Feeling really terrible - rant


First - really sorry for the depressing thread.

Today I really, really hate my thesis. I wish i'd never bothered with it. When I started it I was all naive and thinking I was going to change the world etc. I know this was really unrealistic but I was well meaning. I really care a lot about what I am researching. Now I just feel like it's all pointless because no one gives a s*it anyway. I feel as though people just think i'm doing it all for my own benefit and I am the only one who is going to benefit from it. If that's true, then what on earth am I doing here living on the bare minimum and dragging myself through the mill mentally. I probably won't even get a job.

This academic in my field (one of the only specialists in the country) just published a paper that is basically the title of my thesis. She tried to discourage me from doing the research from the start, basically saying she had it all covered and I should just run off and research something else. But I found supervisors who said this wasn't the case and I should do it, then helped me get the funding. I feel like i'm not going to get my PhD no because she has published this chapter which basically means my own research is pretty unoriginal. She knew exactly what i've been doing and i've been doing it for 2.5 years now, it's not like I just started. I know she can do what she wants but I just want a fair chance!

I wish I hadn't been so naive when I first started. The whole thing just seems so pointless right now.


I'm gonna hit you with a short and sweet reply that hopefully helps, when I first started I got some good advice which basically said to remember that it is just a PhD!


Hi Slowmo, I hope you're getting a good sleep now first of all, that was a very early post there! Secondly, if you are 2.5 years in to your PhD you need to have a good discussion with your supervisors about where to go from here. If what this academic has published really truly is what you have been working on, and there is no scope at all for getting some original work out of it then you can still submit it as an MPhil which doesn't need to be original. However at this stage I'm sure it would break your heart to do that, so you need to see if there is enough that you can change or tweak in some way to make it different enough from hers to be original still. If not, you have to decide if it's possible to change what you have been doing and add some extra work on. Of course if you do this it will mean taking longer to submit, trying to find extra funding ro supporting your self for the duration, but if you still want the PhD I'm sure you can get it to work somehow.
Just remember at the end of the day, it's not all lost. You can still get something from it, even if it's not what you were aiming for. At least she did give the opportunity to try something else at the start by saying she had it all covered, if your supervisors told you it would be fine then maybe there is something that they have though of that she's not covered yet.
And that fact that someone else is working on the same stff as you shows you that it's not just you who finds the work interesting and important, and it's definitely not pointless. I know it's total crap at the moment but don't despair, you can get something form it, and it still could be the PhD at the end of the day.


Talk to your supervisors and give them a copy of the chapter to read first.

I was in a sort-of similar position, where I found out less than a year into my PhD that another student at a nearby university had started a closely related topic.

My supervisor reassured me then that it would be ok, and even if we were researching exactly the same thing (which we weren't: there were differences), then two separate analyses of the same question would also be equally valid.

So don't worry too much. I doubt you'd need to go for an MPhil. But talk to your supervisor.


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So slowmo what are you gonna do now?
Either you have to continue with your rest of your work or you have to start a new one, but you don't have time to start out a fresh one.


Hey Slowmo, I could've written that post!!! Remember that thesis depression is cyclical - you feel like s**t now, but you'll pick yourself up and keep going, and it will get better. There's bound to be something different between your research and hers - have an objective look and find it. The originality of a thesis doesn't have to be huge. I also found out 5 years into mine that someone had done the same question as me, but my methodology is slightly different, so that's my big contribution. Which is enough! So - look for differences, however small. But not today, in a couple of days, and when you feel a little better.

And you can't stop now, I understand the hating the thesis, but you've come too far. You've gotta keep going. Have a cry, a rant, talk to people, get pissed, exercise, have a break, talk to your sups, do whatever you need to do, but keep going. This is a torturous, long, hard road, and you're in a trough at the moment, but it will get better. Just keep going!!!


Thanks so much for all the replies. Sue, your reply really helped me put things a bit more in perspecitve. Thanks so much.

Her work isn't exactly the same as mine. She did a mixed methods study with a particular population group and I did an in depth qualitative study with a subgroup of that population. It is just the title of her paper basically sounds like the title of my thesis, but when I read what she has done it is actually quite a bit different and she has little data from the specific group I worked with.

I wish it wasn't so stressful. I know these times always pass and there are ups and downs. Wouldn't it be great if we could just push a fast forward button and it would all be done? I'm so glad this forum is here to get these rants out there!


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