I know this board isn’t meant to answer deep personal questions, so I try to keep this rather general as it is kind of related to this and this.

I pursued the goal of getting a PhD / doing research for a long time. Mostly for personal (/ego) reasons.

Now, as I am about to finish my master’s degree, it becomes more and more clear, that I am probably not qualified for a doctorate. I prolonged the time on both of my degrees. My grades are average at best and I rarely enjoyed sitting in lectures. I am particularly bad at writing anything scientifically like my thesis, papers or even emails (which leads to massive procrastination and delay on this tasks). Researching on theoretical topics is often difficult for me as I tend to skim most of the papers. And, to be honest, I enjoy practical tasks like creating, implementing or improving algorithms, the most.

Soon I have to decide if I find myself an industry job or a PhD program. But should I even pursue a PhD with this kind of flaws?

I am currently a CS PhD student in an East Asian institution, in my fifth year, one year overtime over the normative period. I have passed all my qualification and thesis proposal exams and just need to submit and defend my thesis. Unfortunately, I don’t have any serious publications in top conferences or journals (tried to sumbit several times but got always rejected), only a handful of low-quality workshop and medium-low tier conference papers. For these reasons I have been constantly blamed by my supervisor, and he may not be willing even to sign the thesis defense request, leaving me in the dreadful prospective of spending several years more just to see a paper accepted, and prolong my overtime and agony.

After confrontation with other students, and even professors of other university, I strongly believe that this situation is due mostly to poor guidance from my supervisor and senior PhD students and post-docs during my early years, poor publishing strategy, a not very feasible research project to produce concrete and verifiable results, and until recently obsolete equipment. I am also very frustated because I have been working almost every day, often many hours a day, and I have been collecting much less results than other people working only a fraction of the time and graduating in less than 3 years.

I tried many times to discuss the situation with my supervisor and other people in charge in my department to solve these issues, but they all repeat the same things, that it is normal to take many years to finish a good PhD, I should concentrate not on graduation time but on quality, I will easily find the job I want afterwards, and things like this. Unfortunately I cannot agree, since in the Asia-Pacific region, where I am interested to work, there is a very strong competition from candidates finishing the PhD in the normal 3-4 years time. Also coming (and with a Bachelor) originally from a country in southern Europe where the level of primary and secondary education and the level of the IT field is very low, I am already at a disadvantage with respect to other more skilled candidates, and is already making harder for me to obtain a working visa. I have in theory already found a job in one of the company where I would like to work, willing to sponsor me a visa, but it is only a conditional offer based on graduation that may be easily withdrawn if I fail to graduate in the timeframe they believe is reasonable, losing this opportunity may lower my morale even further.

I would like to ask suggestions about the current options I have:

  • I can consider withdrawing from the program and look for jobs. This has the risk of leaving me almost unemployable and force me to return back to my home country with just a Bachelor degree, unable to find a serious decently-compensated job, a career black-hole. Even if I look now for jobs I would have to state I am currently enrolled in a PhD, with companies assuming automatically I am going to finish it (because in Asia is the norm).
  • I can stay for at least one more year trying to publish and graduate. I would waste a lot of time just waiting for reviews, unable to develop any useful skills in the process and log useful working hours. And again, 6-7-8 years in a PhD would be a black mark on my CV, and I am already teased enough for this when I participate to networking events.
  • I may insist to submit my thesis at the first useful occasion (in a few months, due to university regulations). But keep complaining may not be useful and may ruin all my relationships even further.

I had to keep some of the details generic as I cannot disclose too many information. Please also note that my main goals when I started my PhD were to find a job in a big corporation about Research & Development, and maximize the chances to be able to emigrate from my home country. I still hope I can figure out the best course of action to come out from this situation. Thank you in advance for your replies.

Finding jobs for Ph.D graduate in mathematics is the main concern. Available options are namely in general industry and academia. I see, for instance, some Ph.D in math (algebraic geometry) working in Bank sector! This incompatibility
between field of study and job might back to the rank of math department of graduated person.
There maybe exists some other reasons. But I want to know about the upper bound of ranks of departments might be considered as top ranks? Additionally, which university ranking is most reliable in industry sector and in academia?

I’m looking for good hints for my professional life.

I am a mathematician (32 years old) who worked up to now in academia in Europe.
My short CV: PhD + three and a half years of postdoctoral fellowships.
Domain of expertise: dynamical systems / ergodic theory (no applied math).

It’s been some time that I have been losing progressively motivation for research, I do not manage to obtain a permanent position and I start wondering what I could do elsewhere with my expertise (besides teaching, which is of course a possibility).

However I fear that I’m too “specialized” in my domain and I don’t feel adapted for the industry. I have some programming skills, but not enough in my opinion to work in a big data company.

Do you know some examples of mathematicians who found their way in industry with a 100% academic CV like mine? And where? In which areas? Do companies hire mathematicians with no experience outside academics? Do they invest in people with pure-theoretical background and competences?

Assessing the impact of an academic paper on other academics can be done (with its pros and cons) using the number of citations the paper attracts. For more detailed information on how the paper influenced the citing work, one can read the citing paper, visit the authors’ webpages and even email them. All of this is made possible by the fact that most (successful) academic works result in the public, searchable, dissemination of that work.

