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Angry supervisor over opting for masters - (Oct/25/2012 )

Hi everyone.

I recently managed to find the courage to tell my supervisor that I wished to leave research and leave with a Masters. I admitt I knew early on that I probably would not have stayed and finished my PhD. Now I would like to express that I had always loved science and enjoyed my somewhat limited research experience as an undergrad. However the lab I picked to do my PhD has quite, lets say, a difficult, a tense environment (and not just related to scientific work...people here are difficult over everything). My supervisor shows wanting interest now and again and the project I signed on for from day one was nothing close to what I subsequently did (which i know happens but i feel slightly misled).
After trying to be positive for over a yr and half I decided that it was time to change.
However my supervisor is being quite aggressive towards me when I approach him with the subject. He avoids me in the lab and when he does discuss it with me he persists on using the words "failure", "drop out" and "ruined future career" and "bad on your CV". This is quite upsetting for me as If I could continue with the PhD I would but I feel that the masters route is the right option for me as present. My big question is: Is leaving with a research masters that digraceful??
My future plan is to undertake a career as an occupational therapist or prehaps medical degree. Is a masters a really bad stain on a CV? And how do I handle my clearly unhappy supervisor.



How can a masters degree be a bad stain on a CV? What kind of BS is that? :) Here in Canada (and I guess in most other places), having a masters degree is an advantage if one is applying for professional schools even including medicine. What I would worry more is if your supervisor can block you from getting one because after all, he's the one who's gonna give the go signal if you're ready to write and submit your thesis and present it to your committee. Plus you may need a recommendation from him for your applications- whether for jobs or admission to professional schools. However, if you don't want to continue into the PhD program, then noone has the right to force you.


I guess the supervisor meant that when you quit the phd before finishing (I read your text that you're already a master and started a phd(?)), is a career killer...As far as I know it isn't as you can write in your CV that you worked as scientific assistant/scientist in that lab without mentioning the phd option (if it's not a special phd school or similar stuff).
Supervisors surely look for good trained people and want to avoid that a phd student leaves in the middle of a project as this can be time-consuming to find a new and good one, to instruct them for the work etc. And it's a lot of delay for the project (and possible results and publications) for sure, so he'll rather exaggerate the consequences for you.
Anyway the biggest problem casandra has already mentioned (letter of recommendation).


:P oops sorry...hang-over...

@wizzkid: you have to be more you want to quit your PhD now eh?...are you only starting or in the midst of it? Ok, now I understand why your supervisor is pissed off. But still, if your heart is not in it anymore, then you have very little can't go to work hating what you do. And to finish your PhD, you're gonna need a lot of focus, motivation and determination. Perhaps, you shld try again talking with your supervisor and perhaps you can turn him around. But like dr H said, you can still 'fix' your CV to include this research experience though yup, you may have a problem with the letter of recommendation if he's not willing to give you one..... so hopefully, you can get them from someone else.


@Wizzkid- It seems you are interested in PhD work but annoyed by supervisor. If this is major reason for leaving it, it may not be better choice. and career as an occupational therapist or prehaps medical degree is it really what you want? Are you sure this is not a excuse you are giving to yourself for leaving your PhD? Decision taken in hurry could cost you more. You need to adjust with research environment. We have our own ideas for research but sometime keeping them dormant is best option for a time being.