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like to work, willing to sponsor me a visa, but it is only a conditional offer based on graduation that may be easily withdrawn if I fail to graduate in the timeframe they believe is reasonable, losing this opportunity may lower my morale even further.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.