People who don't understand


Really beginning to realise that no one outside of academia understands what a PhD involves in terms of the time it takes up; they think I sit around all day reading books and avoiding 'proper' work

It's especially annoying as a PT student. People keep complaining that I never go out or visit them in the evenings or at weekends, but that's the only time I have to study. They refuse to believe I spend every spare second on my research


I totally agree. While I am not in academia currently, having withdrawn from a PhD I was due to start in September, I have done some research work, and seen what PhD students do. Added to this, I have a very good friend from my degree course doing one, and she finds it a constant struggle. Having said that, I think some of this "they don't do anything" attitude is mere spitefulness, and belies a feeling of inferiority.


I find it hard that people don't see it as a valid reason - if I said I was at work in a job on a weekend then I wouldn't have this reaction


Hey, I know exactly what you mean! Its particularly grating when you know just how hard you are working, and would love nothing more than to see friends rather than being up to your eyeballs in data and papers. Grrrrrr!! Bring them all into your office and show them what hard you have to do!!! and if you don't cut you some slack, shoot them!


Yeah tell me about it, I constantly get the tax dodger jibes and if we're planning to do something I'm the one expected to organise things because "they all have jobs" they are all under the impression that I'm being paid to sit around and do next to nothing. As much as I love what I'm doing I envy the fact that they work until 5pm then go home and have the rest of the time to themselves. When I get home I usually have to carry on working


I'm lucky that close friends and family are really supportive although my brother still maintains that the only reason I'm doing a PhD is so I get to doss for another 3 years.

The most annoying thing for me is that my relatives assume that I have lots of free time so I should go and run errands for them when I'm at home with my parents at weekends (even though they have their own children around my age). It got to the point where my mum wouldnt let me answer the phone when I was there and wouldnt tell her brother and sisters that I was even at home.


Me too, I don't understand why people don't get it either. I am fed up with 'well a few hours off/evening/weekend' won't matter, well it does when you are desperately trying to write up!

Mind you, I can think of a few people who still think I am will be a qualified medic when I finished so there is no hope at all!

This is why I think this forum is great as I know that everyone here understands how much a PhD takes over your life. It will be worth it (I keep telling myself that anyway!)


It's so annoying isn't it?! I especially hate the inevitable question of: "yes, but when are you going to get a PROPER job?". FFS. How very tiresome it is to have to explain to people. And when you do, they tell you that you shouldn't really "work that hard anyway". Gah.


If people say that all the time, I usually say - well if it's not a proper job, you can't live on the benefits of research. So stop using drugs, cars, computers, any electical machines, heating systems, clothes made of synthetic fibres or with synthetic dyes, and also stop talking if you're over 50, as without medical research you'd probably be dead.


I've got to say the comment I hate most are those about "proper jobs" and those that assume we do nothing. The majority of people that say these things work 35 to 40 hours a week. I work at least 50 hours a week!


this is something that annoys me too. my friends from home make comments about me being lazy and not wanting to work, my other halfs parents think im not quite 'human' ( referred to me as 'people like that' dont understand the real world) and my other half assumes i can just be off work whenever for furniture deliveries etc etc, and that all i do all day is play on the internet. never mind the fact i start work at 7.30 and end up falling asleep every night worrying about experiments etc. then i have come across others who either assume your a snob because you say your doing a Phd or those who just smile and say 'ok' cos they dont even know what a Phd is..!


You guys are all quite whiney. Why do yu get so annoyed? Why do you expect people to understand? I'm sure you'd all be the first ones to say that a PhD isn't something that just anyone can do and that it requires a mixture of intelligence, determination and interest. Why should people have a clue what your talking about? If that truely is the case most people won't understand.

Calm down, have a biscuit.


Adem, I see your point, but I think the problem here is that people don't bother to ask about it. If they want to know what someone does, and the reply is "a PhD", why not ask about it? Behaving like an ignoramus is no excuse.



In reply to your questions I don't expect people to understand what a PhD is like I believe (rightly or wrongly) that it's something you can never understand unless you've been through it.

I just want people to realise that I don't just spend 3 years being paid to do nothing, that I am in fact working hard. I don't put people down because of their jobs/career choices and I don't expect them to put me down for mine.


Laney, I think Adem just meant that you shouldn't care what other people think. Sure... when you say you do a PhD some people look at you with a blank face. Often they're not being rude, it normally means they don't have a clue what a PhD is/what it involves, and so have no idea what to ask without feeling stupid.

I know I do the same when someone has a complicated job title - you simply move on to another topic if you can't relate to it!