It is not very often that a student gets to write a thesis for a PhD. In fact for a majority of the students it will be a once in a lifetime opportunity. There is nothing to prepare a student for the rigors associated with writing a PhD thesis. There may have been many research papers and essays that the student may have written but a PhD thesis is a different ballgame altogether and the student will need guidance at every phase of the writing process. A dissertation is an extended project and it will take a lot of effort to effectively manage your time and incorporate a variety of tasks in the time that you have. Even though you are well organized there may be many occasions when you feel whether you could get a little guidance that will help you avoid making some of the mistakes that many of your counterparts will end up making. You will need a person to keep you focused and show you the proper direction when you seem to be heading towards a dead end. Some of the reasons for this could be due to poor time management, negative beliefs, loss of motivation and so on. This can occur especially when you attempt to do this by yourself. This is where an academic supervisor can give you the help and guidance that you need to complete your PhD thesis with the least amount of stress and tension.
At the very outset it is important to understand that any faculty member can be appointed to be your academic supervisor but he need not be good for you. If your class is assigned a number of guides, you need to assure that at least one of them is an experienced one who has the ability, persistence and vision to guide a diverse batch of students throughout a very difficult process. Since you are at a PhD level you have the freedom to choose a supervisor so make the choice carefully. In some universities the bureaucracy makes the choice for its students. Do not let that be the situation in your case. Talk with the academics and make your decision. A doctoral candidate like you should opt for a supervisor who is famous and whose reference will add value to your thesis. At the same time he should be available when you need him. He should be able to guide you instead of constantly declining your call because he is travelling to all parts of the world. You need to choose a supervisor who will be free from the influence of the universitys bureaucratic influence. You can also study the work that the supervisor has done before and the thesis that he has helped to author. Make an informed choice because this is the person who you want to be with when you are writing the most important document of your life.
The supervisor can give you guidance from the level of an expert in the field. He will not formulate or plan your project for you. They can only help you with what you give them. Assess yourself and your need for supervision and try to realize how you are going to utilise the supervisor. Ask him as many questions as you can. These can be general or specific. You can quiz them about the direction that your work is taking and whether it is an ideal direction. You can also ask specific questions about a statistical tool that you may have used during your primary research. If you want to ask doubts about certain parts of the text, you may want to highlight the sections that you want him to go through. If you are not sure of an idea or a route that you must be taking, do ask your supervisor. Find out about when they will be available for your requirements. Do take the advice of the academic supervisor seriously. You may have a very strong vision of what you need in your thesis but it is they who have academic experience and have an idea of what will work and what wont. If you are polite and your enthusiasm shines through to him then he will be a great source of expert information. Finally, do not forget to give the supervisor his due credit in the acknowledgement section of the paper. If your academic supervisor is a famous one, it might also be a welcome addition to your PhD thesis.