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Second Bite at the cherry (PhD attempt)

Hey Guys,
This site brings back some memories! To cut a long story short I dropped out of a PhD 14 years ago. I had a pretty dreadful experience and ended up dropping out in my first year. It really knocked the stuffing out of me and it took a long time to get over it.

To cut a long story short I regrouped and completed a masters. I then went on to pursue a career in a scientific field which has been largely successful.

As it happens I have recently started a new role and I expressed an interest in getting work published. As it turns out my boss said they are willing to support me to do a PhD and they are looking into getting funding from my department. It's a field I know and like and I'll be proposing my own project and I will be pitching it to a local university department soon. If funding can be sorted out the I think there is a very good chance I'll be able to sign on for the PhD.

While I do have some reservations, I think my chances for success are a lot better this time around. I'd be interested to hear from anyone who had a second attempt at a PhD. Did you enjoy it? What was different second time around and any advice you would give to someone looking to have a second bit at the cherry?

Cheers :-)

On the 'I want to quit' theme


I do sympathise with your situation. I left my PhD after my first year and it was a tough decision to make so I can only imagine what its like after investing over three years in the project.. I would give you too pieces of advice:

1) If you feel that it's at the point where your health is starting to suffer then I would say it really isn't worth it and you should consider leaving. I know it won't feel like it, but there is no shame in leaving and from my experience dropping out of a PhD won't necessarily have a huge impact on your future career.

2) Or if you are at the end of your tether and want out then maybe you should try stick it out for a few more months and submit for an Mphil if you can't stomach the thought of a PhD submission. You really should try to salvage something from it if you can!!

I hope this helps by all means message me I can be of any help,



what to do when your partner is leaving/made to leave their PhD

Hi Chris,

I can speak from the perspective of someone who did drop out of a PhD. I did so three years. I think the whole experience can be very soul destroying for anyone and I would say it probably will make it worse for your boyfriend that you will likely succeed in your PhD and he won't.

Seeing friends of mine finish their PhDs when I didn't even make it past first year can be difficult and so I can only imagine what it must feel like when its his partner passing him bye.

There is no reason why you shouldn't be openly proud of what you will achieve and I am sure he will be very proud of you too, but at least on some level I am sure he will always be at least a little bit jealous of you and I can understand why.

Having gone through a PhD yourself, you are in a great position to understand how he might be feeling at this point so the best thing you can do is be supportive and understanding but not judgmental. I think the worst thing people can do is judge those who do drop out because no two PhD projects are the same ( its a cliche I know )

The best thing that he can do is to get back up on the horse again as soon as possible: take a holiday, get a stress free job for a few months which will give him time to think about his next career move and you might find once he does find his way again the PhD issue might not have such a bad impact on your relationship.

I can say from experience that leaving a PhD can be a very hurtful experience but its not the end of the world and I can say I have done very well after leaving my PhD. I may even decide to have another go in a few years time

Passed viva - wahoo!

Congratulations Dr Bilbo :-)

You must be very proud. well done!!!

Just failed my phd - devastated


Best of luck with your PhD. I think it takes lot of character to get back up on the horse again and I've always found it quite inspiring hearing about people like you on this site :-)

I am constantly toying with the idea of doing a PhD again and as it turns out a phd could be very beneficial in my career so I am seriously considering it.

Just failed my phd - devastated

I haven't posted on this site for quite a while and just saw your post

I really do sympathise with you. I can only imagine how you feel.

I had a pretty bad PhD experience a few years ago and dropped out. It was quite a soul destroying experience for me to have to leave after just a year. I didn't pass my first year viva and was given a second chance to pull myself together but I knew the PhD wasn't going anywhere ( having a non-existent supervisor and a very manipulative post doc certainly didn't help )

I can imagine this is a very difficult time for you. I am sure you wouldn't want to start all over again from square one but at the same time you need a PhD if you want an academic career. It is a catch 22.

If you have failed outright then your supervisor and your department should be shot!!! I thought the hold point of first and second year reviews was to ensure that your project was on track and that you have made sufficient progress to be able to submit a thesis to the right standard and at the right time. Did your supervisor ever express any major concerns during your PhD and before you submitted? If you have failed outright then you shouldn't have been allowed to submit your thesis in the first place!!

I know it might not seem like the case now but it really isn't the end of the world. You will find that future employers are a lot more sympathetic to Phders than you think. I really thought dropping out of my PhD would ruin my career and as it happens it hasnt. I have completed a masters since and am currently doing another one part time as part of my job. I may very well have another go at a PhD in the next couple of years.

My best advice would be to fight tooth and nail for your PhD. Try and get them to allow you to resubmit with major corrections or at a minimum an Mphil. I know a person who was given major corrections and had to work on his PhD for another year but did pass second time around so it can be done.

Is there someone in the department who you can talk to about how to tackle this? Like a student advisor or councillor? Preferably someone independent and impartial.


Nasty poster called HUANIC on threads

that poster appears to be a computer program rather than a person!!

typos in dissertation

I wouldn't worry about it too much. I submitted mine a few weeks ago and it had a few typos in it. You probably will lose marks for it. but they wont crucify you for it!!

You should just correct what ever typos you find so that if anyone else wants to read your thesis ( like a prospective employer or PhD supervisor ) then they wont find any mistakes

Someone has stolen my project :-(

I get the impression this sort of thing happens a lot more commonly than you might think, but in most cases it is more subtle.

