Signup date: 13 Oct 2022 at 7:08pm
Last login: 01 Nov 2022 at 8:41am
Post count: 6
- in terms of being able to finish: just from my own experience, ask yourself if you are being a perfectionist relative to what you actually need to finish. This is very difficult to gauge when you are in the middle of it. I swore blind i wasnt and now i realise i could have done less and passed. This is the issue of having absent supervisors. Check papers in your field. What kind of sample size do they have? Check what you actually need to finish the thesis. Do you need to publish anything? If not, will a less then perfect sample size be enough? Could your study be supplemented by data that you could obtain via existing databases or by remote data collection? Here it would be helpful to know what type of study you are doing
- work/life balance: a phd requires a certain about of sacrifice, i think its not always possible to maintain a great work/life balance, but i personally feel this is only sustainable in short bursts. For example, for a few weeks of fieldwork, perhaps you have to move around and live in hostels and your life has to be about fieldwork for that period, although obviously with time off regularly. I have heard it said far too often that you cannot have a healthy social life and interests and responsabilities outside of the PhD, because a phd needs all your time: this is a false economy because burn-out is the result. You should not have to trade your mental and physical health for your PhD. Your situation, where phd students are thrown impossible hobby projects by supervisors and then more or less abandoned, is common. It is valient and understandable to want to make the best of it, but bear in mind your supervisors are unlikely to be supportive, and you can end up in a situation where they blame you for anything wrong with the project, rather then recognising the Herculean effort you have put in achieving the near-impossible. Given this, I personally would also evaluate your options for doing a PhD elsewhere: if you have learnt skills and have your own ideas and are doing everything by yourself, perhaps it would be less stressful to work and do your thesis part-time self-funding (you might even finish faster). I dont know where you are based but there are good universities that are not expensive to register with globally for doctoral studies (ie, not in the USA). Bear in mind this might mean abandoning your current data since your university might have interlectual property rights on it and you do not want to mess with that, you are supposed to be looking after your mental health here.
Long reply, but these are some of the things that occur to me as someone in a similar situation to yours but a few years ahead having decided to stick it.
So i have more or less been in this position and somehow I have now finished the thesis, although much later then planned. I think sadly PhDs are designed for people who are from a certain socioeconomic class and any extra expenses or difficulties are sort of expected to not be an issue. I was nearly homeless at one point in my PhD and all that happened is my sup was annoyed it delayed my work. Anyway, here are some thoughts, I will have put in two posts:
- you do not mention what your field is and what studies you are doing: is this work someone else could do or is it very specialised? I mention this because if you can get some people to collaborate as co-authors perhaps some people in further away institutions, especially already working on something similar, could contribute some data.
- on moving around: anything where you need to do fieldwork, and this is a kind of fieldwork, involves this issue. I didn't have a fixed place to live during my PhD, when i was on fieldwork I rented on airbnb and stayed at hostels depending on where i was. I know this is very disruptive. I think other people rented out there place to generate extra income during this process.
- your supervisors sound useless with all due respect. I would not rely on them, but do keep them updated and encourage their input, they are the ones who should be helping you. They likely wont, but they will still want to take credit if you complete the research, and blame you if you dont or cant on time (dont want to be the voice of gloom and dispair, just a warning: manage this relationship but have low expectations). If i could go back in time i would find a postgrad tutor online, who knows about my area and use them as a replacement supervisor. Doesnt even need to be a PhD per se if they have research experience in your area. I know this sounds expensive, but when I look back i feel like i could have found someone for not so much (ie not specialist PhD consultants, they cost the earth), just to have some regular sesssions to get up to speed on methods and check i was moving in the right direction. It would have saved me so much time because I had to teach myself everything and it was emotionally exhausting not knowing if i was doing things right, took forever
- find resources about the analysis: there are so so many good MOOCs out there and they look good on your CV, or you can audit them for free. Also tons of content on youtube. I know you are probably exhausted but doing a little bit every day will save you anxiety and stress and time later.
