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Can you downgrade to an MPhil on a funded PhD?

You're in the right space to consider MPhil if you've decided academia isn't for you and you want to go into industry. In academia, it doesn't carry the weight of a PhD (often being perceived, unfairly, as a 'failed' PhD), and would hold you back.

For a move to industry, it equips you with a much better argument ('I decided I was really more interested in the practical application of the work, so converted to MPhil') than a flat withdrawal, because it gives something tangible as a product of 2 years' work.

AHRC, or UKRC specifically; it's generally not an issue for you, it's an issue for the institution. As they get UKRC funding, and the REF/RAE assesses them again PhD completions - they'll (top-down) want you to complete. It's better for them if your funded PhD results in an 'objective' success (a PhD). This doesn't mean it's better for you. And I think any decent supervisor would support a student they know, over top-down league table chasing.

Completing an MPhil typically requires a dissertation completed, but that's held to a lower standard than a PhD. When an MPhil is awarded instead of a PhD this standard can be very low - examiners have been faced with the decision that 3 years work deserves something, or absolutely nothing (hence the 'failed PhD' status). It's incredibly hard to write in generic terms what's expected of an MPhil prior to that, but practical experience leads me to suggest it's along the lines of an 'ok' Masters dissertation.

In general, for someone on a PhD programme who's thinking of a life outside academia - just apply, and quit the PhD if an opportunity you want is offered. It's easy to argue 'I'm a PhD student, but interested in opportunities to apply my knowledge'; and it's a position of strength rather than unemployment with bits of paper. Until you have an offer it seems worthwhile to continue the PhD, especially if you'd still get the stipend.

Feeling sad and unhappy

There's generally a thing in research, that there's a minority that 'live' it, and a majority that 'work' it.

Particularly in a top group, you'll find people that live it. By live it, I mean when the average person relaxes by Netflix/family/whatever, they chill by being on the PC writing position pieces/designing algorithms/formal proofs. You might also find in a good group unless you're basically working if you're awake, you get relegated to lab tasks.

The problem for many talented students joining top groups is they lack perspective; they're so used to being straight-A, they have never stopped to think what being straight-A academically for their working life entails. Top researchers often do little but research with their waking hours. Many examples exist of people that massively advanced the cause of science but had terrible personal lives. Same is true of finance/city jobs etc. It's not just about being smart, it's about making a questionable personal sacrifice.

You sound like someone with just the reasonable expectation of working in research without it being an all-consuming dedication. This is fair, reasonable, and normal; if academia paid 6-figure sums it might be fair, but it doesn't, and it isn't. Take ownership, particularly of the scope of what you're doing. Say no, if you're not being paid and it doesn't help the PhD. Work 9-5, if it's not doable 9-5, complain, and don't think it's your lack of ability, it's unrealistic expectation.

This probably won't help if you want to be the world leading person in X, but the world leading person in X will, by and large, be making a lot of personal sacrifices to be there. If you've reached PhD and want a normal, healthy, life, settle for being a 'B' student.

Can I recruit for participants here?

Yes, but for a PhD study with such a specific participant requirement this is not a good place. It's also risky to advertise widely with incentivised participation if you need such a specific demographic, since the 'noise' of people willing to BS on Skype for 10 mins for a £15 amazon voucher can quickly outstrip the number of genuine participants.

With reference to your topic, have you tried speaking with charities and healthcare services? I'd imagine that won't be easy and require substantive paperwork, but it would seem the correct route to the kind of sample and rigor you'd need for a robust PhD study.

My data access post doc


1) Does it really need to classify as 'sensitive' - which generally implies it's personal data with particular sensitivity (unless you've been researching the University's latest shady cash/league table-grab, and it's sensitive in that more colloquial sense). Is it sensitive data because analysis critically requires you track back a case to a specific individual, or is their name just sat in a column for no good reason? If you cannot tie it to an individual directly or indirectly, and have certainty of that, anything else typically becomes irrelevant. Absolutely cases exist where personal data is required, but I've more often seen students get completely caught up in all the red-tape around managing personal data when it may well have been viable to anonymise at point of collection, or they've mistakenly assumed their data is personal or sensitive when it isn't.

