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PhD Discussion Forum

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This Category:   PostgraduateForum.com > Writing up / Vivas


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Restarting PhD after a very (very) long break


User: CaptainSlow - 18 January 2016 17:19

I'm interested to know if anyone thinks this is viable or has done similar.

I completed 3 years of lab work for my PhD (1997-2000), successfully transferred from MPhil to PhD after 1 year. I completed 1 chapter of my thesis in 2001 but then moved into a job and a (successful) career. Since then work, disaster, marriage, mortgage, children, ill-health and more career meant I never returned (despite my intention) to my thesis

So now 16 years later I'm at a place where I could, potentially, have the time (and money) to return to my thesis, on a part-time basis. I accept my knowledge, having worked in a completely different industry, is now very old and very rusty and I would probably need a year just to review my work and knowledge. My former supervisor has long since retired. So question is, is it even viable to write to my old University and ask them to consider re-admission for writing up? Will I be laughed at or do you think I would find a sympathetic ear?

User: TreeofLife - 19 January 2016 09:44

We have other with on here from time to time with similar queries.

It never hurts to ask the university admissions office and see what your options are.

Good luck!

User: CaptainSlow - 19 January 2016 14:05

Thanks. Would know of any current posts I could look at? I'm interested to know just how difficult the process was to get restarted and if the candidate succeeded or gave up.

User: pd1598 - 19 January 2016 14:09

I guess it can be done, but will be difficult. You'd need a new supervisor team, probably will need to do your experiments again? I think you would probably need to start again from year 1? (cont)

User: pd1598 - 19 January 2016 14:10

Lots has changed in terms of procedures for PhD these days. Just ask the uni, but I'd been very surprised if they were to let you start again at writing up stage. Unless you are Brian May I guess?

User: TreeofLife - 19 January 2016 14:29

There is this short thread:[url=nothumb]http://www.postgraduateforum.com/thread-40384/[/url]

User: CaptainSlow - 19 January 2016 14:49

Thanks all, that is useful.

If restarting experiments at yr 1 is required then the plan is dead in the water but I'll take the advice on the thread above to put together a plan to commence (part-time) work and take that to postgrad admissions in the dept (who happens to be someone I knew all those years ago).

My early thoughts are to seek re-admission (on a part-time basis) for Oct this year, spend a year reviewing the state of the thesis and recovering my knowledge then start on the writing again, taking another year. I figure I can spend 10-16/hrs a week on study.

I'm still a member of the professional body that represents the subject so I'm considering reaching out to them as well to see if they can offer particular advice or help.

User: satchi - 19 January 2016 15:00

hi captainslow,
I've just seen your thread, if this is something you would like to do, yes why not. Hope you get started, and wishing you all the best to "re-start" your engine.

big hug
love satchi

User: pd1598 - 19 January 2016 16:24

If you're connected, as it sounds like you are a bit, you give yourself a better chance.

User: sisyphus - 19 January 2016 23:08

I'd agree with the connected part. Think Brian May as an example of someone with a long break!

If you have all your experiments complete, and it is writing up, and you also have a reasonably successful career behind you which you can point to as things you learnt (not necessarily directly) on your PhD, then maybe make contact with someone in the department, and have a meeting with them? Is anyone left? Or ay of your former peers now in the department and could supervise you?

If you have to do more experiments, it makes it a bit harder, but may still be possible.

Finally whilst there is probably way, ask yourself why you want to do it, and make sure you are goign in to it eyes open - do you need the stress? Is the PhD essential?

User: Pjlu - 20 January 2016 06:17

Hi there, is it possible to take what you have and just put in a fresh application-and at more than one university. If your old university lets you 'restart' then that would be great. However, if their regulations are quite strict around this sort of thing then a fresh application, based on your previous project, might allow you to get advance standing for your prior work through accreditation for some of the research methods courses that often form part of the PhD these days if nothing else.

It may also allow you to use some of your previous data, even if you did need to create a new set of data to supplement-contrast-triangulate prior materials/data/findings. You could also consider tweaking the topic somewhat, so that it is a 'fresh' look and thus becomes a new project-even if you are using some of your previous material, knowledge and expertise :) .

User: Chetan666 - 21 January 2016 06:09

I am pursuing a course on Coursera and one of the other student in the course is pursuing PhD at UC Davis after retiring from the job. You can also watch the video of James Clewett on Sixty Symbols on Youtube, he started working on a PhD after 8 years of industry work. I have personally known a few people who embark upon this after break, and it is not a bad idea.

As you have been working professionally you already have the rigor, which unfortunately not many academicians do not know about, as they have never worked outside of academia. The only thing lacking will be knowledge and that is what you seek for.



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