I got my PhD degree from the one of the most excellent universities in Asia and am currently postdoc in US. However, I had the worst nightmare PhD advisor who thought his own students as potential competitors and tried to disturb their future career. He usually did not write reference letters for his own students and I saw most of my seniors leaving the lab without reference letters. Fortunately I got a good postdoc position in US and escaped from the previous lab. After postdoc, I would like to continue research work in US, because I am so exhausted with my PhD advisor and never want to see. Is it difficult to get a position if I do not list my former PhD advisor in the reference list? I can get recommendation letters from postoc supervisor and other professors. In fact, I usually have nice relationships with other people. Also, my PhD advisor has different research interest field from mine. This situation is causing me such difficulty. Please give me any good advice to overcome this situation.
My current aim is working in the tenure-track academic position or national lab than industry. However, if this problem is distracting me too much, I am considering of working in the industrial field.

  • 2
    the only problem with not having a rec letter from your PhD advisor is that the reviewing committee will be wondering why? So you need to get to the stage where you can explain what happened with your advisor. May 14, 2015 at 10:07
  • 1
    Personally, I have never seen a faculty position advertisement, which specifies that one of referees should be your Ph.D. advisor. May 14, 2015 at 10:10
  • 2
    Thank you about comments and web addresses for previous questions. Particularly, your comment about faculty position advertisement gave me real hope. In my situation, there is no way to get recommendation letter from PhD advisor as this is not based on my fault and thus certain advice such as "recovering the relationship" would not be helpful. However, I do have a strong passion in research and thus trying to find a way to overcome this hard situation. When I become a professor or faculty, I would never do similar actions like my PhD advisor as I know how it is so hard for students.
    – need help
    May 14, 2015 at 10:30
  • 9
    I have never seen a faculty position advertisement, which specifies that one of referees should be your Ph.D. advisor. —Most cultural norms are not advertised.
    – JeffE
    May 14, 2015 at 10:44
  • 1
    Dear Zach H, Thanks for giving me hope. In this dark situation, this kind of story gives me hope. Thanks again. I will try to focus and contribute on the science development instead of suffering from that evil greedy villain. Sometimes, I cannot sleep because of terrible memories from PhD advisor.
    – need help
    May 14, 2015 at 13:04


Browse other questions tagged .