While every advisor-student relationship is unique and different, your advisor will become a close collaborator throughout your graduate career and become a facilitator of your success. Developing a working relationship with your advisor will help you define your goals and career trajectory. The advisor is one of the best resources available, providing the student with the information and resources needed to empower the student to become an independent researcher.
Communicating with your advisor during your proposal development is critical in generating a competitive application. Your advisor should work with you at every stage of the proposal development including generating the research idea/questions, establishing specific methods, and describing potential outcomes. Your advisor can provide specific, concrete suggestions for what to do next (future direction of the project), help develop ideas (detailed scope of specific questions), and determine if the information presented in your proposal is appropriate and realistic (milestones). Therefore, work closely and effectively with your advisor to increase the quality of your proposal.
When working with your advisor:
Be proactive and ask your advisor for what you need. Discuss your short-term and long-term needs and goals. Select and plan a suitable and manageable research topic for the grant proposal. Take the initiative when needed to formulate research methods that addresses interesting questions in your field. Once a rough draft is in presentable form, set up a meeting with your advisor to go over the proposal and obtain feedback. Plan to schedule several meetings, depending on the stage of the proposal draft and the nature of the external funding you seek (fellowship vs. dissertation grants).
Remember, the student-advisor relationship as a professional collaboration is not one that is automatically given, but earned through a series of gestures made by the student to build the relationship. These include initiating contact with your advisor and scheduling meetings; obtaining the necessary background information for the research undertaken and taking the intellectual lead; and consulting with faculty members and obtaining feedback. When a problem arises, discuss it with your advisor and work to resolve the problem. Finally, be sure to take charge and use the opportunities and resources available to you.
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