I have started and completed 4 years in a theoretical physics PhD program. I was ABD ("all but dissertation") and have published a couple of papers on that topic and been employed in a research project. I quit about 1 year before completing it and was considered ABD because all that was left was to write up my PhD thesis.
I had been considering switching to Computational Neuroscience for a while then, and because there was a project hiring PhD students in a lab that I really wanted to work in, I decided to abandon my first PhD and switch to Computational Neuroscience. This second PhD I completed and am now a second year postdoc at the same lab.
So for my current position, the CV was not much of an issue. But now I am thinking of applying for other positions and grants and I wonder how this sort of "gap" in my education section will look to people evaluating my CV and how to declare what I did during those 4 years. Do I list my PhD and say that I was ABD? Does that even mean anything to people outside of the US? I'm in Europe now and my current advisor did not know what ABD means and suggested I just leave out my first PhD program. Does that feel right to people? Going from physics to computational neuroscience is by no means uncommon but I feel like completing 4 years in a PhD program to then go do another one is.
If anyone has experience with a similar situation, I'd appreciate pointers!