Scared of being used for cheap labour


I am sure this had probably cropped up somewhere before but couldn't find anything,

I have been searching for a suitable PhD with funding. I have found a few and applied but some of them seem to be ongoing research projects, not new ones. I was just worried that I might apply, get an interview and the PhD, but that they may just want someone to do a job for the cheap and call it a PhD. In this case, I may not get the support I need and may not end up finishing it. Is there anyway to ensure the Institution is not doing this, say questions to ask at interview or things to be wary of?
Thanks for any help. Been searching for ages now :-(


Re supervision, this seems to be a total lottery. You can try to get behind the facade a bit by finding out how many phd students have graduated under your possible future supervisor, what time frames their students complete in, how many of their students have published successfully etc etc but until you're in you really have no foolproof way of ensuring that they will be there to support you in the way you want.

The one thing to bear in mind that they may be able to offer PhD projects but not employment after the phd. You may have to be prepared to relocate after your PhD to do a postdoc/job somewhere else. You can ask about career progression after the PhD; long-term projects in the dept, prospects for applying for funding for postdoc positions after PhD completion but even asking about these doesn't guarantee you will get any of them. In our dept us first years know that there aren't ANY opps for us here after our doctorates because the dept is full to capacity with phds and postdocs. Our 3rd years are already struggling to decide what to do next and they haven't even submitted yet. Looking at the economic status of the country/area/region you are in is always worth doing before you sign up for a phd and is an absolute must for those who cannot relocate after the phd because of partner/family commitments.

I hope this post doesn't put you off, I definitely think you should do the PhD if that's the right thing for you but I am saying be aware that there is currently a big gap between people's expectations for what's available after the phd and what the job market is currently able to offer. Going into it with eyes wide open and realistic expectations has become a key criterion in deciding whether to do a phd.