Academic work outside PhD... I don't know what to do


Hi there,

I am at the end of my first year of my PhD (social psychology) and over the last few months have been doing quite a bit of work off the back of my masters dissertation, which is unrelated to my PhD.

I presented my masters stuff at one conference yesterday which went really well, and I have another next weekend. I found putting together the paper quite stressful and I guess it did take up quite a bit of time over the last few weeks. I have also had one publication out of it. I know that the peer review process isn't supposed to be easy but I found it a complete nightmare and had to re-do the whole analysis. Basically, for my masters dissertation I was supposedly using the qualitative methods I am now specialising in for my PhD, but my masters supervisor doesn't really have much of a grasp of the methods, so although I got an excellent grade for my dissertation, from the perspective of anyone in my field, the analysis was very, very poor. So to address the reviewer comments I had to start from scratch and conjure up an analysis out of nowhere, which I just about managed to do.

My supervisor decided earlier on in the year that we would try and get two papers out of my dissertation, and now he has sent me a second paper for me to redo the analysis. I think he has spent a little time working on it, but nothing major because he says he still has changes to make, literature to add, etc before we submit it.

Anyway, I think that during the course of this I have kind of made my decision- I'm sick to death of working on my masters stuff, I have little confidence in the analysis I DID manage to redo and I don't think I can do it again. I really want to get on with my PhD work now and disseminating my masters work is starting to interfere.

Do you think it would be reasonable for me to back out of the second paper? What would you do? When my supervisor first suggested we do two papers I ws delighted and wanted to publish as much as possible, but now I'm starting to think that I will have plenty of opportunity to publish my PhD stuff and I should concentrate on that now, so I'm not crazy for backing out of the opportunity to publish again? I think that maybe the sensible thing to do would be to back out but I just hate feeling like I'm letting people down (although, incidentally, I submitted my dissertation a year ago and my supervisor only just recently bothered to find the time to put together the paper which he was saying he would do for months).

Thanks if you manage to get through all of this!


Hi Star-Shaped

Sounds like you're being very sensible to me, by knowing when to say no! Move on. It's great that you've got a couple of conference papers and a journal article out of your Masters, that's impressive. But your gut instincts are right - time to move on and concentrate on the PhD. Before you know it, you'll be doing conference papers and publishing from your PhD, so you'll have other chances. I think PhD students need to be really careful with the amount of other work that's taken on - it's nice getting out there, but it all slows down the PhD process. Explain it to your supervisor - they shouldn't mind. They're bound to have more than enough to do anyway.


Well since posting this I had to take some unplanned time off due to a family emergency and didn't have time to think about it, although I had decided not to go ahead. I think this is even more important after having to take unplanned time out from work, as I really need to get back into things.

I have emailed my supervisor and explained and he says that he wants to go ahead and submit anyway. Argh. He couldn't go ahead and leave my name off, could he? I'm now considering offering to address the reviewer comments when we get them a few months down the line, although I really just wanted to forget about the whole thing.


I'm in a similar position but with my actual PhD :p which I finished in the summer. I need to do a lot of reworking for the analysis. My supervisor thinks it's fine (although he has no input at all) but my co-author in another dept doesn't accept it and I think she has valid concerns. But redoing analyses after submission is so incredibly tedious and quite soul-destroying. I am also as yet unsure just how to go about it. But it's my actual PhD so I must get the papers.

If your supervisor wants to go ahead either he does it on his own or I think offering to deal with the reviewers comments is a good solution - although it will be a total PITA when the time comes. If he goes alone and you have contributed data (or anything substantial) you must be a co-author. I got a second paper out of my masters by just conributing the data and absolutely nothing else - no question though of my not being a co-author.