Starting Over...NEED ADVICE


SO I've decided to quit my phd after 11 months, because I honestly felt I would not grow professionally and academically at my former lab. In short, it's been a nightmare with a horrible advisor who doesn't share the same passion and integrity. My advisor was the only person at my university conducting work in the field that I was interested in. Although shaken by this experience, I am still very determined to pursue doctoral study elsewhere. I absolutely love my field of work and want to contribute greatly to this field. My only concern is how do I approach prospective advisors/programs? I know that quitting a phd is perceived as a negative, however, I feel that it was best thing for myself. I rather take the risk of seeking better opportunities to grow and excel than remain dissatisfied.(sprout)


Well, having been in a similar situation but kept grinding on for another year, my advice is to get out now. If you're sure it will not get any better, get out NOW. I have had two offers of supervision, both have made it plain that they do not have a high opinion of my current supervisor. Am still trying to decide what to do but I will not be going back. Go seek those better opportunities, potential supervisors may be more sympathetic than you think!
Good luck!


I started a PhD over again. The first time I was full-time, and funded by EPSRC. I had to leave that after a progressive neurological disease developed and my research council wouldn't support a switch to part-time study.

The second time I was part-time, and won funding from AHRC (totally different discipline second time around). If applying for research council funding you may find that you get less funding the second-time. I had to declare my prior PhD study+research council funding on the form. AHRC could have reduced my funding accordingly. But they didn't.

One advantage of starting a PhD a second time is you can learn from your earlier experiences. In my first PhD I spent the first year doing the typical do-a-literature review stuff, as was normal in my department and in that part of the sciences. But that really was a waste of time, and by the time I fell ill I had made little progress. So the second time I hit the ground running. Despite being part-time (and very part-time - about 5 hours a week by the end) I finished my literature review for the second PhD within 3 months of starting, and was straight on to the researching phase. And I knew how to manage my time better, and the stages to go through.

Good luck!

Avatar for Pjlu

Do you have to quit-can you transfer or request another supervisor who may be at another institution (as well as your current one). I am only asking as I'm wondering whether there might be ways to make your situation better without quitting it entirely. (I don't live and study in UK-so disregard this completely if it isn't possible where you are). Good luck Wthatcher btw-tough to be in your situation.(up)


Whatever you do, don't criticise your present advisor in your present dept or to your new prospective advisors. Word gets around. Try to leave on a positive note, something like ' I have appreciated the experience of working with you ( they can take that any way they like, and so can you!) but I can see that your heavy workload leaves you little time to give me the help I am sure you would like to give me, I've found x who will take over this aspect of my work. Thank you so much for all your help ( that is, what little there was of it!) and hope we can keep in touch and I can call on you for advice when I need it' As for approaching others, you could suggest that their knowledge more closely fits your area, or you have read something by them which you found really illuminating. They are bound to ask why you want to move so make sure you have a positive reason. Try for a transfer rather than leaving as it will be easier to defend if you want to continue in the same field, in a different area I don't suppose it is so critical. Above all tread carefully and make sure you keep others' egos intact even if your instict is to tell them how it is, if you work in a niche area you are bound to come across the same people many times, especially later on post PhD, so don't affect your future for a few moments of telling the truth now.


Joyce's advise is spot on and you would be wise to read, and re-read what she says, particularly as you seem to want to stay in academia. It will probably stick in your craw but if it's to work for you, you have to 'play the game'.

Good luck (up)