Signup date: 29 Sep 2017 at 12:15am
Last login: 26 Aug 2021 at 1:45pm
Post count: 66
I would advise against doing a PhD which clearly is not of interest to you, it will very likely make you ill and it seems this is starting happen. You need to think about why you are doing a PhD. If you feel research is not for you then you would need to think carefully about doing an MSc also as this will have a substantial research element. If the project is the problem then it may not be too late to make changes as you are one year in now. It sounds like your supervisor may not have been a good fit however, despite them being nice, as they rejected your ideas in favour of their own proposal which didn't align with your interests. Maybe taking some time out at this stage and doing something else would be beneficial, you need to look after your health.
I've had to deal with some pretty bad treatment since the start of my PhD, I'm trying to get the situation improved due to how much I like my PhD, but its taking its toll on my health, I get days when I am very down, so I understand how you feel. I keep going as best I can but I have to take breaks at times, for a day or so, I find this helps. Try not to feel guilty about the breaks, you need to look after your health. Similarly I have difficulties with anxiety and sleep due to the situation.
I've dealt with some pretty cold, negative behaviours were I am, I have been subjected to intimidating behaviours in supervision meetings which have left me shaking and in tears after the meeting, after holding back tears through the meeting. I no longer have meetings while I try to get changes made as I refused to be subjected to such treatment again. Those responsible couldn't see they had done anything wrong. But like others say when this type of behaviour happens its unlikely to change.
I advise speaking to the relevant person in your department/ faculty about supervision and any possibility for changes, this hasn't been straightforward where I am though because they only seem to listen to the staff not the students. Definitely seek support from your Student Services, its possible they may be able to liaise with your department to try and improve things as its affecting your health.
I advise looking in your student handbook, this should give details of contacts if issues arise and outline responsibilities of supervisors and what the University should do if problems arise. The University should abide by this as its your contract with them, mine currently aren't but I'm pushing for them to. If you have suffered from depression for at least 12 months you will likely be eligible to get funding for a specialised mentor. If you would like any further info about this feel free to send me a message.
I'm sorry to hear about all of this. From you you say it sounds like this co-supervisor is abusing his position of power. Its unfortunate your boss/lead supervisor is taking the approach he is in that he's pretty much saying put up with the situation or go, I've had to deal with this attitude myself and its not pleasant or helpful. Its evident the situation is affecting you a lot. If you challenge this co-supervisor the risk is his retaliation in some way to make things difficult for you as a researcher. The only advice I can offer is just to be professional, only engage with this person when you need to, maybe with someone else around when you do if possible. It doesn't sound like the support is there at the University and its possible the University could just take the staff member's side regardless of anything you say if you take any formal action, its going to be your word against the word of this co-supervisor, although they would probably have a quiet word about him texting you, in my experience such contact is unusual and I also advise not engaging with them via text, don't respond. I would also strongly advise letting your husband know, its good you have external support but they can only fully support you if they know about what is happening, they may have helpful advice also.
The employer is concerned about whether you possess the skills required to do the job, and depending on the role other factors such as how well you will fit in with their team. The CV should be tailored for each job application, based upon the person specification for that role. I agree with Tru's advice about writing that you were a graduate researcher etc. if you prefer not to say that you were a PhD student, since this is still factual. For the role you mention interpersonal skills will be very important so emphasise these in your application - citing examples from your past work and study. You won't need to go into detail about your PhD studentship if it is not relevant for the role for which you are applying.
I suggested a change of co-supervision, since this appeared to be enabling the negative behaviours, this was denied, the lead supervisor couldn't be changed. The University requires issues concerning supervision to be addressed formally so I went down that route. The complaint identified failings but recommend I change departments and do a new PhD. I then requested a review, the reviewer was part of the same department and dismissed findings and left the situation with no resolution.
I've tried to struggle on in a toxic environment but yet another change to my project has thrown me as the interest in my project kept me going. The aggressive behaviour towards me resumed after the investigation was completed. What little support I had in my department has gone, I get shunned and glared at by staff, excluded from project communications and socials etc.
I found an ideal PhD elsewere but others seems wary of taking on someone who has had difficulties elsewhere it seems. I'm at a bit of a loss as to what to do now. I recently referred my case to the OIA as I did find an ideal co supervisor who I feel would prevent the aggressive behaviour happening and offer me some support, they have an ideal technical background also. My lead supervisor seemed to struggle to train me in the in basics with regards to my lab work, as they rarely work in their lab and I have been reliant on external technical support for my multidisciplinary project for an area I was advised I wouldn't need knowledge of as training would be provided. Facilities are crowded, I have no assigned bench space, I just have to find bits of space in which to work and store materials but it is becoming an issue.
Has anyone survived a toxic environment as a PhD student and can offer advice? I don't know if the OIA will help. There has been a lot of back covering and lies from the Uni so far.
