I have had a very rocky PhD candidacy. My first supervisor leaves academia half way through my candidacy, the replacing supervisor passes away a year after that. So two and half years through a three years PhD candidacy, the head of the department gives me two choices, either I have to change my topic of research and start over from zero again and somehow finish “in time” (how this will be done is unclear, and I am supposed to hash it out myself with one of the available supervisors) or I have to withdraw from the program.

Their justification is that no one in the department understands the content of my works. Is this a proper/normal justification? I cannot believe that an academic department belonging to a top university can seriously use “we fail to understand the candidate’s work” as a justification to force me to do something that I deem to be completely infeasible.

So, assuming I cannot dispute this decision, given the fact that I have to start over from zero again anyway, with a department that readily admits that its people do not have the competence to understand and therefore will throw away wantonly what I have produced after two and a half years of working 9 hours every single day without a single day off, should I just leave and apply for another PhD program? Whatever that will be coming out from this attempt to salvage my PhD will probably lead me nowhere except a piece of paper anyway. If I withdraw for this reason, how will this be seen by other universities? How will this be seen by people in the industry?

My goal is a career in academia. I am someone who has severe social anxiety and so I find it impossible to survive in the industry. I have always thought I might have a chance to be accepted in the academic world instead, but I have now realized that someone like me probably belongs nowhere.

Thank you for your time.

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