I've a horrible feeling...


I'm coming to the end of a PhD and will be glad to see the back of it. Throughout the process my supervisor has never expressed in interest in my future, never encouraged me to do conferences, never offered careers advice, never talked about publications until recently. It was mentioned very briefly by my supervisor that we would need to start thinking about publications. No disrespect, but since my supervisor has done sod all to help my future why would I want to start publishing in an area that I've no interest in and especially when the money runs out?

Should my supervisor not have encouraged my to publish during the PhD, especially given that I flagged it up that it was expected by the department?

Is this normally expected?


The trouble with publications during the PhD is that they take quite a lot of time, and that's time away from your research/thesis. If you had done publications it's likely your PhD would have taken longer, possibly running out of time. Some PhD programmes expect them more than others. In my own field though it's very rare for students to produce any publications during the PhD. We are told, instead, to concentrate on finishing our thesis in a timely manner.

I'm not a fan of conference attending. I don't think it's essential at all. It's nice, networking is nice, but it doesn't count for me in the same way as publications do. Now you're at the end of your PhD you could focus on publications. I'm publishing and I'm not even employed by a university! But it depends on whether you want to pursue an academic career. If you do, publications are important and you should focus on them now. If not, why bother at all?


I think it's normally expected that there will be some dialogue between the student and supervisor regarding publications, but it's up to you to get the ball rolling if you feel that time is getting on. If you think you have publishable results then you prepare a plan or a draft and suggest a journal or two that you think are suitable. If you then get no input or feedback from your sup then there is something wrong. Encouragement from your supervisor is nice and probably the mark of a more involved academic, but ultimately it's your professional development which is at stake, so you should show some initiative.

This is all assuming you are to be the first author on the paper, by the way.


I've flagged it up with my supervisor (in the company of others) a couple of times in the distant past. Frankly, I've completely lead this PhD and believe I've guided my supervisor through some of the process that they're meant to guide me through! They've roles and responsibilities to guide me through certain things and haven't been bothered.

Bil, I did the PhD mainly for the money. I don't think I've a snowballs chance in hell of an academic career as no-one ever leaves this department unless forced to through retirement or death. It's one of the worst performing departments in its subject! This PhD, compared to my research interests, is a waste and really only evidences common sense and I'm tired of faking interest in it (I see myself as getting paid partly to act!) and had hoped to do what you're doing and publish in areas of interest to me. I really can't stand the thought of doing more research in this area without dosh to go with it!


I'm sorry if I came across as slightly terse, I didn't mean to and you've both provided really good advice:-)


The trouble is if you really wanted to do publications you could have done so before. You didn't need your supervisor to encourage you or authorise it. I produced 2 journal publications during my part-time history PhD, both off my own back, single authored, and just written because I wanted to. I told my supervisor I was doing it, and that was that. End of story.

Also I'm not sure supervisors are the best people to give careers advice. I think other academics might be better at that. And there will be a careers service at your university. I think supervisors' focus should be on getting you through the PhD, and I've no reason to doubt your supervisor has done that.

But since you don't want to work in academia this is more of a moot point. Though I hope you will produce journal articles on topics of more interest to you, as I'm doing. It takes relatively little time once you've finished the PhD to produce journal papers - I'm managing on just odd hours here and there in the evenings - and can be very satisfying.

Good luck!


Oh and can't you consider an academic career in another institution? It's not normal for people to be tied to just one institution. Even if you are restricted by family/personal circumstances and can't move ther would normally be other institutions within reach that you could target.

Most of the PhD-ers from my department who have gone on to academic careers have moved onto other institutions, taking up lectureships elsewhere.


I like my supervisor but honestly I could have done as easily without them had I been afforded the opportunity to put forward my own study. I don't rate them as a supervisor and since that's been my experience only I can comment. I am sick, sore and tired of always having to move around to get work, which has been the case to date. Few people have the chance of an academic career (it's really a case of who you know and working under a name) and so I've been moving around doing dead end research contracts away from friends and family. I want a life!


Quote From delta:

Few people have the chance of an academic career (it's really a case of who you know and working under a name)

That's not been my husband's experience at all. Post-PhD he has had various academic positions, and they've all been down to merit, and based on his own skills/experience. And very much local! He's now a research fellow, and has been for 10 years.

I'm sorry you're so down about the academic process. I wish you luck for the future.

Avatar for sneaks

tbh, I was encouraged to do publications and its meant a lot of wasted time - I spent a good year getting publication papers together which are now sat on supervisor's desk waiting for editing for the 500th time. It has helped me structure arguments for the chapters, but I wish I'd just left them until after I'd fininshed OR done a PhD by publication and solely focused on them.

I think if you want to any kind of research in the future you should publish them though - if only to get you experience in how to change your style for different journals and how to write for publication which is arguably different to thesis writing.


======= Date Modified 14 Jul 2011 15:38:24 =======
Thanks Sneaks. I know I'm lucky to be close to finishing and hopefully before it finishes me!

Bil, You've been very helpful and thank you. I am sure some people get jobs through merit and I hope it's more than I think. I can only say going by experience (I've benefited from it and been the victim of it), what others have told me and observation, many don't*...

* I've no problem with it when someone has worked hard, proved themselves and been noticed but it does annoy me when it's only through using people skills, rather than academic talent.


Dear Delta,

If your main rationale for doing the PhD was the money, and you believe it is a waste of time since it is not related to your research interests, then maybe your supervisor senses this and thats why he/she has not been forthcoming in future career advice. Your negativity jumps off the screen at me; maybe try and be more a little more positive/enthusiastic and maybe people will be more willing to help. That would be my advice, for what it is worth. I hope things work out for you in the future though.



Hey Delta...thanks for your comments on my thread earlier- it really helped! With respect to publications, I think it depends on whether you want a career in academia. Even if you want to move on to research something different it might be worth trying to get a couple of publications just to show that you are capable of publishing your work. It won't matter that they are not completely relevant to your new topic if you've moved on to something new, it will still be evidence that you can write for publication, which I'm sure you can given that you are at the end of your PhD. I had a fellowship interview a few months ago and although I didn't get the job, when I got feedback they said they had really considered taking me on even though the candidate who got the job had already done a post-doc, just because I had a good publication record. I've been lucky because (despite her 10 zillion shortcomings) my sup has encouraged me to publish from the start, and has always provided plenty of feedback so I've probably had it a bit easy, but you could def give it a go on your own once you've completed your thesis. Of course, if you want out of academia altogether then don't waste your time! Good luck! KB


Quote From Si:
...a little more positive/enthusiastic

...trust me, I am. You should see me in action!

Thanks KB, you've all offered good advice and I think that's a good route to take.

Avatar for sneaks

Sounds like you, like me, need a holiday :-) when will those euromillions be mine???