I was conned and my phd is over, help


Well, it has been quite a disaster and I don't see how to get over this, maybe you have some good advice to give me. Years ago I got a scholarship for a PhD project, it was going ok but there were major troubles with the supervisor (five other people left before myself) and around the third year I quit too. I had a lot of pretty decent material so I started looking for another way to finish it, but I didn't want to move country, so refused three offers that came my way and I accepted one close to where I was living. They offered me a "deal": finish the phd in one year, part time, and the other 50% of the time to work on their design projects (underpaid). (I am a designer)
What happened in fact was that I worked for 5 months only on their projects, and when finally I refused to work anymore until they let me work on the phd, they gave me impossible deadlines and proceeded to push me to quit with methods that different lawyers have qualified as mobbing. I got a nervous breakdown, quit, and now since 3 months I am taking a break.
Now, this story is so ugly that I feel ashamed telling it even on this website anonymously, and I know very well how bad it looks, especially because I quit the previous PhD,
Before this terrible adventure I published 5 papers in a year (and I was publishing before starting the PhD), I still have some good reputation left in the academic world and usually I get good feedback for my work.
Those people conned me and destroyed my life for no reason (well, to save money).
Do you think I can still look for ways to finish, or is my PhD trajectory forever over? How do I explain to potential employers what happened to me without sounding like some sneaky all-blaming loser? They say not to talk bad about your previous employers, but how do I explain why am I still here?

Avatar for Eds

So, how do you?

Avatar for Mathcomp

Um, I got a bit confused. What do you mean by employers? Aren't they a uni or an academic institute where you were supposed to serve as a PhD student, spending time on your thesis + helping them in some other stuff? Otherwise how do you want to get your degree if you are not enrolled?


in the country where this happened as a phd student you are an employee of the university, but Mathcomp you make a very good point, the contract they offered me mentioned nowhere that it was to conclude the phd, it was a general contract as a "researcher" (and I did everything but). They said they had to do like that because of administration, but in fact they conned me, I was naive.

So yes, they were a university and they were also my employers.

Avatar for Mathcomp

I understand it now. It's bad, things are not going the way they meant to. But just remember that it won't help to get mad at them. I know it may not be easy but work on your relationship with your supervisor/employer and admins and at the same time look at other opportunities like enrolling in another university. Here the fact you were not formally considered as a PhD student at your current uni may even help.


my problem is:

traumatised by the mobbing, I already quit, and am already looking for another institution, but HOW do you I explain to the next employer what happens? Or do I just skip mentioning anything from last year and say that I was working or something? Will anyone hire someone who quit her phd in december 2012 to finish it? or even without any scholarship?


Do you have the intellectual property right to the data you collected? If it belongs to the original university, then I think you would have problems finishing it off anywhere else.