Disclaimer After I have read the title, I have understood that it might be misleading. I do not mean that being a teaching staff or administrative staff is somewhere to be stuck with. For starters, I want to be involved in the academia as a scientist, and scientists are not so much valued in my country.

I am at a point in my life that I am too much concerned for my future. In fact, this is the only time period that I have that much concerns. I seek for any advice that can take me out of my downward spiral.

My job conditions

  • I am 26 years old.
  • I have finished my master's last year.
  • I have a full-time job in a university since November 2011.
  • I am also a PhD student in that university since February 2015.
  • Even though my job title is "research assistant", I do teaching for 8-10 hours a week and exam proctoring for 6-8 hours a week on the average.
  • Because of my teaching duty, I prepare quizzes/assignments and grade them as well, which approximately takes up to 5-6 hours per week.
  • Sometimes, I have extra administrative duties that might take up a full day or so.
  • It has been one year after I've finished my master's and yet I have no publications.
  • My thesis adviser also suffers from the administrative duties and has little to no time to carry out research with me.
  • There are no research groups where I work. Even though there are some people those want to carry out group studies, they are either too busy or their areas of interest are different than mine.

My personal issues

  • Despite the question I have asked before, now I do realize that I really enjoy research. By research, I am not talking about the fun parts, but struggling with seemingly most boring and useless parts.
  • I usually study for long hours as a block to be productive. For instance, if I start studying at 10PM, I finish at 3AM or so. However, my productivity drops when I divide my working hours into multiple periods.
  • My job does not let me study for a long time continuously.
  • I do not want to, and more importantly, am not capable of working in the industry.
  • I feel like I am inside a downward spiral; such that more time I spend without publications, the harder I gain scientific reputation around the world.
  • Since my life-goal is to be a scientist, I need to find a paid PhD position in a country that values scientists to be happy with my life and do my part to prepare a better future for my soon-to-be spouse.
  • When I do not gain enough reputation around the world, I probably will not be in the shortlists of the universities.
  • I do not have enough experience to carry out a research all by myself. Even if I do, it will probably end up as a trash.


  • I have no hard proof that I am able to do research other than some first attempt technical reports and my supervisor's reference. Hence, I am naturally being turned down by most of the universities since I have no proof that I can do research.
  • I am afraid of being stuck in the country that I live in, and being a person that has no other choice than work as a full time college member full of administrative duties and no research practice.
  • If I finish my PhD in my current university, the above situation will be inevitable for me since I probably will have no publications and the same process will follow me through post-doc applications.
  • I have limited funds.

Miscellaneous Points

  • I have applied to a PhD position requiring a considerably low fee and have agreed with my potential supervisor on principle. However, that university requires some sort of paperwork to recognize my master's diploma. There is a chance that I don't obtain a recognition and miss the deadline for enrollment.
  • Most of the universities with paid PhD positions either require publications or reference from their own faculty members. Unfortunately, I have neither of them.

My choices that I have thought of so far

  • Applying for master's positions with scholarships and start all over again.
  • Quitting my job, dropping off of my PhD and ask for internships from various research groups across Europe, hoping to find a job. By doing this, I would be risking all my savings and coming back to where I start with nothing.
  • Applying for industry jobs, and submit applications to PhD positions without scholarships after I save some money.
  • Accepting the fact that I was born unlucky, and carry on with my life with below-the-average happiness.

More on the country that I live in

  • It does not have a good reputation throughout the world.
  • In most of the universities, your publications are only "something that you do for yourself". As long as what you do does not attract potential students, the university prefers you to work harder for your administrative duties.
  • Even if you are capable of invent teleportation, and obviously so close inventing it the administrators will not appreciate this unless you do your job.
  • Are you referring to institution that is on your profile? Before doing anything from your choices, you should publish more papers, one thing is for sure, you need to change your working environment, since it is not what you expected,
    – SSimon
    Jan 3, 2016 at 1:53
  • Applying for master's positions with scholarships and start all over again. You wrote in [previous question][1] posted by you, that you dont like taking exams and classes, is this situation changed now? Why you dont apply for PhD position with scholarship? You need to know that you cannot be professor with master degree, Quitting my job, dropping off of my PhD and ask for internships fro...e, you need research experience for that and EU passport, otherwise you have exchange schemes and other programs that help in institutional cooperation of EU and your country, have you heard about it?
    – SSimon
    Jan 3, 2016 at 2:00
  • I thought I'm the only one who has similar dilemma in this stack exchange.. seems like you have it more difficult than me.
    – kate
    Sep 26, 2020 at 7:41

2 Answers 2


I disagree with you that applying for a masters's program is like having to "start all over again."

In the US, it isn't unusual to have two master's. I know many people who got a master's from one school and then another from their PhD school.

Also, Research Assistants have very little obligations other than fulfilling their [small] course requirements. Again, this might be different in other countries but is typical in the US. You may be expected to be a Teaching Assistant prior to becoming a Research Assistant but it will be a lighter work load than what you have now.

Taking this route is what I would expect from anyone who isn't coming from a top-tier university, so go for it!

  • 2
    "Again, this might be different in other countries but is typical in the US." - indeed, especially the existence of a strict distinction between research assistants and teaching assistants, and any assumptions on what spectrum of tasks these jobs imply vary wildly between countries. Jan 2, 2016 at 23:36
  • @O.R.Mapper Right, and the OP made a few comments that make it clear they are looking to move to a new country to improve their circumstances in this manner. The US provides that, for the little info we have about the OP's situation. Jan 2, 2016 at 23:38

Concentrate on your research. If the Powers That Be consider you too valuable as a researcher, you might get away with little administrative responsibilities. But being a successful reserarcher means you'll end up managing your graduate students, research group, ... In a sense, it is inevitable. Best you can do is to avoid too boring tasks...

  • 4
    Unfortunately, as a research assistant, one is as valuable as he/she carries out the administrative duties as much as possible. I probably might not get away with little work
    – padawan
    Jan 2, 2016 at 23:26

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