However, how can I assess the impact a paper has on industry? Industrial work, which results in products rather than papers, will usually not leave an easily identifiable trail connecting it to the previous work on which it builds up. But funding agencies put emphasis on reutilisation of academic results for industrial applications. Recently, we got a consulting job because a semiconductors company came by a paper I wrote a couple of years ago and decided to hire us to advise them on how to build their production process. In my next application for research funding I can use this contract to exemplify how my research is useful for industry. But what about all the other companies that are using our results and we don’t know about? Is there a way to estimate this impact?

I’m a student who is currently undertaking a Master of Physics (coursework & research) at the University of Western Australia. I have also previously completed two Bachelor’s degrees: one in physics and one in electrical engineering (with honours). Next year, I am hoping to start a PhD in high-energy physics (HEP) somewhere in Australia, doing a highly theoretical topic (such as supersymmetry, string theory, etc.) with the long term goal of following an academic path in this area of research.

From my understanding though, it is VERY hard finding academic jobs relevant to this particular field. I’ve heard through the grapevine that you have more chance of becoming a professional athlete than becoming a professor in theoretical HEP which is honestly quite dejecting.

However, understanding physics beyond the standard model is undoubtedly my passion so I would really like to pursue a PhD in it to determine whether or not it can become more than just a hobby. I’ve heard of theoretical HEP PhD’s going into finance, etc. when finding an academic position proved fruitless, but if I’m being honest, that doesn’t sound all that appealing to me. If the academic path didn’t work out, I have always had a super keen interest in areas such as signal processing, control theory and data analysis. Which leads me to my main question:

In case I can’t find an academic position in theoretical HEP, do you think my EE degree and MPhys (both of which involved experimental research projects highly focused on signal processing and data analysis) would be sufficient credentials to land a job in engineering/signal processing/data analysis? Or perhaps if I’m lucky, even some area of industry research (if so, what areas)?

Further, do you think having a PhD in theoretical HEP, in addition to my other credentials, would be a benefit or a hindrance in securing these types of jobs?

Some potentially relevant information:

I have 3 months of work experience at an electrical engineering company

My EE research project involved analyzing audio signals using a DSP to achieve desired acoustic properties

My MPhys research project is about detecting gravitational waves which involves heavy signal processing and manipulating large sets of data (100GB+) using python

By the end of this year my MPhys research should produce at least 1 or 2 papers in the Physical Review Letters journal

I am a recent fresh graduate who came from math and physics. Recently (< 4 weeks), I’ve taken on a junior research role in a research institute within a University.
This particularly university – and those in this country – have extremely strong collaborations with industry partners so work in Universities in this country is divided into pure/ fundamental research and industry-driven research. The University houses corporate research labs.

The project I am working on right now is in the area of air traffic. I report to a fellow (academic title) who comes from industry who is only focused on research in operations/ convincing stakeholders and sponsors.
Research because everything he proposes and investigates are qualitative and conceptual without any justifications with mathematics in an area which presumably requires mathematical models to validate ideas.

Granted that I have been in this role for <4 weeks, I am miserable and I believe I will continue to feel so.

I believed I was overpromised.
I was promised that I would be working alongside professors to develop new mathematical models for air traffic.
It turns out I am the only person from math and physics. The rest are from engineering or industrial design field.

Much of my time would be involved with producing white papers and policy recommendations for management of future air traffic

3) I am pushed to pursue a PhD (comes with scholarship) which, with internal discussion, would allow me to move into a PhD program even with an average BSc grades since the director of the research institute is the PI for the PhD program.
However, my thesis would have to be in the area of air traffic.
My interest is in Abstract Algebra, Topology and Quantum mechanics and I’ll like to pursue this in a year or two time when I return back to University.

4) The fellow I report too is really a project manager in disguise. Every discussions with him mainly revolves around stakeholder expectations and targeted objectives.

A good case scenario is this: He engages a visiting scholar who has done a PhD thesis in air traffic modelling, look to see how the idea in the thesis could be extended to specific circumstances (without much modification to the mathematical model in the thesis) for national interest before suggesting a feasibility write up on why this works.
From here, it is already obvious that nothing of substance could be published in respectable journals.

I am afraid that my current research role will not provide me with a stronger exposure to math or physics in the fundamental sense.

What is the best course of action?

Backstory: I was working in a research institute as a research assistant during my bachelor and master phase. I received my M.Sc.(informatics) about 2 years ago and since then I am working for a company in the industry as a software engineer.

A few weeks ago, the professor I was working for in the past gave me a job offer at his institute. Basically he wrote out of nowhere and I was very glad and accepted his offer. A condition for me to accept was that I can pursue a Ph.D, he said yes.

Now I face a very troubling problem: I have never written a paper in my life.

I wrote some things during college but nothing that was actually published. I like reading papers, but reading and writing is a different story…I was also not really involved in actual research, my previous work was concentrated on programming. Now I am a bit worried that I might make a bad appearance in my first weeks or months, I guess the professor thinks highly of me(for a reason I don’t know) since he gave me that offer.

I have 3 months until my new life as a full researcher, with a complex research field I almost know nothing about. I am worried that I sit in meetings and do not even understand the basic concepts of their research.

What can I do to prepare myself for this situation/job?