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Should I do a second masters and then a phd?

Hi, shynightmareland,

You stated that one of the benefits of doing a master is the possibility of not going ahead with a PhD if you change your mind at that stage. This tells me that actually you have not really made up your mind about the PhD yet.

I have a series of question about what you want to do with your career life.

1) Why do you want to do academics and research?
For pursue of knowledge and passion?

2) Does career instability bother you?
Academics spend a lot of time writing grants to get research funding to pay for their salary and research costs year after year. And there is an average 10% grant success rate. Permanent tenure is currently 1 in 200 chance. Are you ok with this?

3) What field are you most passionate about? Does it matter if it is not a hot area and less likely to be funded?
Data science, your current field, is highly in demand. If you play your cards right, you should be able to secure a high-paying job with good career trajectory in industry in the future.

I can't say the same about cognitive sciences. You will have to check the rate of grant success in this field compared to hotter areas such as drug development. Do you know of people who excel professionally in cognitive sciences? Perhaps you can ask for their most honest answer about the job prospect in this field.

If your passion triumphs career prospect, then please ignore this comment. To each their own life and decision.

4) Life in academia
Gone are the days where researchers can independently study on whatever they want. These days they are all tied to which areas will be funded. There is a very strong system of hierarchy and politics are strong as you need to collaborate with the strong researchers to get funding. A fact of life in academia due to the publish or perish culture. Are you ok with this?

Do have a think about all these considerations before you decide what is best for your life and career. I wish you all the best. Regarding your original question on whether to do a master or a PhD first, I would say choose the supervisor first. If your supervisor s happy for you to go straight to PhD without a master and is willing to fund you, you have your answer. If not, maybe master first. Try to not go into debt over your master/PhD study as there is no guarantee of a job after that anyway.

Appeal after PhD viva

Hi, phdcandidate,

You should read up the posts by faded07. He/She overcame failed PhD after R&R due to dreadful external examiner and earned his/her PhD after a hard fight.

Ridiculously Overqualified?

Hmmm. I see his long list of qualifications as a massive red flag of someone who truly doesn’t know what he wants to do his life and career. Looks very confused and short attention span. There is no point in taking multiple masters etc. So much time and money wasted on additional qualifications that do not bring additional value to his career. If I were an employer, I would not hire this person as he clearly cannot plan nor strategise in his career decisions. I do not want this person anywhere near my project where I need good planning skills and long term dedication and perseverance on specific goals

Feeling numb and hopeless

Hi, jw5,

Perhaps you may wish to take a break from your PhD? Maybe ask for a suspension of your PhD and see a therapist to treat your depression. The pandemic itself is horrible, let alone doing your PhD and recovering from your depression during this period. It sounds like it is all too much for you to cope at the same time.

Take your break, receive treatment and think about what you want to do. You can go back to your Phd, or quit. But at least you will make your decision with a much clearer mind then than you will now.

PhD viva in two days, can't sleep.

Hi trevalda,

It is not uncommon to be stressed before your important viva.

Can you do light meditation, exercise, talk to family/friend or quickly get hold of a counsellor if it gets really bad?

Imposter syndrome or am I just...not cut out for this?

With good supportive supervisors and your previous masters and undergraduate training, I do think that you have a chance of completing your PhD.

I am more concerned with your ADHD. You will need to see someone about it ASAP because untreated it will get worse. A PhD is very draining emotionally and mentally as it is and it may worsen your ADHD which may lead to a horrible PhD experience for you.

My suggestion is apply for the PhD if it is truly what you are after, but get treated for your condition. Your health is far more important than any PhD. And if it helps, apply but delay start date until after your ADHD and mental health has improved.

2nd Master to get into a PhD

Hi, mmv92,

I am trying to understand the purpose of you doing a masters to improve your curriculum. Do you mean that you are trying to build expertise in the future PhD field or are you trying to get better results or publications to apply for the PhD because your previous one wasn't good enough?

Usually, there is not much additional value in doing a second masters. Your future supervisor may actually ask why you do this. Marie Curie is very very competitive. Can you get your masters supervisor to introduce you to a potential Marie Curie PhD supervisor and give you a pretty [email protected] good reference? Can you generate more research papers out of your masters degree or be a co-author in your supervisor's new papers? These would actually be more helpful to you than a second masters degree.

confused due to advisor behaviour

Hi, chinnu,

Clearly there is favourism at work, and sorry you are not the favoured one.

I am sorry to hear of your suffering.

To try and salvage things, I suggest
1) Record every single thing over the last 4 years - emails, verbal communications, event/incidence in to a book. Make it as detail as possible. Save all your research data into your own folder.
2) When you have collected your evidence, go and find your postgrad coordinator who oversees PhD students
3) Do not mention the book
4) Explain to him/her about your situation - publication, stipend, etc
5) Ask him/her to interfere and mediate a plan with timeline to publications and graduation
6) At the same time, go talk to student union if you have one
7) The book is only for last resort when your supervisor retaliates and tries to pin the blame on you being a poor student. So make sure that you detail every damn thing and collect your evidence now quietly. Once they know that you are collecting evidence, they may within 24h cut your emails and access to any uni folder

If you have had enough, would you consider
1) Completing with a MPhil and get out? Get a corporate job and leave the world of academia behind.
2) Get a PhD with a much better supervisor

Loss of direction and ask for advise

Hi, jw5,

Sorry to hear that you are having such a difficult time.

I do think that what your psychologist suggested is actually good. Part time would allow you to more time to recover and get well. You can always go back to full time later.

