Should I quit the PhD


I'm in my final year of my PhD & been told that my work isn't analytical enough and not of PhD standard. I don't know what to do. I really want to stay and finish but I don't know what's needed to improve my work.

What should i do?


Hello R1234
Not sure I'm best person to advise you, being only an end-of-1st -year myself. But I'll give it a go. How come your sup has let you get to your final year before making you aware your work is not "analytical" enough? Is this the first you were aware?
After investing so much time and effort and quite frankly, your whole life since your PhD began, I would suggest sticking with it and seeing it through if you can, to reap the reward for your hard work. But you must get your sup to discuss specifics with you so you know precisely how you can improve your work and what you need to do. Its no good guessing....I have had that problem myself this year, and it didn't go well:(
I can understand this has been galling and probably hugely demoralising for you. Hopefully someone more knowledgeable and wiser than I will be along to give you some better advice than I am able.

Avatar for Pjlu

Is your supervisor referring specifically to your writing in your chapter drafts? When we first start writing up our data, we can stay in the reporting mode (being descriptive of the data and the literature) rather than going that next step and critically engaging with the impact our data has on the literature and current thinking regarding the problem/issue we have chosen to research.

I think this is a fairly common problem and it might be that your supervisor is not telling you that you are 'not phd material' but instead encouraging or pushing you to engage more critically with the data and the literature in your writing up. You can do this (if this is the issue). Look at the impacts of your findings...what is this saying about the problem or issue? How does this fit in with what the literature says? Are there any implications for practice, policy, or how we view or understand X or Y? (Not sure if this helps but best of luck).


I know someone whose supervisors have said similar to them. In fact, at the end of each year, they have told her she should quit. She has persevered (she is amazing and is of PhD material - her tenacity demonstrates it) and has been really forthright with them - like, OK, thank you for the feedback, so please could you tell me what it is I need to be getting better at and give me advice about how to go about it. With her, it has mostly been the need to develop her writing skills. As far as I know it has been working - although it hasn't been easy.

Have a look at this:
It is one of the best articles I have ever read on doing a PhD, and is clearly written by someone with experience. Your supervisors may be being honest with you - that at this time they don't think you are up to scratch - and they may think letting you go is easier than continuing to invest. But if you want to continue and are able to (with their help) identify the areas for improvement and ways to get there, then according to this article, if you have the basic core attributes, you have the potential to complete your PhD.

I hope this is a tiny bit helpful. Let us know what you decide to do. I think it is really important that you ask your supervisors to explain, point by point, EXACTLY what is needed to improve your work. Good luck.