So I am doing a PhD for nearly 3 years now. I am self-funding my PhD, and I think I already have enough work for my PhD (in Mech. Engineering).

I have 4 papers already published in ISI and Scopus conference proceedings, and one journal paper submited. Apart from that, I have another 2 conference papers published.

In my country I am able to defend a thesis without a supervisor. I am thinking of dropping out and doing this due to the fact that my supervisor claims he needs 2-3 years to review my thesis.

How can I know if my thesis has enough quality and results quantity? Any tips on how to evaluate that? I would like to drop only when I have enough results. Or is there any thesis review service?

  • 13
    Ask your advisor. If they can't answer the question, find another advisor. Repeat as necessary.
    – JeffE
    Commented Apr 16, 2016 at 22:54
  • 11
    he needs 2-3 years to review my thesis WTF?
    – beta
    Commented Apr 17, 2016 at 9:41
  • 1
    As @beta remarks, there is something truly wrong about the situation if your advisor is claiming (s)he needs 2-3 years to review your thesis. This might be a way of avoiding doing it at all, by pushing you to find a new advisor, without saying so explicitly. Commented Apr 17, 2016 at 15:26
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    Either your adviser is insanely lazy and doesn't care at all about your work, or someone at the university is leaning on him to milk you for self-funded tuition money. Either way it's a bit screwy. If that's truly his final word on the matter, I'd find another supervisor or at least somebody willing to take that role in your final days of your PhD. Commented Apr 17, 2016 at 15:31
  • 1
    I am curious in knowing how you defend a thesis without a supervisor.
    – adipro
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 12:32

4 Answers 4


Programs vary in their requirements but I know of places where it takes a minimum of 4 years no matter who you are. If your fast, you sit and wait just because nobody can finish until they have been in the program x number of years.

I do not know if this is how things work at your institution. Given your track record and brisk publishing ability you might be moving too fast for your advisor and the tradition of the institution. His comment of taking 2-3 years might be an indirect way of saying "slow down" and "who do you think you are?"


It would be helpful if you had specified the country. The typical lengths of PhD vary a lot, from 3years in parts of Europe to 7 years in parts of US. I have also never heard of a system where you can ask for a defence without a supervisor, usually she/he is the main person coordinating everything.

Having said that, given that your supervisor seems to be suboptimal (and no, even if he thinks you need to slow down, he should tell you to slow down rather than say I need 2 years to read your thesis), I would:

a) Look into changing advisor

b) Have someone local in the system have a look at your thesis and material and decide: conditions vary enormously from field to field and from system to system

c) Make sure you are not egregiously fast. If average time is 5 years and you want to submit in 3 years as no-supervisor deal, it just calls for trouble to ask me. However, if the standard is 3 years and you are ready after three years and someone else thinks you are ready, go for it.

  • Where I did my PhD in the US, the right to ask for it to be scheduled belongs to any PhD student who has passed all the other qualifying requirements. Of course, only someone who is daft would schedule it without their advisor's go ahead ...
    – virmaior
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 4:56

First, get the examiners' guidelines/criteria in which all PhD theses are evaluated against. From that you can gauge whether you have done enough.

Second, does your university have a person that is responsible or 'take care' of research students (other than your supervisor)? e.g., the person you go to if your relationship with your supervisor turns sour and you need a new supervisor. If so, go to him/her and ask what you can do. The best option would be to find an experienced staff member in a similar area to evaluate your thesis.

By the way, based on what you said about your supervisor, he/she doesn't seem to have your best interest at heart. 2-3 years to read a thesis? Come on. Looks like he/she is trying to keep you around to pump out papers.


You obtain your PhD when you show you are capable of performing independent research.

You have already >1 paper published, chances you published them out of pure luck is negligible, if you are able to thread a story across the papers and if you know the fundamental knowledge&state-of-art needed to produce the papers, you are good to go, even if your papers'results are already obsolete.

Keep in mind that in many places you can do a cumulative thesis, where you prepare an introduction chapter and then you collate the papers you wrote in a certain timeframe.

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