If I quit my PhD will I struggle to be accepted on another course?

posted
11-Jul-17, 12:02
edited about 15 seconds later
Avatar for goldenretrievergirl
posted about 4 months ago
I am really unhappy with the way my PhD course is being run..... it's just not the right fit for me I don't think.

I would like to quit, do an MA and then apply for a funded PhD, do self-funded if I can't get funding.

But I am being told be some people that no university would consider giving me a PhD if I have an "abandoned" PhD on my CV. Now a) I have had a couple of interviews for funding in MA and PhD and they haven't seemed bothered, and b) surely I could just leave it off my CV as I don't want to be badmouthing the university, seeming like I blame them etc.

Is it true though that I will struggle to be accepted for a PhD if I quit my PhD, go back and do an MA and then reapply in a year?

(Reason for doing MA: I've lost all confidence in my academic abilities due to the PhD and I think I need to work on my research methods. I do have an MA but it's in Library Studies and my PhD is in English Literature - I would like to do an MA in English)
posted
11-Jul-17, 12:16
edited about 6 seconds later
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 4 months ago
Some people on here have quit PhDs and got funding for another one, so it is possible, but it does make it harder.

But is it necessary to quit? A PhD is a training program, you are not supposed to know everything at this stage. Can't you ask for more support from your supervisors? Or see what other support the university can provide? Or teach yourself via online courses?
posted
11-Jul-17, 12:18
edited about 29 seconds later
Avatar for goldenretrievergirl
posted about 4 months ago
It's just making me miserable..... they don't tell me when the lectures are, I missed all the modules at the beginning of the semester. They don't tell me anything really, I feel like I'm constantly playing catch-up. I've tried telling them that I'm not happy, tried talking to student rep, student union etc but no one has been very helpful.
posted
11-Jul-17, 12:46
edited about 9 seconds later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 4 months ago
Try to get on a course now, then quit once you know that you have been accepted on the other course. A slightly different scenario but a friend of mine recently quit her PhD, but only when knew she had been accepted and got funding for another one. I don't know how she got around the references part. I think she applied at a Uni where she had previously studied, and a lecturer there was happy to write a ref.

Otherwise, you can either take the risk and quit anyway, or hang in there! Is there any hope that you will learn to cope with the things you don't like? It sounds ridiculous if they don't let you know anything. You could still manage though just through doing the necessary reading and work.
posted
11-Jul-17, 13:57
edited about 1 minute later
by Pjlu 4 star member
Avatar for Pjlu
posted about 4 months ago
Hi Goldenretrievergirl, there can be a real point in the PhD when things are difficult when the urge to quit is hard to ignore. For me this was around 18 months into my part time PhD and it seriously lasted for two years. It coincided with data collection and the first parts of data processing. Similar sorts of rationales swam around in my mind, as those I have read from other unhappy posters on this forum.

Eg: it was the wrong topic, the wrong discipline, and/or I had chosen the wrong methodologies, and/or I really wanted to be on another pathway (psychology instead of Education, or literature -my first love and undergrad disciplinenof choice). Honestly, the only things that stopped me from quitting at this horrible juncture of my life were the fact I had received a fee scholarship and some limited funding and I ended up having data and I felt obliged to the participants, my supervisor and the government. If I hadn't felt obliged at this point, I think I would have left it. Now at 5.5 years in and only days or a week or so away from submission I am glad I didn't.

I've written this because I think that many (not all but many) people go through similar points and believe that these really difficult thoughts and the low morale that go with them mean that the PhD is not for them, or that they have chosen the wrong subject.
Maybe this is true and then again maybe it is a phenomenon that passes.

I think TreeofLife's point about not having to know everything when you commence a PhD is really accurate-it is a training program, you learn as you do it. I write this not because quitting is the wrong thing to do-you do need to do what is right for you and that might be finishing if things are really difficult. However, many people find parts of the PhD very difficult and want to quit and it is important to be really sure about it before you do and to know that you are not alone in feeling the urge to quit or experiencing the imposter syndrome.
posted
11-Jul-17, 14:21
Avatar for goldenretrievergirl
posted about 4 months ago
Thank you everyone. I really don't know what to do - maybe I should just stick it out.
posted
11-Jul-17, 14:34
edited about 16 seconds later
by tru
Avatar for tru
posted about 4 months ago
No one is silly enough to write abandoned PhD on their CV. And no one will know unless you volunteer that information.So, no, you will not struggle to be accepted for a PhD if you quit your PhD, go back and do an MA and then reapply in a year.

Funding, however, is another matter. I would advise against doing a self-funded PhD. Getting a competitive funding for your PhD is seen as a plus, and you do not want to be in debt before you work. In addition, finding work after a PhD can be a bit of a challenge as well, so don't set yourself back financially by doing a self-funded PhD.

Can you do a job, maybe research assistant in English and use that to apply for your PhD? I don think a second MA will really be that helpful. You can also apply for another PhD and quit only after you have that offer in hand. Do think as well what you want to do after your studies so that you can choose what is right for you.
posted
11-Jul-17, 14:40
edited about 29 seconds later
Avatar for goldenretrievergirl
posted about 4 months ago
Someone on TSR told me I can't just leave things off my academic CV because they don't look good.... I wouldn't include it though. I leave things off my CV, such as jobs that just aren't relevant anymore - I worked in retail for years but now I have work experience in libraries etc I don't need it.

Don't I need a PhD to be a research assistant?
posted
11-Jul-17, 14:55
edited about 16 seconds later
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 4 months ago
PhDs are needed for the next level: Research Associate.

It's more about explaining the gap in your CV. You can put on or off it what you like. Plus, it's possible your supervisors will know your previous supervisors - what are you going to say in an interview if they ask you about it? Lying isn't a good strategy.
posted
11-Jul-17, 15:43
edited about 1 minute later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 4 months ago
Quote From tru:
No one is silly enough to write abandoned PhD on their CV. And no one will know unless you volunteer that information.So, no, you will not struggle to be accepted for a PhD if you quit your PhD, go back and do an MA and then reapply in a year.


No but the issue may be obtaining references. As long as you've got someone else (not your current supervisors) who can write you some decent references you would be fine. Also as someone else has mentioned - explaining the gap could be tricky - ie what you did during x-x time.

Research assistant is an excellent idea as it would allow you to make new contacts and then do a PhD with them in the future if you wanted to! (but again, references would be needed)

At the moment though it sounds like it would be worth really thinking about what you want to do before taking a decision. Maybe you will get through this horrible time. I hated my first year but now it is better on the whole. Be kind to yourself. So many people go through this. A friend of mine quit hers and does not regret it at all. I am glad that I have persevered personally. Good luck with your decision.
posted
11-Jul-17, 15:50
Avatar for goldenretrievergirl
posted about 4 months ago
thank you everyone - have had a look and there are no local research assistant jobs but I will keep an eye out as that does sound appealing. I do worry that it would be just as bad at a different university.

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