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6th year PhD but PI wants me to stay another year

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6th year PhD but PI wants me to stay another year

Postby Alex Angler » Sun Apr 23, 2017 4:22 pm

Hi,
I've always been searching through the forum whenever I run in to a wall, and it has been immensely helpful - both insightful and comforting, especially to know that there are so many out there sharing my suffering at various moments of science.

I wanted to ask for some second opinions about my current situation.
I'm a 6th year phd at an ivy institute and have changed labs during my 4th year due to my previous PI quitting science. I've started over in a new lab with a new project and am fortunate enough to be close to publishing a modest, but first author paper. My committee is pretty happy about my progress and seems like they are willing to give me the green light soon.

I have another project going on, I've worked on it for about 2 years and it has been my pet project and my PI insists that I stay another year to finish it. He also repeatedly tells me how that'd be beneficial for my academic career since then I'll have 2 publications during phD despite the lab change. Also, my PI thinks I should have a long phD instead of a long postdoc for the sake of getting grants etc. He also thinks my soon-to-be-submitted publication is too weak to survive in academia ("her career will be ruined", in his words)

Now my dilemma is:
- I am 50:50 about staying in academia after my phD
- My partner is likely going to relocate overseas soon, and I'd like to relocate with him
- I am on good terms with my PI but he does get a bit manipulative with sweet words now and then so I can't tell when he says "Stay another year, it's good for you", if it is actually for himself
- He isn't so good at finishing up papers, especially if the main contributor leaves. Since there is no guarantee that this pet project will reach publication state in a year, I suspect it wont get published unless I'm here to write the manuscript and submit it.
(He has given up on submitting previous lab members' work because he never got around to draft a manuscript.. even though that was all he had to do)

- on the contrary, I would really like to see where my pet project goes. I'm just afraid that it may take 2-3 years to actually see where it goes.

Postdoc friends that I've talked to advised to graduate asap where as my PI strongly believes that I should do a full 7 year phd (with working 60 hours a week). Would this extra year be worth it?

Thanks for any advice.
Alex Angler
 
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Joined: Sun Apr 23, 2017 3:47 pm

Re: 6th year PhD but PI wants me to stay another year

Postby Steven Z. » Mon Apr 24, 2017 8:14 am

I see this over and over again. The PI wants you to stay another year for his benefit not yours. This is a continuing problem in academia with such conflicts of interest often leading to reference extortion and similar such tactics. I had a colleague at the lab I did my MSc research at end up needing to involve both the department head, and his committee because the PI delayed his graduation needlessly for over a year and a half.

Do what is best for yourself and frankly don't let a PI push you around.
Steven Z.
 
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Re: 6th year PhD but PI wants me to stay another year

Postby Alex Angler » Mon Apr 24, 2017 8:20 pm

Steven Z. wrote:I see this over and over again. The PI wants you to stay another year for his benefit not yours. This is a continuing problem in academia with such conflicts of interest often leading to reference extortion and similar such tactics. I had a colleague at the lab I did my MSc research at end up needing to involve both the department head, and his committee because the PI delayed his graduation needlessly for over a year and a half.

Do what is best for yourself and frankly don't let a PI push you around.



Thank you Steven. I appreciate hearing from another scientist fellow who isn't involved in this situation and can see it from a distance. I think my friendly relationship with my PI had made me feel guilty to admit that he is still a PI and sometimes he will steer me for his best interest, despite seeming like he is looking out for me. He has been a great emotional support during my difficult times, and I am grateful of that - but I have to keep reminding myself that I don't owe him anything. I hope I'm thinking it right because I also dont want to under-appreciate his contribution in helping me get on track as a 4th year grad student starting all over again.
Alex Angler
 
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Joined: Sun Apr 23, 2017 3:47 pm

Re: 6th year PhD but PI wants me to stay another year

Postby D. Martin » Mon Apr 24, 2017 10:25 pm

I am usually in the minority (many people do not like my advice) but this is my opinion.

