This post applies the rules for great supervision inversely. In that sense, it does not offer much new information. However, I have seen this pattern so often in practice, that I feel it still deserves description.
Follow these steps to create a bad platform for your thesis:
- Bring your own topic. Ideally some work that you have already completed, or work you have to do anyway for some other reason. The important factor is that you cannot really change what you are doing. This limits the influence—including the positive influence—your supervisor can have.
Since you fail to find a supervisor interested in your topic directly, you are clever and contact professors instead. You finally find somebody who dispatches your thesis request to some PhD student in his group. Not so much because he cares about the thesis, but simply to get your request out of his inbox.
The dispatch ends up with a new PhD student who feels obliged to supervise you, since his boss sent the dispatch. He thus accepts the thesis. Ideally, he also feels that he is not allowed to change the topic.
In sum, you have achieved:
- A topic with a high probability of being poorly suited for a thesis
- An unexperienced supervisor without motivation and with few opportunities for affecting the thesis for the better
This constellation often leads to an unpleasant surprise when it comes to marking the thesis result.