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I am obviously not using my real name or identity for evident reasons. I haven't contacted my advisor for the last couple of months and communication was silent. Now we barely talk and any sort of interaction with him makes it seem like our previous collaboration was a failed attempt.

This can be a dumb question, but I do not know how else to express this and I feel pressured to ask this. If a advisor-advisee relationship fails, should I look for a different advisor? Has anyone been in a similar situation. I am still interested in the subject/area that advisor works in and, of course, there are some things which I need to change- I have to be more committed in the sense that I follow through with every project I start (Usually I started to recognize a pattern where these sorts of collaborations end sourly for me...). I'm still an undergraduate, so I hope I have some time.

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If you're still an undergrad, what do you mean by your "advisor"? –  Daniel McLaury Sep 21 '11 at 4:36
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@user3296: The terminology varies in different parts of the world. In these parts you are an undergrad until you have written something often described as an M.Sc. thesis (and completed the other degree requirements), and you have an advisor (doesn't have to be a professor, could be a lecturer or a senior assistant) overseeing that work. Admittedly it sounds like in OP's case the advisor/student collaboration is more serious than what it would be here, but... the globe is a big place. –  Jyrki Lahtonen Sep 21 '11 at 5:25
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Right, but it kind of sounded to me like OP did a reading course or something, didn't come up with results, and has overblown the significance of this, which is why I was asking for clarification. –  Daniel McLaury Sep 21 '11 at 6:33
    
By advisor I mean...someone who gave me advice as I was learning a subject and working on some interesting problems. Not like a thesis advisor. –  An Oniee Mouse Sep 22 '11 at 1:31

1 Answer 1

  1. Not seeing the advisor for a period of time doesn't necessarily mean that the collaboration or the advisor-advisee relationship is a failure. My dissertation advisor took a sabbatical the entirety of my second year in PhD; he also has a style that emphasizes independence in research so we didn't sit down for a serious math discussion until I had something new to show him.
  2. Before you decide that the relationship is a failure, you should talk to somebody about it in detail. It may be that your perception of how things are going is quite different from the point of view of a faculty member. If you still have okay personal relationship with said advisor, you should initiate a discussion voicing your worries. Sometimes just talking it over will solve a lot of things. If you don't think you can face your advisor, seek help through the University. Most universities have some sort of counselling service, who can mediate this kind of discussions. For example, at MIT there is the Student Support Services. Another option is that a lot of universities (especially more liberal-arts oriented ones) have general Academic Advisors for before you declared a major, and a Director of Undergraduate Studies for after you declared the major. Talking to them will also help.
  3. If you are really convinced that the relationship is irreparable, then the sooner you find a different advisor and move on the better for your own academic and mental well-being. Sorting out this "break-up" can be emotionally taxing, and I would suggest you make use of the counselling or advising services from your university whenever available.
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