2) What many people do is quietly put in on a pen drive, and analyse/publish later. They get away with this in 99.9% of cases because Universities don't actively hunt them down, or indeed care at all about this kind of data breach unless they risk any liability (in which case they care very much). To get in trouble on this you'd probably not only need to 'steal' the data, but also publish something unethical, that someone takes notice of, and a witch hunt begins. I don't recommend you take this approach, obviously, but what a lot of people would do would be to anonymise the data then copy it.

3) Proper thing to do is ask *academically* for access rights explaining you intend to publish to the benefit of the institution. Do not ask ITS. What ITS will say to 'can I access the RDP after leaving for [complex reason]' is 'no', ticket closed, policy followed, easy life. What you need is an 'on high' instruction to ITS to make it happen from an academic.

Advice needed should I downgrde my PhD to an MPhil?

I would go one step further and say *if* you're interested in an academic role (lecturer or RA), seriously contemplate completing.

You can absolutely get an entry-level post there, but if you have aspirations, it will hold you back a bit to 'only' have an MPhil, and close some doors. Not necessarily completely or permanently by any means; you could look towards a faculty management role, or getting a PhD at a later date by portfolio, but in general you'll still end up doing the work but in more difficult/distracted circumstances.

I'd agree outside academia, it's much less relevant (in fact, borderline irrelevant). It's unlikely to hold you back there; so if that's what you plan to do, it will not only save you money, but also give you a year in industry that you'd otherwise have missed.

I wouldn't take from forums whether and to what extent you're financially liable; read the contract/studentship agreement. Probably not, but it's entirely possible for a funder to create a contract where you would be (btw, you should *always* read stuff you sign - not knowing the answer at this point is not a situation you want to be in. You are of course not the only student to fail to read their studentship agreement and contract but you, and all students, really - *really* - should do so, and politely contest at the get-go any suspect clauses!).

Corrections approval not received!

Yes, it would in the first instance be one for your doctoral school, or academic registry - they will then follow up with a reminder to the internal.

Lockdown has generated a lot of work for academics; teaching needed to be moved online which often requires a change in formats (if not content); and research projects have been massively complicated by the inability to do field work in many circumstances, and forthcoming cuts/renegotiation to many streams of funding.

It's perhaps inevitable that to an academic the lecture or project meeting due tomorrow tends to take precedence over the review of corrections that 'can wait'. It would be likely that they'll 'get to it' once the teaching semester ends (depending on Uni this is in the next 1-3 weeks).

You will need a certain, limited degree of patience. You might be able to formally complain, but the issue then is the internal can technically withdraw which will drag things out much longer as an alternative reviewer is sourced. In general the academic judgment is quite sacrosanct; you needing a letter might prompt registry to in turn prompt the internal, but it won't (shouldn't), mean you're waved through.

You should not contact examiners directly - most UK Unis have very strict rules about this. In the absolute worst case it could be misconstrued as you trying to pressure them towards a certain outcome and could result in a re-viva or disciplinary action.

Examiners and supervisors

Usually corrections are indicated as needing either both examiners approval, or in the case of 'minor minor' corrections, only the internal.

It's rare the supervisor can actively block it, but they may be asked for a signature to indicate they approve the submission. It doesn't mean you can't submit if they don't; but it needs reconciling, worst case being the supervisor effectively states they don't feel the corrections have been done and can't approve the submission, but it still goes ahead (in a way, absolving them of any blame).

I'd try to resolve/understand the supervisor situation, since it might be the case there's a real problem they're trying to alert you on. If it's a more awful case (like they're delaying the submission because they need a warm body to push buttons on a machine for 6 months), I'd still try to resolve it by explaining that financially you can't afford that. If you ultimately can't it's possible to submit without approval from DoS in the vast majority of programmes, but as mentioned be careful before you do as they might be trying to impress upon you a risk of a fail/MPhil.