I'm so sorry this happened to you. It's important to remember you are not to blame, you are a victim of a system that at the very least enables abuse. Please don't feel like you have nothing to live for or it's too late for anything. All experiences in life are valuable even if we cannot see it at the time, there is no time limit for relationships and as for kids, some will never be able to have biological children regardless of age, there are other options such as adoption, even if that wasn't what you originally envisaged. Just because you have had a traumatic experience that doesn't mean it gets to define you or your life, you are more then your CV or transcript, what your life looks like compared to anyone else's timeline is not important, because you can still make your life whatever you want even if it feels bleak now. Value yourself and don't give up on yourself or let yourself be defined by this, you are worth more then what you have been made to feel.
I can't really advise because I and others I know are also in this situation. So for what it's worth you are not alone, this kind of abuse seems to be so common in academia, I'm honestly just stunned we as phd students have so little rights and representation. The level of gaslighting blows my mind. In my own case, my supervisor has to sign off everything, including a change of supervisor, or even quitting the PhD (how this would even work I cannot imagine: would they hold me hostage or something?! XD). The only thing I am looking into is what the limits of a supervisor's power is and who to complain to if they prevent us from graduating despite having done the work.
From an outside perspective she is trying to squeeze you for free work with this paper. You could try to placate her and say you will be happy to work on it after your viva but you are worried you won't finish if you do both. She is likely a narcissist from what you've described so if you can stand it flattering her ego and telling her you really appreciate her support in helping you finish and the opportunity to do this paper (after you have a finished thesis draft) might help. Once you've defended then you can decide what to do or just be 'busy' and she'll likely pass it off on to a poor master's student given half a chance.
"She constantly sends me emails trying to micromanage everything and keeps telling me I should see a therapist for stress/lack of motivation/anger/depression, which I think is crossing a line" : yes mine has also done this, except they also emailed the school and told them i had mental problems. I think they are trying to deflect blame to be honest. They are perfect supervisors, it's us who are 'crazy': this is just gaslighting.
Can you pass your drafts through someone else secretely? I think it can be helpful to have additional perspectives to remind you that they are toxic and your work is at the very least perfectly fine.
Sorry I can't offer more concrete suggestions, sorry you're having to deal with this and good luck. If you find a good solution please do share!
I am a final (?!) year PhD student but my supervisor is delaying my graduation indefinitely. Years ago now I got offered an amazing opportunity to do my perfect PhD, with a seemingly nice supervisor, in a school where the environment felt hostile and unwelcoming to outsiders (it is: it is a small, prestigious - and to be honest, rascist/xenophobic - institute that likes to train and fund their own - i, in their minds, was a foreigner 'forced' on them via an external scholarship that was attached to studentship). I decided to push past this, since most of the PhD was abroad for fieldwork. This was juuuuuust about ok up until the pandemic, despite numerous toxic episodes (think: blocking the payment of my scholarship several times so I nearly ended up homeless, attempting to fire me for minor paperwork issues beyond my control, etc). Unfortunately, during the pandemic, I fell behind, due to massive financial and family stresses and the fact my supervisor pushed me to take on additional work as well (yes, I should have refused this and I did resist it in my first year, but during the pandemic my mental health and judgement were not optimal).
Anyway, I managed to finish the thesis, albeit pretty late overall yet still within the deadline for the academic year, with several papers ready to be published. Months prior, my supervisor stopped responding to messages. Mind you, they have been almost entirely absent during the phd, and i've mostly self-supervised, so i wasnt initially surprised. However, some months later, their messages started to take an unpleasant tone, about how i was such a disappointment to them (I share their disappointment in the delay, but I've already communicated to them that during the pandemic I was surviving off student food banks and had to dedicate myself to finding financial means - to which they have responded that I have 'mental problems'). Now they have refused to read the thesis for months but agreed to let me defend. I should add it's a thesis by publication so it is not a big time committment to read either. However, they keep extending the date of possible defense more and more. It is now clear they not only dislike me (which is fine, in itself), but feel personally slighted in someway and are trying to 'punish' me, by cutting me out of projects i worked on without giving me any credit and badmouthing me to colleagues. I dont know what to do at this stage, because they are essentially a narcasstic bully (collective opinion, not simply my own): i'm one of the very few students of theirs who hasnt already quit. I know its very late, but could I rope in a co-supervisor? Submit my work for a phd by prior publication somewhere else? I feel like they could keep me here indefinitely and carry on trashing my reputation, and maybe more importantly, impacting my mental health.
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