02-Oct-18, 12:22
Avatar for Jobergstein
posted about 8 months ago
Dear friends,

I would like to honestly ask your opinion about my situation whether I should sue the institute I work at. I am originally from the Netherlands and I’ve got grants to study in a foreigner country (Germany) for my PhD. During my PhD, my supervisor was terribly neglected and did not give a shit for me, my project and for the lab. The whole PhD project was conducted by myself, alone and alone with no help from my supervisor. Of course I had some help and suggestions from friends and other PI that knowing my fears and despair tried to help me! I suffered tremendous prejudice and from other PIs in my institute who are colleagues of my supervisor. I even experience racism and racist speeches during this time.
I submitted my thesis last August and both external reviewers did accept the thesis and I got good evaluations. I scheduled my defense and I really fear to fail or be humiliated at the defense. My data is not so good, I don’t have publication from my PhD and I was not really prepared for this defense as usually other students are prepared.
In any case, I would like to be prepared for the worst: in case I fail my defense, can I sue the institute/supervisor for being so neglected during my PhD?
Have you heard or experienced something similar?
I thank you for your help

02-Oct-18, 13:23
edited about 22 seconds later
by tru
Avatar for tru
posted about 8 months ago
Hi, Jobergstein,

Unfortunately, you would not be the first PhD student who has been neglected/bullied + has no publication + no positive data. However, even in the worst of circumstances, there are people who survive their PhD and earn their doctorate.

What is more important at this stage is your state of mind. You have already decided that you will fail or be humiliated at your defense. This is not a good mind set. Please change it immediately. If you have endured all the shit that was thrown at you during your candidature and bothered to write and submit that bloody thesis, then you should find the courage to just give the best defense you can. This the absolute last milestone, so do the best you can, and be done with this horrible affair.

About whether or not to sue your uni or supervisor, please park this thought to one side first and focus on what is more important - your defense. All the extra stuff can wait.

What I want to say is practise your defense and be prepared for the toughest battle of your life. Explain why the data was no good if asked. As long as you can explain to show that you have the scientific knowledge worthy of a PhD (but probably not the luck in choosing a great supervisor or project), you should be fine. Stop pitying yourself and get the job done.

In conclusion, give it your best damn shot!!!

From someone who has survived a horrible PhD,
02-Oct-18, 13:40
edited about 3 seconds later
by eng77
Avatar for eng77
posted about 8 months ago
Hello. I am sorry that you had this bad experience. Let's divide the situation into two issues:
First, your defense. In Germany, when your supevisor accepts that you submit the thesis formally, you have passed your PhD by a chance of 90%. So I would say to you "partially congratulations". Now what you can do is to try to prepare your self technicaly for the defense. Ask other PhD graduates in same institute. Prepare your presentation. Go there with the attitude that you know you will pass. Do not be afraid to say I do not know. If they said, would it better to do xxx instead of yyy, say you may be right. Actually in Germany the defense is some kind of ceremony. One might fail but only rarely and if things went very bad. So do your best and you will pass.
In the unlikely event that you do not pass, I would say in Germany nothing serious could be done against institute. The PIs have the ultimate power. So do not put too much hope on sueing them.
03-Oct-18, 13:37
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 8 months ago
Talking about suing anyone is nonsense unless you have a swathe of solid evidence to back you up. I would drop this mindset right now and focus on getting prepared for the defence of your thesis.
Pass that and move on with your life. That would be my advice.

It sounds to me that you are only using the threat of suing as a way of making yourself cope with the fear of failing. Using crutches like this is highly destructive and you should stop it today.


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