Do other people's Universities also charge their PhD students to print their final theses? (UK)

Quote From cucaracha:
Agreed!! :)

I don't regularly check these forums but see you attacked me kinda baselessly in another thread on the back of this.

I should probably have explained more why it was disappointing. It's nothing to do with PhD students wanting/deserving better treatment (which they often do), or your language, it was that the tone of your OP smacked of elitism along the lines of 'we don't have those problems here because we're Russell Group', and that the poster was lesser than you (or stupid) for voicing their opinion.

It's further to your discredit that you then went on to slam one of my unrelated posts apparently baselessly/emotively (attacking on this basis will fail and you'll ultimately screw yourself over if you do it professionally); but if you do have a basis I'd be happy to have an academic discussion with you on the forums.

I'm an educator/researcher so my only possible gain here is trying to explain to you, presumptively as a prospective future researcher, why telling someone they should 'work through their issues lol!' isn't constructive, and nor is elitism.

UKRI PhD - reject a not-so-great offer or risk it and wait?

Quote From cucaracha:
It is so disappointing and worrying that you manage UKRI studentships, when you hold such discouraging, negative and stale views about students' rights. I feel so sorry for any students that come into contact with you. Your posts on here do not present you in a good light at all.

Yeah I'm a bit thrown by this. Could you help identify these 'discouraging, negative, and stale views' more precisely? I would stand by my comments on 'promised' posts being risky, and that it's good practice to approach an interview competitively. If you're referring to my comment that UKRI are open to changes in direction, I'd think that's the opposite of stale - I think most supervisors are open to their students changing path, provided they can provide a legitimate academic argument as to why (else, it's negligent supervision, imo).

I am very open to criticism, but I'm struggling to tally your argument against what I said, this might be me being stupid, but please feel free to spell it out to me.

[nb - I think on reviewing recent posts this was on the back of a criticism I made to an unrelated post, but as above, open to insight/critique].

Do other people's Universities also charge their PhD students to print their final theses? (UK)

Quote From cucaracha:
... sounds like 'Removed62360' needs therapy to work through all their issues lol! Imagine typing out long dull essays about how PhD students should accept rubbish treatment and never speak out about issues, and getting triggered over suggestions that Vice Chancellors are overpaid greedy twits...

Luckily at my uni (an excellent Russell Group), the staff encourage us to speak out about areas for improvement no matter how complex because they actively want to improve the system rather than cling to outdated 'long-standing policies' for the sake of tradition :)

It is so disappointing as a student at an 'excellent Russell group' you think and write like this.

Do other people's Universities also charge their PhD students to print their final theses? (UK)

Welcome to the reality of academia; where many people without any research interest or integrity have discovered it's easy to make a quick buck.

Journal publication fees? Sure, 500Eur for taking the perfectly-formatted manuscript you asked for from the author, and printing it out or exporting to PDF and publishing online. The actual work reviewing it will be done for free by academics, because prestige and CoI otherwise.

Better still, go open-access so you don't even have to print anything, just take a .docx, save as .pdf, pocket 500 - 1500Eur. And Unis will demand academics use you, because you're open access and it's a mandatory REF-criteria! :)

Sit your publishing company near a Uni and get cosy, so they recommend you, and printing/binding ~200 A4 sides is easily a 200Eur+ job, even though it takes 5 minutes and costs next to nothing. Because who'd fail their PhD for the sake of that 200Eur?

This is a bit of an oversimplification. But it's how it's got; and it's now in such a mess for such a long time, it's become the norm. I have PhD students approached by publishers who are offering them to 'publish' (i.e. stick online) their thesis for a massive fee. This invariable involves signing off the copyright for 3-5 years of their hard work and actually paying money to do it.

It's ludicrous, but it's where we've gotten to.

Looking for hope. As usual, a desperate PhD student on the last year.

I'd point out culturally, it's likely your supervisor would still write you a letter of recommendation. I've had the fortune to work with academics from many different cultures, and some take this very seriously/honestly, whereas some take it as a formality/glowing by default, and some care only in the sense HR request it and no academic actually reads it. Obviously, when these clash, it's confusing for all involved.

