After horrible 5.5 years completely failed PhD (not even any degree awarded)

posted
15-Jun-18, 05:59
edited about 13 seconds later
Avatar for Tigernore
posted about 1 year ago
Hi,

I started my PhD in 2012, on my first day I already got warned to be careful with my supervisor. Having had quite bad supervisors in the past (the ‘fat girls are stupid’ kind and the ‘you aren’t my favourite so I do not help you’ kind) I figured at this stage I’m fine I was well used to it.

Now, 1 car crash, bullying, address to the lab withdrawn then lack of results blamed on being stupid, almost 6 years later I suffer from depression, have ongoing nightmares and not even any kind of participation badge for all the time in the lab and- frankly, therapy.

I agree that the thesis was bad but I do find it an odd coincidence that I was told I was going to pass, until I filed an academic and dignity complaint against my supervisors (with evidence) and now I am supposed to get more experimental results (without lab access) and am supposed to improve my bad writing...

I know I am not stupid but I feel bad I been given the materials, the access and the support that was advertised and had they listened when Initially discussed the lack of biological relevance and scientific depth when I requested a switch from topic- i feel I would have at least gotten an MPhil.

After refusing a switch in topic or supervisors because ‘there is no time to get enough results with only 3 years left’ they then switched my topic with only little under 2 years left, which suddenly was more than enough time.

At the same time I was told I was useless unless I went part-time but worked on the thesis full-time and came in every weekend (while blocking my out of hours access???)

The thesis was bad and I said it from the beginning but was always told I was doing Phantastin with a paper on the way (until the complaint...when oddly suddenly I failed and had tons of obstacles thrown my way)

How do I get over this?
posted
15-Jun-18, 11:53
edited a moment later
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 1 year ago
You are supposed to get more results, or they have failed you outright? Has this been through the board of examiners?

There are still steps you can take to rectify this is you want to. You can appeal the decision, if you have grounds do so, e.g. if there was "material irregularity in the decision making process", such as they didn't follow the procedures properly, or there were errors made, if your performance was affected by something you haven't disclosed or they failed to take account of it properly (maybe the latter in your case?). Seek advice from the Students' Union

If you just want to forget it about it, then I suggest getting a change of scene, go on holiday, or go and stay with friends/family somewhere. Time and distance will give you some perspective. Failing that, try some counselling.

It does sound like you have had a raw deal here and this should be a lesson to anyone that is thinking about registering a complaint about supervisors - it generally does not have a good outcome and is best left until your certificate is safely in your hand.
posted
16-Jun-18, 22:46
Avatar for Tigernore
posted about 1 year ago
Hi,

Just finished crying and reading through the notes. I was failed outright (no viva) but was given the option to resubmit in 1 year with a mandatory viva (perfectly fair enough) but they want more data. How can I possibly get more data without access to the laboratory? They blocked my access long before submission, I didn‘t even have library access.

Thanks for the student union tip, I have raised that the internal examiner is one of my supervisors closest friends but I am am still shattered. How is one supposed to get good data without laboratory access, out of hour access revoked almost 1 year before writing period started and no access to materials needed for cloning without arguing for weeks? Such a long time, such a long gap in my CV and so much bad treatment all for nothing :(
posted
16-Jun-18, 23:33
edited about 21 seconds later
by tru
Avatar for tru
posted about 1 year ago
Hi, Tigernore,

You have my sympathy. Working under a bullly supervisor is awful and you have not been given fair treatment.

As Tree of Life has advised, seek the Students Union. In fact, see if your Students Union provide legal services. You have nothing to lose anyway, and talking to a lawyer will help you determine if any rules have been broken incl the right access to lab support and material as a student. It will also put pressure on the university as they normally do not want anything that may damage their reputation, especially if they are in the wrong. You may even be able to fight for lab access again and another fair examination of your thesis.

