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Formal complaint

Hi, Cat123,

I think you have all the reasons to jump ship to another supervisor. Pity that you can't take your funding with you, but it happens.

Is it possible for you to do teaching support work full time till you secure another PhD with funding opportunity?

Can you talk to Grad School, postgrad coordinator or Students Union on other potential Phd opportunities?

What's my status now?

Hi, JCM,

I normally just say that "I am doing my corrections".

Post-PhD employment anxiety

Hi, MissyL,

Do calm down. The skills from a PhD in Molecular Biology are in demand, so you should be alright.

Do surf the internet for resources on potential careers after PhD and align that with your personal interests. Would a research scientist position in a company interest you? Have a look at "Top 10 List Of Alternative Careers For PhD Science Graduates" (https://cheekyscientist.com/top-10-list-of-alternative-careers-for-phd-science-graduates/) and "What can I do with my PhD? Jobs outside academia" (https://targetpostgrad.com/advice/postgrad-and-your-career/what-can-i-do-with-my-phd-jobs-outside-academia).

In the mean time, yes take on temporary position to pay the bills, even if they are bar jobs. We still need to live whilst we are planning the bigger picture of our career.

All the best.

Should I stay in academia?

Hi, 323cjm,

I think that you should work on something that you have strong interests in. People perform best when they are doing something they enjoy.

I would suggest that you apply for jobs which you are interested in, regardless of whether they are in academia or industry. And as pm133 has pointed out, your decision doesn't need to be final. I know people who have jumped from academia to industry, and then came back to academia again. So, it is possible.

To stay or to go?

Hi, justagirl23345,

You just started your second year and your supervisors are pushing you to write up your thesis? You must have been a very busy bee in your first year to generate enough data in one year that is sufficient to show for 3-4 years of PhD work.

I agree with Pjlu that you may wish to consider taking up the Dean's offer to be your first supervisor. You still have 2-3 years of time left and you need good direct supervision to pull through and unfortunately your former primary supervisor can't really do that remotely. Having the Dean as your primary supervisor may also help you manoeuvre your way through politics as well.

The other option for you is to write up as Mphil and join your former first supervisor where he is under a new PhD project.

Have a think about things and decide what is best for you. Good luck.

Advice wanted - Feeling hopeless in PhD and wanting to quit

Hi, melodie,

I am sorry you are facing many challenges both at a personal and PhD study level.

I think that your supervisor's suggestion of preparing a document with details of experiments, problems and possible solutions is a good one. You will need to incorporate that into your thesis anyway, so you might as well get started.

I think you have had very good advice here from counselling to writing method development chapters which I think you could consider. I would like to suggest that you sit down and draft the outline of your thesis (Chapter titles plus main headings for the chapter) to see if you have sufficient data to write up. I suspect that you do. Then, present that together with your other exp document to your supervisors and ask "Can I write up and finish my PhD?".

Taking a break before doing dissertation - good or bad?

Now you get a job and do something that you enjoy after putting all those hard yards to get your PhD.

Supervisor annoyed with me wanting to discuss future experiments

Hi, iwan,

Your posts on this website has mainly been on your PhD supervisor and lab environment. You have repeatedly questioned whether the supervisor, project, lab environment were worth you staying on.

Are you still with the same supervisor? I think you have to make a choice and accept the style of your supervisor, which may be less friendly (and maybe even less knowledgeable in your area) than you desire. This is especially since you have decided to continue on with her. Your pattern of constantly questioning whether relationships are healthy/ project is working will only cause you worry and can't be good for your mental health for the entire length of your PhD. Accept and focus on your results and future data rather than whether she likes / dislikes you.

Good luck.

Dealing with Stress/Depression/Anxiety

Quote From sunnyday93:
I've been suffering social anxiety and depression for a really long time already, and I still didn't manage to find a way to deal with it... It became a problem not only for me, but also for my parents, friends, I became a sociopath, I don't know what to do anymore...

sunnyday93, go get help. Attend uni counselling and go see a GP if you need to. You must get help.

Formal complaint

Hi, Cat123,

Ideally you would have identified your new supervisor before you lodged your formal complaint. So, have you told your uni who your new supervisor(s) will be? If not, make it a priority to search for your new supervisor ASAP. Talk to other PhD students to see if their supervisor is looking for new students. Talk to the postgrad coordinator if there are PIs with grants looking for students. Find out who the new grant recipients are and approach them.

Your uni will need this information to process your change in supervision. I expect that you former supervisors will make it difficult for you to approach other PIs, so you may have to try people from a different institute in your uni.