The problem is not, I think, going to be the lack of a letter of recommendation, but the reasons that underpin it. If you have 3 months left (PhDs in Canada are typically 5-6 years?), and you're not so much arguing about the thesis write-up, but the actual experiment you're doing, you are never completing successfully on-time. I think your supervisor has hit the point of trying to tell you what to do 'by the numbers', and you should really listen carefully before arguing. There may be a truth you don't want to face there (like the fact you're not completing on-time), which is skewing how you hear and respond to their academic argument.

UKRI PhD - reject a not-so-great offer or risk it and wait?

It's been my experience managing UKRI studentships that UKRI are very open to the student changing direction in discussion with the supervisor, unless it's really radical (like changing field). It's eminently possible - in fact quite normal - to end with a thesis title that's a long way from the project proposal.

It's a bit of a half-truth that leaving after you start will have a negative impact on your prospects. A bad Uni/prof may even suggest this because it's certainly bad for them - as they're potentially left with PhD funding for 2.5 years, which they won't be able to spend without internal funding to top it back up to 3 years. It may well harm your chances of success at the same institution with the same prof, but won't generally be problematic. Word does not travel as far in academia as most believe.

Rejecting an offer (before you've taken any salary), by comparison, carries no stigma I've ever seen. It's the Uni's fault if they don't insist on a decision by a date.

Irrespective it's essential you go into the interview mentioning none of this and being enthusiastic. This isn't dishonest, it's being professional and making the most of every opportunity. Just getting an interview is by no means a guarantee of an offer (I average about 20 per studentship); if you say you're not actually that keen you'll likely be immediately written off and the decision won't be one you'll need to worry about..! :)

I'd just end by noting, it is always risky in academia to rely on a future promise or opportunity of a post. Naive, well-meaning academics often slip into giving vague promises of future opportunities to students, when anything not signed is extremely open to the whims of HR, senior management, funding councils, etc., - an academic that's not a VC is seldom in a position to 'guarantee' a future opportunity to anyone.

Applying for PhD after almost 10 years

There are two extremes in the system as-is, and a really tough middle ground.

Extreme a) is you've just graduated from a Masters, and want a funded PhD. This is highly competitive, but you don't necessarily need much experience beyond high grades, persistence, and an ability to interview convincingly and complete in 3 years.

Extreme b) is you're about to retire, and want to do a PhD as a final note to your working life. You're able/willing to self-fund, and as a result can basically shop around Unis, who will generally find a way to take your money for part time study whilst setting you up with a supervisor with sufficient knowledge/interest for a monthly coffee & chat over the 5-10 years you'll do it without pressure.

There is some vague justice in the system, in that a funded PhD is, by and large, taxpayer funded, and the taxpayer probably wants to benefit from your life of research as the return on investment, rather than just the thesis.

The tough, unfair, middle ground is attempting to get a funded PhD if you're mid-career, can't necessarily afford to self-fund, and are hoping for work experience to help address a change in topic (or weak grades on graduation way back when). If you can self-fund, getting a PhD position is not hard (though, actually getting the PhD, is obviously challenging). If you need funding, you'd likely need, as an earlier posted suggested, to be able to demonstrate you've been engaged with the topic either professionally or personally throughout your career; or persuade your employer to provide the funding.

Letter to request a Postdoc rejection's reason

It's bad not in concept but because the tone is unprofessional.

You shouldn't have given a hotmail correspondence email if you do not regularly check it. This is really bad as a starting point. I would not hire you on this basis. It shows a total lack of professionalism.

It can be worded in a professional way, but this would need reference to the original feedback. It's very much ok to ask for clarification on it, but if you slip into the space of arguing their decision that's already made or attempting to show it's a bad decision, it's futile and will look bad.

You should understand rejection from a competitive hire isn't like undergraduate study; you don't get a hire for scoring X, you get a hire for scoring higher than anyone else who applied. This is totally a shock to many students who have done well in their studies and don't understand the competitive, and random (you can't control who else applies) nature of the real world.

Learn, and move on, imo.