Malaysiakini Letter

More than 30 months of PhD work wasted

Nachimani Charde  |  Published:  |  Modified:

I am a Master's degree holder and was also once a senior lecturer, before joining a United Kingdom-based private research university at its campus in Malaysia for a PhD programme.

I was a research assistant under the supervision of an assistant professor for the first two years of my PhD programme in resistance spot welding and was later converted to research student category under the internal changes in the university policy.

I successfully completed the research title given, even though I was not properly guided in my research after a whole year. In order complete my research study, I was forced to develop and maintain a web page for my supervisor, which is beyond the scope of my study.

When I reported this additional task to the faculty dean, I started to have problems. And many! After this, I was not properly guided for the completion of my PhD and the whole programme was delayed for one year because of the lack of proper guidance from Dean of Faculty of Engineering.

My Ph D viva voce examination took place after one year of delay, without acceptable reason, but in the UK campus and I failed, largely because of insufficient guidance in the thesis preparation. This was in April 2013.

'Procedural irregularities'

Later, the university announced that the viva voce exam was invalid because of procedural irregularities. The university gave me one year to re-submit my thesis and I was directed to the department head (Head of Research Division - Materials, Mechanics and Structures) who was located in the UK campus.

I was directed to take the viva voce exam in Malaysia, but because of the department head's busy schedule, or for other matters, a video conference viva voce exam was suggested.

Based on my previous experience with the engineering faculty dean, I requested a change of the supervisor in the Malaysia campus. Finally, I was given a chance to choose a supervisor but the selection of examiners went wrong and made the situation worse.

The worse situation for me after this was the examiners announcing to me that "you have passed exam, with minor correction". So, to be fair to me, they announced that I have to complete new experiments related to my thesis.

A total of 30 months have passed since I began my PhD programme and I was again given complete experiments to work on. This was a shock to me.

I disagreed with the selection of my internal examiner prior to the viva voce exam and reported this to my university superiors in UK but the case was referred back to the Malaysian campus. Besides, the person-in-charge (head of faculty) did not follow the guidance given by the quality manual of university.

Three years of work down the drain

At the end of all this, I was not able to get my PhD despite having totally rewritten my thesis and published 20 journal papers in all - five published by the Thomson Reuters Information for Scientific Institute (IS), five by the Electronics Database of Elsevier (Scopus) and 10 by Open Access Knowledge Contribution (Google Scholar) in my research field.

Now, I am totally at a loss - three years of research work and all the waiting down the drain!  

My full story is also going online, at www.graduatesunion.info. I am now thinking of getting my PhD, based on my current research filed at this university, from another university, but with different thesis name.

If anybody is willing to assist me for a fair trial, either in the thesis-based exam or a PhD by publication, I'm ready to accept any offer as I have plenty of unpublished data in resistance spot welding.

All this has hurt me a lot, for having spent all my money over the three years defending my thesis, and with the delay of 30 months, the final exam became meaningless because the changes in thesis required me to re-do all my entire experiments for another research scope. All this from a so-called prestigious university!

Anybody who can help, please contact me at [email protected]

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