De-motivated and uninterested


Hi guys,

I'm currently in my second year as a full time student and I'm starting to feel really de-motivated and uninterested in my PhD at the moment. I just feel as if I'm not really getting anywhere as I've not started data collection yet due to the UK lockdown. Is it normal to feel this way in your second year and feel like you shouldn't be doing a PhD?

I also feel like I'm never doing enough work and feel guilty about not wanting to do my PhD work at the moment. I've had a paper published (a brief review), written about 10,000 words of my literature review, and had ethics approved for my first two studies. To me, it doesn't seem like I have actually achieved much in the first 18 months of my PhD. Does this seem like a normal amount of work or should I be doing more?

Thank you


Hey there,

It's very normal. I think they call it second year blues or something.

It sounds like you're doing enough work. At that stage I didn't have an accepted publication from my PhD and hadn't written much apart from the first year continuation report and a draft paper for the first study (of my three planned studies).

Is your progress in line with your planned timetable for the 3 - 4 years?

Will there be more work you can do soon, or is there something else you can get involved in? Sometimes when things are a bit slow and boring it can be motivating to get really busy - it kind of gets you going I find (and then you usually regret taking so much on!).

Maybe take a break and come back more motivated?


Thank you for your reply, apologies for being so slow at replying.

My supervisor has just said that he doesn't feel I'm trying hard enough and that the PhD isn't my number one priority. I know I've not been doing as much over the last few months, but it's things like this that just make me question why I'm actually doing a PhD.

In terms of my 3-4 year plan, I'm a little behind because of the recent delays (had initially planned to have data collected for one study by now and to be analysing it).

I can continue to write my literature review and I've modified a study to include a questionnaire, but other than those, there isn't a great deal more I can do at the moment.


Hey! Well you can only do what you can do. It seems that you and your supervisor concur though about things going a bit slowly / your being unmotivated. Can you get together (or zoom) with them and agree on some steps you can do now? After all, if you both agree there isn't much you CAN be doing right now then that is that.

With regards to being unmotivated and questioning why you are doing a PhD... why did you decide to do one in the first place? Did you expect it to be different than it is? Do you have longer term goals that require a PhD? Just trying to dig a little deeper.


It's completely normal. I very nearly quit during my second year. For me, the very sense i could quit gave me a sense of control that helped fuel motivation. I also took about 3 weeks off from my PhD (unofficially) and just gave myself head space. As the constant panic of 'I'e not done enough' made me mentally unable to actually work on it. taking that break really helped.


Yeh also it is probably even harder to be motivated with the whole lockdown situation.


To be honest, I wanted to do a PhD because I wanted to challenge myself. One of the additional reasons for wanting to do a PhD was for the long term career in academia, which I'm not sure if I actually want to pursue at the moment or not.

I've recently had my annual review and the feedback received has motivated me to get back on track (although my secondary supervisor is more than happy with how I've progressed so far).

Have you both finished your PhD and have you pursued a career in academia?