I’m not sure this is even worth thinking about but here goes... I am in my second year (part-time) of a PhD (humanities), and I’m loving the process despite the fact that I have to work almost full-time in an unrelated field to support myself so research is squeezed in around everything else which is frustrating. I have a fees-only studentship which I know I am lucky to get.
Now I have seen a fully funded PhD opportunity (for September 18 start). Same university, same department but quite different subject to my topic. V.interesting though and although I certainly have less experience of this field I could probably make a case for it.
My question- is it worth expressing an interest? I am happy to start over again and would even be prepared to pay the studentship fees accrued so far if that was an issue. But I don’t want to appear uncommitted to my current project or ungrateful to my fantastic supervisors, particularly as I know that even if I did go for it, it is likely to be a bit of a long shot. What should I do?
I know of a student who jumped from one project to the next in the first year, and I do remember her being bad mouthed, but she seems to be fine and has moved onto another university.
If you are keen, I don't see why your current supervisor can't continue to be your supervisor. Your situation is very difficult with having to work part time, and really you are in your 1st year too (as you are PT). Therefore, you do have room to maneuver.
The most important thing is not to do it behind your supervisor's back. This is how I would tackle it. Call a face to face meeting (NOT email), and explain to him or her how grateful you are to have her as a supervisor. Explain to her the difficulty with working full time and doing a PT PhD (as you have done here) and how taxing it is on your life/family. Explain to her also how your current project really interests you (incase the alternative doesn't work). Then share with her this new opportunity and the benefits, and ask her for her advice. Tell her you are just thinking about this stage and really wanted her input and advice before making any decision either way.
Also, tell her that you want to keep her (assuming it is a woman) as a supervisor even if you do decide to apply for this new opportunity.
Almost everyone I know changed or modified their research subject before the end of the 1st year (FT). It is very very common, so don't worry. Just ensure you do it in the polite and nice way, and not behind anyone's back, that is when one would get bad mouthed.
The problem of financial support is a very real one, and Peteme's suggestion of asking the original supervisor whether they think you should go for this might work. I've been asked by a student- but also confirmed to them they were very unlikely to get the second studentship, for technical reasons I can't remember now, they didn't actually qualify. Having had one year of a studentship might disqualify you, either technically or morally as that probably can't be reused for another student, but it is worth exploring in a transparent and open way, with the justification that you need the money! A fees waiver is great but it isn't the same as having a stipend and making a few enquiries about whether you might be eligible to apply would be ok in my department.
Thank you for this advice- I completely agree about being honest and transparent; definitely the way to go. I will have to really think about how I can justify a sideways leap and then have a conversation. Without being mercenary, having the funding to be able to concentrate on it full time would make all the difference in the world.
So - you would make the case for a student already being supported generously with a fees student ship to-
1. Get the place of another student who may have been supported through this new student ship and who (unlike you) doesn't have the reverse option of swapping to your seat in second year instead
2. Thereby also negating 18 months of support you've already got.
If you argue that your fees only studentship is now up for grabs - it basically means you are saying "hey don't give the newbie the fully funded place, I'll have it instead. Give my part funded place to a newbie if need be".
I am not sure if I've got you right but if this is the case I would be a bit speechless.
And also assuming you repay the fees for those 18 months, what about the 18 extra months of supervision you have had? How is that to be repaid? What about the supervisors time and their completion rate?
The more I think about it the more I find this is bizarre prospect.