I am currently completing a PhD studentship, and I'm aiming to complete by the end of the year. After this, I'm looking for a postdoc position in academia or industry. At the moment I'm working on my CV and applications.
One thing I'm unsure about is how to describe my previous research experience. Specifically, I previously (around 11 years ago) took part in a PhD program, but unfortunately did not complete it.
My question is, how should I describe that time period (4 years) on the CV / applications?
- Be honest, call it a PhD studentship, but don't list it on my completed education/qualifications (the implication being that it wasn't completed).
- Give a vague position title (e.g. 'scientist') - not technically untrue - and be prepared to answer questions in the interview about what that actually means.
- Give a specific position title (e.g. RA) - less honest, but less likely to invite questions.
Which approach would be best? I would prefer not to have to highlight this with potential employers, if possible, but I also don't want to be dishonest on my applications. As a potential employer, which would be the lesser of the evils to you? Would you be more likely to throw out a CV at the shortlisting stage based on a historic uncompleted PhD?
For context, I have other research experience and fairly extensive lab skills. I also have various outputs including (mostly middle authorship) papers, talks and posters and have won competitive prizes and travel awards. I will also hope to publish at least one first author original research paper on my PhD work.