Communication

It is extremely important that you have a clear channel of communication with your supervisor. This entails keeping him/her up to speed on what you are doing, any problems that you are facing, whether they are academic or social, least of all so that they understand why you are taking longer than you anticipated or missing deadlines etc. You must make sure that you understand each other. If there is any possibility of misunderstandings, clarify personally or by email. It is very problematic to reach later stages of research and then realize that your supervisor understood something completely different. In this regard, it also helps if you are regularly submitting written material, since that is the surest way of getting concrete feedback.

I had also made it a habit of submitting reports of fieldwork. This not only kept my supervisor informed of my activities and progress, but also helped me assess the yield of my research and organize my thoughts.

Another thing that I regularly did was organize meetings to discuss chapter outlines before actually writing them. Through experience, it is highly likely that a supervisor may suggest structural changes to a chapter and/or foresee that a chapter is too ambitious word-limit wise, or too broad focus-wise. With these chapter outlines, I also always submitted updated versions of my constantly changing overall thesis outlines so that the part could be seen in perspective of the whole.

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