Hi guys, I'm a clinical doctor in training trying to arrange a PhD in order to progress in my field of practice.
Many people working in my field take up a PhD, typically informally organised within a department/team they know (as opposed to applying for an advertised position). I've approached a supervisor who works in the field I'm interested in, but I'm finding the whole process a bit overwhelming and I'm not sure if my expectations are off or if theirs are.
Essentially I don't have a huge amount of research experience. I did an undergraduate dissertation, I've been an author on one published paper, and that's it. I emailed this supervisor and we arranged a video conversation. She rattled off a few bits and pieces that need done in the department/nationally/internationally, but not really a project and not really a clear 'question' to be answered. She stressed that I need to have a question to answer for my PhD, but I really don't know what I'm meant to be doing there. I don't know enough to know what's unanswered, what's answerable in a PhD with my time/resources, and what's worth answering. She gave me some people to speak to within the university regarding applying for grants, but I still don't really understand what I'm meant to do. I was hoping she'd give me some guidance on what sort of things are worth doing, maybe a few new papers demonstrating the current limits of knowledge in the field and direction research is going (as well as pitfalls/groups just about to publish etc). I don't know loads about the latest research in field, but I'm interested in it and thought that was par for the course with a PhD.
Is it normal to feel this out of depth? Where should I go from here?
It'd be totally fine to say to her what you've said here :
thanks so much for your reply. It's good to know what I'm asking is not wholly unreasonable. Some people just seem so *sure* about what they're doing. I found a recent review article on my topic of choice, so I might flick through that then email my supervisor back with my opinion and direction i want to take things
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