I cannot stress enough that you need more people than the one(s) on your panel if to succeed with your PhD – well this is what I think, anyways, halfway into the project. Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting up with three of my informal supervisors.
Ironically, the meeting I had scheduled with my official supervisor was cancelled as I missed our deadline last week. These are the three types of supervisors I have managed to get for myself totally outside the structures of the university.
1. The Mentor
Here is a person who knows university politics, who remembers what it was like being in your too large PhD shoes and always shows support interspersed with some practical advice.
Will ask you: How are you?
2. The Senior Researcher
The Senior researcher has seen it all before and will suggest you look at the bigger picture, read the classics and start planning for the next step of your career.
Will ask you: What are your main variables?
3. The Visionary
The visionary points you to interdisciplinary related readings that you didn’t know existed, briefs you about the newest methods on the block with a YouTube video and asks some uncomfortable questions about your work.
Will ask you: Have you read Spivak?
Ideally, I think the culture of the academy starts and begins with sharing information, roadmaps and ideas, however I am still amazed at the generosity at which my informal supervisors have approached and challenged my work. If you read this, thank you!