I would be very happy if you can help me, I really need help! One year ago I started my PhD, I was the only PhD student (still am) who was (and still) not paid by the supervisor, and I have to work elsewhere as the personal assistant of another professor!

For the first 3 months, my supervisor gave me no topic, I was just sitting in the office and reading on my own! In the end, as he had no new ideas, I went with my own idea, which he pretends to like! The topic that I suggested (I provided a lot of literature background and methods) is really cool, published in very good journal. I started my job with no help from my supervisor! And till now I was successful with good results and I got a lot of knowledge and learned a lot of techniques. I spoke last week with my supervisor, he said he does not have any grant money to pay me (I know he has, he is going to get one postdoc and one PhD student very soon) and he spoke with me in a way that suggests he will never pay me! He also mentioned a lot in his speech about "failure of my experiments in the future", also that is impossible that I got very nice results, and it seems he likes it that I fail! He also told me I am a free person and I can change my group whenever I like!

I am very much afraid I will not be able to finish my PhD with him, and I thought of changing my group as he said "I am free to do that". I do not know what is the problem with him? I only attempted to get a good result and make him happy! What will you do in my case? What should I do?

Need to say he is just a normal professor not a HUGE face! Please help me and let me know about your ideas.

  • 1
    What country is this? – Bill Barth May 23 '15 at 13:41
  • 4
    a) Please use paragraphs b) If he did not offer funding when you started, why did you expect you would get funding later c) You have not any good results, unless those results are already published in a peer-reviewed journal or conference (if you are in CS) and accepted by the community d) Go work with someone else, if you both hate each other – Alexandros May 23 '15 at 13:56
  • @BillBarth: The OP is in Austria. – aeismail May 23 '15 at 19:47

I am concerned that you say the purpose of your research was to make your professor happy.

Your research, ultimately, is not for your advisor's benefit, but for yours. You are in graduate school for some reason and making your advisor happy is only part of serving that reason, whatever it is. From what you have written, it sounds like there is no reason, either financial or emotional or ethical, for you to stay with this advisor.

So: why haven't you left already?

  • When I started, he told me that he will finance me, actually last week before appointment i thaugh everything is fine but i was schocked by our conversation! Actually i wanted to change already but i was afraid that he will make problems for me! – Yasmin May 23 '15 at 14:54
  • @alexandors: all my in vitro tests are ready, we just need to do in vivo test which will be done after getting etical approvment and then publishing! – Yasmin May 23 '15 at 14:56

Congratulations on the exciting work you have been doing. With the in vivo test you're planning, perhaps this would not be a good time to have it out with this guy. However, there is nothing to keep you from starting to look around for a possible new advisor.

Once you have a person in mind, then you can start to think about how to approach that person. You can use the standard graceful "not a good fit" description, of course, but in your case you can also talk about your hope of getting financial support.

If you find someone who would be interested in taking you on as a student, that person will probably want to guide you in how to handle the switch.

Another thing you might want to do is to talk with the head of the deparment, or the dean of graduate students.

Just make sure that you don't sound like a whiner or complainer. Just outline the facts, leaving feelings out of it.

  • Thank you very much for your help! This would be very nice if other people can tell me about their experiences in this regard. – Yasmin May 26 '15 at 18:11
  • @Yasmin, my personal experience was that I was doing a research assistantship for a department chair, who didn't approve of the line of research I was pursuing. My advisor recommended to me that I resign from the R.A. position in order to achieve greater independence of inquiry. So I went to see the assistant chair and asked him to move me to a teaching assistantship, which he did. - - Perhaps it would be worthwhile to write a question in which you ask people to describe a variety of personal experiences with changing advisors. – aparente001 May 27 '15 at 4:37

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