I would also like to suggest a 4th option. Have you ever thought that maybe a Master and a Phd are not right for you? Not everyone has to go down the academic path and to be fair, it's not all that wonderful either down the other end - the perpetual need to justify your research, being torn apart during presentations, applying for grants with low level of success, worrying about if you will still have a job the following year... I don't know if you want to cope with all that.

If you desire for a academic job to pursue your passion, then yes, a Master and a PhD will be absolutely essential. If you do not, then really, perhaps focus on recovering and then get a company role and work your way up. Experience is more important than qualification in companies. You can always get a Master or Phd later on in life if you change your mind.

Second year blues or time to quit?

Second year PhD depression is real. Your initial euphoria of embarking on a novel PhD is gone. As you reflect on your progress or lack of and think of the mammoth steps needed to complete the PhD, you begin stressing and doubting yourself. It is made worse if the project and supervisor are not what was promoted in the beginning.

During these times, it is important to reassess why you do your PhD and objectively see if the situation is truly that bad. I ran these questions when I was in my second year blues too:

1) Am I wanting to have a career in academia after my PhD?
2) Am I loving my subject area despite all the challenges?
3) Am I able to negotiate more resources to overcome the challenges I face?
4) Am I supported by my supervisor/ mentor/team? Should have at least one or you are at higher chance of failing
5) Am I only having a temporary down time that can be resolved by taking time off to clear my mind?
6) Do I absolutely need this PhD in my future role?

If your answer is no to any of these questions, perhaps it is time to think deeply and have a conversation with your supervisor or graduate school to come up with a plan of attack to successfully finish the PhD or downgrade to MPhil and get a job. I am a strong believer that if your supervisory team is shit, change your supervisor or get out. It’s not worth it.

My suggestion is for you to talk to as many post docs or companies in your area to understand which life after PhD/Mphil is really what you want.

Good luck

PhD student that desperately needs/appreciates advice! :( Any Psychologists would also be helpful!

My PhD was in oncology and I moved into business.

PhD student that desperately needs/appreciates advice! :( Any Psychologists would also be helpful!

Hi, anony9812,

Sorry to hear that you are very stressed out.

To answer your questions, these are my personal opinions:

- Is it true that a PhD can help with higher up NHS jobs- e.g. either in research or patient care?
No. Work experience is more important.

- Is it better to just finish a PhD to get the qualification for the chance I might need it in the future even if the subject isn't the field I want to go into?
If you KNOW that you are not going into your PhD subject field, why continue on? especially if you do not want to work in academia. Finish up with a MPhil, get a job in field you have strong interest in for a more satisfactory work life.

I would also like to point out that many PhD graduates cannot find jobs in non-academic organisations. They are deemed too overqualified academically but underqualified in terms of job experience. if you want to pursue an academic life writing grant after grant justifying why you should be given funding to continue your career and go through with the uncertainty of it all, then sure go get a PhD. If not, do yourself a favour and get out and land yourself a job in a field and company you like.

By the way, I am speaking from my personal view as a PhD holder/former academic who left for industry. I have met too many Phd students, postdocs and mid-career researchers and seen their despair as they worry permanently if they will still have a job the following year. There is no work life balance as you are expected to work long hours and come in during the weekends. Only a small percentage of researchers end up as Professors and get that elusive tenure (1 in 200).

Take good care of yourself. You matter. If you do decide to do a PhD again in future, that's something you can consider later. You are 80% sure of quitting. Do the right thing for you.

I want to quit my PhD. Advice and Reassurance.

Hi, CanIStopNow,

If you want to quit your PhD because you are burnt out, having poor health, and not wanting to pursue an academic career, you have strong reasons to quit and no one should judge you.

If you still have the energy to, perhaps you could see if you could change it to a MPhil.

If you are on paid PhD and don't wanna bother with the MPhil, look for a job first before you quit so you can continue to support yourself financially

Is it too late

I am not in films, so it is difficult to judge. Have an honest discussion with your supervisor. If he/she thinks your progress is too slow and beyond what you can catch up on, perhaps you may need to make a difficult decision on your PhD

Intellectual Property issue?

Hi, Cat123,

I am not sure what you are asking but I hope I'll be able to answer your question as I do understand IP and tech transfer well.

1) Do you own the IP to your project?
Depending on your university policy, students may or may not own the IP to their PhD project. At my university in Australia, student own/co-own the IP generated in their PhD study.

2) Does this stop other people from doing the same research?
No, you cannot stop other people from working on the same research topic. You have rights to the IP generated in your own research but you cannot stop other people's work. Unless you have filed a patent over your IP and would like to sue the other party for infringement. Then again, a patent can only be filed on an IP that is both novel and inventive, so it must never have been disclosed/published/presented on before. I believe both you and this ex-postdoc have published the key concept and possibly presented the research data at conferences previously. In that case, there is a chance that both of you cannot file a patent on the IP.

3) What to do then?
You are in your final year, complete your PhD. I don't think it would be good to work in the same lab as the ex-postdoc. You will not be given a fair opportunity to shine at work and may have difficulty getting a reference when you leave.

If you really want to pursue your original stolen PhD idea, you could apply for a research grant yourself when you are a postdoc. But the ex-postdoc is already ahead of you.

Or you can get a job, either in academia or in industry with a more supportive group. If you do wish to go into industry, do so immediately after you graduate as the industry prefers fresh PhD graduates over seasoned people in academia whom they see as too ingrained in the system to adapt to non-academic life.