New Here - 2nd year Phd Student - Advice needed please!


Hi There,

I just discovered this forum as I was looking for advice on my PhD. So I am three months into the 2nd year of my qualitative Phd in Marketing. For the first year or so, I was struggling immensely as I was just writing literature review chapters that did not lead to a clear idea of what my topic actually is. After my first year annual review, it appeared that I still do not have a clear topic narrowed down and also that my topic in general is very challenging.

My topic is very interesting (still needs narrowed down) as it has not been done before. The problem is that my topic is very focused on collecting data from retailing companies. I have attempted from different means to contact people high up in these companies and try to gain access to them to collect my data. However, I keep coming up against stumbling blocks from companies that are not interested, people in these positions who do not reply or the usual, you need to contact so and so instead and then I do and I am back at square one. My current question (supply chains focused) is geared towards really needing access to these companies or similar ones.

I just feel like I have no clear direction and its beginning to frustrate me so much that I have had inspiration to change directions slightly and just do a consumer focused Phd. It would still involve retailing and the sector I want to explore but would focus on another area of discussion such as consumers shopping habits, impact of Brexit on consumers shopping habits or something similar.
I just want to do something I am passionate about and lately I just feel so confused. I really thought for a long time that this Phd stuff was not for me but perhaps that is not it at it. Perhaps i have just had no direction that its like I am floating...

Anyways, anyone give me advice. I really need to discuss this with my supervisors but thoughts?

Avatar for rewt

I am a big fan of getting data. It is hard to write a thesis without data and your second year is when you should start collecting it. Your first idea does sound interesting but if you can't get data, is it worth pursuing? You seem to be there yourself and there is no shame is slightly changing direction. I am doing it myself due to experimental difficulties but I am now getting publishable. You are still early in your PhD, and a quick change of direction should be possible.

I know changing research focus can be disheartening and it is easy to lose motivation. You probably have worked hard on the first problem and feel like a failure for not being able to do it. But that is research. You have thoroughly worked on a problem for a year and found it isn't possible, that happens to everyone. Everyone has set-backs and it is part of life, though what counts is how you pick yourself up from them. Because to be honest you still have 2 years to do amazing research and the only thing stopping you is yourself.