starting a new phd ? need advices

11-Jul-16, 15:55
edited a moment later
by hella
Avatar for hella
posted about 4 years ago
Hi everybody,
I'm currently in my second year as a phd in neurobiology but I lost all motivation for this thesis. I have a master degree in cognitive neuroscience and at that time I choose to start a phd in neurobiology because I wanted to go deeper in the comprehension of brain mecanisms. But now I'm totaly regretting it and I wish I had choose cognitive neuroscience, i'm not interested to work with cells or animals anymore. Plus the situation in my lab isn't really easy : i'm alone with my subject, the atmosphere is not really nice and I don't have anybody to talk to in order to get advices. So i'm wondering if it would be possible to stop my phd even after 2 years (will people take me seriously ?) and start a new one in my field of interest or should I rather be strong and graduate here even if it's totally depressing me ?In that case would it be possible/not to hard to switch field for the post doc ?
If someone have an opinion that would be really nice !
12-Jul-16, 00:33
edited a moment later
Avatar for DrJeckyll
posted about 4 years ago
The aim of a PhD is to give you the opportunity to develop your skills as a researcher. It is supposed to be completed over a period of three to four years. It is not worth to spend more time of your life on such a task. I wouldn't drop out after two years, I would put all my efforts in finishing on time; that means working hard and methodically towards a coherent Phd. If you think you can't do it, my best advice would be to move on to something that brings fulfillement. PhDs can provoke extreme stress and depression. I don't think that the topic of your PhD will influence your post doc options, but the quality of your PhD might. Research is multidisciplinary, so you might find yourself in a completely new field.

After a year and a half, my postdoctoral experience is not that different from a PhD - I am not sure if this is a good thing?
12-Jul-16, 01:22
by tru
Avatar for tru
posted about 4 years ago
Hi, Hella,

Your position is something that I have been through before. While I agree that PhD is not easy, there is a big difference between having support or not during this process. You have to analyse your situation critically and ask these questions honestly:
1) Is my project clearly defined with good questions and aims? (By 2nd year, it should be)
2) Do I have someone in the group (co-supervisor, senior technician) or outside (other research/group leaders, senior technician, students) whom I can approach?
3) Do I have the resources eg. instruments, reagents, bioinformatics software, etc to complete my work?
4) What is the length of my PhD? Do I have less than 2 years left now?
5) Have I generated some meaningful data or a paper (lit review maybe)?
6) Regardless of interest, if I go on the way I do, can I finish my PhD?
7) Can whatever that is depressing me be solved by myself?
8) And most importantly, is my supervisor giving me time, guidance and support?

If your answer is NO, for all the above, I strongly suggest that you meet with your grad school or RHD or postgrad student coordinator IMMEDIATELY. There is at least ONE person in EVERY institute. Don;t worry, the meeting is entirely confidential and your supervisor will never know. They will be able to help you, maybe get another experienced supervisor(s) in. If it is all too late, they may ask you to finish with a master, and re-enroll as a PhD again. Do not quit without a master in hand. There is always another chance of re-starting a PhD elsewhere, if that is your wish. And you can always switch to a different field for a postdoc.
12-Jul-16, 09:33
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 4 years ago
I think switching fields in a postdoc isn't always that easy. Often they ask for specific techniques, so if you haven't done it for your PhD, but someone else has, they are probably going to get the postdoc over you.
13-Jul-16, 10:21
edited about 1 minute later
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 4 years ago
Quote From TreeofLife:
I think switching fields in a postdoc isn't always that easy. Often they ask for specific techniques, so if you haven't done it for your PhD, but someone else has, they are probably going to get the postdoc over you.

Depends if you are applying for advertised positions or not. Most post docs I know applied for post doc scholarships (Marie Curie, University-specific ones etc.) and there you have some scope to change the area if it is not something completely different. If you can't secure a post doc scholarship it is often anyway questionable if a post doc is a good idea because the competition after that is even higher. At least that's what my professors tell me. So that could be a way if you find a group working in cognitive neurosciences and is willing to write a proposal with you.


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