have you ever wondered what is actually expected from us, as PhD candidates? I thought my work was going OK, until I read a few papers and realised that I haven't actually done anything! I haven't proven any new properties, did not analyse something, did not come up with new interesting equations, results etc etc.. I started to feel that my entire thesis is turning to be 2 pages of a proposed method.. and 200 pages of examples! I know I should trust my supervisor when he says it's good for a PhD... but don't you sometimes feel your supervisor does not really pay attention to your work??
Anyone else feels their work is rubbish and not important for a PhD??? :S
How about all the time? And everyone I know feels the same. Ok, I do have wee moments of 'Eureka!' and think I've found something amazing, only for someone else to publish my idea before me. Still, am hoping that there's nothing wrong with publishing something that says 'hey, look... I found the same'. The key thing is that your supervisor tells you it's enough. Mine keeps insisting on it every time I look at him quizzically with my eyebrows raised in a 'are you sure you're not bluffing' way. How many students has your supervisor had? If he/she's got a good track record don't panic. Get a second opinion from a colleague if it makes you feel better.
Hi Seabird... he's had quite a lot of students... 15, 16 maybe.. all passed. But I can't help but to feel that I am a fraud and simply not good enough... I look at what I've done and go like: "So.. that's it? So what? Look at what X and Y did.. your work is nothing like theirs!"... Anyway.. I guess I need to trust my supervisor even though I feel he is being like my mother... telling me I am doing fine to get my spirits up, even though he might actually be thinking that I am rubbish!
i think that is a completely natural thing - it would be a sign of overconfidence if it didn't happen. the point is: it is impossible to see your own work in hindsight the same way you see it while you are doing it. figuring out something is hard work. reading through what someone found out - especially if it was yourself - makes the same thing seem simple, obvious.
so, to get over that, you need to self-confidently say: wow, i figured this out all by myself! and i even managed to make it so clear that in hindsight it seems obvious! now that's a feat!
instead of saying to yourself: oh, all the while i was working on that stupid problem and thought it is really hard and only now i finally realize what it is all about and it is so simple - i must be really stupid not to have figured it out earlier. i'm sure everyone else would have figured it out much quicker...
you made me laugh when you said that you felt like a fraud, because that's exactly how I have always felt. I think it's natural. Take it as a positive that your supervisor thinks your doing fine :o) I'm still waiting for mine to turn around and go 'HA... ONLY KIDDING'! Papers always make it look fancy - but you don't have to do ground breaking work for a PhD... and very few do... Good luck
It is really funny for me to hear you say that too, because just last night I was saying to my boyfriend that I have a constant feeling in the back of my mind that I'm about to be 'found out'... That if my supervisors look too closely at my work they'll go 'hang on a second, that's a load of c*@p!!!'
I think these worries are natural... try to remember when you read other papers that they may not be written by students but probably people who have been researching for years!!! And even if they are written by students, those same people would probably look at a paper you wrote and shake in their boots aswell
One more 'soon to be find out fraud here'....:)I have a constant feeling that 'they' will find out that in fact I am absolutely stupid and got MPhil from the top university just by an administrative error or because of my talent to fool people, and that I definitely do not deserve a PhD....
I have felt like a fraud through the whole of my PhD and I still feel like one now that I have it! My colleagues all feel the same. One said to me that she expects the fraud squad to knock on the door of her office any day. As for 'eureka' moments, remember that you are seeking to expand knowledge and make an original contribution - you are not required to be the catalyst for a paradigm shift! Leave that for when you win the nobel prize
Why do you think that "imposter" syndrome is so common in PhD students? Is it because the sort of people that do PhDs are less confident in their own abilities? Or is it something about academia that makes people think they will never be up to the standard whatever they do?
I am not sure, but I do think there is a difference between the "good" (most of us) and the "exceptional" (very rare), and maybe its the latter group that are make the former feel like imposters.
For anyone having confidence issues, and doubts as to why they ever thought they could do a PhD i think it's all part of the process unfortunately - if you need further convincing, read "How to get a PhD - a book for students and supervisors" by Phillips and Pugh. It's frightening how they have summed up almost every thought i've had about myself and the PhD process - i could have written it it's that accurate! Needless to say i felt a bit better having read it:0)
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