I am a UK based researcher in life sciences. My PhD project was a disaster for a number of reasons (technical difficulties, difficult supervisor etc) and so I finished with very few results. Through a side project I got a middle authorship on a paper in a respectable but not outstanding journal (impact factor ~5-6). Despite all the difficulties I endured during my PhD I still wanted to be an academic researcher and decided to take a 3 year postdoc position at another UK university.

The postdoc project seemed promising and the lab had a track recording of publishing decent papers. Unfortunately disaster has struck again, and none of my experiments have worked or produced anything publishable. I only have 6 months left on my contract and the odds of me getting a paper in that time are pretty much zero.

I know I need to think about what my next step is career-wise but I feel so stressed and demotivated that I worry I’m not thinking clearly. Plus my confidence is rock bottom from feeling like everything I touch in the lab falls apart. Part of me thinks it’s time to cut my losses and try a different career path, however the thought of giving up on my long held dream of being a researcher is heartbreaking, and I then start to wonder if I’m quitting too easily. When I tell my science friends how I feel they all tell me that I’m not a bad scientist, that I’ve just been unlucky and that they’re sure the next project (whatever it is) will go better. Are they right? Do I still have a chance? If I took another postdoc and got a paper from it, would that ever be enough to make up for the long gap in my publication record? Or would it be a case of too little too late?

Any advice would be much appreciated!

I’m a biology PhD student (25f). I’ve recently handed in my thesis after a long struggle but I’ve not defended yet. In short I’ve had a really bad experience with my supervisor and my PhD and want to get out of academia altogether but I don’t know how. I dont want to quit before my thesis defense but I dont know how I can survive things continuing as they are.

To provide a bit more detail about my situation: I started my PhD straight from my undergrad. I was working on my final year project with my supervisor, she was constructive and helpful despite being strict. I enjoyed working with her. When she told me that my 3rd year project was a pilot for a PhD project and that I should apply, I was delighted. I could continue to work on my research for another three years!

My relationship with my supervisor went well for the first year of my PhD, I was producing results and we were getting ready to publish some of these results in a nature family journal. I think this is when I started having problems. There was a lot of external stuff going on, I was in a terrible flat and loosing sleep, and due to these factors I made a mistake taking down a sample size on one of the drafts (my supervisor insists on at least 5 drafts before anything can be considered finished). It was an easy fix, I just had to check and update some numbers; but my supervisor made it seem like the end of the world. She was so angry I was terrified for days. This was probably when I started to be afraid of her, but I made the fixes, the paper got published and everything seemed to go back to normal. But, I’ve had problems with self harm in the past and while I thought that part of my life was over, I found myself doing it again. I wasn’t really thinking too hard about it, it was just stress and if I could do better I would stop I told myself.

Fast forward about 2 years. The self harm hadn’t really stopped, and I was still exhausted but my supervisor was mostly friendly, so although I still panicked when she talked to me I thought things were okay. I briefly considered quitting halfway though my second year, but since I’d come halfway I thought I could make it the rest of the way. I was coming up on my PhD deadline (September), and spoke to my supervisor about whether she thought I’d be able to hand in on time. She told me that it might take an extra month but I’d probably be able to do it. Unfortunately, this was also the point that my supervisor got really busy writing a grant, and kept telling me she was too busy to look at my drafts. Fair enough, I know academics are busy people and that, in her world, my PhD is not the priority. My work slowed down, I felt like I was loosing all motivation. September slipped by, I wasn’t going to make the deadline, but, my supervisor said, that’s fine, I could hand in at Christmas. In the meantime, my supervisor arranged for me to teach her lectures and do marking so that I could be paid and so that she had more time to work on her grant. She also wanted me to do more data collection so that this time she could get a paper into nature. I asked her if I could prioritize my thesis writing, it was important to me that I handed in, and then I could work more on papers. She reluctantly agreed that this would be fine. Christmas passed, and she still wasn’t happy with my thesis, asking for more and more rewrites, even if it meant going round in circles. At this point I was trying desperately to stop self harming, which I have more or less managed, but I was also becoming increasingly suicidal. I couldn’t see an end to anything short of that. This was when I finally admitted I was having problems and started trying to speak to the well being services at the university. I have a councilor now, who is helping.

I finally managed to hand in in April, although I’m not confident that any of the work in my thesis is really mine (It feels more like the supervisor has written it). I thought things would get better, I’ve gotten myself a temporary job working with a conservation organization, lecturing for the students who come out on their expeditions. I also made the decision not to apply for a postdoc with the same supervisor, she’d tried to encourage me to take it, but I cant survive three more years of this. I tried to explain to her that although I thought the project was exciting, my mental health prevented me from committing to a long term post (I did NOT mention that I was terrified of her). Since then, she’s been increasingly angry. She’s told me in as many words that anyone else would have fired me on the spot and that I should be grateful that I can work on such a great project. She also keeps telling me that its very inconvenient for her that I’ve got this new job (as it will be taking me into the field and probably out of email contact for two months), and that she wants me to do loads more (unpaid) work for her before I leave.