"He also repeatedly tells me how that'd be beneficial for my academic career since then I'll have 2 publications during phD despite the lab change. Also, my PI thinks I should have a long phD instead of a long postdoc for the sake of getting grants etc. He also thinks my soon-to-be-submitted publication is too weak to survive in academia ("her career will be ruined", in his words)"

Even if he is thinking only on his on benefits, everything in the paragraph above its true. The papers you have will be important for any grant (PD or Assistant Prof) that you apply to. Also, he long postdoc will hurt (K99 have a time frame and you new Investigator status too) so he is telling the truth.

it all depends what you want to do afterwords. If you think National lab or industry (or consulting and the like) just leave b/c it may not make a difference. if you are thinking academia, think a bit longer.


" My partner is likely going to relocate overseas soon, and I'd like to relocate with him"
SO, different countries function different, depending where you will live and who will be your next adviser will have a huge influence.


"He isn't so good at finishing up papers, especially if the main contributor leaves.
(He has given up on submitting previous lab members' work because he never got around to draft a manuscript.. even though that was all he had to do)"

This statement tells me you are not too familiar with the life in academia, if you think a professor only writes papers, you are way off (or tell me the name of your institution b/c I am applying tomorrow if prof. only write papers...)

"on the contrary, I would really like to see where my pet project goes. I'm just afraid that it may take 2-3 years to actually see where it goes."

Science is unpredictable but you should have and end goal in mid, if that is not the case, you are answering your questions, you need to stay another year b/c you are not there yet. Please understand that the results may disprove your hypothesis or yield unexpected data but once you have an expectation (an educated guess) of results, that is when you are ready to move on (this is my opinion)

So, at the end, it is your decision but you should decide what are you doing next, also talk with your committee.

Finally, your committee will be giving you the green light soon, which means at least two months until you defend; unless you need to write the thesis, they read what you wrote, then schedule the defense finding a day that works for everyone, and deposit thesis previous final corrections, and find another position (you do not want to move somewhere without a job). In this case, we are talking 5-9 months depending when you do all the things and find a suitable position. Thus the difference may not be 1 week vs 1 year but rather 5-9 months vs 1 yr. If this is the case, will 3 months matter too much??? (FYI, I am in academia but started my indep. career not that long ago, so I still remember what is graduate student life)
D. Martin
 
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Re: 6th year PhD but PI wants me to stay another year

Postby PG » Tue Apr 25, 2017 4:53 am

I am usually on the get out as fast as you can side in these discussions but your situation might be a bit different in that you actually changed your PhD supervisor and Project in your 4th year. From your PhD I Think that you want to get the following from a PhD training

1) training in science including theory, doing experiments, Writing papers and grant applications etc.
2) A network of people that can help you move forward in your career
3) Publications
4) good references from your PhD PI

After 6 years in two different laboratories you are probably finished with number 1 and number 2 may not benefit from spending additional time in your current lab.

That leaves 3 and 4 both of which are important. For both of these you have "only" spent maybe 2.5 years in your PhD since your current supervisor doesnt necessarily care about what you did before joining your current lab. If you changed projects without publications from the first part you dont have any benefit for that part either.

Is it possible to find some form of compromise with your PI? For example if you stay as a senior PhD student is it possible for you to get a new PhD student that you can supervise and train who can later take over your project? You might be first author on the first paper and then this new student can be first on coming papers while still having you in the list of authors. If not a PhD student can you get support from a technician?
Does your PI have collaborations around the Place were your partner is planning on relocating? can you cooperate so that you can spend at least part of the time at the new location?
If you can do some of these options you can maybe get a solution that actually looks 2-3 years into the future for your Project while potentially also giving you extra benefit. Having experience from supervising /training is always useful.
PG
 
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Re: 6th year PhD but PI wants me to stay another year

Postby Dan R » Thu Apr 27, 2017 11:48 am

If you feel like you've gotten what wanted and don't need to stay another year for your benefit then don't take it.

Just don't be forced into making a decision you won't be able to take advantage of.
Dan R
 
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Joined: Thu Apr 27, 2017 11:46 am

Re: 6th year PhD but PI wants me to stay another year

Postby RSD » Thu Apr 27, 2017 6:18 pm

Do you have the experience/publications/capability to get the postdoc position you want? If yes, I see little benefit to spending another year+ as a PhD student. That year would probably be better spent developing your postdoctoral research (or moving straight to industry, if thats your path). Your PhD research and resulting publications will show productivity but will always be weighted less than your postdoctoral research.
RSD
 
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