I am doing my Ph.D. (physics) in a country where there is a countrywide Ph.D. entrance exam. I appeared for the entrance exam and got into (arguably) the best institute in my country. This was 3 years ago. The problem is that the institute decides our department before the entrance exam. After my 3 years B.Sc, I did not know any better and applied for the Experimental High Energy Physics Department. After joining, I realised that I did not like HEP that much and wanted to change my department. But my institute would not let me do that.
I finally found a supervisor in our department who works in a lot of different topics like Optics and Quantum Computation. I joined his lab and worked with him for the last one and a half year during my coursework. Two months ago, I registered for my Ph.D. under the same supervisor.
Recently, the conditions in our lab deteriorated a lot. There is a general feeling of depression and anxiety among the other students. Work is going really slowly because of the following reasons:
- All the students are working in individual experimental project that have no overlap with one another.
- The supervisor is a big-shot and has his own research interests. And he is not particularly interested in our work. (This is a feedback I got from all my lab seniors).
- We have to do all administrative and engineering work related to our project by ourselves.
- There are no publications from our lab in the last 5 years. I was made to believe that it was the students fault that there was no publication. But the more I see, the more I realise that this is the rule and not the exception. I mean, all the students can't be at fault. I know that this should have been a red flag but as I said before, I was made to believe something else.
I am realising now that staying in the lab is not an option. Even my seniors are contemplating on leaving the lab. I have two options now.
- Leave the lab and join someone else in the same department. Note that there is no one in our department who works on a similar field.
- Leave the institute altogether. Then I have to do a one-year M.Sc thesis project before leaving. There is only one other group in our country that does a similar work and they are already full. Also, it is really hard to get into the labs in other countries even with my research experience.
I am planning to follow the first option and join a different group in our department. This group works on a field that is neither HEP nor my present field.
So my question is; Is it wise to change the field mid Ph.D.? Or should I risk it and leave with M.Sc and apply for Ph.D. abroad? In either case, I will have to start from scratch and my one and a half year of work would be for nothing.
TL;DR: Due to problems in our current lab, should I leave our lab and join another group who works on entirely different subject or leave my institute altogether and apply in universities abroad (which is difficult).
P.S. I have about 4 years of institute funding left, if I plan on staying in the institute.