I desperately want to get out of her sphere of influence, I’m still having suicidal thoughts on a near daily basis and I feel sick at the thought of having to meet with her, as she seems to always be angry right now. I need to defend though, otherwise all of this will not have been worth it. My thesis defense is set for September, although she tells me my examiners are angry because I am out of the country during June and July (although I asked her before I applied for the job whether this would be a problem and she told me no).

Is there any way I can cut contact with her without causing a confrontation or anything like that? I don’t know whether I can work with her any longer but I don’t want to ruin my chances of successfully passing my defense.

I’ve been offered a 3-year Lecturer III appointment at a top 10 university in my field. It’s an opportunity that fell in my lap, not something I sought, but it’s obviously not something I can just pluck from a tree anytime I like. So of course I’m going to take it. I’m trying to decide how to announce that I’m leaving and what to say about it.

I’ve been a lecturer at a state university for four years, PT since my FT contract ran out last year and not currently scheduled for any new assignments. My colleagues like me and I’m leaving on very good terms. Both my current chairman and my previous chair (who recruited me) insist I should take this.

How would you announce your departure? Or would you leave that up to your chairman? What do you say to students?

My situation is as follows. I started a PhD 5 months ago in a reputable university. However, I am not happy with my lab and supervisor and do not want to spend 4 or more years here. I shared my thoughts with my supervisor and he told me it is better to stay one or more years and finish with a MSc than quitting now, and if I like it then I can just stay and complete my PhD.

I already have a MSc but from much smaller university unlike my current one, what is the best action to take now?

Is staying and having two MSc a good option, or quitting now would look better on my CV as I did not spend too much time in the program and start looking for other opportunities?

If it matters, the reasons I am not willing to stay are:

  • The current projects in the lab do not interest me and I do not want to be working alone, specially my supervisor told be it is better to work in the same line or else he would not have much time.
  • My supervisor has joined this field recently and does not provide useful feedback with no post-doc or other seniors to help. Much of what I will do would be completely on my own.
  • After working for one semester, the research we are doing in the lab in far from the state-of-the-art and mainly focuses on getting papers accepted in a coming conference, (Is this reasonable motivation to quit? I prefer to be working with people more involved in the field.)

I am a graduate student in Computer Science who is 1 semester away from graduation. I took 13 hours of graduate level classes last semester. I was also a teaching assistant for 2 classes and teaching 4 classes in another college. MY program requires at least a C in the core classes to count towards my graduate requirements. I made 1 D with a grade of 69, and 3 A’s in last semester. Since I made a D, my graduation is pushed up to another semester. Since I saw I got a D, I feel very disappointed in me and feels like I should quit the program. Is that a wise choice?

I am considering dropping out of my PhD program, which I am halfway through (pre-proposal), and am applying to full-time jobs. My plan is to go on a leave-of-absence for a year, and afterwards either return and finish my PhD, or quit my program permanently. Even if I finish my PhD, I plan to leave academia, most likely for finance. I’m applying primarily to quantitative analyst positions to give myself a better idea of whether I want this as a long-term career. And, if I get a job and still enjoy it after a year, I plan to formalize my PhD dropout status.

I have a solid publication record in a very relevant area, so my research skill is an important part of how I’m selling myself. But I don’t know how to discuss my current situation in my cover letters and interviews. The honest answer is a combination of burnout, personal/family circumstances, and cynicism over my research. But is saying this unprofessional? Also, should I leave out all discussion of my situation in my cover letters, and just wait for interviewers bring it up?

I am currently doing a PhD in university X, but I am planning to quit, since I am looking for something more involved in my research interest.

Should I mention it in my first email to a potential phd advisor in university Y?

or is it sufficient to say that I am a research assistant at university X?
and what about in the CV?

I am not satisfied with my PhD and the research group and I was thinking of looking somewhere else. I would like to stay in Academia for now and I want to apply to other programs (in an other country and university).

Should I tell my supervisor that I am looking for an other position? Or is it better to tell him once I have found something?

The problem is that I have to contact some professors and there is a minimal possibility that they know each other…

I got a MS degree in Statistics in University A, then I got admitted in the Statistic PhD program in University B. However, I couldn’t finish my PhD study, and I have to transfer to the MS program so that I can apply for OPT. Now I have two MS degrees in Statistics in both A and B, how can I list them on CV? And actually A is better than B… Should I write ABD on B? Thanks.

I got a MS degree in Statistics in University A, then I got admitted in the Statistic PhD program in University B. However, I couldn’t finish my PhD study, and I have to transfer to the MS program so that I can apply for OPT. Now I have two MS degrees in Statistics in both A and B, how can I list them on CV? And actually A is better than B… Should I write ABD on B? Thanks.