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A PhD isn't a real job though is it? Grrrrrrr.....

I agree with bonzo. the best way to respond is to use these situations to wind people up: "Yes I spend all night and day playing computer games, drinking, smoking... and all thanks to your hard earned tax punds but dont worry I've found myself some extra curricular activiies where once a weak I search for a cure for cancer or design a better hip joint replacement or whatever your phd topic may be.....

These people are never going to understand how hard or important what you do is so why bother getting upset? it is the classic grass is always greener on the other side mentaliy Everyone likes to think they work harder than everyone else and everyone else have it easier than them. Students are easy targets in this respect in particular PhD students!!!

Ive heard a graduate student medic at my college say how easy PhDs are ( she didnt do one her self ) and yet this is a person who complains constantly about the lack of supervision on a graduate medicine course

Finished!! It can be done!

Congratulations Dr,

Excellent post by the way. It is exactly the kind of post that a lot of people on this forum will find very uplifting.

I left my PHD a couple of years back and I may well have another crack in a few years ( I must be mad). A PhD is seen as quite an important qualification for people in the field I'm about to jump into ( new job starting in September ) I am currently on an Msc course and am now beginning to get a much better idea of what I'd be interested in working on for a PhD and can now clearly see how a PhD will fit into my future career. I should think my second attempt will be a lot more successful ( hopefully) given that I would be a lot more focused should I jump into the fray again. ill just have to wait and see though

I suppose the main message you are putting across for Phders is about discipline. e.g respecting the task at hand but at the same time respecting the need for a balanced life style. I think no PhD is worth it if it takes over your life for 3-4 years and striking the balance so that it doesn't happen, appears to be the hardest part of a PhD. I know many people doing PhD's at different universities who have very balanced lifestyles and are successful in their PhD studies but for every one of these people there are 3-4 more other people who have to fight tooth and nail for every scrap of their PhD degree: working anywhere from 12-15 hours a day, pulling their hair out and executing the daily ritual of head banging and talking to the photocopier. In the majority of these cases this shouldn't be necessary but I suppose not every PhD student is comparable as every project will have different demands depending on factors such as: ( crap or non existent supervision, lab politics, overly ambitious and ill planned project or just that the student isnt very well suited to research topic) Having said that, the advice given the advice given in this post is an excellent guide for any PhDer!!

I would echo your comment about the importance of asking for help and chasing people down. I didnt do this in my first PhD and its certainly a contributing factor to why mine went down the toilet. there are always a lot of people around you who can greatly facilitate your learning as a PhD student but if you don't ask you wont receive


Seriously thinking about quitting

First and foremost. Best of Luck with what ever decide. I understand how you may be feeling now. Sounds like you are in a similar situation to the one I was in for my PhD.

I too was doing an Engineering PhD but I bailed out after a year. I was on a very demanding project with a supervisor who offer very little support of any kind and I worked with a post doc who loved nothing other than to stab me in the back.  I took early retirement after my first year viva. The best decision I ever made. I still reflect on what might of been and somehow still harbour a desire to jump in and hav another crack at a PhD provided the circumstances are right but for the most part I'm happy not to be doing a PhD at the moment. I'm on a masters at the moment and I've secured myself a job starting in Septemeber in what should hopefully turn into an successful career.

It is not the end of the world if you leave and from reading your post it sounds like you have already made your mind up. Dont just stay for the sake of finsihing your PhD. I know its hard but you will need to swallow your pride. If it makes you very unhappy and you dont see it being a real benefit to your career then I think you should leave, draw a line under it and change career. AS someone once said on this forum: "worse things happen out at sea"

I think you will find that droping out of a PhD will not detrimentally affect your future career prospects unless you let it. Most prospective employers wont have PhDs and so wont give a crap. You can always put a positive spin on things to prospective employers about the skills and knowledge you have gained during your time. think about it.

Do talk to your the career gauidance people/ advisers at your department before leaving as they should be able to advise as to the best course of action for your next move. Just send me a message if you need any other advice



Distinction, Merit, Pass...

I understand where you are coming from. I got a first in my undergraduate degree and am doing an Msc at the moment. There may be a feeling and unless you get a distiniction then you arnt as good as you thought you were but I wouldnt think like that. Grades only matter when applying for a PhD and to be honest 65% is a very solid pass. I'd be quite happy to take 65% for my pass mark if I was offered it know. One thing to remember is: you got a first and know one can take that away from you. regardless how good or bad this masters goes. But im sure youll do fine

changing supervisors?

There are two types of PhD supervisors in this world: Those that supervise and those that don't!!

