academic career-pyramide-stay or leave

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academic career-pyramide-stay or leave

Postby K.T.C. » Wed May 27, 2015 9:29 am

I am thinking about how to break the obstacle that I have right now in my career. 5 years after working as a graduate intern, I am still circuling in the entry-stage of my academic career. I was a phd candidate and have had conflict with my supervisor, such as disagreement of publishing my study, despite on the fact that I wrote the manuscript; I helped with a grant application, which my supervisor was the main applicant, the received grant was not used in an appropriate way; the inquiry on working for free for unacceptable period, etc. In the end, I escaped from the lab and published my paper without my superviser's name on.

Now I am looking for a better environment and a reputable supervisor to complete a phd degree. I was wondering how to see the factor that I've graduated 5 years ago, worked in the lab without completed a phd degree, plus my former supervisor won't be supportive. I've learnt that I was not doing all right in my past, I am looking for the new opportunity to do this better. but how to restart everything without a platform?how to help others to understand my past? thank you for hearing and thank you for any advice.
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Re: academic career-pyramide-stay or leave

Postby Rich Lemert » Wed May 27, 2015 11:53 am

One's path forward always starts out from where you are now; the past doesn't exist - except for the lessons you've learned from it.

You would enter a new PhD program now the same way you would have done so five years ago - by convincing any potential PI why you would be an asset to his group. You understand his/her research, and you describe how your background qualifies you for that work.

In your case, there is some 'baggage' that will probably need to be addressed. People are going to wonder why you're seeking a PhD now, when you didn't complete the one you were working on before. You need a solid, positive explanation that explains why you left your previous program, and outlines what's changed about you that makes any future success more likely.

What you DON'T do is describe the situation the way you've described it here. Your comments here make you come across as a prima donna who knows more than your PI and who is unwilling to be a team player. They further say that you are unwilling to accept responsibility for your actions and are quick to blame others. No PI is going to accept someone in their group with those attitudes.

The following remark in particular raises a huge red flag:

K.T.C. wrote:In the end, I escaped from the lab and published my paper without my superviser's name on.

About the only way this is not going to be a problem is if you can demonstrate that you had your former PI's permission to do this. In that case you could spin this as a professional disagreement that you felt extremely passionate about, and even then people will wonder why you were unable to reach an acceptable compromise.
Rich Lemert
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Re: academic career-pyramide-stay or leave

Postby Ana » Thu May 28, 2015 3:11 pm


Are you sure you are considering all of your options? how sure are you that you want to do a PhD?

When you are enrolled in a PhD program it seems that everyone you know has a PhD and that getting one yourself is the only way forward, but reality is very different.

I'm not saying "leave", I'm saying make sure you consider other options you might have to channel what you like doing and get forward professionally.
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Location: Madrid, Spain

Re: academic career-pyramide-stay or leave

Postby K.T.C. » Fri May 29, 2015 12:19 am

Thank you for your comments. for the publication, I shared the authorship with my former supervisor, but he said no, I should remove him from this paper.

So I listed him in the acknowledgement. I do have these records.... I was sent out to an external lab to do the study.

I know that I am not all right, i have learnt from it. How to move forward, it has been a big obstacle. Should I explain this everytime I apply for a job?
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Re: academic career-pyramide-stay or leave

Postby K.T.C. » Fri May 29, 2015 1:45 am

Hi Ana, I do appreciate your info. As a master-degree holder what other channels I have in my career path. I have worked as a a research assitant in the past 5 years, which other opportunities do I have outside academia? for master graudates, i saw the indsutry either need trainable complete new graduates or interns, who joined them before graduation...the rest group they wanted are the experienced ones....i am not sure which group i belongs to now.
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Re: academic career-pyramide-stay or leave

Postby John D. D, » Sat May 30, 2015 5:10 pm

I think the degree is important, and should
reflect science. Should "I got along with
my Ph.D. supervisor" be a determinant of a
degree from a university?

The institutional response, I would hope,
would be to pull together a committee, and find
someone to sponsor you, and then have a few
meetings where additional work is done at
committee suggestion, and you write up a
dissertation and defend it.

I've thought about initiating a "New Independent
University" that would issue degrees with
sponsorship from individuals within the system,
who would form review committees, provide access to
equipment, and provide a mechanism for defense.
The German Ph.D. system is a little like this.
Many students have jobs, and some are on welfare.
They do research, write up a dissertation, usually
belonging to a biggie's "school of thought", and
then defend and get a grade on their defense
without a whole lot of committees. Usually, peers
at a level of accomplishment just above theirs,
review the dissertation before it goes to the
biggie, and eventually to outside reviewers that
they will publicly defend in front of. They are
required to publish their dissertation.

Call that a Ph.D. I don't think it discredits
the degree. It requires a lot of individual
motivation though.

I think in most countries, the available committees
would have to be mixed: a few people "on the inside",
well-established, and then, the gazillion of other
folks with Ph.D.'s who woulda/mighta/coulda been a
tenured prof in a more open system.

I'm not anti-system, and not so professionally
frustrated that I didn't make it to the level of
teaching at a university. I think the system is
for the most part great, but I'm excited at the
possibility of creating another option which I
think is needed.

So yes, get your Ph.D!!!
John D. D,
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Re: academic career-pyramide-stay or leave

Postby K.T.C. » Sun May 31, 2015 8:17 am

I've told the deans about this, they knew it and went silent, but no one is standing by my the point is, should i explain everything everytime i apply for a new phd?
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Re: academic career-pyramide-stay or leave

Postby John D. D, » Sun May 31, 2015 9:07 am

You could do an experiment. Take 1/2 of your
applications, and explain, take the other 1/2
and don't.

Personally, I would stop the propagation of
bad information, no matter how accurate, in its
tracks. It is more important to move on, than
to be right. I don't like big fights where
highly trained people are discredited and lost.

If you want, write a letter to the people at
your institution, saying that you value a Ph.D.,
and would have been very pleased to get the
degree from the institution, but in any event
would like to move forward with getting a Ph.D.
using the many things you have learned at the
institution. Wear a suit, shake hands, and say
thank you.
John D. D,
Posts: 70
Joined: Sat May 30, 2015 1:53 am

Re: academic career-pyramide-stay or leave

Postby Nate W. » Mon Jun 01, 2015 10:15 am

I feel your pain. Try this reply:

“Bob (BIG SHOT PI), that is a great question but a difficult one for me to answer. In short, our relationship grew apart in the last two years. Our relationship evolved such that we had different values and goals (or expectations). Despite my best efforts to reconcile those differences, I couldn’t find a compromise. While at ABC University, I was quite productive, accomplishing the following:


In lieu of his reference, I can provide references from my coworkers and collaborating scientists who are familiar with my work at ABC university.”

The more you try to explain the situation the more it becomes an issue for you. I know it might pain you to cover for someone who was wrong but it only hurts your chances of being reemployed even if were right and justified in your actions. You send up a big red flag to the prospective PI or committee that you are a pain in the ass and will only embarrass the department or PI, if you provide details or accuse the PI of being a bad boss.
Nate W.
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Joined: Fri Apr 06, 2012 6:48 pm

Re: academic career-pyramide-stay or leave

Postby K.T.C. » Wed Jun 03, 2015 1:53 pm

Hi John and Nate, thank you for the good advice.I chose not to do so, if I wanna stay in pyramide.

We have talked about moving on, we have talked about not to complain. ..
But without a reference, how to move on in academia? the reference is weighted more than a publication for a pre-early stage researcher.

so the conclusion will be: not to explain=stuck in any negative imaginations from others=not moving...
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