Bad Timing May Ruin my Future


Hi all! I recently graduated my Msc at a top university and after graduating my advisor told me that I cannot do a phd with her since she took an administrative position but she will recommend me to anyone I choose. I started to look for an advisor in my field in my university (which is considered to be one of the best in the world in my field). There are 5 people in my exact field at my university and all of them have a legitimate reason not to take students now, whether it be an administrative position, too many students, no good phd research problems or personal problems. So I have to either move to another field or to another university, both of which I really don't want to do since I really like the research group of my field at my university and I know that no other group like this exists in my country (my university is the best in my country and better than all others in my country by a long shot). I also really enjoy my field of research and am good at it, and I don't have good background for other fields. I thought of going abroad, but I don't have the money (not an EU citizen and I don't live in the USA... I cannot disclose more than this to keep some degree of anonymity) and will have to wait 6 months to 1.5 years to start a PhD. I know that no one is to blame for this situation, not me and not any professor, but it seems like such a shame that I will have to leave a field that I love or a research group that I love due to things that have nothing to do with me. Has anyone else been in this situation? Do you have tips on what to do?


The "no good research problems or personal problems" sounds odd to me. But that aside, if one of them sees you as their potential research student, then ask them when you would be able to start realistically. I would think about doing something useful / relevant in the meantime and aim to start the PhD when they are able to take on students (maybe next year?). Or else it seems you might need to make plans to move to a different (but potentially very closely related) research area and seek out other supervisors in my country. Or you could look more closely at the option of moving abroad - this would mean looking for possible scholarships that you might be eligible for. Good luck!


If one of these potential supervisors is prepared to take you on but has "no good research problems" to work on then you could suggest a topic.
If all else fails, you need to consider moving to another university.
I wouldn't recommend putting your career on hold unless you can secure a definite future position at your current university as TQ suggests. Personally, I wouldn't trust a start date later than about 6 months time but it might be worth a wait.

You mention the standard of your university three times. Is that the root of your reluctance to move elsewhere? If so, I would seriously suggest you revisit that thought process before it forces you to make a potentially bad decision. For example, you go on to say that this university (which is world leading in your field) has no good research taking place to interest you. This seems a very odd contradiction. What makes you so sure that this university is the best in the world by a long shot for this research? I ask because before I started my PhD I had no credible way of being able to judge other than taking the opinions of others.

By the way, I wanted to add that there is absolutely no way that your future is going to be "ruined" by any of this so I wouldn't get overly worried.


Quote From Tudor_Queen:
Or else it seems you might need to make plans to move to a different (but potentially very closely related) research area and seek out other supervisors in my country.

Correction: please don't feel obliged to seek out supervisors in my country... I actually meant to say in your country!

Avatar for rewt

I agree with Tudor_queen and pm133. You can always take a productive break from academia or suggest your own project. However, I am going to suggest something else, a multi-disciplinary PhD. You love your field but is there another semi-related field at your university that might be willing to co-supervise you? If you have two supervisors in different fields, it will be less of a burden for your supervisors and the supervisors with admin duties/too many PhD students might be interested in supervising you then. I understand you love your field but doing it with a side relish of another field might allow you to do a PhD at your University.


Problem solved: several researchers from my institute doing my field are willing to take me on as a student (I did write to someone outside my institute but he declined). It seems that I just got out of the bad timing (one of them has a student who is graduating, another one is close to finishing an administrative position, and another solved a personal matter). My reluctance to leave really did stem from the name of the institute (highly ranked in my field by qs and shanghai rankings and has several award winning professors and professors with large grants), the lack of other viable options for a phd in my country which has a very small academic community especially in my field, and the fact that I really enjoy being there (sorry this is all I can disclose without giving up anonymity and the exact name of the university and field). I guess this goes to show that even great institutes can fall on bad timing (which sometimes lasts just a few weeks or months). As a side note, I can say that a multidisciplinary PhD would mean changing my field of research entirely (probably gave up my field of research there but oh well). I did consider doing a multidisciplinary in departmental PhD with 2 advisors from my department in different fields. Thanks for your comments anyways and I hope someone here can use my experience to learn something 🙂


Congratulations and all the best!