So in UK, people generally complete their PhD in 3.5 to 4 years.

Before, I intended to finish in 4 years as I wanted time to publish everything before writing up. Towards the end of 3rd year, I applied for a grant to do research abroad which could be anywhere between 1 and 12 months which I got accepted for earlier this year. I originally planned to do 2 to 3 months for experience (and a mini-holiday), but in the end decided to work for 12 months as it is in a good research group and I would like a publication out of it.

For this to work within the time period, I have decided to start this position 2 months before the PhD submission deadline, in which I will come back to UK after to submit - meaning I have put my PhD on suspension for a year (which has been accepted). I will not be able to finish my thesis before I go so that is why I am doing it this way.

The position itself counts as a post-doc, even though I have not graduated my PhD. I understand this may look good as I have applied and got my own funding for this, but also thought it might look strange in academic bios, as graduation years are usually listed. Therefore people see that I took 5 years to complete it (whereas in reality it is 4 years + 1 year suspension).

Any thoughts on how academics may perceive this kind of bio?

  • In my area (electrical/computer science), candidates are evaluated on the quality of their publications. Another consideration is types of works; these will determine whether a candidate will flourish in our university. Jul 5, 2017 at 22:18
  • I don't think it will look particularly strange - it will be clear to anyone looking at your CV (or at least, you should make sure that it is!) that you had a break during those five years during which you were doing something useful. Jul 6, 2017 at 12:24
  • @user Thanks for your comment, that is a very good suggestion that I should reinforce myself.
    – Cloud Chem
    Jul 6, 2017 at 14:40

1 Answer 1


I'm not in the UK, but if you would accept that your question is "Does graduating with a PhD 1 year later than normal look bad?" I would say no, it doesn't, and especially if it results in 1 additional good publication, it might even look better. As @ProfSantaClaus mentions, publication records are typically most important.

Additionally, having received a presumably competitive grant looks good, doing work with an additional research group looks good, and expanding your network by working with another research group is also good.

I wouldn't worry too much about this as long as the whole process makes good sense for you in other ways, and it sounds like it does.

  • Thank you for your detailed reply. You definitely made me feel more confident in my choice!
    – Cloud Chem
    Jul 6, 2017 at 0:11

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