PhD is a disaster, what should i do??


I'm a PhD student meant to submit in 3 months but i don't have enough data. Up until very recently, getting an extension to candidature wasn't a problem but now it's almost impossible I've been told. So now I'm faced with either taking a 6 month leave of absence (no money) to buy myself another 6 months or just dropping out. I don't have enough for a masters. If I dropped out I'd be so embarrassed and my mental health would get even worse. I've spent nearly 4 years and will have gotten nothing out of it so I'm really devastated and feel like a complete failure


If you have a valid reason, the uni normally would not reject your application. Just try applying and see how it goes.

Regarding generation of data, could you speak to your supervisor to see if there is anything he/she can do?Perhaps ask for the help of another student or technician or postdoc during these critical times? My concern though is that you are saying that you have insufficient data to even qualify for a masters at this very late stage. Do you know that you can have an entire chapter on method if you are establishing or optimizing a method? Try to talk to your supervisor or an experienced researcher to see what else could be used in your thesis. You may have more than you think.

If you do not get your 6 months extension, just submit your work as a PhD anyway. That way, no matter what happens, you will still leave with at least a masters.

Chin up and march on. Don't give up.


Yes, don't give up. How are you getting on now? You will come away with something, not nothing. You are not a failure. Have you decided what to do?



It really sounds like your supervisor has not really taken the responsibility of making sure that your project is yielding a sufficient amount of data for you to graduate in time. We do all of course have our own share of the responsibility but you are not supposed to be alone in it and other more established researchers like you supervisor are supposed to make sure that these types of problems do not stop you from finishing your degree. It really sounda like you are in a tough spot.

The reason your story hit a sore spot for me is because I have been working on my project for around 1.5 years and I have not yet produced any original results. I am already a year behind schedule and I can not really pick up the pace because I am doing my phd in neuroscience and collecting enough cell material for my experiments can take months. I am still at the beginning of my phd studies but your story really illustrates that it is perfectly possible to blow through the 4 years ahead of me without having anything to show for it.


Hi Engram, How you doing now ? I am at the similar stage as you and still got no results to show/publish. It is getting on my nerves now and I cannot really concentrate on my work.


Hi Aziwa,

I am still stuck with the lack of material. Since the summer holiday season is approaching, the next time I can attempt to gather more cell material will be around the 18th of July. I am really losing hope and motivation because of this issue. Every time I try to think of other related questions to tackle (to get data) I am quickly reminded that all of that requires cells just like the original project does. When I ask my supervisor about it, he just tells me to keep going (aka. waiting) and does not really address the possibility that I might not be able to gather enough data in time. Meanwhile I am tasked with teaching our new post doc (all the respect to her, she is really nice) the methods and protocols I have established in our lab (we are a new lab). She was supposed to join so that I would have a more experienced colleague help me with the neuronal work but in the end I am still the most experienced person in our lab (i taught myself during these 1.5 years). My supervisor does not know the methods either so he is not really able to help with the troubleshooting either.

What about you Aziwa? What is at the reason you are having hard time gathering data / original results? I am not glad you are in a similar situation but it does feel good to hear that someone understands the source of my anxiety.


It is possible that your topic is difficult or your supervisor is inexperienced or over-burdening, thus, not the right person see you through. I have seen countless of such situation. You need to find previous students that our supervisor once supervised they can advise you how to deal with him/her better. Or if you can, you can still be back on your feet by getting external help. Why don't you do that, there are people out there who can work with you even for some fees. All hope is not lost, don't give up!