twitter account @e_mogaji and at



After about three years together, I observe the relationship between I and my supervisor is taking a new dimension, she was more interested in things I do outside research – my families, my interest and other extracurricular activities. It was a welcomed idea as I was able to relate better with her and discuss – a privilege I cherish and wouldn’t want to take for granted.

I shared my new experience on twitter through the PhD forum and it came to my understanding that it’s not always like that for everybody, some still have a well defined professional boundaries with their supervisor.

I remember reading Dear New PhD Student – a letter from your supervisor by Annie Bruton, giving the impression that there is a strict professional relationship between a supervisor and their students, though the author suggested that it was not a serious and useful advice about doing a PhD, some of these points could be considered valid by both parties.

But remember I am not your sister, nor your mother, nor am I your counsellor – I am not even your friend. Some supervisors regularly socialise with their students. I do not. I am really not that interested in the minutiae of your life. I understand life events will impact on your work, and I will be very sympathetic and talk through practical solutions. But I am not your emotional support – that’s what family and real friends are for.

I must confess, it was almost like that in the first two years, especially the first year, my main supervisor was strict even from the tone of her email, you can feel the laptop vibrating, I preferred to maintain that professional boundary and leave no room for unnecessary interaction. Meeting times are to discuss progress and no for anything else -all in the attempt of maintaining a strict student-supervisor relationship.

Thankfully she did not support my conference abstract/submission in the in my first year, saying, I need to concentrate and develop the theoretical and conceptual framework of my research (everyone within the research institute knows she consider that as the backbone of PhD research). She was however replaced in just after my first year so I continue to develop a closer relationship with my second supervisor who was more understanding and easy to relate with.

As I proceed within my second year, I was presenting my work at conferences, submitting manuscripts and getting valuable feedback, my supervisor has developed that interest and now considers me a matured researcher, suggesting that we can now work together.

I guess I have patiently waited with diligence to earn her trust and respect because previously, I have been doing this outreach myself, building networks and interacting with other researchers, but she has suggested a conference we can present my work, even though I have exhausted my conference grant, she is quite positive that a member of my supervisory team them can present it and my name and effort will be able duly acknowledge, we also plan towards a journal publications.

So far, am really happy with the way things are going. My supervisor team has been very supportive, we see almost every week or as needed and I acknowledged the idea that the equilibrium change as years comes by, after two years, we can now relate more as colleagues and no really as supervisor and student.

I think it’s best for PhD students to allow the student-supervisor relationship evolve, allowing the supervisor to initiate the relationship while the student keeps doing their best to portray how diligent they are – meeting deadlines, showing initiative and going on to build network. Supervisors will acknowledge this one day; they see a professional in you and will be willing to work together.


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