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'A Symbiotic Relationship'

The Philippine Star's Dominic Foo and Raymond Tan emphasize the importance of productive PhD students for running a successful academic research program. "Our personal advice is to hire one good PhD student, rather than having several of average quality. The principle of 'quality over quantity' allows one to retain focus," Foo and Tan write.

While they say that "getting a good PhD student is an essential step in establishing a thriving research career," the authors stress that PIs ought never to take advantage of their trainees. "We have seen many cases where students have been neglected by supervisors, which often ends up with delayed completion of degree/research project, or even the complete abandonment of PhD studies by the student," Foo and Tan write. "This is no doubt a waste of resources as well as the precious time of the students."

Mentoring PhD students is not to be taken lightly, the authors add. "The bottom line is to maintain a symbiotic relationship, where the supervisor gains by being able to delegate part of his or her research to a qualified apprentice, while the student gains both a postgraduate degree and the intangible skills of doing research properly," they say.

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