I am working on a paper-based thesis. So, my thesis is supposed to contain three "ready-to-publish" essays. I am currently in my first year and working on the first paper. The more I work on it, I sometimes feel that maybe the gap I am studying is not significant enough to be entitled a PhD thesis work. I am not sure, but I feel as if the PhD thesis should be this very new knowledge and something grand, and mine feels like a very minor change to what has been done before. How can I tell if the gap is significant? I feel that my supervisors are being polite and they don't answer it directly when I ask if the gap is significant. I am not sure whom do I even ask? :(
My new contribution is supposed to be 1.Analysis on a larger set of observations than was done before
2.I am including more dimensions into measuring this independent variable and I am arguing the importance of adding this dimension is important to study the relation with dependent variable. I am very sorry if I am not making sense, but does that feel like new contribution? I am so confused about the this gap and new knowledge thing. I would be really grateful if you could give me some advice.
It's really hard to answer on the basis of the science without knowing what it's really about etc. But I don't think most supervisors would lead someone along to thinking the gap they were addressing was significant enough when it wasn't. They want you to pass the PhD and it is their role to guide you through it. I wouldn't worry about it if I were you - just focus on doing the research. It sounds like you are collecting a good amount of data. It all sounds appropriate.
I remember having similar thoughts about my thesis too actually. What I found really helpful was to look at other theses in my area and see what they were like. Once I found some that seemed comparable to mine in terms of contribution, it put me at greater ease.
Finally, I can recommend a paper called: it's a PhD not a nobel prize. It should come up if you Google. It's awesome and again eased my worries a lot when I was writing my thesis (incidentally mine was based on 3 papers too - although they were not all published by the time of my viva).
Thank you so much for you really uplifting and kind response. Reading this has really helped me actually to feel better, and that paper you mentioned about: "It's a PhD not a Nobel prize" is really good and I am also recommending it to my other colleagues.
I want to say that I find this forum full of positivity and uplifting messages :)
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