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Advice for my PhD advisor relationship

I agree with the other commenters. I will note that it varies a lot by supervisor. I have several supervisors, only one of whom spends time reviewing my code or working through specific technical problems. I don't think it's a coincidence that he's junior compared to the others. If you have labmates who are willing to help you with the details of your project, then I would fully take advantage of that. You can pay it forward to junior colleagues when you are more established, it's a sign of a good, collaborative culture.

Paralyzed by choice

Hey there,

I'm coming to the end of my PhD and I'm in the very fortunate position of having several good options. Unfortunately, the fanciest options are clashing with the options that I think are best for me personally, and it would be good to get some advice. For context, I did my PhD overseas and I found the experience pretty brutal. It's been lonely and isolating, especially during the pandemic. I decided to start applying for some jobs back in my home city, near family and friends. I have a couple of offers, including one that is really attractive (right in my field, great mission, very talented employees), although it would unfortunately not leave much room for pure research. I raised this with my supervisor and he thought that I could do better. He has started setting up a possible postdoc with a solid group at [very fancy university], and offered to fund me himself if that falls through. This university is in a different country, although much closer to home than where I did my PhD.

I'm torn. On the one hand, I want to go home and settle down near my family. On the other hand, I worry I'm being an idiot for thinking about turning down a fantastic academic placement. It could set me up for getting an academic position back home if I can stomach it for a few more years. I'm just so tired from the PhD experience and I don't know if I have it in me emotionally...

Transferring to another university

Hi rewt and abababa, thanks for the advice. I think you're right that funding will be a big consideration. I am currently on a programme that is funded externally and the funding wouldn't be transferred to the new university (that's clear in the funder's guidelines). My potential new supervisor is still talking with his university about transfer options, but it might come down to a choice between full funding at old university vs no/lower funding at new university. That will be a tricky choice, as I still have 16-18 months left.

Transferring to another university

Hi everyone,

I am in need of some advice about transferring universities. I am currently completing my PhD at a Russell Group university. Toward the end of my first year, I began working with a professor at a very highly ranked university. As my PhD has progressed, I have moved toward their research area and become more isolated within my department, which does not specialise in that field. I raised these issues with my main supervisor recently, who was extremely understanding and proposed a couple of options. The first is to spend the remainder of my PhD at the other professor's university as a visiting student. The second is to look into transferring my registration to that professor's university and completing my PhD there.

The second option seems to make sense. If I am being primarily supervised by this professor for the remainder of my PhD, I would think that being awarded a PhD from their university is sensible. It would be a considerable step-up in terms of "prestige" and the perceived value of the degree. But I also worry that I am being given an inch and taking a mile, so to speak. I really like my current department and my supervisors have been nothing but supportive - it just isn't a good fit in terms of research environment. Would I be betraying their goodwill by pushing for a full transfer?


Best Methodology?

You are asking a causal question about the effect of an intervention. You need to think carefully about design. A simple before-and-after comparison is likely to pick up the effect of existing time trends. More pernicious, if the policy was implemented in response to a rising/falling trend in crime rates and there is a several year lag in the effect of the policy, you might end up getting the complete opposite answer (i.e. erroneously finding that the policy increased crime).

Difference-in-difference and synthetic controls are both common methods for estimating the effects of policies. The first uses similar/nearby counties which didn't implement the policy as a baseline for the existing trend in crime rates. The second constructs a counterfactual county also based on similar counties which didn't implement the policy.

I would strongly consider looking into those methods before worrying about your specific outcome measure.