I am exhausted already

S

I am currently a PhD student, with Arabic background ( I have already completed a year since I started the PhD journey but during that year I got a maternity leave for 70 days and hence my confirmation is delayed) my confirmation of candidature is scheduled to be held on the end of March.

However, I am still not confident about what I am doing or going to do!
I am from computer science field, I decided to do my PhD on time series analysis, after I read a bit about it and i found it interesting. Now, I am struggling to find what is should be considered as a contribution !!

I am still even not sure about the research questions..

I have the following problems:
Besides the family responsibilities i am trying to work on my PhD research most of the day , around 10 hours daily, even weekends.

I consume along time to grasp the concepts well, especially when it's related to theory.
Most of the times I have done experiments and reported the results to my supervisor.. later I depicted some mistakes in the code which leads the results!!!

I am criticising my self alot, I think I am not focusing well .. however dont know what can i do to progress well in terms of time and work quality..

How I can be confident while I am not very knowledgeable compared to other on the same field.

How can I progress towards my very soon CoC??

Where can I find peers who work on time series analysis?

I am awfully sorry for this long writing! But I feel like oh finally there is a place to speak !!!

G

First of all, take a deep breath :-)

Your situation is not abnormal. It may be more stressful with caring for a young family but other PhD students do this too.

Don't worry about mistakes in your code. The best thing to do is to be honest about this with your supervisor. We have all been there, and shown results that turned out to be wrong. It's scary but they almost certainly won't worry as much as you are worrying! Everyone makes mistakes, it isn't a big deal. If they seem angry or disappointed you can choose to ignore that, because they also will have made mistakes when they were PhD students.

Time series analysis is a difficult field. Whether you are looking at pure statistics or an applied field, there is a lot to take in. I did applied time series on my PhD and finding the appropriate methods was a challenge. In fact even now I feel like I didn't understand well enough. You don't need a perfect understanding, just an idea of how to move forward or what to try next. It's ok to spend the early part of your PhD just learning new techniques. There might be conferences or mailing lists that you can get involved with.

Academic papers are very difficult to understand. It took me four years to really understand the papers I was given in my first week! It is absolutely normal to take a long time to understand the theory, or to struggle with gaps. Mostly it was talking to academics in my field that made a difference. Does your department have a "journal club" where other PhD students meet up once a month (or every few weeks) to discuss a paper? This can be very helpful. You could try making a list of every paper you've started reading, or all the experiments you've done so far. I'm sure you'll soon see it's a lot more than you realise.

Working on your mental health will probably help you a lot. Have you heard of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)? This is a way of listing your automatic negative thoughts -- like criticising yourself and feeling slow -- and finding more realistic thoughts to replace them with. For example, "I'm not working hard enough" might be replaced with "I am working 10 hours a day and I've learned a new word or idea this week, this proves I am moving forward and I am on track." Or if you tell yourself that you're a bad student for making a mistake, a more realistic thought would be "everyone makes mistakes. I learned from it and now I understand my code much better!" You can find advice on CBT online but perhaps your university also has student mental health or a wellbeing service you could talk to.

I think that if you realise that your situation is normal and you're doing fine, you will take a huge amount of pressure off of yourself. Most students overestimate how much they are supposed to know at the end of their first year! Especially if you have had more than two months off.

S

Hi glimmerbat,

Thank you so much for your valuable reply.
I like your suggestion about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and I will consider this.

As you had experience with Time series, may I ask what sources you recommend the most to learn? Unfortunately, we don't have this kind of Journal clubs in my uni, (as I know ).
Actually, my main supervisor is from a different area of interest, so even the other students that she supervises are working on other areas than mine.


if you recommend any groups like on meetup or such that's could help me a lot.

Thank you very much

C

Hi Sllona,

This sounds very much like me. I am a Ph.D. student in Management. My interest is in business communications, and I research how individual behaviors affect our ability to communicate effectively in business settings, but most importantly, what causes those behaviors. My research hinges on the communication accommodation theory and constructivism. On the constructivism side, I focus on understanding the effects of age, gender, and level of expertise on our ability to deliver effective communications in business settings. I would call my sell a behavioral constructivist. I hope to help organizations communicate more effectively as a contribution to the improvement of doing business in Africa.

When I started working on my Ph.D., I really wasn't sure what I wanted to research. I changed topics almost three times. The good thing is that Ph.D. supervisors are really super patient because they have been there too. Also, what helps me is to find other Ph.D. students in a similar area as mine to discuss my discoveries. When I feel low, I watch the graduation video from my university, and I start visualizing how it will look like when I graduate. The most significant accomplishment in Ph.D. research is analyzing what has been done in your field and where you can contribute. Think broadly of an area of your interest and narrow it down to the smallest study-able area of specialization. Then read previous research papers to see what you can do differently than those previous researchers. You will be amazed by how much there is that you can do differently. Sometimes it is the content area they did not cover; sometimes, it is the population they have not considered; sometimes, it is a different time-frame. I have not come across any study that is exactly similar to any other.

Also, try to achieve something every day. It could be reading an additional paragraph, writing one more paragraph, or running a new code. Whatever it is, do something every day. Do not aim to do so much in one sitting. It makes life less enjoyable. When you do some small thing every day before you know, you will have a 350-page within two years, and we will start calling you Dr so and so.

Take courage; everything eventually ends. And it ends well.

Best,

61227