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I am Ph.D. candidate, and my advisor got his tenure about 9 months ago and called me on zoom and said no one could fire him anymore, and that was the last time we talked. Since then, he has completely ignored me as his only Ph.D. student. He does not read or comment on my papers(2 paper drafts were sent five months ago). My results get continuously beaten, and I have to make changes to keep my papers state-of-the-art constantly. He refuses to set up a zoom meeting since no one is going to school; that is the only way to meet him. He was active with fundings, papers, and proposals before he got tenure. He responds to my emails with irrelevant suggestions, or he says he will read my papers sometime next week(he expects 2-3 papers to graduate me). He is not supporting me financially anymore since his fundings are over, and I pay for my Ph.D. from pocket. School officials can not do anything, and changing my advisor after four years of hard work will result in a complete reboot. I'm an international student and can not just quit. My goal is to get my OPT and a job. It looks impossible to graduate with this advisor... What would be the best option to do in this situation.

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    I don't know what an OPT is, but have you actually tried finding a job?
    – user111388
    Nov 29 '20 at 10:25
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    If you can finish your PhD in a few months, do so. Otherwise, you need a new advisor who will provide funding. Nov 29 '20 at 10:25
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    I find it interesting that someone (your advisor) would put forth so much effort (get PhD, get an actual tenure track job, get tenure) into a career that is heavily involved with doing things that he/she apparently intensely dislikes. Nov 29 '20 at 10:25
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    @user111388 OPT is a United States visa type. Nov 29 '20 at 10:26
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    As noted below, I am surprised that the university cannot do anything. At my university at least, there are policies to protect students in your situation. We also have a students advocate. Nov 29 '20 at 21:23
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I'm really sorry to hear about this situation.

School officials can not do anything, and changing my advisor after four years of hard work will result in a complete reboot.

This surprises me. Every university differs, but in general you should bring these sorts of issues to your Associate Chair/Director, etc. of Graduate Studies in your department. If they aren't able to mediate with you and your supervisor, or aren't willing to, in most universities that I'm familiar with you should escalate your complaint. Perhaps you have an Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, or if there is a Faculty of Graduate Studies, there is somebody that you can consult there.

Barring this, you should seek advice from either your graduate students association. There may be informal avenues of support that you can pursue.

Most universities have policies around the change of supervisor, as this happens more commonly than you may think.

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  • Exactly. You should discuss with the other individuals on your committee and perhaps ask one of them to take over as your advisor: the current advisor won’t mind this as he doesn’t care about advising you.
    – Dawn
    Nov 29 '20 at 21:57
  • ...and a change of supervisor =/= complete reboot or even alteration of the research topic, especially this close to graduation.
    – Lodinn
    Oct 11 at 20:39
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This is of course atrocious. I can show you a list as long as my arm of former PhD students who will all sing my praises in the "always being there for them" department. So I have a right to state what I think of such a supervisor. But I won't, as it is just a string of very bad words.

Now, a good PhD student should actually be able to produce a top-notch thesis with literally zero input from their supervisor. However, not all PhD students are that good (why it would seem that most of them aren't) and supervisors do have a duty of care toward their students.

Your department may have procedures that allow for a "no fault" ("least said soonest mended") supervisor switch. Discuss this option with the departmental senior academic tutor.

A kind word of warning: you are unlikely to get your own back with this supervisor. In the fullness of time "the system" will have its own way of dealing with this sort of attitude, but this will only happen many years after you have left the department. So please stop expending any further thoughts or emotional energy on this **** right NOW.

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