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For the first 2.5 years, we met every three weeks. In preparation, my supervisor would make 30-70 critical comments on the writing and we would discuss the philosophical content over 1-2 hours in a meeting.

The comments were very thorough - not just critiquing my ideas, but also spelling, grammar, and writing form. After 2.5 years, we started meeting less regularly (every 4-6 weeks) for about an hour and the comments were reduced to 10-30 per piece of work. My supervisor noted that there was always more to say but it was getting less helpful to point out certain errors the closer I got to the end of the PhD.

Their expectations were generally very high. My work was called sloppy on more than one occasion for work that I was still putting in maximal effort for. Praise was never forthcoming in my work unless I deliberately fished for it, because excellent work was the standard to meet, not something to be praised.

Having spoken with people in different academic departments, different industries, and having read some articles from different subjects, I do think that philosophical standards (in the analytic tradition) are very high compared to other disciplines.

Also critiqued

My experience was very similar to James and the one in the original post. Fortnightly or thereabouts meetings early on, then once every few months towards the end. Lots and lots of critical feedback and very little praise.

I do think that philosophers could do with giving more praise and working a bit harder on saying what is good about work and what should be developed—although I know this is difficult from my own experience of marking student's essays.

However, I really hope we don't get less critical in emulation of other disciplines. It is very hard to do good and valuable work in philosophy; I think we need the high standards and level of critical feedback to learn to produce work that will get published and is actually worth publishing. It just might help that process along if we also had a little encouragement about what is going well once in a while.

It worked out though

My first advisor was super hands on. He would assign me readings and line-edit my papers. Apparently he gets less hands on as time progresses (based on reports from others who finished their entire PhDs with him). I switched advisor mid-way through because of a change in topic. My second advisor was super hands off. We barely met once per school year, and there was little to no substantive feedback. I'm pretty sure he did read my dissertation (because he's that kind of person) but I have no idea how he thought of it. I'm guessing "okay" because I passed without correction.

newly tt

I usually met my advisor when I had a complete draft of something. We would also meet once a semester or so to go over where I stood.

My committee mostly weren't in my subdiscipline, and only saw a final draft of the dissertation (but I was defending in a hurry, because I got a job). It didn't occur to me to ask them to look at things and they didn't offer. The ones who wrote me letters had seen my (published) work in another subdiscipline, and in classes, so based their research comments on that. Perhaps if there hadn't been a job related deadline, I would have reached out - but it's just as likely that, without such a deadline, I would just never have finished. :)

Comments from my advisor were often supportive suggestions, either to think about something or check out a resource. Perhaps the most useful were comments along the lines of "this sentence, as written commits you to a weird, strong view, and you probably don't mean it." Maybe there were more substantive corrections offered, but I was too obtuse to pick up on them.

I have an excellent, supportive and friendly relationship with my advisor. I think some of the way a dissertation was conceptualized was as a student's chance to learn how to work independently. Certainly, I could have asked for more and more substantive feedback from my advisor, but, honestly, like a lot of people, most of my time "writing my dissertation" was really time "avoiding writing my dissertation," and trying not to bring it up. So, practically, I'm not sure when that would have occurred.

My partner is in another field and sometimes meets with his supervisor every other day (once a week is more usual, but so is many months without any communication at all). I think there's a lot of variation and the important thing is that the specific relationship is functional.

grad student

I meet with mine every 3-4 weeks on average. They're happy to meet more often but I usually don't feel like I get enough done for that to make sense (I always send writing ahead of a meeting).

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