My thesis supervisor resigned....

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In summary, your current supervisor denied you a position because your thesis report was not "satisfactory."
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zeno28
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I have been doing my master thesis in photonics and finally managed to submit my thesis report. But an year back when I completed my lab work and just started writing the report my thesis supervisor resigned from the institute without any notice. I still tried to write my report and in view of the incident, the university assigned me new supervisors who although experts in general were not very familiar with with my project (I worked in THz while the new supervisors were more oriented towards XUV).

I also was not familiar with their work style and expectation, this created a barrier for discussion and interaction. Few months into that and I was diagnosed with ADHD and had to take few months off for diagnosis and therapy.

With everything it took me around 10 months to write my report. After that I discussed with my current supervisor for a PhD position in the institute which my previous supervisor had agreed to before her resignation. But he denied it stating he can't offer me a position since he hasn't seen my practical work personally and my thesis report is not "satisfactory". I do agree its fair to deny since the lack of mutual practical work and the report being not satisfactory. But I want to explain him that I did the whole thing myself just reading books and research paper and had basically no guidance on scientific writing.

Now I spent 2.5 years working on this project from scratch. I do want to apply to other places but when it comes to references I am guessing a direct supervisor words hold more impact. But after her resignation, she completely broke all contacts with her students and colleagues. All I rely on is my current supervisor (who is there for university formality) and professors I have worked with before in my bachelors.

My question is how do I explain this delay and lack of reference towards my thesis to my potential employers that I am going to apply to? If anyone has been in a similar situation it'd be really helpful to know how to get around it and not miss out on good opportunities as a result.
 
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  • #2
zeno28 said:
My question is how do I explain this delay and lack of reference towards my thesis to my potential employers that I am going to apply to? If anyone has been in a similar situation it'd be really helpful to know how to get around it and not miss out on good opportunities as a result.
From your post, I gather that you're not in the US. Is that correct? And by "potential employers", are you referring to PhD programs or industrial companies, e.g.? From previous threads, in some countries, if a student enrolls in a PhD program, the university is considered an employer, on the same footing as an industrial company, e.g.. In the US, regardless of whether legally the university is an employer or not, a PhD candidate is typically not considered on the same footing as an employee in industry. So please clarify what your next goal is. I did help a student caught up in a scenario similar to yours, but she was seeking a job in industry in the US.
 
  • #3
That sucks. It's hard when a supervisor leaves, but far more so when they don't make any effort to see that their students can make it to completion. Generally speaking that kind of behavior is quite unethical because when a supervisor takes on a student, they are committing to mentoring that student through the duration of the degree. That said, there are legitimate circumstances where someone may not be able to fulfil that commitment... severe health concerns, fleeing an abusive or violent situation, etc.

To mitigate such circumstances, most universities establish supervisory committees (at least this is how it works in Canada and the US). So, in addition to your supervisor, you have other professors who can step in an help with guidance and mentorship if the relationship with the primary supervisor breaks down. These would be the first people I would go to for help.

zeno28 said:
But I want to explain him that I did the whole thing myself just reading books and research paper and had basically no guidance on scientific writing.
I have taken on students whose supervisors have had to leave for one reason or another. The first thing we do is sit down and go over where they are at in the program, what they've done on their project(s), and what the plan is for moving forward. If the student hasn't done a lot or work yet and I'm not familiar with the area, we have a frank conversation and steer the outline toward something I can help with, or seek out someone else who can guide the project the student wants to do.

So there's a flag here. While I get it, you did a whole lot of work yourself... your question reads to me like you struggled with your new supervisor, you had health issues, and you went off and tried to do everything on your own. Now you have an unsatisfactory thesis.

Did your new supervisor refuse to meet with you over the time in between? When you tried to schedule weekly meeting what did they say? When your old supervisor left, did you discuss what your project should look like going forward?

In the end, if you're just trying to figure out letters of reference for future endeavors, there's no magic solution. You can try to repair the relationship if you think it's salvageable, but if you ultimately had a negative experience, it's probably best to learn what you can from it, and then go back to those professors with whom you had a positive interaction with and try to move on.
 

1. What should I do if my thesis supervisor resigns?

First, don't panic. It is important to remain calm and assess the situation. Contact your department or program advisor to discuss your options. They may be able to assign you a new supervisor or help you find a replacement.

2. Will my thesis still be accepted if my supervisor resigns?

Yes, your thesis can still be accepted as long as you have a new supervisor or committee member to oversee and approve your work. Be sure to communicate with your department or program advisor to ensure that all necessary steps are taken.

3. Can I continue working on my thesis if my supervisor resigns?

It depends on the circumstances of your supervisor's resignation. If they are still willing to provide guidance and support, you may be able to continue working with them. However, if they are no longer available, you will need to find a new supervisor or committee member to oversee your work.

4. How will my thesis timeline be affected if my supervisor resigns?

It is possible that your thesis timeline may be delayed if you need to find a new supervisor or committee member. However, if your department or program is able to assign a replacement quickly, the impact on your timeline may be minimal. Be sure to communicate with your new supervisor to discuss any potential changes to your timeline.

5. Can I request a new supervisor if I am not satisfied with the replacement?

If you are not satisfied with the replacement supervisor or committee member assigned to you, you can discuss your concerns with your department or program advisor. They may be able to help you find a more suitable replacement or provide guidance on how to work with your current supervisor.

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