Quit PhD after coming back


I started my PhD in October last year but I had been working with the supervisors of the project for a year at that point. To me the process has been anything but productive. I tried my best to insist when we were focusing on something that was fruitless or come up with better models only to be consistently ignored. I often hear the first year of a PhD is one where you will not make significant progress and this is natural. However, the reason why the progress is so bad is on them, and of course, there is no admission when it comes to assessing this. I feel like due to this my motivation and excitement for the topic are gone. I was afraid to quit so I asked for a two-month suspension of studies. During that time I looked for jobs and became extremely anxious about how hard the process would be. Out of sheer anxiety, I decided to go back and assured my supervisors that I had solved the personal issues (they didn't know the truth) that made me suspend my studies. This was only a couple of weeks ago but right from the beginning, it has been worst than ever. I feel completely depressed and I am concerned about how I feel. This was mainly triggered by the fact that I was told by the supervisors that they were happy to have me back to work on this great model they have. Queue a couple of days later, I get an email saying upon further thinking I probably don't have the specific skills required to participate in this and that I should go and do something "I like more" (this came out of the blue, I never said anything or gave any indications). I answered that I was concerned about the time since starting on something new that was interesting could mean months of work and I needed to present advances to the board of the program (they knew this, so it felt like they were setting me up to fail). They basically ignored me and just said at some point that hopefully, I'll be able to contribute to their problem in other areas (there is no reason why they should think I wouldn't). After this, I am now being drowned in work in the very same area they said I could not work in. To me, this is absolute madness, and it feels like the last drop. My doubt is whether I come out as the bad guy for coming back for a couple of weeks only to quit definitely now. Any advice would be greatly appreciated, sorry for the long post :(

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Hi Alilili2020,

Don't drop out until you have something else arranged. You can treat your PhD like a job for a few months and do the bare minimum while you are looking for other opportunities. Keeping a steady source of income while figuring out what to do is better than dropping out immediately.

I don't think there is anything wrong with dropping out after taking a suspension of studies. you shouldn't feel obligated to continue if you don't want to. Your supervisors will probably understand your reasoning and they know they can't force you to stay. If not, your supervisors are toxic and you should definitely run away. Most supervisors will be understanding if you present logical reasons why you want to quit and you don't need

So to clarify; you took a suspension of studies, when you returned you got introduced to a new project/model, got told to drop it a week later and told do something else but you are still working on the new model? What were you working on before? I understand they have been giving you conflicting advice but are you sure it is malicious and not just gross supervisor incompetence. It can be difficult bouncing between ideas and methods but it si better to do it now and choose the right path before you commit to far. You can also present negative results as a form of progress, as learning what doesn't work is just as useful as finding what does work.