Awful Experience


Hi All - get comfortable this is a long one!

So, i started my PhD in march and outwith the supervisory team have met nobody in the uni. I get no work done at home and i have never stepped foot in the university since i started (covid & i had no work station for starting).

My supervisor has missed 6/7 weekly meetings. I have been told not to pursue research areas that were listed on the advertisement. I have been told i should be an expert in databases by now (i have no idea why my course has virtually nothing to do with databases).

I have developed high levels of anxiety and have lost all motivation to work from home. A few weeks was fine at first but now getting into week 16 it is too much. I feel i have been robbed of a real PhD experience through unfortunate circumstances and i constantly feel like an idiot!

I have had issues with my supervisor (being late, making odd comments, giving generally unhelpful advice such as "when i was a phd student i would go into uni every day to make sure i did the work" - not great when the university is closed). I have been told to speak to my personal tutor about these issues and also about my motivational issues, the problem is my personal tutor is also my second supervisor and my supervisors PhD student from last year - so there feels a huge conflict of interest there that makes it uncomfortable to speak to him about.

The experience has been a disaster, i was thinking of perhaps doing a masters then returning to PhD but i have no idea what to do I'm so conflicted! As an added bonus i found out the other day there was a seminar to help PhD students working from home - I was not made aware of this event and not invited to it and was then forwarded an invite to a date held in the past.



Hi there

This situation doesn't sound great. I guess what you do depends on how much you would like to stay in the present situation and try and make it work, and whether you think it can indeed work. It might be that you think it is worth trying to work things out and it COULD work, or maybe you feel like that just isn't going to happen...??

If you're not sure but want to try it then you could maybe set a time frame, like 3 months or whatever, and during this time you do x, y , and z to try and help the situation (eg speak to supervisor, speak to personal tutor/academic advisor, ask to change supervisor) - and if things still haven't improved then you move on to something else. The idea about doing a different PhD could work. I guess it just depends on whether you think it is time to ditch the present situation.

Also, it would seem wise to change your personal tutor. You are totally in your rights to do so.


Sounds like your supervisor is really unreliable / unmotivated. Quitting sends you back to Square 1 though. It also sounds like he has expectations on you that you were not aware of, but that's not necessarily his fault. You need to fix the communication, that's for sure, and find out why he has been ditching meetings. You can't rely on him to put things right. You also need to discuss the research themes and tools. If you need to use databases, then you should have definitely known that, but that's not necessarily your fault either.