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Offline Guitarmaniac86

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Anonymous
« on: October 26, 2016, 05:19:02 AM »
Is it possible to submit a PhD thesis post viva anonymously. I do not want to be associated with the University at all. I do not want my name on any publications arising from the work I have done, and I do not want my name on the graduate roll. I want to completely disassociate myself from the place. Mainly because I am ashamed of how bad the thesis is, how bad the research went despite doing everything I could to get it to work. Even my supervisors think I will most likely fail. Out of 6 chapters, one has had 90% of the work done for it, another chapter the synthesis is incomplete and another chapter the synthesis is still proof of concept work and needs a ton of work to even be considered PhD level of work. I really do not want my name on this work. Its shameful. I should not have been allowed to get this far in.

Everyone thinks I am being silly, and the university wont give me an answer, but I have hated the last 4 years. I have been treated unfairly and I just do not want my name associated with the PhD or any papers thereafter. I told my supervisor to keep my name off any publications and they said they cant do that. Surely they can if  a contract is signed where I sign away all of my supposed rights?

I wont be going to my graduation, if by some miracle, I pass. I told my supervisors I do not want any celebrations post viva, I do not want anything at all. I just want to go to my viva and leave right after and close the door on this chapter of my life.

If I am offered an MPhil, I will reject it outright and demand a fail. I came for a PhD, if I cant get one, I would rather leave with a fail, at least then, that will be an accurate representation of the work.

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Offline Hunter2

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Re: Anonymous
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2016, 10:53:58 AM »
If everything is so bad, then don't post anything and the problem is solved. And leave the University and look for a different job.

Offline Dan

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Re: Anonymous
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2016, 01:20:00 PM »
Is it possible to submit a PhD thesis post viva anonymously.

I doubt it very much.

If you really don't want to put your name on your thesis, the options are to either extend your PhD to get it into a state you are satisfied with, or quit (possibly with the option of gaining an MPhil). It's easy to get stuck on the negatives of your work, listen to external opinions. How many people have read your thesis, and how many of them think you should not submit it? Is your own opinion of your work consistently much lower than everyone else's?

I see no logical reason you would refuse an MPhil and demand nothing. What does this gain you? While you may not feel you deserve a PhD, you almost certainly deserve an MPhil after 4 years of postgraduate study. Same with publications, if you contributed, you deserve to be there and ethically the other authors are required to credit you. If your work is not currently in shape for a thesis, it isn't for a paper either. Publications would presumably arise after someone else has picked up and finished off your projects - why don't you want credit for your contribution?

Finally, is this a battle worth fighting? People who don't know you went to university XYZ and attempted a PhD (successfully or not) will not try to look you up unless you tell them. Rather than attempting to strike your name from the record, it would be easier just to not tell anyone and leave it off your résumé etc. I strongly advise against that though - I'd suggest taking what you can get and accepting credit where it's due. Capitalise on what you have done, and don't punish yourself for what you haven't.
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Offline Babcock_Hall

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Re: Anonymous
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2016, 05:01:01 PM »
What Dan said.  Three very general points.  One is that my project did not even start working until my fourth year, then it generally went smoothly.  Two is that many of us have some degree of the imposter syndrome.  Finally, I would caution against making a hasty decision.  I think you are better off gathering input from as many sources as possible first.

Offline discodermolide

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Re: Anonymous
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2016, 06:38:52 PM »
Well my PhD did not really start to produce results until the final year which was not very satisfying but I completed one synthetic route while writing the thing up and got through.
Why be ashamed of what you have done?
Ask for an extension and finish the project that is 90% done. See if you can advance the incomplete synthesis and make a start on the POC route.
As I said in a previous post it's a shame to chuck it all in just because you think things are bad, what is important is what the examiners think. I get the impression that you have done a lot of work here so use it to your advantage.
Perhaps discuss things with someone else in the department, getting an independent opinion may help.
As for publications, your name does not have to be on the paper(s) but you won't be able to keep it off the thesis.
Be proud of what you have accomplished and try use it to your advantage.
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Offline Corribus

