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I have submitted the PhD thesis for examination more than 2 months ago. I am currently working with full time job as a researcher in industry. While I am still subject to my supervisor as I have yet to undergo viva voce, I am tired with how my supervisor is treating me now. She likes to boss me around with work at university.

She asked me to provide training to new PhD students in the lab. While I don't really mind do it during my free time (i.e., weekend), she forced me to do it as soon as possible so that she can get the results and publish them in short time. This has led me to ask for leave from company just so I could demonstrate lab techniques to her new students.

Furthermore, she nonchalantly gave my phone number to new grad students to contact me should any problems arise in the lab without my permission. To make things worse, I was the one held responsible to troubleshoot the problems if the experiment was not successful. Also, she just e-mailed me any papers or manuscripts for me to analyze/check the statistics without me being involved in the project. Then I found out that she didn't even acknowledge me when the paper was published (as co-author/ acknowledgement section).

I am tired of the way she's been treating me. I know I am still bound to her as I have yet to undergo viva. I am scared to tell her that she needs to back off as this will definitely affect my viva voce. What should I do?

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    Being bound doesn't mean having to accept any possible request. Probably, it's time to discuss with her your situation, possibly involving the head of department or the school chair. – Massimo Ortolano Oct 11 '17 at 12:23
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    Have you tried to set boundaries? Being a full-time employee sounds like a perfect reason to say "no" to some requests, especially the larger ones. – lighthouse keeper Oct 11 '17 at 15:02
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    If you like to help, but on your terms, be clear about that. You do not need to say "no", you could say that "Yes, but I'm busy, Day X time Y fits me." Choose yourself if you want to go to the lab or if the new students should come to your office (if your employer is fine with that). – Mark Oct 11 '17 at 16:27
  • Walk on a rope for few days. – BioDeveloper Oct 12 '17 at 5:36
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To be frank about it, your main problem is that it is not long enough after you've left the university -- i.e., you've submitted your thesis but haven't defended it yet.

Taking a job in between your thesis submission and successful defense sounds inherently awkward to me: what happens if your defense isn't successful? But I gather that having a such a long gap between submission and defense (in my neck of the woods, we are happy if students send us their thesis three weeks before they defend it) is standard in your part of the academic world.

Did you discuss how you would be spending the time between submission and defense with your advisor before you took the job? If not, now would be a good time to have that discussion. I agree with a comment above saying you should try to set boundaries. I think "Because of my full-time job..." is a promising start to an explanation of why you can't do everything she wants. You wrote

This has led me to ask for leave from company just so I could demonstrate lab techniques to her new students.

That seems like a more drastic step than talking to your advisor about this. If you are willing to go on leave from your full-time job, then where are you going to draw the line?

However, I have to counsel you to have this conversation with your advisor carefully: assuming that getting the PhD is important to you for the rest of your career and life (a fair assumption given your situation, I hope!), the truth is that your advisor has as much power over you now as she has ever had. If you have a terrible falling out with her, that could make her look over your thesis in a different light and -- while personal disagreements with your student should not turn an acceptable thesis into an unacceptable one -- there is some risk of that happening, I'm afraid.

Coming back to the first sentence: you're in an awkward, but temporary situation. I would suggest working overtime (literally?!?) in the short run to make sure that you both get your PhD and keep the job you want. Hang in there until you get everything you want. Good luck.

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    In some countries it is not uncommon to start working elsewhere between submitting and defending your thesis. There are places where (1) you cannot fail your defense, and (2) you have to wait for x months (minimum 3, but often more - say half a year - if you want a more popular day/time for your defense). – Mark Oct 11 '17 at 20:07
  • @Mark: Can you give an example of a place where you cannot fail your defense? (By the way, I didn't say it was uncommon; I said it was awkward.) – Pete L. Clark Oct 11 '17 at 20:12
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    Not in my country. It is common for students to land a job and to work full time while waiting for defense because waiting period can range from 4 months to a year in some cases – alex Oct 11 '17 at 20:14
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    @PeteL.Clark France. They don't let you schedule the defence until the thesis is approved by two external "rapperteurs". It does go back for revisions, but it is virtually impossible to get approval for the defence and then get denied afterwads. At least that was my experience.... – Fábio Dias Oct 12 '17 at 3:12
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    It is very common in few countries to start a job or a postdoc well before defence and right after submission (for a living), which is approximately 7 to 8 months for some Universities. The main reason remains administrative delays and reviewers' reports. So, the advisor should have thought of using your skills well before submission. – BioDeveloper Oct 12 '17 at 5:31
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She likes to boss me around with work at university.

You can't change a micromanaging supervisor/manager. That is just how they operate. What you can do is set the tone for requests and try to accommodate these requests given reason.

This has led me to ask for leave from company just so I could demonstrate lab techniques to her new students.

Kindly ask that she put her requests in writing, preferably email, so that you can check on the parameters of her request if you happen to forget details.

If what she asks conflicts with a prearranged appointment, state the facts. "I am sorry, I have X to do at this time" and make sure that you offer a viable resolution "...But I have time at Y, would that work?" this way, you get to set the tone and timetables.

I am tired of the way she's been treating me. I know I am still bound to her as I have yet to undergo viva. I am scared to tell her that she needs to back off as this will definitely affect my viva voce. What should I do?

As for being subject to your supervisor, is it safe to presume that you a board of people whom are evaluating you? You are subject to the extent what you are willing to do, you can always refuse in a calm tactful manner. One spiteful reviewer should be easily be addressed by your adviser going to bat and having a conversation with him/her. After all, even lab supervisors have superiors that they report to.

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