December 08, 2014 By Samuel Ekpo

This is a common issue in the course of researching in an academic situation. The ideologies of the supervisor and the students might not always be similar.

This should however be handled with caution as a strained relationship would affect the tone of the research work, the drive of both parties, the final grade assigned to the student and the psyche of the student even. The conflict here is assumed nothing physical but any that might hinder or slow down the pace of work between both parties.

The possible causes of this conflict are numerous. A few of them include:

  1. Prior knowledge: If the Supervisor has had contact with the student or heard about the students attitude or grade, this might lead to pre-formed notions about the student, even before their first appointment. Especially if the whole students were distributed randomly to different lecturers in the department for supervision. A minor slip from the student could elicit into reactions of unimaginable proportions from the supervisor. This is why students are advised to be of good attitude, as their reputation precedes them.
  1. Very busy supervisor: This is another valid point that is common in our Nigerian situation. The supervisor being always in one meeting or the other, working on one project or the other could also lead the student to developing certain issues with the supervisor as well. This could affect the student's dedication to the cause and lead to friction when the supervisor finally creates time and not deliver or meet up with the student's standard.


  1. Student's attitude: This is when the student is accustomed to disappointing on projects deliverables and not turning in drafts when agreed. This could provoke the supervisor. A student's manner of speech, laziness and disobedience to rules is also included.
  1. Different ideologies: This is when the supervisor is thinking in one direction and the student/researcher in another. The supervisor could be taking the research into a deeper dimension, while the student would have loved surface work. This becomes evident as the student grumbles and defies the order of the supervisor. The supervisor could be forced to develop an indifferent attitude to the plight of the student/researcher and this could be detrimental when the concerns of the student is now genuine.


  1. Plagiarism: This is common with lazy students. They look for related articles and just copy and paste as against the industry required of them by the supervisor. This would definitely take the relationship in a southward direction.
  1. Inefficient supervisor: This is when the supervisor specialises in another sub-division on a department and is required to supervise a student/researcher in another. This could frustrate the student as the student would be left to do the bulk of the work on his/her own. The supervisor would just be relegated to approvals. This might give room for a little friction.

These are some of the reasons that could result in minor confrontations, disagreements, and friction of some sort during research work between students/researchers and their supervisors. It is advised that each supervisor treats the student differently, relates with them openly with both parties working hard to achieve the common goal, which should have been well-defined form the beginning.


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