Dry your tears. Now is the time for desperate actions and strategy. You must stay strong. What your supervisor and examiners want to do is to force you to give up and walk away, painting you as a bad student. You must not let them win. I speak from my personal experience as I too launched a complain towards my supervisor and the amount of backlash and soft threats (veiled as advice to maintain good relationship with supervisor as I need his letter of support) were terrible. I represented myself at institute level -failed, faculty level -failed and finally University level -success with a detailed portfolio of evidence and cover letter provided with strong support from a lawyer from Students Union. In my case, I had very strong evidence and was advised by my lawyer that if I failed again at university level, I could go to court. Luckily I didn't have to but the experience was traumatic. Every case is different, and I wish you the very best as you fight for yours. Don give up without trying to fight.
posted
18-Jun-18, 10:08
edited about 19 seconds later
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 1 year ago
I would echo what tru has said as well. This is not over yet if you don't want it to be. They have to give you lab access if they are asking for more results. Cutting your access to things doesn't seem fair - you should check if this happens to all students in your department - if doesn't, you have a massive case for mistreatment because they have been setting you up to fail. Who has signed off on this decision? Examiners? Head of postgrads? Head of School? Faculty Dean? Take up to a higher level if needed.

Don't cry about this, get angry instead. Channel that anger into getting the access and then the results you need to get this PhD.
posted
20-Jun-18, 11:44
Avatar for Tigernore
posted about 1 year ago
Hi,

I know of multiple students having had ...let's say issues in my department. Including sexual harrassment and when filed being threatened with losing the degree, having no right to holidays and having the same issue I have of being told to go part-time (including part-time stipend) but working full-time in the lab-which most cannot afford.

I just can't seem to get heard, everyone is just saying, well let it go they have the power etc. And without access to labs like you agree I can't get anywhere and I don't even have a supervisor / academic tutor at this point.

I am filing my appeal over this week and requesting await of the complaint process and readjustment of my access. It is impossible to salvage this into a PhD with what happened but at least an MPhil would have been nice.

Thanks for your messages!!!
posted
21-Jun-18, 13:01
by tru
Avatar for tru
posted about 1 year ago
Quote From Tigernore:
Hi,

I know of multiple students having had ...let's say issues in my department. Including sexual harrassment and when filed being threatened with losing the degree, having no right to holidays and having the same issue I have of being told to go part-time (including part-time stipend) but working full-time in the lab-which most cannot afford.

I just can't seem to get heard, everyone is just saying, well let it go they have the power etc. And without access to labs like you agree I can't get anywhere and I don't even have a supervisor / academic tutor at this point.

I am filing my appeal over this week and requesting await of the complaint process and readjustment of my access. It is impossible to salvage this into a PhD with what happened but at least an MPhil would have been nice.

Thanks for your messages!!!


Ah, the usual discouragement.. "Let go because you can't win.. Why bother since your supervisors have power..." Haven't we all heard of that before... This is the phsycological game to break the student's spirit and rid "troublemakers".. Don't give in.

Tigernore, steel yourself. You have not been given a fair fighting chance, and you know it. Instead of talking to nonsense people who are out to discourage you (probably other academics who may or may not have ties with your uni and supervisor), talk to your Student Union who is supposed to defend you. Talk to a legal representative from your Student Union. Fight for your PhD... All is not lost unless you give up on yourself. All the best in your appeal, and don't walk away without exhausting all avenues.
posted
22-Jun-18, 12:30
edited about 10 seconds later
by Cat123
Avatar for Cat123
posted about 1 year ago
I agree with Tru, I am going through a fight of my own at the moment and experienced the psychological games. I am very much on my own and have been working without supervision for 6 months now, I am almost 12 months in. Having no supervision is better than the situation I was in, but it can't continue for long this way, so I am hoping for a resolution soon. Dragging things out seems to be another way of trying to get rid of any student who speaks out. I have a strong case and its sounds like you have also, so as Tru also says don't give in. My SU haven't been any help, they often don't respond and don't seem to know processes well. Your SU may be better so I advise speaking to them.
I struggled getting heard also, my department seemingly didn't want to know, so it had to go formal. I also have/had a supervisor you have to be careful with and my project was changed after I started. So I sympathise with your situation.
I see many similarities on this forum among experiences students have concerning supervisor issues and how Universities respond to such cases.

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