Understanding work of potential advisors

In summary: I also took a class on research methodology. I think these things are helpful in understanding research and how it's carried out. I would also recommend talking to professors in the field or current graduate students, as they can give you a better idea of what is expected and what is not.
  • #1
thegreenlaser
525
16
I'm going through the process of finding potential grad school advisors, and one issue I'm running into is not having the necessary background to fully understand their work. I can read a paper, get a high-level understanding of what's going on, and say "wow, that sounds really interesting." But at this point I don't think I could ask intelligent questions or contribute anything. Is that normal? Should I already be an expert going in, or is it typical to spend a few months getting up to speed before really contributing anything?

I should mention that I do have research experience, but all my experience is in something different from what I want to do in grad school. I think this is probably a factor in the problem I'm facing. (My current school for undergrad doesn't really do any research in the particular area I'm interested in)
 
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #2
In detail, no, you aren't expected to understand it. But you should know in broad terms - i.e. instead of just "nuclear physics", it should be at the level of "studies properties of nucleii at extreme isospin using double charge exchange". That is, it should be detailed enough to distinguish this professor from others in the Department.
 
  • #3
thegreenlaser said:
I'm going through the process of finding potential grad school advisors, and one issue I'm running into is not having the necessary background to fully understand their work. I can read a paper, get a high-level understanding of what's going on, and say "wow, that sounds really interesting." But at this point I don't think I could ask intelligent questions or contribute anything. Is that normal? Should I already be an expert going in, or is it typical to spend a few months getting up to speed before really contributing anything?

I should mention that I do have research experience, but all my experience is in something different from what I want to do in grad school. I think this is probably a factor in the problem I'm facing. (My current school for undergrad doesn't really do any research in the particular area I'm interested in)
One is not expected to an expert in a particular area, but one should be familiar with the research at one's institution. One could read some of the dissertations of graduate students in the department, or read faculty webpages or their list of publications in their CV, or search journals for particular topics and individuals. One might even be able to find the PhD dissertations of potential advisors.

As an undergraduate, I made time to read journal articles, particularly articles cited in textbooks related to classwork and experimental lab courses.
 

1. What is the role of a potential advisor?

A potential advisor is someone who guides and supports a student or researcher in their academic or professional pursuits. They provide mentorship and advice, help with research methods and techniques, and assist in the development of ideas and projects.

2. What qualities should I look for in a potential advisor?

Some key qualities to consider when choosing a potential advisor include their expertise and experience in your field of study, their availability and willingness to provide support, and their communication and leadership skills. It is also important to find someone who shares your research interests and values.

3. How do I approach a potential advisor?

It is best to approach a potential advisor by sending a polite and professional email expressing your interest in working with them. In the email, introduce yourself and your research interests, and ask if they are currently accepting students or if they would be open to discussing potential collaboration.

4. What should I consider before accepting an advisor's offer?

Before accepting an advisor's offer, it is important to consider their research focus and whether it aligns with your own interests and goals. You should also discuss expectations and responsibilities, such as the frequency of meetings and communication, and the support and resources they can provide for your research.

5. What if I am not satisfied with my potential advisor?

If you are not satisfied with your potential advisor, it is important to communicate your concerns and expectations openly and honestly. If the issues cannot be resolved, you may consider seeking a new advisor or discussing potential co-advisors who can provide additional support and guidance.

Similar threads

  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
3
Views
1K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
6
Views
563
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
8
Views
1K
  • STEM Academic Advising
2
Replies
63
Views
4K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
28
Views
2K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
3
Views
908
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
2
Views
986
Replies
7
Views
777
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
2
Views
918
Back
Top