From early on in my PhD I have been experiencing aggressive behaviour from my primary supervisor, which one or two co-supervisors, their close friends, would watch and say nothing or even at times join in a little with the hostile behavior. I would be in tears after meetings. Other students say this person who is my lead supervisor is generally cold and can be very difficult, an RA said this person would not care about me as a PhD student - sadly not before starting my PhD. There were changes to my project early on also, so I wasn't doing what I had expected to, since a PDRA was going to be doing a very similar project. Its been very difficult to speak to the supervisory team if I had any concerns or queries. Individual meetings have never been allowed.
Now just over a year in a key bit of information about my PhD is revealed by the primary supervisor which renders several months of my work a waste and means that my ideas and plans can no longer be followed in this project. This person has had several months to let me know that my project was going in the wrong direction, well not the one he intended anyway, I find he can be controlling. Prior to submitting a complaint they had seen my plans, objectives, Lit review etc. and said they were happy with these, feedback and guidance was lacking though. He says he gave this information early on - that would have changed my plans though, maybe its something he only just realised.
I knew something wasn't right early on, I spoke to the relevant staff, they expressed concern but nothing was done. The changes are making me less interested in my project, I had some novel ideas having identified gaps in literature but can no longer follow these.
Having multiple disabilities myself I strongly advise speaking to the University's Disability Services before starting or applying even if you can, get an idea of reasonable adjustments that have been approved in your department. Look online the for guidance the University has in this respect. Also apply for DSA as early as possible if you are eligible, if your stipend is research council funded you need to apply to the research council. Look at what student health facilities the University has also, this can make a big difference. The Uni where I did my undergrad was great where disabilities are concerned, they would do their best to meet needs of all students as far as possible so few adjustments were needed and they had an excellent SH Service. Where I am now is quite a contrast. Having supportive and understanding supervisors really helps also, sadly I don't have this. My disabilities have not held me back but with the right support and adjustments where needed it can make things a lot easier.
I agree with Tru, I am going through a fight of my own at the moment and experienced the psychological games. I am very much on my own and have been working without supervision for 6 months now, I am almost 12 months in. Having no supervision is better than the situation I was in, but it can't continue for long this way, so I am hoping for a resolution soon. Dragging things out seems to be another way of trying to get rid of any student who speaks out. I have a strong case and its sounds like you have also, so as Tru also says don't give in. My SU haven't been any help, they often don't respond and don't seem to know processes well. Your SU may be better so I advise speaking to them.
I struggled getting heard also, my department seemingly didn't want to know, so it had to go formal. I also have/had a supervisor you have to be careful with and my project was changed after I started. So I sympathise with your situation.
I see many similarities on this forum among experiences students have concerning supervisor issues and how Universities respond to such cases.
I sent an email in response to an advertised PhD, with personal statement and CV as required at this stage. I mentioned the earlier unexpected project changes and restrictions to the project not allowing me to fully follow my interests. This is factual, although alone it wouldn't have stopped me doing the PhD. I've been invited to an interview next week, before making a full application.
Dunham - I have questioned why this is happening myself. Unfortunately some do jump to the conclusion that I must have done something wrong, the Uni automatically seems to assume this anyway. The only thing I could have been perceived to do wrong by some is letting the supervisor know he had upset me after he first did this, he didn't respond well, and I think he has had it in for me ever since, and maybe thought I might speak about this to someone and tried to cover his back. I have worked hard and progressed well. I found out from some RAs a few months ago that this supervisor has a reputation for treating students as he does, although its felt he went too far in my case. I am the only female in my research group. One problem may be that the lead supervisor took on too many students and postdocs at the same time.
There is no-one who can give me a reference from my current Uni. The only other option, outside the supervisory team, was the Postgrad Tutor, who should be there to offer independent advice, he won't even communicate with me now. He was communicating with me, expressing his concern etc, then as soon as the dept said I couldn't change supervisor unless I self-funded his support went. My previous uni, where I did my UG course will give a reference again. Feels unfair as this situation really is through no fault of my own. Thee SU Advisor is not responding to emails when I ask for guidance on specific matters, they just want to be kept informed. My current approach is to stand my ground and push for a new supervisor, and in the meantime apply for any other suitable PhDs of interest. I made one enquiry on Monday, had no response.
For every PhD I have applied for I have had to provide my degree transcript. I was also in employment for a number of years before starting a PhD. A good result in your MSc should hopefully make up for any poor results in your degree. Requirements and preferences can differ dependent on the funding source and University. My advice therefore is to email the supervisors before applying for PhDs and give a brief overview of your background so that they can advise further with regards to your application, I would always do this. Sometimes I have been able to submit industry references, other times they have all had to be academic ones.
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