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I am working on my PhD thesis. This study was funded the Foundation for Joint Russian-Finnish Scientific Innovation Projects (TEKES - Funding Agency, Finland). The grant consists of two intermediate stages, at the end of which it was necessary to report on the research carried out and on the published works.

The final report must contain information about the defended PhD thesis. I successfully completed the first two stages. But then the circumstances were not the best for me. And this caused a delay in the submission of the final report. I haven't completed my dissertation yet.

The foundation that sponsored my research requires one of two ways:

  1. Submit my report as soon as possible (I can't do this because I haven't completed my thesis).
  2. Letter explaining the reasons for the delay and requesting an extension of the submission of the final report.

The letter obviously needs some good reason. Because TEKES cooperates with Russian funding agencies, I can’t say that by the time the third stage was over, well-known events had happened in Ukraine and this had affected my distant relatives and close friends, which unsettled me.

In addition, I worked almost to the point of exhaustion, did not allow myself to rest and fell victim to procrastination and laziness.

Although the study is almost completed and does not require additional funding, but only 2-3 months, I do not know how to get out of the situation that I am in. This may affect my career, and sanctions may be imposed on the institute and the scientific advisor. How should I proceed?

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    If you can't do #1, what do you expect us to suggest besides doing #2? Oct 14, 2022 at 19:48
  • @AzorAhai-him- Yes, I can't do the first point. Regarding the second point, I would like to know what strategy to choose for interaction with the fund and explain the reasons for the delay so that the fund does not reject the possibility of submitting a report and gives time for revision.
    – dtn
    Oct 14, 2022 at 19:56
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    What does your advisor suggest? What would someone who didn't finish their thesis do? Does the thesis actually need to be completed to finalize the report? - you state it does, but that seems strange to me.
    – Bryan Krause
    Oct 14, 2022 at 20:09
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    I edited some info you provided into the question - hopefully it captures your meaning. By "but only 2-3 months" do you mean you only have 2-3 more months of funding? Oct 14, 2022 at 20:15
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    @dtn They're a lot closer to this than the rest of us are, as they have direct familiarity with your work and with the granting agency.
    – Bryan Krause
    Oct 14, 2022 at 20:20

3 Answers 3

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A funding agency that expects that all research projects are successfully completed on time and within budget is being unrealistic. Research ain't like that.

I don't know how this would be received, but I suggest that you submit a report stating the current state of affairs and the expectation of completion. Make it as complete as a final report. Say what was accomplished and what still needs completion.

But, within the report, offer to submit a supplement later, at some specific date.

I can't predict how it would be received, and it might even mark your project as "failed", but, again, people funding research need to understand that exploring the unknown is impossible with a firm schedule.

I suspect that they get lots of such reports if people are willing to be honest, though not all are.

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    Thank you for your strong answer! Indeed, I am too honest. And I want everything to be perfect, because This is my first serious career experience. It is the fund's unpredictable reaction to my honest explanation that scares me. But it's probably the only option.
    – dtn
    Oct 14, 2022 at 20:27
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    Yes this seems right, as someone who has gotten extensions on final reports in the US. You say what has been done and what remains. Maybe say what aspect of the research took longer than expected: maybe subject recruitment was more difficult than expected etc. You give an proposed revised timeline. Short and direct. The fact that they offer option #2 means it is not totally unusual.
    – Dawn
    Oct 15, 2022 at 17:19
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    100% honesty is the best policy. "Research ain't like that" is a fact of life that does and will continue to create many situations and motives for researchers to hesitate to be fully forthcoming and honest. Succumbing to these pressures is a mistake, and does the scientist, the scientific community and the scientific discipline a grave disservice. @dtn you don't need to (and they don't want you to) indulge them with the minutia of your personal life. "Shit happened, we're not done, at the current schedule we'll be done by (date). Thanks for your patience and support"
    – Him
    Oct 16, 2022 at 23:03
  • Everything ended successfully. Thank you for your advice and support!
    – dtn
    Apr 17 at 10:34
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I worked almost to the point of exhaustion ... and fell victim to procrastination and laziness

How could you work hard and be lazy at the same time? :)

Anyway, the reasons listed in your question won't look good to any funding agency, but there's an elegant solution: "unexpected" "difficulties" in research. Sure, it is not ethical to make up things, but hey, we are talking about just two months and you are not even requesting additional funding.

Come up with an idea about something that you can claim to be an unexpected difficulty. For example, a multidimensional integral turned out to converge much slower than expected, which necessitated developing a highly complex numerical procedure to tackle the problem. Or your statistical calculations had to be adjusted for an additional factor. Or your cat ate the lab mice. Kidding about the last one.

And the funding agency will buy it. After all, they are not experts in your field. Even if they were, they wouldn't check the details of your explanation anyway. They each have a too large pile of paperwork to enjoy, so don't expect your carefully worded explanation to get more than a few minutes of their attention.

Good luck with your deadline extension request and don't be a penguin next time. Couldn't resist typing the penguin part - I'm a learner of Russian and you are Russian. Спит пингвин который день - a всему виною лень :)

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    There is actually a class of student called productive procrastination including me
    – Neuchâtel
    Oct 14, 2022 at 21:08
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    Thank you for your answer! I mean, I started to get a lot lazy and procrastinate towards the end of my job. Those. The beginning and middle of the journey really resembled the clip Rammstein - Sonne (in the part where they mined)
    – dtn
    Oct 15, 2022 at 2:43
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    How could you work hard and be lazy at the same time? Meet me :) I work extremely hard on the parts that interest me within a topic, and then the ones that do not get pushed and pushed and pushed. Another case is when 99% o the job is done via hrd work and then the last piece is dragged because other things popped out.
    – WoJ
    Oct 15, 2022 at 8:51
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    @F30 Ok I've removed that part
    – Mitsuko
    Oct 16, 2022 at 11:46
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    Everything ended successfully. Thank you for your advice and support!
    – dtn
    Apr 17 at 10:34
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As nobody here would have any reason to know what that funding agency would require in this case, you should probably call the funding agency to find out how they want you to proceed.

It's probably a good idea to make this a conference call with your advisor on it.

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  • Everything ended successfully. Thank you for your advice and support!
    – dtn
    Apr 17 at 10:35

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