Coming to the end of 1st Year


Hi there people

Im in my 9th month of my 1st year of my PhD in Engineering.

Soon I have to have my first year report completed to convince my supervisors / examiners that I have enough potential to carry on my PhD into 2nd and 3rd years.

Apart from this being quite daunting as I feel i have not absorbed enough information / become knowledgeable enough - I saw someones report from a few years back along with a quick glimpse (accidently on the supervisors part) of the questions he had generated for the interview of the student who produced the report.

The level of tech. depth and knowledge that some of the questions asked for has made me pretty worried about how much i know at this point in my PhD and that I should have be doing so much more reading/work etc in my 9 months.

i guess what i am basically saying is that i think i have pissed about too much for 9 months and now the sh*t is hitting the fan and im going to be found out to be the fraud that i thought i was!!!!

being surrounded by the ones in my phd group who are so much more enthusiatic about the subject matter (i swear they go home and just talk about phd stuff all the time) isnt helping either as i cant seem to get myself to that level.

anyone have any experience of this situation?

ive said to my supervisor that i have been 'overwhelmed' with the work around my 6th month mark - but he replied (as i expected) with 'oh everyone feels like that' - which did not make me feel any better :/

thanks for reading!! :)


I feel EXACTLY the same. I could have written that word for word. I'm also nine months in too (nine months and four days!) and I feel so behind. I kept telling people I felt behind, and they kept telling me it was normal, until a few months ago when my supervisor said, "actually, you're behind." I felt like screaming! Almost everyone with a PhD keeps telling me that it's normal but I don't feel that it is. There are other students who started later than me who are doing so much more. One of my colleagues started writing a paper by this point! I feel like I've wasted all of my first year even though I do have data, I don't even have a question, and I just feel like I'm falling through the cracks. I tend to panic a lot though, and I shouldn't be comparing myself to others because no doubt I have strengths that I just can't see. I really wish I'd done more work and reading too, but I panic so much when I sit down to do it (and am struggling with annoying technology grumbles which make my work pretty difficult). Seems that even the ones who say "this is normal" seem to have been at a much higher level than where I am... but all I can say is that I guess it IS normal to not know what you're doing nine months in. Do you have a research question? Can you talk to your supervisor to set some smart goals to keep you moving forward?


You can add me to the list of people who feel the same. My supervisor is super chillaxed about everything and is happy for me to keep slowly building up a portfolio of work (basically with a 10,000 word paper every 2-3 months) which will form the basis for my upgrade. Can't help but still have a nagging feeling that there is something more I should be doing though (especially since I work part-time as well, still find time for weekends with my gf, and am apparently on top of the work I'm being set to do)....When I ask older PhD students they all say they were the same and they didn't do any work in the first year (but they must have done something to upgrade!)


count me in... nine months in aswell and feel im better than where i started .. i started literally zero not havinga clue about what im doing and now sort of i got the hang of it although i still feel that i have wasted some months. I haven´t got any other PhD student friends and therefore cant compare with others :s I also got to know ive got a review for October but not sure what exactly is going to happen all i know is i need to produce my first article which i am currently working on but i cant seem to picture it as my first article ... oh well... im just lucky ive got a great supervisor .. but i still feel as if i havent worked hard enough the first 4 months and simply wasted them and im soo guilty about it :( .. to make matters worse im on a contract and i definelty need to finish by september 2013 xD great mroe stressssss


Hi I am also apparently 9 months in, doesn't time fly when you're having fun?

I submitted my upgrade report last week all 13000 words of it. It was a combination of what I've done so far e.g. lit review and what I am intending to do for the next 2 years, i.e. methods and initial data analysis as I already have data to play with and how I plan on structuring my thesis. In about 2 weeks time I have to have an upgrade meeting with 2 members of staff from the department. The staff will be acting as examiners and giving me a grilling on my report. This will determine whether I am allowed to be upgraded from MPhil to PhD status (everyone in my dept is registered as MPhil first).

Quite frankly I am shitting myself about it. My sup seems to think I have made good progress and in a recent meeting he was saying after the upgrade we can start planning my first paper etc. So he seems to be confident that I will pass, I just wish I was. This meeting is essentially like a viva with the outcomes ranging from pass, minor corrections, major corrections and/or resubmission or continue as MPhil. At the moment I will be happy with major corrections to my report because I know I haven't written the methods section as well as I could have done so am currently doing some extra reading so I will stand a chance at answering any questions they have about that. The weird thing is that these 2 members of staff know very little about my subject and my sup knows this so he thinks that they won't pick up on some things if they are not quite right. I really hope this is true because from what I've heard at least one of these people can be very picky and asks very difficult questions.

I also feel as though I haven't done enough but the report has been handed in so there's not a lot I can do now other than hopefully impress them in the meeting. It feels like my life is on hold now whilst I wait for this meeting to happen. It feels like a judgement day as it determines whether I am good enough to actually do a PhD. I understand way more about my subject than I did in October so at least that's something.

Sorry for rambling on, I live at quite a distance from my uni so don't get to talk to the other students that often and just felt the need to vent. Although as long as get through my upgrade OK then I will be moving closer to the uni which will probably be a good thing. It's good to know that I'm not the only one going through this as I know that not all uni's have an upgrade process from MPhil to PhD or that there is quite a bit of variation in those that do.

Avatar for Caterpillar27

======= Date Modified 05 Jun 2011 09:43:02 =======
Hi, I'm also 9 months in and also worried that I haven't done enough!!! It took me about 6 months to get my research questions sorted (my PhD is in a totally different area to my MA) and I've now completed my protocol and am going through the ethics procedure (social science). I hoped I would be at this point about 4 months ago!!!! I have written a draft article, but not much more for my literature review!!

I feel I should/could have been doing so much more!! My supervisors seem pleased with my progress, but it just took me so long to get to grips with the literature and find a feasible gap to research. I try not to worry too much - my upgrade will be between Oct 2011 and Mar 2012 so I will have some data collection completed by then. I plan to thrash my literature review out in the next 2 months (something I should have done already!)

It is nice to know we all have similar worries, but I do think I need to up my game!!

Good luck Basictonal



I am a first year as well (8 months) and have just completed my transfer.  I think the best bit of advice is to not stress or worry too much about the process. I too felt that i was under prepared for the process and not as far on as i should be, however they seemed happy with the progress i had made as well as suggesting a couple of areas of my assessment that could do with more work such as speaking louder.

You will all be fine



Me too !!
Started Last October
Wasted 4 months looking for project
need to submit the upgrade report before August
I spend all my time in collecting data that needs to be prepared for analysis, no time for lit. review : (
10,000 words : ( : ( I don't know from where to start???
getting PhD is bad for health and nauseous !!