University of Tarbiat Mo'allem, Tehran, Iran.


Academic disciplines are like tribes, each of which has its own unique terrain, boundaries, norms and culture. Assuming this, Becher describes the culture of different academic disciplines. He believes that pure sciences are culturally competitive, politically well-organized, own high rate of publication and are task-oriented. On the other hand, applied social sciences are utilitarian, power- based, scientifically functional, culturally exogenous, situationally vague, aim to promote behaviors, and have low rate of publication. Based on this assumption, this study aims to explore the norms which affect two groups of M.A students in selecting their research supervisor, one group from an interdisciplinary field (Education) and the other from a pure field (Mathematics). The study was conducted within the qualitative framework, using phenomenological method. Semi-structured interviews were the main tools for gathering data. To acquire the needed data, 16 Education M.A students and 9 Mathematics M.A students from a renowned Tehran university were selected using purposeful sampling method. The results show that Education M.A students consider the following criteria when selecting a research supervisor: professors' behavioral traits, professors' status, academic criteria, non-academic criteria, possible support, and limitations. On the other side, Mathematics MA students consider some other different criteria when selecting a research supervisor as follow: research supervision style, professors' scientific qualities, professors' personality characteristics, non-academic criteria, limitations. A comparative exploration of the results within Gestaltian framework indicates that Mathematics MA students are influenced more by figure (academic dimensions of dissertation) when selecting their supervisor, while Education MA students are impacted by ground (expediency and relations) when choosing their supervisor.