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Re: Anonymous
« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2016, 09:54:12 PM »
There are a lot of people out there with PhDs that probably don't deserve them. On the other hand, we are in a system where the primary metric used to determine the completeness of a PhD is number of completed research publications (or other equivalent markers of completed research). Unfortunately scientific research is not always within our control - while your own personal attributes certainly have something to do with it, failure can also be laid at the feet of bad advisors or the fact that a lot of times research just doesn't work. Strictly speaking, a PhD (at least, from my perspective) is supposed to reflect a certain high level of book knowledge, laboratory techniques mastery, and - most important - critical thinking and communication skills. In this regard a strong publication record is probably correlated to mastery of these skills, but not perfectly so. It is certainly possible to have a high degree of training in all these areas and simply not have the publication record to go along with it. In my view such people deserve their PhDs despite few if any research papers. I have also personally known a number of scientists who emerged from their PhD work with impressive publication records who couldn't think their way out of a cardboard box. (And to complete the spectrum, I've known people who graduated with PhDs and had no papers, were lazy, couldn't write for s#*$, and wouldn't be able to design a scientific research program to save their lives, so...).
 
The unfortunate truth is that publication record is going to be one of the first things many prospective employers (including post-doc mentor) are going to be looking at as an indicator of the quality of your degree. Especially true in academic and research circles. On the other hand, if you're using your PhD as a springboard toward alternative scientific (and non-scientific) careers, publication record will be less important, as employers will view a PhD more as an indicator of critical thinking skills rather than your ability to complete a basic research project. So while your lack of publication record will probably impact your possible employment choices, the lack of success at your research efforts shouldn't necessarily be viewed as synonymous with failure or a sham degree.

My candid opinion is that you're being absolutely foolish and making a rash decision out of pride, resentment frustration, fear, or some equally negative emotion - and making big decisions based on any emotion is a bad idea, period. You should get the highest degree the university is willing to award you - based on THEIR criteria and not your own. What will be interpreted as failure by just about anyone is quitting after several years and getting nothing. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by getting your degree. Dig yourself out of your funk, publish the best thesis you can based on what you have, get your name on what publications deserve it, and move on with your life - whether it's in science or not. If you do all these things to the best of your ability and with a good attitude, your advisor if he/she is honorable should write you a good letter, and you'll have more opportunities than if you just childishly throw your hands up and quit.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2016, 10:35:06 PM by Corribus »
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Offline Babcock_Hall

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Re: Anonymous
« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2016, 09:56:47 AM »
Suppose that one is attempting a master's degree.  If a mentor designs a project competently and student executes the work competently, I would award a master's degree even if the experiments did not pan out.  In other words, if it was reasonable to try a given approach, negative results do not preclude the awarding of a master's degree.  For a Ph.D., I would hope for some positive results.  In other words if a student had done work that had failed for a few years, I would like to see that student take on a smaller project and show that he or she was capable of generating novel, successful science.  MOO.

Offline kriggy

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Re: Anonymous
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2016, 05:24:22 PM »
Oh yeah, my masters degree was basicaly one big pile of failed experiments. It started with me waiting 2 months for chemicals then the published procedrue didnt even work as described, then I spent 4 months doing benzylations on molecule with two reaction centers with basicaly same reactivity and opting for monobenzylation. Also, the compound I realy wanted to make to move further took me few more months and I wasnt able to make in in large enough quantities. In the end I made few derivatives that were easy to make but I wasnt realy proud of that either. And in the end, I looked up a dissertation of the lady whose procedure I was following, found out that the compound I wanted to make is described there but I knew that the synthetic pathway described just cant be possible because I did try it several times (also, the compound didnt make it into the paper while the others did so it also raises bit suspicion)

Offline AWK

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Re: Anonymous
« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2016, 06:13:40 PM »
A new Nobel Prize winner is on the way. Svante Arrhenius had also horrible troubles with PhD.
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Offline Guitarmaniac86

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Re: Anonymous
« Reply #9 on: November 01, 2016, 07:21:24 AM »
Thank you everyone for your replies. Since last week I have made and attended a meeting where a few points were raised. My primary supervisor thinks the thesis is in a good enough state to submit, though has cautioned me that passing the viva will be very difficult, but doable. My second supervisor in the same meeting disagreed and said that despite the completed thesis, I do not have what it takes to pass the viva and he is severely concerned that I will not be able to defend the thesis because I have never once stood up for myself in 4 years. He is very intimidating and so I said nothing to that. He might have a point there.

