Quit a Phd and start another one?


I am a PhD student in the Netherland. I am working on a biomolecular project but things are not going well for me.
The fact is that I have lost interest in the subject and I really would like to switch my career to another type of research.
The fact is that I would like to persuit an accademic career but the project I'm working on totally sucks.
I foud that there are many groups here working on animal behaviour and I would like to join one of them. Being an Ethologist is my dream but I never really considered it as a job opportunity because where I came from there are ZERO opportunity to work in that field. So when it was the moment to choose a Master Degree I went for Cellular Biology. Which is totally fine..I really enjoyed this type of study but to work for 4 years on the same protein is not for me.
I really feel I could do better working with animals because of the stong passion I have I think it will be doable to work on this subject for 4 years withouth going into depression like now.
I am also experiencing a sort of breakdown..I'm loosing my hair and I have a very bad gastritis..
I didn't talk to my supervisor about that. He is a very nice person and an exellent scientist am I am so sorry to disappoint him like this.I think this can be seen as a sign of weakness and I don't wont him to think that I am a weak person..is just that I am in the wrong place!
I have spent 1 year and 3 month working for him and I really feel that if I have to quit, now is the right moment.
But I am really concerned on HOW to explain this on my CV and also HOW to convince someone else to hire me as a PhD student since I have already quit another program I think probably they won't believe I am really motivated to do another one.
I thought maybe a good compromise would be to do an internship in the new lab to aquire knowledge in the field and to show that I am strongly motivated (working without being paied I think can show that I am able to to a step backward and that I am modest and motivated person)

Any suggestion or comment is really appreciated.
I feel so bad I can't describe it.

Thaks in advance.

Avatar for Mackem_Beefy

You didn't have to work four years on a niche oxidation phenomena.

If I'm reading this right, you've already quit one programme to do your current one and now want to quit this to do something else.

To quit a second time would be pushing your luck and would be difficult to explain on your CV. I guess you'd say you spent time researching your first two subjects before engaging on a third project leading to your PhD. However, you could become undone if either of your first two supervisors was aproached for a reference.

I think you've hit mid-term blues where we all ask why we've done it. I have to say either you cal it a day and join us wage slaves or see out the four years. A second switch is a damaging move.

However, it's clear you need time out. See if you can get your supervisor to give you some time off (holiday?) so you can get some space to yourself to have a think about what you do next.

It does end, however, you do have to work at it to ge there.


Thanks for your post.

Actually this is my first PhD year...I have no previous experience as PhD student and yes, I'm thinking of quitting this program to start with a new, very different one (which would be my second PhD program just to be clear).

I agree, a period off maybe could help.
This week I have a presentation and I have to work on it (I don't need to say that this is causing me a lot of anxiety) but maybe I can take 1 week off at the end of the month and take my time to think about it.

Avatar for Mackem_Beefy

======= Date Modified 10 Jan 2011 20:00:50 =======
A lot of people plough in thinking a PhD would be nice to have, without realising what's involved and the sheer effort required. It really can make or break people and you have to be one determined son / daughter of a bitch to see it through.

Ask yourself why you want to do a PhD. Choose a subject area that inspires you to give the commitment necessary to see it through. Ensure your potential supervisor knows the subject area and in interested in what you do (and also has a track record of 'closing off' a project - narrowing the focus of the student as write-up proceeds). Talk to current and recently graduated candidates as regards subject and supervisor. All these factors and others can determine success or failure.

Everyone has mid-period disillusionment, however, it's a whole lot worse if any of the above factors is not quite right. In your case, it's apparently the subject. Step out and reconsider, and if it's only your first year of your first attempt, then changing to something else may well be an option after all. But knowing what you know now, consider your next move carefully taking into consideration the above.

I have a friend in the early stages of considering doing one. He and I are going to have to have a long chat sometime!!!

Ian (Mackem_Beefy)