Still feeling like a failure after graduating

03-Jul-20, 03:23
edited about 22 seconds later
by moilee
Avatar for moilee
posted about 1 month ago
Hi all,

This is probably related to my previous thread about feeling triggered when I see former colleagues publishing papers but I am now starting to feel like a failure too. I have no first author publications and have only contributed to two large papers (still in preparation). With these two papers, I am also not being given much credit as people that did not contribute have their names before mine.

I feel disadvantaged because of my zero publications and feel like my PhD was a fail. The reviewers of my PhD thought I could publish but my supervisor just hasn't given me much attention. I should have also published something from my Masters but that (different) supervisor kept ignoring my drafts and dodging questions about it. Last I heard, they gave it to a postdoc... this isn't ethical is it? I mean, this is my work and I should have some say?

I really would appreciate any advice you have as it's been a year and I can't help feel abandoned by my uni and supervisors who are chasing bigger things to care about my small results.

Thank you kindly.
03-Jul-20, 20:46
edited about 4 seconds later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 1 month ago
Hi Moilee

You're not a failure. It just sounds like you were screwed over. Especially if your own work has been given to a postdoc to write up. That is unethical if it is your PhD work and you have expressed willingness to write it up. Can you challenge them on that, say it is your work, you want to write the paper and you are happy for them to be coauthors? By the sounds of what you said that won't work, but is it worth a try?

Regarding the other drafts. Can you send the supervisors a final email inviting them to work with you on publishing the papers, and say that if you don't hear by x date (say 2 weeks) you will assume that they don't want to be involved and you will seek another coauthor / mentor? You could submit the papers yourself and you could ask your PhD examiners if they would be willing to give feedback on a draft. Even if you don't get feedback, you should get valuable feedback from the journal reviewers.

If you're interested in pursuing research still then I don't think you can rely on your supervisors to help you, as they seem like they have basically abandoned you in that sense. I'd seek a research job where I could build up my publication record.

Hope this is of some help though I realise it might not be. You're not alone out there sadly. This kind of thing happens a lot.
06-Jul-20, 23:18
edited about 10 seconds later
by rewt
Avatar for rewt
posted about 1 month ago
Hi Moilee,

You passed and are now Dr Moilee! That is an achievement in itself. If you feel disadvantaged because you have no publications remember that a PhD is more than just a publications list. You learnt multiple invaluable skills that you can apply in any situation and finishing a PhD is no small feat. Publications are just a metric but cannot define the entire progress by one statistic. You are a Dr now and nothing can take that away from you.

If you want to write up your work in a publication, just do it. Write an awful paper based exclusively on data in your thesis and tell your supervisor you want to publish a first name paper. Tell him that you do not want your data (that was in your thesis and you can prove is yours) in any other papers until you get a first name journal. It is a childish manoeuvre but he cannot fight you if the data is in your thesis, as he probably signed a form saying all the work was done exclusively by you. At that point he can either shun you forever or he could help you write the publication, your choice. Also, why I say write an awful paper is that if he reacts badly, you need to submit the paper ASAP so that you submitted first. As if they submit the paper significantly earlier than you the journal might have an issue you with duplicating data. So even if it is an awful paper in an awful journal and it gets rejected you will have a receipt saying that you tried to publish your data first. Therefore any of their submissions afterwards would be copying your data without your permission and they will be doing the duplication. I believe what they are doing with your data is unethical and if the journals found out they would side with you.


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