Yes you can change and I am pretty sure most department would allow a student to change rather than having them drop out. Do you have a new supervisor in mind? what stage of your PhD are you at? Have you talked to your supervisor about these problems yet?

Oxford college fees?

usually if you get funding for a PHD at Oxford your college and university fees are paid for. Ive never heard of anyone getting a studentship but having to pay college fees themselves.

The whole college fees thing is a bit nonsense. you have to pay for everything in college: rent and utilities, food, laundry..... and there are these college fees as well!!!! stupid

I need informations

Is this a piss take?

Off to pastures new to complete my thesis

Best of luck Hairui :-)

Transferring PhD to different institution

I would imagine the only way this really happens is when an entire research group moves between different institutions which does happen, otherwise I have never heard of a student transferring between uni's in this manner. The research group I was in moved from one uni to the other and had a PhD student at the time who effectively had to start his PhD again

End of the line.

Sounds like a good plan :-) The masters has been going quite well and I enjoy the field so it is all good. I am still thinking about doing a PhD again, although given that my last one didn't exactly go very well I am trying to be careful about my next move. Having said that Ill most likely get a job of some description, if the right one crops up.

End of the line.

I understand what you might be feeling right now. I dropped out of my PhD in 2007 after a year, took a year out and I'm currently on a taught masters. Its tough, but you will get over it eventually. I think once you find a job role you enjoy working in, then you will gradually forget about your PhD experience

To answer your questions: yes you can put a positive spin on things ( skills developed, communication, problem solving....) and you can say that your PhD was an excellent learning experience in many respects but that your best interested will be served by doing something else. I think most people will understand this

To be honest I think it is very hard for prospective employers to judge you for dropping out of a PhD given that most people who are likely to interview you will not have PhDs ( assuming you will not be applying for an academic or research and development position ) and even people with PhDs will understand how tough it can be and that not everyone takes to PhD work very well. This is not necessarily a bad reflection of your academic abilities just that you may be better suited to doing something else.

Have you considered registering for an Mphil instead of a PhD, if you can salvage anything out of this PhD then I would advise you to do so. What does your supervisor think about all of this?

Medical Physics at Edinburgh

Ladies and Gents,

I must be mad, but after dropping out of my PhD in 2006 I am seriously considering jumping back into the fray. I am currently looking at a medical physics PhD position at Edinburgh Uni and was just wondering if anyone on this forum knows anything about the medical physics group at Edinburgh. Is it a good group academically, socially, what are the supervisors like: good bad or otherwise?

any info would be much appreciated



repaying PhD grant?

I take it your grant money comes from the MRC. so it might be best to check with them if that is the case. I think that under certain circumstances people can be asked to repay back grant money but I would imagine this only occurs in rare circumstances. I would imagine this would only happen if a person has done pretty much no work and leaves their PhD with no legitimate reason.

I wouldn't give up without first with discussing your concerns with the appropriate authorities first.  You may be able to work something out

and just out of interest what is it about technicians that makes them stupid? OK they might not be academics but in general ive found technicians to be very sharp people and people you can learn a lot from. so i wouldn't be so quick to look down your nose at the low-life technicians just yet

Uses for a PhD

like has been said before: what you can do with a PHD really does depend on your feild. outside researching and lecturing, there isnt a lot you can do with a PhD that cant be done with just a degree

it kind of sounds like you may well have some serious motivation problems in the coming years if you are asking what use your PhD might be to you after only starting a few months ago? and just out of interest how would you go about being a researcher when you retire? ( arm chair researching?)

I suspect a lot of people this year in particular will jump on borad PhD programs because of the credit crunch. I'm on an msc course at the moment and one of the professors in my department joked that he expected to see a sharp increase in PhD applications as people are finding it hard to get jobs.

Help - getting nowhere and fearing failure


I would forget about what anyone else is doing as this inst going to do any good. clearly it doesn't make you feel very good when you think everyone is flying along with their PhDs and you are not.  Remember that no two projects are the same: Some projects are more challenging than others, some will have a steeper learning curve, some people will have better supervisors.... there are many reasons why people may appear to be having a better time of it than you but none of this is of any consequence to you. Just concentrate on your own business. Your supervisor may well be shit as a lot of them are but regardless of how bad the supervisor is, it will be you that has to submit and be examined on your phd thesis. If you feel your supervisor is really bad then you could enquire about changing supervisor but that this late stage that might do you no good.

I think it might help if you read through some PhD theses in your field. This can help you to understand just what exactly is expected in terms of the contribution that will be required in your thesis as well as the appropriate style and structure for writing.

also consider reading this book as it gives advice on many aspects of researching and writing up ( finding a topic, reading papers effectively, taking notes, drafting)

'A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 6th edition. Chicago'

hope this helps