8.2.2 Looking for a PhD/Masters supervisor

Although some research higher degrees students are pretty happy to just enroll in a program and get a supervisor assigned to them, there are others who are far more proactive and actively search for the most suitable supervisors who are looking for supervisors. I was bemused to see Publish or Perish recommend for this purpose in a variety of blogs visited by PhD students.

Although I would not recommend selecting a supervisor based on the Publish or Perish output alone, there is no doubt that it would allow prospective PhD students to get a feel for the publication record of their prospective supervisors. In fact, a number of academics have told me they use PoP to market their programs to potential PhD students.

My slight concern with this is that not all prospective PhD students might have enough maturity to realize that a successful publication record doesn't guarantee a successful supervisor. There are many personality factors (ability to give constructive feedback, patience, enthusiasm, empathy) that might be more important in the student-supervisor relationship.

Furthermore, although in the Sciences working in a laboratory headed by a successful academic might substantially improve ones career chances, this relationship is not as strong in the Social Sciences and Humanities. In fact, in these disciplines younger and more recent graduates might often be better supervisors than famous professors, because the former often have more time and more up-to-date methodological expertise.