Just wanting to moan a bit really...in exchange for my funding I'm expected to do some commercial work, but it really seems to be getting out of hand. I haven't done any PhD research, or even had a day off (including weekends) since July, and just as it was expected to be slowing down they're now staring up a new project and things are busier than ever. My mobile is ringing from 8am to 9pm some days and they're dropping samples off with no warning, and expecting results within hours. I think I might lose the plot if this goes on much longer...
has anyone else had to deal with demands from their partners? I mean I know I have a responsibility to do these analyses, but I think there should be some kind of limit in place:-s
I have an industrial partner and it was made clear at the beginning what was happening, I have to do reports for them to tell them what i have been doing and what the results are at the end of each study. They tried to get me to do some stuff other than that for them, which on the one side is great for experience, but on the other is annoying, so I told my uni supervisor and he stepped in saying that they funded me for the PhD work only.
The main problem I have with them is that my supervisor in the partner organisation tries to treat me like I work there and doesn't understand that I can't do theoretical writing/thinking in their office environment. he also does not understand that I have other jobs e.g. lab demonstrating/teaching and wants to approach my project like his 3 week projects he does at work. - quite irritating really but get good access to data.
Yes, that's just it. They keep summoning me to do spot tests in their lab 150 miles away, and they don't give me any notice. I can't get their sample data today cos someone else has booked the machine - if they'd given me notice I could have booked it, but they didn't. So I've just had a bollocking over the phone about my delays "costing them 50 grand". I feel like telling them where to get off at the moment.
hmm seems familiar! I live away from my industrial partner and you can't access their online stuff e.g. email off site and they moan I don't go in enough - but I'm not paying £40 train fee to check email!
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I have to develop a software system for my sponsor, my supervisor thinks it can be done in 6 months. However, I think it is more like 12 months work. And, there is very low innovative content to this, its just like a CAD system. But, I need to do it to collect my data and actually start the science!
They are sooo unresponsive and unhelpful. I need access to their experts and they just keep saying that they are too busy. I need to be developing a system that does what their staff do manually, and they have worked there for years, but they have the cheek to say that I can learn their jobs from reading books!
I think part of the problem is that for the partner, it is basically very cheap consultancy - they don't need to be responsive cos they pay more to restock their stationary cupboard each week than it costs to sponsor a PhD.
I just get annoyed cos people in my department think I am on an easy option, cos all my data is 'there' but its not - I think it has taken as long as a non-collabotory PhD to get the partner to give me access to the information.
just seen your thread.
Indeed it difficult that you get so much on your plate. Sometimes it is related to difficulties in saying "no" and fear of conflict.
I find saying "no" hard, as I am worried that that may have negative repurcussions. As a result more and more people come to me with their problems and issues and I get a large of amount of extra work. Others just say "no" and usually that has actually no real implications.
What are your views? :-)
Thanks for your responses everyone; I really needed to blow off steam last week. I think it's true that sometimes PhD students can be used as cheap consultancy. After that "50 grand" phone call, I thought of a great response: I used to work in industy, and turnaround time for analysis there is 5 working days. Rapid response (expensive) is 24 hours. They're getting results within 6 hours, so they can stick their "delay" where the sun don't shine...
Rick, yes I think I have trouble saying no! I am never sure, when I get mad at these people, if it's just me being unreasonable, so I don't feel able to tell them to back off. A member of the academic staff here was in the room when I got that phone call - he told me that I don't have to accept other people's unreasonable deadlines, but set my own reasonable ones. Which sounds fair...but I worry that we'll lose funding if I say that to them.
Juno, have you ever done the MBTI? My MBTI scores show that I am someone who can never say no lol, and once I realised that I took a step back and saw how it affects me, it seems to be a never ending cycle of people asking me to do things resulting in my PhD ultimately suffering.
I have just started to decide which aspects are important and only take on certain things.
If you are having concerns about funding being withdrawn maybe you need a meeting with your academic supervisor and the industrial partners and work out some kind of agreement, e.g. amount of contact hours you have with them per week, what they expect from your work, what you expect from them. Then you will have something to back you up when they ask too much and it will let your supervisor know what;s going on, and also act as a useful bit of paper if they did try to withdraw funding.
Thanks Sneaks: that is a good suggestion. I think having a bit of legal paper would be very useful when it comes to arguing my case; though I hope it won't come to that.
I did get an apology from Mr 50-grand this morning, so things perhaps are not too bad now. Everyone is stressed and they're passing it on to everyone else:p
Aargh...I do apologise but I'm moaning again. I met the industrial people - my supervisor was unable to attend - and they're talking about "maximising returns on their investment". So their idea to raise money is to offer a contract analytical service (me, in other words) to competing labs. Direct quote: "We'll ask them (the other labs) if they'd also like to send their samples to Juno - for a fee". Naturally that fee goes direct to the sponsors, not us.
I really can't see how I'm going to complete any PhD research when I'm doing that much commercial stuff. For the first time since I started I begin to think if quitting now is the best option. I know that the sponsors put money in but there must be a limit to how much work we owe them in return:-s
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