PhD issues of absolute supervisor neglect


Greetings folks,

I will say a little about me as I am new to the forum, but after this brief introduction, I wish to make my posts all about you, and stay this way so long as I visit this forum and contribute.

I eventually earned my DSocSc by research and promised myself that if I actually earned this degree, I would help other struggling doctoral students in cases where (a) they are being grossly neglected by their busy/disinterested/incompetent supervisors for no clear reason and (b) they were genuinely working hard and determined to complete but feel overwhelmed :-)

I had three supervisors during my 8.5 years as a part-time doctoral student and not one of them seemed passionate about their career, discipline or students despite having tenure at a well-funded cosy well-regarded institution. So that is the end of my rant.

If I am able to offer assistance, motivation, advice etc I am only too happy to do this.

I hold a doctorate in sociology and other degrees in education, political economy and business.

I do believe that persistence, hard-work and a a strong passion for your topic will get you over the line more so than other attributes.

The PhD is worth it so please stick with it, as I don't believe that most people who temporarily drop out or intend to return years down the track will actually complete. If you are enrolled now, seize this opportunity and jump those many hurdles and have fun!

I wish you well.



Hi Jay, welcome to the forum and thanks for sharing :)


Thanks for your welcome. I hope your tree bears an abundance of sweet juicy fruit ! :-) Jay

What a shame we cannot upload a profile pic on here.


Hi Jay.

Thanks for your post. I am a part-time phd student in my 5th year. I work 4 days a week and have been feeling very overwhelmed recently. I only have one active supervisor and she is amazing. I am officially on a break in studies due to some ongoing mental health and financial issues but am still working without the pressure of a timescale.

How did you stay motivated? I tend to have some weeks when I can't look at my uni work and other times when I enjoy it.


Oops this message got posted twice. Please see the reply below. Jay :-)


What a lovely post to read! I've had some issues with my supervision (and even bigger issues with my examiners and postgrad office) but am at the final hurdle now having submitted last week with minor revisions. I'm still terrified I'm going to be failed...I feel let down on so many levels.

Have you heard any stories about PhD students who were failed? My long story made short is that I had my viva in 2013, was given a 12 month major corrections period, resubmitted, was told by my school 4 months later that I had passed...then that I had failed...then that they had given me the wrong result (yes, this is true!!)...then that I had been given minor revisions. After all that drama I have now submitted for the last time.

I'm hoping with all my being for a pass so that this ordeal can be over but, if my external decides to fail it completely, is there any advice you could dispense? Thank you! :)


Hi ANZ07

Wow what a drama. My advice for now is to think positive and assume you will pass. Otherwise you are worrying about a negative outcome that is unlikely to eventuate.

I was a panelist on the University's Academic Appeal Board for two years. From this, I learned to document everything about your experiences. For example, do not assume that you will keep your uni email access. Forward all your emails about the sorts of experiences you refer to above to your gmail or hotmail etc. Keep all postal mail received and so on.

For example, should you not get the outcome you were looking for and deserve, it sounds like you could argue duress. Doing a PhD is hard enough without having those sorts of foul ups made by others playing on your mind.

Fails are very rare if students have competent supervisors and listen to their supervisors advice. Generally speaking, supervisors will forward your thesis to examiners who have a reputation for fairness as opposed to an ideological bias for passing/failing certain types of arguments.

Possibly as little as 5% of thesis submissions return as a fail. It is that small from my anecdotal experiences. The fails are in in non submissions and non completions.
I estimate that around half of all PhD students to not complete. That is why I am so passionate about this topic. I am keen to see this number drop.

An experienced supervisor usually knows with about 98% confidence that a thesis submitted for examination is definitely not an outright fail. I don't refer to the pass categories as these are more open (e.g. pass outright, pass minor, pass with structural changes, and the latter which is neither a pass or a fail - resubmit with major changes).

For now, think positive, hang in there and publish, apply for jobs, take a holiday etc.

What country are you in? Most countries have state/provincial and national freedom of information laws. Your student union can advise.

Please keep me posted.

Congratulations on submitting.




I posted a long reply to tamecat and it has disappeared. If you want me to write it again tamecat I am happy to. I don't think my comments violated any forum rules.


I remember reading it, so it was there at some point! What's going on mods?


Hi Jay,

You are welcome to the group and thank you for offering your assistance. Although I am not an active participant in the group, I have followed the forum with interest.
I was a full-time student but had to change to part time due to cost (still working full time on my thesis though).

I am hoping to have a full draft of my thesis by December in the hope to submit before July next year. However, as I await the feedback from my supervisor for my result chapters, I worry that I have written rubbish (English is not my first language). I am currently working on my conclusion, but just not feeling confident.


Thank you Jay, its great to have here, I look forward to reading your contributions. Welcome :)


Thank you for your response, I appreciate.