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Criteria for Evaluating Supervisors for Graduate (Post-Graduate) Work in Parapsychology

Conduct research in the library and on the Web to find out the following:

  • Details of the personís biography (degrees, positions, etc.)

  • Has he or she published parapsychological work? (especially in refereed journals)

  • How has his or her work been received? (Is it appreciated widely? Is it cited frequently?)

  • Is she or he a member of the Parapsychological Association, the professional association of parapsychologists?

  • Is he or she open to your topic of interest or to the approach you are interested in?

  • How is this person regarded by his past and current graduate students?

  • None of these criteria are enough by themselves. Nonetheless, used with your experience and common sense, a combination of such criteria should be useful in assessing a person to decide whether or not you want them to be your graduate (post-graduate) supervisor.

    The following are some problems with these criteria. While it is important to work with someone who has conducted and published in parapsychology (point 2), this is not always possible. In addition, you can get good supervision even if the person is not a specialist. This happens frequently in different university graduate departments. A supervisor with no knowledge or experience in parapsychology may offer good conceptual and methodological advice. But overall, the best prospect is to work with someone who combines some knowledge of parapsychology with expertise in other areas.

    On the third point, a prospective supervisorís work may not be cited frequently by other colleagues because she or he works within a small specialty, something that is known to have affected applications for tenure in universities. In parapsychology you will be cited more if you do experimental ESP work than if you do studies of psychokinesis or apparitions, simply because there are more people working in the experimental ESP area.

    It is also important not to place too much credence on membership in the Parapsychological Association (point 4). While this generally can be taken as evidence of serious interest, it does not say much about quality of work or whether the person really has a good reputation for conducting work that is widely recognized. There are workers in the field who do not belong to the Association for a variety of reasons and still do good research. So people should not be judged solely on whether or not they are members of the Association.

    Point number five listed above is very important. Just because someone is known for working in parapsychology does not mean he or she is the best supervisor for you. You should find out more about the approach of your potential supervisor. For example, if you want to do experimental work it is not a good idea to have a supervisor who is anti-experimental in his/her approach to parapsychology. Similarly, there are researchers who do not think that work with surveys or field studies is valuable, and they probably would not be the best supervisors if you want to do that type of work.

    Finally, if possible, try to meet and talk with your prospective supervisor. This will give you an idea of the character and teaching style of the person. This could be supplemented with the knowledge others have of this individual as a supervisor (such as other students). Just because a person is well-respected as a researcher in their field does not mean that they are good supervisors. In addition to the intellectual issues involved, you need to consider the same social factors that you use to evaluate people in general.



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