Part Time PhD Student- Quit or not



I am part time year 4 phd and feel like I have a long way to go before being even near finished. I am finding it really difficult to get motivated and would do anything other than research, what do I do.- is it time to quit. I am really starting to freak out about this- I am under pressure from work to get it and the thoughts of quitting scares me as much as the choice of not quitting. any advice would be great.


Hi Corina,

Motivation isn't always easy with our PhD especially if things are moving slowly or not at all. But, I just want to what is it about the PhD that's not motivating you? Is it that you find thought of the journey ahead of you daunting? Or the topic of your thesis?

If you're in your 4th year, that means you're two thirds of the way done, you'd have achieved so much to just give up now. Perhaps you should take some time off? It may motivate you to return to your PhD once you've had a nice break.



Hmph, I can't really improve on what C-bint has said. I can really, really empathise with you though. To be two thirds of the way through and have absolutely no motivation, to be sometimes petrified by the thought or what still remains to be done. And then there's the expectations of those around you versus the fact that you sometimes fantasise about quitting.
When I give my supervisor updates on my progress, she e-mails back 'happy motoring'. As if I sit working on my thesis with a big lunatic smile on my face, humming the Hi-Ho Snow White and the Seven Dwarves song. The only motoring I do is trips to Asda to buy pop and toffees - and it makes me really mad when I read it in the e-mails.
The only advice I give is to share my coping tactics. Some of them seem pathetic (they work or me though), but you might find some of them useful....

1) It will end. IT has to END, since every beginning has an ending - even the universe some day.
2) Like me, you're 2/3rds through the bugger -that means one more third - goal!
3) Not many people, proportionately speaking, have the title Dr. You will though. And to me it seems really exotic. I imagine I could be a James Bond baddie when I'm qualified. I wouldn't be a really evil one though, no-one would get hurt and my actions wouldn't have dire geopolitical consequences. I'll just do things like turn all the lakes in the Lake District into candy floss, or make it snow in the middle of Summer for 5 days in a row. Or genetically engineer big, dopey giant daddy long legs that crash into everything - that would be messed up.
4) It'll, hopefully, improve your employment prospects and, if research is to be believed, you'll earn even more money over you lifetime.
5) A PhD is so, so hard - and you'll have done it, got to the end. 'Yo, Adrianne, I did it!'.
6) Imagine graduation, that glass of campagne with the supervisors (which I've never had - but have been told it tastes like bubble gum)?
7) It's only once in a lifetime, the last great hurdle - there'll be nothing harder (other than child birth maybe) than this.
8) I don't know about you, but I'll feel like I'm able to watch Question Time and News Night with dignity. Doesn't matter that I don't really understand all the issues, I'll be a Dr of philosophy and it'll be my God-given right to watch it and enjoy it.
9) You've started, so you'll finish. That's my mindset.

Don't forget to use this forum to monitor your progress and share your highs and lows. Hey, why not start a thread for encouragement and support - Corina's Continuation Thread? There are an awful lot of people on this forum that are going through what you are. We're all in it together.


From the experience in the last few months gained at this forum, I can dare to say that people who quit, and terrified by this beast do return later at some point in their lives and the confrontation becomes more dramatic and volatile. So get out all your weaponry now and beat the s*** outta this.


======= Date Modified 18 Jun 2010 06:06:03 =======
I recently completed a part-time 6-year PhD, my second go at things after leaving a full-time PhD (in totally opposite discipline) over a decade ago.

From about halfway through up until about 6 months before completing I thought about quitting every single day. Really really wanted to quit. But I kept creeping forward. I still wanted the end result - do you? And I kept on setting myself to-do lists of things to be getting on with, so I could make progress, however small and slowly.

I did hit a major breaking point 3 years ago and took a medical break for 5 months to recharge my batteries. I figured that if I didn't take a break I would be quitting, so I might as well stop and see how I got on. And, even though things were still hard when I returned, I was stronger and better ready for it. So maybe taking a break would be a good thing for you.

Do you have some sort of plan/timetable for reaching the end? It can be flexible, and change as need be, but helps give you a road map. Also do you keep a proper track of your achievements? It's easy on a part-time PhD to drift and not realise just how much you have done. I would keep a simple month-by-month spreadsheet record, filling in a brief summary of what I'd done in the last month in terms of research, reading and writing.

Good luck!