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Doing last year of PhD remotely


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What are people's thoughts on doing the last year of PhD (ABD) remotely? I know it's something feasible for my field (social psych) as most of the experiments I run can be done online, and the rest would be writing and preparing apps at that stage. Most of all my collaborators are also remotely from my current location, so that wouldn't affect much. The only thing I would miss is just being in lab and having that collaborative environment, etc. Also something that is motivating this decision is to hold together my current LDR. If I continued my PhD as planned, it would be 2.5 years of LDR in my situation. Cutting it down to 1.5 would be a lot more feasible. I'm just not sure if it's worth it or not and struggling with the decision. I don't want to sacrifice my career, but if doing something this small (1 year sacrifice) could help to salvage a potentially life-changing relationship, then wouldn't it be worth it?

I'm also in a bit of a pinch because I've been offered a GA position (doing clerical type work; not research) that lasts for 2 years. If I take it, then I would have good funding for my last few years of PhD, if I don't, I may be strapped to find that next year of funding. I need to make a decision on this fairly soon. 

What are people's thoughts on last year of PhD remotely? Is this too huge of a sacrifice?

Also to clarify, my partner would be free and willing to move once I complete my PhD (so there will be no two-body issue then, it's just he is on a contract now and is unable to leave now).

Edited by kaister
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I think you're fully aware of the costs, and only you can weigh them against the benefits of being with your partner. I know people who have done this and been successful. The key for them seemed to be finding a supportive environment where they went and still having the support network back home. So for those who went to a location where there was a local department they could be a part of, they did that (usually unofficially). Sometimes they were even offered a desk in some common space, but even if not, they would come to talks and occasionally meet with someone. I think this is very important for staying connected with field and for having a routine for getting work done and not getting lost. If there is no one around, this becomes more difficult, but it's also where having supportive advisors comes in. If you are away, you need to have a system in place for staying in touch with your advisor(s). Some kind of understanding regarding e.g. timeline for reading drafts, Skype meetings (regular or on a case by case basis, as necessary and as works for you), how you will communicate and what to expect in terms of responsiveness (some people suck with email, for example, and if you're away you can't just hunt them down in their office so you need to figure this out before you leave. Maybe it's better to text them). At some point in your last year you just have to go in your cave and write like crazy, then finally emerge with a somewhat final product. This can be done on-site or remotely, if you ask me. It's harder to be away for the job market part of the year, but you can get started earlier than most, so you're able to have meetings in person as necessary, and I'm sure your advisors will agree to read your materials remotely. 

As for the job, unless you agree to a binding contract you absolutely can't break, I'd take it. You never know how things might turn out, and it'd be a shame to give up on what could be a good job for an entire year just because you are now planning to be away for the next. Maybe your partner will magically be able to join you, or you'll change your mind about going away. Is there no way that they can just train a replacement for you when you leave? (of course, you'll give them enough notice.)

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It's the damn job that's mostly holding me back. Which is so crazy, because I never even knew of the possibility of this job, it just popped up out of nowhere. The problem with the job is that they specifically look for someone for a 2-year commitment because of the training process. I personally, don't think it looks to be a difficult job (but what do I know, I've only shadowed a bit so far), but that's how they seem to want to do it. I definitely don't want to burn bridges in the department, and it could be a great letter if I did the job, so the thought of leaving mid-way, would probably not sit well with them. 

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