2nd year blues ongoing or something else?.....


Hello All,
It's been a little while since I've been on this site and it's been interesting to have a read and see what folks are up to.

I wrote a few months ago about the problems I was having with supervision. After, completely non sensical and bureacractic 2nd year review progress report recently which only stated negatives, I had a meeting with my supervisors to discuss my progress in a hopefully more balanced manner. Apparently, my progress is slow and that the project is not coming together!!!

However, mostly I meet my supervisors who continue to argue the merits of doing a mixed methods PhD - although this is what I have wanted to do (and the PhD was also advertised as such) since the start and I have written on this since Dec but STILL one of the sups is arguing, sorry constructively criticising, if this is the 'correct' way to do it. I have to add that he is a quant person so I'm somewhat on a losing battle. My second sup was present at this meeting and even he seemed exasperated. It's no wonder that progress is slow.
We even argued about the number of interviews to do and doing 40 wouldn't merit a PhD!!!

I can't help feeling that either I am the 'wrong' student for the project and that my 1st supervisor would've liked someone else. He seems pretty bored in the meetings and at one point left the room while we were discussing things without saying anything!
The methodology which I want to use is not where his expertise lies but this means an ongoing uphill struggle which deflates me and at the mo my motivation and patience is wearing thin.

Has anyone experienced this and if so, any advice?

Again, I am thinking if this is worth it. It means it'll be hard to finish and almost certainly I won't have any publications by the end. Realistically, I won't be finished qualitative data collection until at least April 2010 - 6 months before funding runs out. In fact, I asked 1st sup about this (financial situation) and he regaled a wee story about how he got unemployment benefit when he was a PhD student and perhaps I could do a 'spot of demonstrating.'

Does anyone else have supervisors who are completely devoid of life skills!!! I sat there feeling as though my eyebrows were glued to the ceiling - does he really think that a 'spot of demonstrating' will pay the bills....

I have been considering perhaps, taking a break from the PhD and taking some paid employment in a non academic environment but I wonder if that is just avoidance and the danger is I prefer that and don't return. Does anyone have any comments on taking a hiatus from PhD life and returning. I have been reading that it can be challenging to return. I just sometimes feel that I'm doing something that really isn't making me happy, my confidence is slipping out of my feet, I'm wasting everyone's time and that I may be better suited in another career...Oh dear.

Any comments appreciated. Thanks for reading and apologies that it's quite a long post



I took a break (for medical reasons), but my funding council will only allow breaks for medical reasons (supported by a letter from a GP) or maternity leave. Nothing else. If you are funded by a research council and are considering taking a break do check the rules and regulations to see if it would be allowed.

As for returning after a break I didn't have any problems getting back into the swing of things. I was keen to return and drew up lots of to-do lists of things to be done, and I got on with them, picking off the most appealing.

Good luck!


HI there,

Thank you for your reply. I appreciate the comments. I will double check with funding body - not one of the funding councils though.


At my institution we have a committee which can take over the roles of 1 or both sups if necessary. I'm not saying ditch your sup, but if you can find info on equivilant studies, try to do what they did and find another collegue who may have some experience in the area to run it by them. Then just do it. Its your project and your phd at the end of the day. I know that can be tough and also tricky, but it does sound like sup#2 is on your side. Perhaps make your feelings ref taking a break known to them?
If you want to take a break to get more experience to help you in the long run then do it. IF you are taking a break to escape and 'recover' do consider whether its worth it, sorting it all out etc and coming back again to start exactly where you left, probably with the exact same issues.I don't think its that 'you're not suited' its more a motivational thing. There must have been a reason why you chose to do the phd in the first place and even if that reason has changed since then, you did really want it at the time. You owe it to that part of yourself to keep trying. Just take things one step at a time. I kept a diary/journal which gave me everyday tasks to complete and a couple of tasks each day towards a longer term goal. You'll start to see progress and that may help you, it worked for me! I hope you can sort your issues out, keep going you can do it!