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I am currently enrolled in a PhD program in electrical engineering in Europe since 1 year up to now. I am not absolutely satisfied by the outcome of this year and the environment inside the institute. I really think I am wasting time here (my research is meaningless, changing topic time to time according to the willing of my supervisor) and my supervisor is not interested anymore in my research topic. Thus, I was thinking about quitting and transfer to another university.

However, I am worried about the references/recommendation letters, since if I quit I don´t think I can ask for recommendation letters from my current situation. Moreover, I am worried that other research groups would not accept me, because they may think that I am low on perseverance.

Is it an uncommon situation? What do you suggest to do?

Thanks for any help,

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – eykanal Mar 22 '17 at 12:22
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(I realize this is a belated answer, so this is mostly for other readers, not for OP.)

You should definitely not be in a situation where you're doing research that is not meaningful to you, and are merely at the whim of your supervisor.

But - the point is not which university you are in. The point is what do you want to study as a researcher? Try figuring out what it is that you are interested in - then look for places where you could pursue this subject/question; and for potential supervisors/advisors for doing so.

If you focus your own interests, it might even help you make a stand vis-a-vis your supervisor rather than caving to what s/he dictates (Not necessarily; but maybe). And you might be able to arrange for having a co-supervisor - in or out of your current university - who shared your interest, or finds use in what you intend to study.

As for references/recommendations - that's a minor consideration. I mean, it's true that if you quit you might not get your current supervisor's recommendation; but you can't let that be a decisive factor, to the extent of staying and wasting your life like you describe.

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    A mismatch between the student and advisor research interests can be presented in a tactful way that does not criticize the advisor. That may help with getting a recommendation. – Patricia Shanahan Aug 1 at 15:33

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