I am a PhD in Mechanical Engineering. I have already completed my 5 years, am writing my thesis and will be submitting my thesis in 4 months. I have published 1 paper till now. That was 2 years ago. Till then, I have completed 3 more manuscripts, but my supervisor does not have the time to go through them and approve them. As a result, I have manuscripts around 2 years old waiting to get submitted and published.

My supervisor is great with meetings, guidance and advice, but she is frustrating me with her lethargy in correcting my manuscripts. This has made me very anxious about my future. My work is quite different than what is being published at the moment in my field. So, I think my manuscripts would still find a place in a reputed journal in my area of research. However, I can't be very sure of that until I actually submit the drafts. Also, I can't just go behind her back and submit the manuscripts as I don't want to sour my relationship with her.

I am not able to apply for a postdoc position as I am sure that I won't get any response without having any published works. I will be submitting my thesis by end of June. I will defend this fall. But, I don't know what I will do next.

I have applied to various industry positions and have got rejections. I don't think that I will land any position soon.

My question is, what are my career prospects at the moment? And what would the best course of action for me at the moment?

I am almost 30, been in school for Masters and PhD for the past decade. I am feeling quite hopeless. Ideally, I would like to stay in academia as I love doing research and teaching. But, I find that future dissolving away in uncertainty.

closed as off-topic by Bryan Krause, virmaior, Ben Crowell, David Richerby, user3209815 Mar 4 at 7:57

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  • "And what would the best course of action for me at the moment?" Have a frank discussion with your supervisor. Basically, you should tell her most of what you write here. Getting these manuscripts published is in her own interest. Maybe she can suggest a post-doc or colleague who helps getting the manuscripts in shape (earning coauthorship as a result) if her workload is too high. – Roland Mar 1 at 14:07
  • Are you required to include your supervisor as a co-author or can you publish independently? And, are the "manuscripts" your thesis or other work? – Buffy Mar 1 at 14:08
  • Thank you for your response. I have discussed with her. She always says that she will get them done as soon as possible. I don't know if involving another person in getting the manuscripts in shape would be feasible as our papers are all two author papers (Me as the main author, my advisor as the co-author). Also, at the moment our group doesn't have a postdoc. So, can't do much here. @Buffy yes, I am required to put my supervisor as co-author. And yes, the manuscripts are my thesis work. So, technically they have to be brought into shape before submitting. – user105098 Mar 1 at 14:15
  • 1
    It seems to me like there are two separate questions here: 1. The title question 2. How can I get my manuscripts submitted when my supervisor and co-author keeps delaying giving feedback? I would suggest asking the two separately - and searching on Academia.SE as I suspect at least q2 will have been asked already. – user2390246 Mar 1 at 14:51

Except for the difficulties in getting your advisor to respond to you, nothing you say seems unusual. Even that is too common, though. But your age, etc. is pretty typical, or at least not far outside the norm.

But I think that if you can unblock the block that you will be in good shape career wise. Your difficulties with industry could be a lot of unrelated things, and you haven't really tested yourself yet in the academic marketplace.

If you want a career in academia, I suggest you start a search, either as a post-doc or a regular position. You have a lot of work-in-progress to point to which is a point in your favor. I wouldn't wait until you get the block cleared and then something submitted and accepted. It will take to long, but, I suspect, not be judged fundamentally differently than work in progress.

The only issue I see is your "out of the mainstream" research interests. You will need to find a way to present that as an advantage, not a disadvantage. As Apple used to say, Think Different.

There is, I think, no reason to do the two things sequentially: advisor, job-search. Work on both in parallel.

On the advisor front, however, you might want to make it more incremental. Rather than "all these papers", focus on getting just one out the door and then repeat as needed.


You can list the papers as "in preparation" on a pub list. Not perfect but something.

You need to get those other two papers out.

One, write the version you would submit without any editorial input from your professor. You should do this regardless. Always do your best job first, before someone else. You need to become independent. Do not just make some graphs and some junky text and expect the professor to rewrite it. Do the paper you would submit directly to the journal if you were the PI. Proof the heck out of it. Read the notice to authors and make a checklist from it. Etc.

Two, provide the papers are "good to go" (in your estimation), than bust them out. Tell the advisor you think they are good to go (as is) and you want to submit them. Argue. Beat on the table. If needed, get other people involved (but have a tete a tete first).

  • Putting non-published papers that are "in preparation" into your publication list is bad form on a CV. You can have a separate section for works in progress, but if you put them in the same list it's not going to win you anything but a odour of desperation – virmaior Mar 1 at 23:36
  • [Unnecessary rudeness deleted by moderator.] I have seen a bazillion CVs, including my own that have this. Heck, have seen it for full PIs at R1 (very R1) that have this. – guest Mar 1 at 23:38
  • Full PIs at very R1s could write their CVs in crayons or not bother posting them and lose nothing, so that's not really data on what most people should do. / In my field, putting things you haven't published into the published papers section of your CV will only annoy people by demonstrating you are trying to how many publications it looks like you have with things that are not yet publications. – virmaior Mar 1 at 23:41