PhD subject


Hi all,

I've been doing a lot of reading and thinking about my PhD topic, I'm currently a year (ish) in to a part time PhD while working full time. My current plan is to head into the lab at uni to do complete the lab work portion of my project, but more and more I'm thinking it might just not be feasible. My work supervisor is becoming less supportive and changing her mind on how often, or even if, i will be allowed to take time off to go to university, even though at the application stage she was very supportive. There is nothing in particular in the higher education policy at work saying whether she needs to let me go/not let me go.

My project is looking at a drug type X in disease Y, so picking a target, generating a few lead molecules, validating them in the lab etc, and I work in non-clinical drug development so it all fits. My question is this: although my project has been agreed upon during the application, how much can it change? I.e. can I remove the lab based part and just analyse previous generated data and do more computational predictions? My plan would be to review theories on the cause of disease Y, review current drugs on the market for the disease (only 4), review clinical trial failures and successes, review the new drug type I would be looking at and it's current successes (1 drug licensed by FDA) and failures, then predict what targets the new drug type may work against, biomarkers that could be used in non-clinical assessment etc etc

I know the final answer lies with my supervisor, but would that be enough original content to gain a PhD? I don't feel like it would, but right now if my work supervisor doesn't change, I'm not entirely sure I'll be able to complete my project.


It sounds to me like you are asking whether you should compromise your PhD ambitions to suit your employer's needs.

It also sounds like you are prepared to accept that your work supervisor has the final say on whether you do a PhD at all.

Is that really what you want to do? Do you really want to hand this much control of your life over to someone else who has no interest in what you want?

Is quitting your job and going full time on the PhD not an option for you?

Avatar for rewt

Do you have your work supervisor's initial support in writing? If so make them justify why they changed their mind and show you can't be pushed around. Officially request reduced working hours to do lab work or ask for a compromise option. I just wouldn't let them kill your PhD options on a whim.

I am doing mostly experimental engineering and I might be biased but raw data is king. Raw data gives you more options and you can analyse it as you see you see fit. If your analysis is wrong you don't have to start again as you have raw data. You just need to chose the experimental method correctly and do it correctly. In my opinion modelling and review based papers are a bit more subjective that can be more easily criticised. Not saying they are bad but a paper of reviews and models of others people data might not be easier in the long run.