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John Thompson, Professor Emeritus, Sociology

Graduate Supervisor

How does a graduate student maintain a good relationship with his or her thesis or project supervisor?

Well, I think...I mean, [there are] lots of reasons why people choose supervisors, but I think it's a choice that should be done with, maybe with, some care that you understand who the person is in the interaction. Choose a topic you're really interested in, because you're going to get sick of it. So it better be something that you are going to think about and that you want to think about. Now, in the Social Sciences it's probably somewhat different, because I do think, even though we'll often deny this, that there is a lot of the way in which we choose topics that are related to issues that we're really chasing pretty hard. That's not a bad way to do it, if you're prepared to stick with it and sort through your assumptions. The other thing is, try to write about this, not necessarily the actual thing, but start writing about this as soon as you can. Start creating files for literature so you can put the stuff together as quickly as you can, that way...I always thought that students should think about the thesis...in our discipline people wait too long. When you enter the M.A. program, you should have a, start to get a, really clear idea of what you want to do, so that you can use your course work as helping to write parts of what you're going to do. It might be a literature review. It might be something on the methods area. It might be a particular concept that needs a lot of work and exploration. I would suggest that they be looking at their course papers as ways to do that. And we don't do that. Many of them wait [until] they're all done. All their course work is done, and then they start the thing.