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Advice about my situation - PhD transfer or stay or reapply later?


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Hello everyone, 

I am posting on a throwaway account for anonymity reasons. I am a PhD student in statistics in a very small department and I just want to know whether my expectations of my advisors are normal and if it is better for me to move on / quit or stay. 

I am in Canada with a masters degree in biostatistics so mastering out is not an option. For my phd, I have already completed the 4 required courses, 1 theory qualifying exam and research proposal exam. I have completed about 2 years in total now, and theoretically, two years left (but who knows how long it takes). To quit at this point seems to be a waste. 

1. The problem is mainly I am working in a domain with which my supervisor has not much of an idea (this was a topic of his suggestion). So during the research proposal and literature review process, I was mainly on my own and I bought a lot of textbooks and read a lot of articles, email authors on their research articles etc. The supervisor does have good general knowledge but not in this domain which he wanted me to work on. There has been less of technical discussion than I wanted. 

2. He also added in a co-supervisor (which I only knew months into the program) who was 2 years out of her phd at the start of my program. I will be honest, I understand that young academics need the supervision opportunity but thus far, the co-supervisor seems to give me very generic feedback (like inconsistent math symbols, bad equation label) but never of much help with the deep technical details. 

3.  Because of the lack of help I got from them and mainly the supervisor wanting to work in this area, I have been working on my own most of the time. I even contacted some professors elsewhere to ask about visiting opportunities. Some of them said yes but want more precise ideas about my project to help me more. Again, I proposed it to my supervisor two/three times but he kept saying "wait until theres more advancement". I do not know where else to look for research mentors as conferences were remote last little while. I feel this is hampering my progress. 

4. Apart of me not wanting to leave is because 1) I managed to secure competitive government funding for the next 3-4 years of my PhD. I live rent-free atm so theres not a lot of financial stress. I don't have to TA nor RA either. 

5. I just want to ask if 

- my expectations as a phd student in terms of guidance is too high and maybe I am just not independent. If that's the case, please advise me on what I can do to help myself. 

- If it is better for me to quit and re-apply elsewhere or work in the meantime and come back to do a phd in future? 

- I dont think change of supervisor within the same department is possible. The department is small and no one else is working on this and he happens to be head of department. I am not sure how to navigate this without it leaving a bad impression or stepping on toes. 

I am sorry for the long wall of text but sincerely looking for advice here. 

Edited by throwawayAcc
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