Currently, I am in the last phase, more or less of my Ph.D., two papers have been accepted and I am finishing up the last two projects, while also collaborating on other projects that do not affect the success and are rather a bonus publication. After this, I can write my thesis Cumulative and I am done. We had never had a good relationship, in the beginning, she was bullying me a lot if I did not know something, and nearly always referring me to a book when I had a question. Later, I noticed she had no clue herself.

But some months ago the relationship with my supervisor turned even worse when I was asked to supervise an additional master's student (I already agreed to start supervising one while being a teaching assistant in a quantum mechanics course), and start a project that we agreed I would not do, as I went to another direction. I said that due to time reasons this is not possible to do those. It was always demanded in an indirect manner to do many over hours, and am only paid for 6 hours/day and work already much more than that, and neither did I feel it's my responsibility as I am not a PostDoc.

After this she wrote me a WhatsApp where she told me, I should be more careful about how often I say no to her ideas and to supervision, as it might be that she wants to help me with my workload as they will be able to help me after I teach them. And if this continues she will lose the motivation to put in extra hours to help me. I answered as polite as possible that this is not possible to do take all but I will be helping in one project and students can write me and I will answer as fast as possible (I admit I replied slow, took me at least one week).

Since then she is very disinterested in my work and even refused me to collaborate on one project with a Ph.D. in our group, telling me just to give him my data, and kicking me out of the project that we agreed I will help after her complaints, after my help was no longer needed. Telling me I don't have the time while still asking to take on other students. I have in total already supervised 4 master's students in less than 3 years (She is a Jun. Prof., so supervising many master's students is important for her). After confronting her about her punishing me, for not wanting to take on two MS students simultaneously and taking me off papers while also being disinterested in my project. She became even more aggressive, saying that I only care about my career and she only wants to take the workload off me, to guarantee success so I can focus on my dissertation.

Now our relationship is complete shit, we more or less agreed to try to fix our Communication issues between us, if this does not work, she suggested bringing in coworkers with whom she is currently writing an application for a grant, to help.

Being even unhappier with the working environment I am thinking about quitting as I don't intend on staying in academia. I already had/have interviews for a new job and have gotten already one positive answer. But I am not sure, as next month I would have to go to the US for two months for collaboration to finish the last project. But I guess what I really fear is that she will try to punish me, she already started talking badly about me in my faculty, and not let me finish.

Was anyone ever in a similar situation and/or has some advice to share, I would be very grateful. Also if you think I am in the wrong please let me know.

1 Answer 1


Hard to answer. Both of you have legitimate concerns. She may think you are too selfish and non-cooperative. On the other hand, it is unreasonable to ask you to supervise many master's students. Maybe talk to her and explain precisely why you don't have enough time.

Also, you do seem to disrespect her, so she feels it. Overall, I would just finish the PhD in a polite and professional way. It's not unusual to have conflicts at work, or PhD, and you have to live with it, unless she is doing something really illegitimate, which I don't think she is.

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