Have any of you ever switched PhD successfully?

posted
10-Jul-19, 09:26
Avatar for Frustrated
posted about 4 months ago
Hi,
I started a PhD last September and I am now extremely frustrated with the way things are with my supervisors. The state of things is so bad that it has now started affecting both my physical and mental health. I have already looked for help from postgraduate advisor but he basically said he knows said supervisors personally and he is sure things are not as bad as I think it is. Even worse, he told said supervisor about my conversation with him even though I asked him to keep it confidential.

Now my supervisor is pressurising me to quit. He didn't say anything directly but out of the blue he asked me if I wouldn't be better off finding a new PhD. He said I might fail my transfer viva. Even though I have worked very hard this whole year and was under the impression that I was doing at least adequately well. My supervisor also said that he won't tell people anything bad about me if I quit now instead of progressing with the transfer viva.

About me, I don't have a master's degree but I do have a first class bachelor's degree. I studied at a smallish university for my bachelor's and went on to graduate not only the top of my class but I also graduated as the "best graduating student" that year. I also got scholarships and other prizes while I was there. My academic background has been perfect until this year.

While I don't want to be a quitter, I am now starting to consider finding a new PhD. I feel the situation at my current university is irreparable (apart from the advisor I have also asked for help from others at the uni).

What do you guys think? Have any of you ever quit a PhD and were successful in a new one? Am I being too optimistic in thinking I still have a shot?
posted
10-Jul-19, 19:04
by rewt
Avatar for rewt
posted about 4 months ago
I have seen other people on this forum dropping out and getting another PhD, so it can happen. If it isn't working it is sometimes better to cut your losses, learn from your mistakes and move on.
posted
14-Jul-19, 15:26
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 4 months ago
A good friend of mine switched. Best decision she ever made. It was toward the end of her first year. However, what helped was that she had already identified another program and other supervisors and funding. Could you try and do this - just for your own peace of mind that you have something to go to? Otherwise, you could just quit/get MPhil and then seek a new PhD. Try and identify people who can write references for you (maybe you advisors from your undergrad?). Not a good idea to ask your current supervisor or any of the club there!

I have to say your supervisor sounds like someone I would never want to work with. Promising not to tell anything bad about you if you quit now. This is blackmail! And as for your advisor breaching your confidence. Well, that says it all! Not uncommon unfortunately. Academia needs more decent human beings in it.

I just want to encourage you to move on from this as quickly as possible. By the sounds of your previous record, you are more than capable of doing a PhD. It sounds like this context / supervision isn't working for you. And the longer you stay in it / listen to what they say, the more your confidence will be undermined and you will be questioning yourself and your abilities - and missing out on opportunities. Move on quickly! All the best and good luck!
posted
18-Jul-19, 19:41
by MyWorld
Avatar for MyWorld
posted about 4 months ago
I know sevral students that have changed supervisors and they are very happy now, although the process is really hard. I tried to do it so, but I was starting my third year and I thought that was too late for me, because I am now starting my fourth year and I only want to finish with this torture. My biggest mistake here was to not change since the beggining, verything was fine but suddenly started to be a nigthmare and my decision (or when I was ready to decide that) was too late. I did not find any support from professors that I talked with like if you drop from a lab there will be a black spot in your CV, or people will question you why you left. So discouraging and so incorrect to tell those things.

I encourage you to leave and change supervisor as fast as possible, you will find yourself better and is very early in your career to get so much negativity. Enjoy research as much as you can in another place.

Good luck!
posted
21-Jul-19, 15:28
Avatar for Frustrated
posted about 4 months ago
Thank you all for your kind words, they came at a time when I needed them the most :)

I have an interview coming up this week with a potential supervisor and was wondering if any of you have any advice on what to say if asked why I am leaving my current PhD?
posted
22-Jul-19, 22:45
by rewt
Avatar for rewt
posted about 4 months ago
Be honest and professional about the reason why your left. Explain why it didn't work out and what you could have done better. You could use one of the typical reasons for leaving normal jobs as they are similar. Most people are generally accepting of you leaving as long as you can give a coherent answer. But I wouldn't bad mouth your current supervisor, university or project.

This person had a successful experience similar to yourself
https://www.postgraduateforum.com/thread-55637/
posted
23-Jul-19, 17:19
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 4 months ago
I agree. And advice from my friend's experience would be make it all about the PROJECT / YOUR INTERESTS, and not at all about people / issues. Academia is a small small world. I certainly wouldn't mention being pressurised to quit or anything of that sort. That would ring alarm bells with new potential supervisor. Hope this helps. And good luck with everything - please keep us posted :)

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