I could not get an extension as suggested, but I get the impression that I have a chance, despite the mood over the last year being I had very little to no chance of passing. My primary asked if I wanted a mock viva, which I agreed to. They have given me specific things in the thesis to make sure I am clued up on because those are the things they would ask a student. My second supervisor said if he wanted to be extra harsh he would ask me x y z, so I took that massive hint to make sure I am clued up on those points too.

My candid opinion is that you're being absolutely foolish and making a rash decision out of pride, resentment frustration, fear, or some equally negative emotion - and making big decisions based on any emotion is a bad idea, period. You should get the highest degree the university is willing to award you - based on THEIR criteria and not your own. What will be interpreted as failure by just about anyone is quitting after several years and getting nothing. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by getting your degree. Dig yourself out of your funk, publish the best thesis you can based on what you have, get your name on what publications deserve it, and move on with your life - whether it's in science or not. If you do all these things to the best of your ability and with a good attitude, your advisor if he/she is honorable should write you a good letter, and you'll have more opportunities than if you just childishly throw your hands up and quit.

I have to eat some humble pie and agree that I was being foolish last week. Your comment struck a chord here because many people professionally and personally, have said the same thing to me since last week.
Is it possible to submit a PhD thesis post viva anonymously.

I doubt it very much.

If you really don't want to put your name on your thesis, the options are to either extend your PhD to get it into a state you are satisfied with, or quit (possibly with the option of gaining an MPhil). It's easy to get stuck on the negatives of your work, listen to external opinions. How many people have read your thesis, and how many of them think you should not submit it? Is your own opinion of your work consistently much lower than everyone else's?

I see no logical reason you would refuse an MPhil and demand nothing. What does this gain you? While you may not feel you deserve a PhD, you almost certainly deserve an MPhil after 4 years of postgraduate study. Same with publications, if you contributed, you deserve to be there and ethically the other authors are required to credit you. If your work is not currently in shape for a thesis, it isn't for a paper either. Publications would presumably arise after someone else has picked up and finished off your projects - why don't you want credit for your contribution?

Finally, is this a battle worth fighting? People who don't know you went to university XYZ and attempted a PhD (successfully or not) will not try to look you up unless you tell them. Rather than attempting to strike your name from the record, it would be easier just to not tell anyone and leave it off your résumé etc. I strongly advise against that though - I'd suggest taking what you can get and accepting credit where it's due. Capitalise on what you have done, and don't punish yourself for what you haven't.

My concern with the thesis was that my primary supervisor earlier this year said that it is the weakest thesis they have seen and said that they wished everyone in the group could have a thesis like one of the best students ever to grace the group. She was fiercely intelligent, excellent experimentalist and had synthesised 4 libraries of compounds for a total of 80 compounds in 3 years with full biological characterisation. Everyone is compared to her and I have been told that I fall so so far short of this person. Lately my primary has changed their tune realising how demoralising it is to be told, as a group, that we are just not good enough. No one except my supervisors and the industrial sponsors have seen the thesis to date.

My work will probably be published next year since the compounds are still in testing, which is the final 10% of the work, which I cannot do because I do not have the training to do the specific assays that are required. I did ask for training to learn but the deal was done for an external company to do it before I started the PhD.

Well my PhD did not really start to produce results until the final year which was not very satisfying but I completed one synthetic route while writing the thing up and got through.
Why be ashamed of what you have done?
Ask for an extension and finish the project that is 90% done. See if you can advance the incomplete synthesis and make a start on the POC route.
As I said in a previous post it's a shame to chuck it all in just because you think things are bad, what is important is what the examiners think. I get the impression that you have done a lot of work here so use it to your advantage.
Perhaps discuss things with someone else in the department, getting an independent opinion may help.
As for publications, your name does not have to be on the paper(s) but you won't be able to keep it off the thesis.
Be proud of what you have accomplished and try use it to your advantage.


I asked for an extension and was told no, the thesis is in good enough condition to submit now, but I will have a hard time in the viva.

A friend of mine did ask to see the thesis (a post doc) to see why I am in a mood about it. I may take him up on the offer.

Again, thank you all for your advice, kind words and reality checks, I greatly appreciate all of your viewpoints.
Don't believe atoms, they make up everything!

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