short docs vs actual chapters


Hi all

I don't really know where to start. Let's say my study is not going well.

Things started to go downhill at the end of year 2. I have spent a lot of time trying to come up with three research focuses that can be integrated into one solid phd thesis. Focus 1 and 2 have been pretty much sorted. The problem is focus 3 and how the three of them can be combined as contribution to the field (I already got focus 3 now though). Things were so confusing that my supervisors suggested I focus on each part separately. So what I've been asked to do is writing short documents, like 2000, 5000, or 12,000 word long, focusing only one one specific thing at a time. However, I have been working repeatedly on focus 2 for years, and the loop goes like this: I wrote a short piece of writing > submitted it to supervisors > got told that it was crap > revise > resubmit > more mistakes pointed out > revise etc etc. I have never got to really expand it into actual result chapters. And because I spent so much time trying to fix focus 2, I haven't got much chance to work on focus 3 (which has just been added to the thesis last year) or any other parts of the thesis.

My supervisors are convinced that if I can't write short documents, I cannot write actual chapters. But the problem is I couldn't fit everything in the docs and discuss it in length. For example, the last piece of writing I submit was 12000 word long, focusing on research question 2. In the doc I was asked to include introduction, brief background literature, method, data analysis, discussion, and contribution. This leaves only about 6000 words for data analysis. However, in the actual chapter, I could have written up to 11000 words. Some of my examples are two page long. As a result I spent a lot of time condensing things over and over.

I feel that by trying to perfect these short documents, sample analysis, and outline of each individual section of the study, I'm losing the overall picture of what I'm doing even more. I don't know anymore what goes where as all I have are separate documents of each individual focus. I want to just write actual thesis now as I think it will help me see better the link between chapters and how I can make it coherent. Adding or removing details from actual chapters should be easier too. Do you think this is a good idea?

Any suggestions will be appreciated. I just finished year 4 so this is my final push. If I do this and things still doesn't improve then I guess it's time for me to go. Thank you so much in advance for any comments x

Avatar for Flipper

I think that sometimes our supervisors just find it easier to read and give feedback on shorter documents. I have sent you a PM - chin up you will get there! x