I have just finished up my MSc and as part of it we had to submit a rather large group proposal ( this was our group project). Each team had 5 members and everyone proposed an individual research track as part of the proposal. We were writing this proposal as if it were to be sent off to a research council for funding once finished.
One could say that this is just good preparation for a career in research which I suppose it is, but then again we can be a lot more cynical and say that this is just a great way for lecturers and post-docs to sponge ideas from their grad students. Granted that most of the proposals submitted wouldn't have been of the standard where they could be directly copied and sent of to the research council, there is every reason to believe that any of these proposals  could be used, if even partially, and submitted for funding applications to a research council without the author being acknowledged.

A classic example of this carry on is the following: a particular professor at my current uni supposedly passes on the dissertations from his students to students of another university in another country ( he has a chair there as well). I gather this is without the consent of his students and is done in order to exploit this research for financial gain

I am not exactly sure you have much of a case at this present point in time other than to request that you get some form of acknowledgment on any patents or papers. Unless its work you have already published or patented, I'm not sure you have much recourse for taking legal action. If its a case that they have copied your proposal word for word and submitted it for funding then this is blatant plagiarism and I'm sure there is something you can do about it as long as you can prove you are the original author. The email you sent would certainly help in this respect!! Im sure you can get hold of their funding application if their research ends up being funded by the MRC or EPSRC.... Usually a summary of funded projects for for each subject and principal investigator is listed on the research council website!!

I somehow doubt they would be that stupid though. Your best bet is to get your work published as soon as possible and don't deal with this person/people again!!! I know you must be really pissed off by this but you should take it as a valuable lesson learned.
Consider how easy it is for this kind of thing to happen. Not just written proposals though: You could be at a conference and discuss ideas and future work with another researcher. Whats to stop them from trying out your ideas without giving you credit?

People can also argue that an idea for a project is one thing but results are a different prospect altogether. The research they are undertaking probably might not work out as you have envisaged it in which case they take a different direction.

Seriously thinking about quitting

well done Guitarman,

I have been surprised how little effect leaving my PhD has had on my career!! I think it all boils down to the fact that for most careers outside academia a PhD is not needed and most prospective employers will not have PhDs themselves so they are not likely to judge people for bailing out of what can be a very tough career venture.

Sounds like things are starting to work out for you so fair play :-)


Leaving a research council funded PhD

I think it would help no end if you could get an MPhil so it is worth a shot. It would be largely down to your supervisor and degree committee to decide whether or not you are allowed to register for an MPhil but sure there is no harm in asking!!

Leaving a research council funded PhD

Hi there,

there is very little the research council can or will do if you drop out. I think in extreme circumstances students can be asked to pay back money. I could be wrong but I would think this is for cases where there is clear evidence the student has made no effort to do any work what so ever in the first year of their PhD or they drop out shortly after being payed the monthly or termly stipend

If you are considering grad medicine, a PhD can really work in your favour. I know a few people doing grad medicine and quite a high percentage of them have PhD. I think grad medicine course admissions people will favour students with PhDs as these are people who have clear evidence of their ability to solve problems/ be analytical/ study and work independently/ communicate well. Depending on the grad medicine course, you can expect very little formal teaching, hence why PhD candidates are often favoured. In other words expect a lot of DIY Medicine!!

However, if you are truly unhappy then you may be as well leaving. If you have good undergraduate grades and good references then there is no reason why you wouldnt get onto a goood grad medicine course. You can always do research when you qualify as a Doctor so you wont be closing off any doors by dropping out.

Ive dropped out of a PhD a couple of years ago and will soon be starting a traineeship in medical physics, but im also consideing grad medicine as well.

I hope this helps. drop me a mail if you need any further advice


Thinking about A-level results day

I should add that similar media accusations are made each year about the Irish leaving cert being made easier but I wouldn't say its completely without foundation. I understand this can be a bit of a touchy subject for people on both a personal and national level, but maybe the A levels have been getting easier?

Every one is inclined to the defend their education system especially if they have worked very hard for their results, but rather than just laughing off these media claims as nonsense do people not think there is could be some element of truth in this? At least in some A level subjects, not necessarily all

Thinking about A-level results day

Having never done A levels id be very interested to hear people thoughts on them. How would you rate them compared to other international equivalents.: scope, depth... as preparation for uni?( I did the Irish leaving cert) Ive been living in the UK for a few years now and all I hear year in, year out is that the A levels have been getting easier. I know everyone likes to blow their own country's trumpet and claim their second level system is harder or more comprehensive, but can anyone back this up?

So many people applied to Cambridge last year with A grades that they brought in the A* star grade to distinguish candidates and I've heard of oxbridge considering bringing in their own entrance exams

I often think that people are asking the wrong questions when they talk about exams being to easy or hard. I would of thought the important question whether or not the subjects are studied at a high enough level to prepare student for either further study at third level or prepare them for jobs in the big bad world.

What has often puzzled me is how many A levels people do? I take it that most do 2 or 3 , but Ive met a few people who did 5 and Ive heard of people doing even more. also Ive heard you are accepted into uni on the back of your predicted results rather than your actual results??

Trying to salvage something from a failure

I doubt you could re-write and submit at another university as most universities will have regulations along on the lines of: you have to spend a significant proportion of your time doing your PhD work at that university if you are to be allowed to submit. But I am sure there is more important reasons why you cant do this ( funding and intellectual property.... )

If you get yourself an Mphil as a consolation prize its not impossible to do another PhD. I personally don't know anyone in their right mind who would want to do another PhD having already spent 3-4 years on one and only come out with a masters.

Is there any reason to suspect that you would be more successful if you did another PhD ( be honest )?