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I am sorry here but I am very anxious about my future. The conditions are as follows:

  1. There is only one year left before I get my PhD in physics major. I need to finish my dissertation in 6 months.
  2. Although I have published some papers that enable me to apply for the degree, I am not a competitive candidate for a post-doctoral position.
  3. I am not very interested in the research direction I was studying, nor was I in the mood to continue the subject.
  4. I am still impassioned by the idea of researching but have no idea of new directions.

I'm now wondering if it would be a good idea to change direction by pursuing a second PhD, since I don't think that I can find a post-doctoral position in the new direction.

Therefore, I hope to get your advice to help me through this difficult time in life. Thanks in advance!

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    Use a post-doc to change direction. Other answers cover this topic on this site. Jul 31, 2023 at 14:36
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    You do not need to "tell your story". In fact, if the long tale of your story is vital to your question, then it is almost inevitable that your question will be closed as being too dependent on your individual circumstances and hence, insufficiently relevant to any other reader. Edit your question. Chop most of your "story", and try and condense your question to something succinct. Aug 1, 2023 at 12:11
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    Thank you for your suggestions! It seems that my ability to search literature is also very poor. I didn't find two similar problems before. The problem "Transition from PhD to postdoc with an intent to change field" in 2013, in particular, was exactly what I thought. The answer to this question " (How) can I switch from field X to field Y after getting a PhD?" is also brutal and realistic.I will try to find a postdoc position. Thank you all agian!
    – waiting
    Aug 2, 2023 at 3:15

2 Answers 2

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I'm sorry you're facing such difficulties. It's crucial to have open discussions about your feelings with your friends or colleagues and support networks, as they may provide valuable advice or solutions. Taking time to reconsider what draws you to physics and research might help you identify new paths you'd be more passionate about.

Pivoting to related fields could be beneficial. With your physics background, computational roles, data analysis, or machine learning could be suitable. If you're thinking about a second PhD, weigh the benefits and drawbacks carefully. Consider non-academic careers too, as many sectors value the skills gained from a physics PhD.

Lastly, don't neglect your mental well-being. It's perfectly fine to seek support when feeling overwhelmed. Remember, it's your journey and it's okay to change direction if it leads to a more fulfilling path.

Good luck!

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Doing a 2nd PhD just to change field? If you really want to continue in academia (always worth thinking about), I'd recommend doing a post-doc in your actual field of interest. Your PhD can be used as a strength, to differentiate yourself from other postdoc candidates. Try to think of research directions that merge your current and your desired future research path, see if any labs do that, you can even contact them since you're ~ 6 months from your defense to see if they would have any openings for you.

It seems that you have doubts about your ability to secure a post-doc position. But you have already published papers and have apparently overcome a lot of obstacles during your PhD. You know programming. You also seem to know what you want. All of this makes you a great candidate for many postdocs positions!

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