Freelance scientist

Hi, Qzaman91,

There are unfortunately many science graduates who are unemployed or working in areas that are far below their level of education. I personally know PhD graduates, great ppl, but working as casual workers at factories and volunteers. There are science grads who are working in non-academic roles, but the chances of finding employment like that is highest when you just graduated from your first degree. You can still transition after you received your PhD, but that normally takes a bit more effort as unfortunately there are assumptions that PhD holders are harder to train and work along with (not necessarily true, but there are a few bad apples out there who ruin it for the many genuine ppl).

What sort of tasks are you referring to? Most tasks for academics requires significant input eg. supervising students, writing papers, writing grants, giving presentations at conferences, etc. It is hard to put monetary value per task. Would the person be paid per hour for doing the task including preparation? I am unsure how fair or feasible paying per piece of task is for academics, especially as a long term career.

emmawood - Which group are you referring to? I have never heard of such a group where you can join to be a freelance scientist. I understand that you can work as a bioinformatician or data scientist at home, but you still will have to visit the uni regularly to get the data and discuss the analysed results. You certainly cannot do your research experiments outside of the lab because 1) it is dangerous with some chemicals and 2) working in a non-controlled non-sterile environment produces inaccurate data. And your quote "There aren't that many scientists in the world" is unfortunately inaccurate. If we have so many in US alone ( https://nexus.od.nih.gov/all/2016/05/31/how-many-researchers/) think about the number globally.

Crossroads for Academic Career

Hi, awsoci,

The decision to stay in academia or not is yours to make. You will have to think carefully as your health has been impacted by your current job, and only you can decide if it is worth it.

On non-academic career, what sort of career are you thinking of? There are many jobs out there from patent attorney, science communicator, regulatory affairs, sales, product management, tech transfer, medical science liaison, industry scientist.... the list goes on. Each role has its own challenges and can be equally as rewarding. You just have to choose one that fits your interest and personality.

The KPI of non-academic career is different depending on the role, but for the majority, papers/publications are not important. Depending on role, you will be judged by eg. how well you work in a team, hit sales quota, no of new business relationships you build...

There will also need to be a massive change in attitude. Most ppl from the industry complain about the arrogance of some academics and their inability to work in a team (always wanting to do things their way). That is not true for everyone, but do understand that you will need to change your mind set as you are now working for another company and have to follow company rules, deadlines and corporate values.

If you decide to go down a non-academic pathway, you may wish to start looking for a job now as it takes months and up to one year to find your first non-academic role. Look up helpful websites like Versatile PhD and Cheeky Scientist for more information.

All the best

Advice on supervisor's strange behavior

Hi, Ceylan,

It is an unpleasant situation to be in, especially since you had high hopes of starting a PhD with this supervisor. Unfortunately, he does not seem like a good supervisor material so it might be better that you cut your losses early.

I agree with Tudor_Queen - Get that recommendation letter asap. Also, start approaching potential supervisors at your uni or elsewhere. Try talking to the students union or postgrad coodinator to see if there are internal opportunities and funding. Can you find out which research groups receive recent grant funding? Approach those groups. Talk to PhD students around you. Anyone knows if their supervisor is looking for new student? If asked, say you had funding issue at your previous potential phd. Never criticise your sup's behaviour.

Above all, stay positive. It is very hard to do given your circumstance, but you never know which potential supervisor is watching since you are already in the lab and uni.

Wishing you all the best.

Accepting an offer

Hi, bignige,

I think the offer by the uni is genuine. However, you may wish to clarify with them who your supervisor will be. Where I did my Phd, we already have a PhD supervisor when we apply for admission. We normally check if the supervisor had supervised before (plenty of horror stories of first time supervisors on the web) and if the students publish good papers. In fact, your supervisor is key to your PhD success. Therefore, it is important you get this info before deciding.

Additionally, ask them about scholarship or allowance. Having a scholarship will increase your competitiveness when you finish your PhD. Self-funding is not ideal as there is no guarantee that you will get a good job after you finish your PhD (again, plenty of stories on the web). So try to minimalise your risk and debts.

Get all the right info before making your decision. If you truly run out of time, acccept first, and you can withdraw later. This is not ideal as you are denying someone their spot and you can leave a bad aftertaste with your supervisor and uni, making it difficult to collaborate in future. So only do this when you run out of options.

Help with anxiety and feeling like leaving my PhD

Hi, GiGi,

Since you know that you can finish the minimum experiments by next year, can you do a thorough listing of the experiments and tick them off quickly till you finish and get out of the lab. Then write up your thesis. Talk to your trusted academic and students union from time to time to make sure you are on the right track.

Do you think you will have enough strength to pull through the last mile? You are not far, and should be able to pull through with enough resolution. It is very hard, but not impossible.