Please help should I quit?


Hi everyone I was looking for some advice please, I would really appreciate it

I am just getting to the end of my first year of my PhD and I'm not sure whether I should continue. I came straight from undergraduate and therefore found it difficult to begin with. My PhD proposal was already written by my supervisor I just applied for the position. Throughout my first year I have had to repeat experiments again and again all year. It has been a year and I have repeated the same experiment the whole year with no results. My supervisor has no experience with this method and there is no one in the department able to help me. I have emailed external staff yet no luck.

I am becoming very very demotivated and I feel really stressed emotionally. Although I have always been an intelligent student, from the onset I have doubted my abilities but have always been assured by others I am more than capable to complete my PhD. Even now my supervisor isn't worried about the little progress of my work, she says we are getting there and she is really happy with my work, but I just feel horrible

I don't feel good enough, I feel like I have achieved nothing and I don't know why I am doing it anymore. I loved research to begin with and now I feel incredibly anxious to continue.

Please can anyone offer any advice, it will be greatly appreciated

Thank you



Hi Imantawhid

Firstly, you are not alone. Many, many people on this forum have had the same experience to you. I could have written word-for-word much of your post towards the end of the first year of my PhD! (I am nearly finished my PhD now.)

Second thing, does your institution have a formal progress check? For example, I had to `upgrade' from MPhil to PhD student status. This formal check with examiners who are not your supervisor is one way to find out if you have done sufficient in your first year. That way, you can get some objectivity about your progress. From what little you have written, I would side with your supervisor and wager that you are getting there and you are doing just fine.

The emotional challenges of a PhD are harder to tackle. Do you have some support in real life with this? e.g. someone who has done a PhD who you could talk to, or your university's counselling service? (I used both of these during my PhD.)

Good luck


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Have you been writing? Some people don't even get their hands on data in the first year and just write, so if you're unhappy with your progress, maybe up the writing e.g. lit review, analysis of different methods etc. which might help you feel happier about having produced something. I wrote about 60,000 words in my first year. I only used about 15,000 of them in my actual thesis but it was SO useful to understand the research landscape in my area and for my viva!

Maybe you could talk to your sup about kicking off a second stream of experiments so you're not putting all your eggs in one basket.


Thank you Ejc,

It feels better to know I am not alone in this feeling! I think that's a big problem, I don't have anyone else to turn to, I don't know anyone doing a PhD except people in another field but they often shun me as I'm young. A lot mistake me for undergraduate:(

With regards to progress, at the end of this year I have to complete a transfer report to upgrade from Mphil to PhD and that is terrifying me. We have to have a Viva too and I feel like Im just going to get laughed out of it.

Thank you again for your reply


Hello. I think a lot of PhD students feel like that at some point. I applied for an advertised project straight from undergrad too and it was a huge shock to the system. I think I spend most of the first year doing the same five experiment over and over because they never seemed right and feeling utterly miserable about it. Remember that a lot of the first year will be about learning new techniques and getting to grips with your field. If your supervisor is happy with your progress then you're probably doing ok. You could also look at the transfer report as a good opportunity to get an opinion from someone other than your supervisor if that helps.


Although I'm not exactly in the same position as you I can sympathise with you situation - I'm a first year who has also thought of giving up. In my case, it just seemed to be taking me a while to get started and I felt like I lacked understanding and wasn't 'bright enough'. With me, talking about it with my supervisor really helped as did, instead of comparing my performance to other people all the time, thinking about my own progression. I definitely know more now than I did a year ago, six months ago, three months ago and even one month ago. I still have various issues and difficulties, like you I still have days where I feel like I'm working really hard but not achieving anything and times when I doubt my ability, but overall I'm a lot happier. I'm sorry you're experiments haven't worked out. What subject is your PhD? Is there any chance that you got interesting results that you could use even if they're not what ou expected? I'm afraid I don't really have any practical advice but I thought it might help a little bit to realize that someone else has had second thoughts as well.