Well having often read with great interest the experiences of other PhD students on this forum, I have finally decided to type down my own experience. I am now in my third year of what was supposed to be originally a 3 year PhD but due to numerous problems this has now turned into four years. I have spent months trying to secure funding for this extra year consequently I have had very little time or opportunity to learn and develop valuable lab skills. I feel I am completely useless and this has just really worn me down. I came within weeks from watching my project and me completely collapse. I have no motivation left any more. While my PhD topic is quiet interesting, I feel like I can't take it any more. My PhD project is based primarily on me scrutinising large databases from various sources but none of the other parties are now willing to give me these databases. Between red tape delays and complete lack of cooperation from third parties, I really feel completely mentally exhausted. I struggle every day to stay motivated, experiencing brief periods of calmness followed quickly by extended periods of manic depression. Ironically I am frequently asked to speak to other undergrads about motivation because of my perceived enthusiastic attitude. Nobody knows I feel this way as there is no one around I can talk too. I can't crack as I am perceived as the rock. I am the only researcher working in my field in my lab and spend all day working alone. There are no technicians or postdocs in my lab so I am left to do everything myself. I have to teach myself everything and have ended up completely supervising my own project. My supervisor is not familiar with my project area at all and while she is a lovely woman she is an absolutely useless supervisor. She has given me no constructive guidance what so ever largely as she does not understand what I am doing. In fact she has not even asked me to deliver one presentation since beginning my project, she has no interest in looking at my results and she never scrutinises my work nor wants to have any lab meetings. I found out the other day from a colleague she is going away for several weeks very soon but she never even told me. I have tried all the usual avenues to address these issues. Talking to advisor, convenor but to put it mildly they are all completely incompetent and most of them can't even stand each other to the degree they don't even talk to each other. The other students I have met occasionally at uni events have had the same problem with these people even though the Uni brags about being one of the UK's best. I feel completely trapped. I can't leave now as who would be mad enough to fund me for another PhD and psychologically while I am a very strong willed person, I could not do this again. Just to make things more complicated, I am really struggling financially on my stipend as it's quiet small and am not eligible for research council funding. I really just want to get out and escape this all
It sounds as though you could do with a break, not a few days but a few months. Could that be arranged, perhaps on medical grounds? From what you write it sounds as though you would have medical grounds for this. Would your doctor support you? I reached near breaking point 2 years ago with my PhD and it was either take a break or chuck it in. Arranging the break was a bit complicated for me because I'm research council funded and they had to go through the process of approving it (and needed some pushing to finally do so, even with the required GP's letter and supervisor's support). But I got my 5 months off. It gave me a chance to recoup, take stock, and come back afresh.
Having said that you do sound as though you have some bigger problems with database provision and supervisor support etc. I'm not sure what to advise to solve those. Perhaps others can offer words of wisdom. But it does sound as though you could benefit from a proper break, and that might give you a chance at least to recharge your batteries.
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[quote]Quote From Sirius:
Well having often read with great interest the experiences of other PhD students on this forum, I have finally decided to type down my own experience. I am now in my third year of what was supposed to be originally a 3 year PhD but due to numerous problems this has now turned into four years. I have spent months trying to secure funding for this extra year consequently I have had very little time or opportunity to learn and develop valuable lab skills. I feel I am completely useless and this has just really worn me down. I came within weeks from watching my project and me completely collapse. I have no motivation left any more. While my PhD topic is quiet interesting, I feel like I can't take it
your story just likes a mirror reflect my current situation. I have a woman supervisor as well, perhaps I am her the first PhD student, through the conversation and discussion, I feel that she is lack of sufficient background knowledge with respect to my project. the fact that I have checked her PhD experience, although belong to the same subject but they are absolutely different field of research. I am very very confused why she can have successfully applied the EPSRC funding, of coure I am beneficiary from EPSRC because of it pay me the whole scholarship. I have asked her some academic questions, the answer is always not explicit or even "I don't know". I would think that as an applicant of the inpendent research project if without enough experience or theory knowledge can get about 200,000 pound, how to get it? how to win it? Something need to be upgraded or repaired or purchse new, she is alway not glad to do or push it.
Sirius, you really do sound as though you need to take a complete break. I agree with BilboBaggins. See if you can arrange to take a few months off. Perhaps you can get a temporary job, in a totally different field, to take your mind off your PhD, recharge your batteries and replenish your bank account. After a break, your problems with database access might not seem so insurmountable. As for your supervisor, is there any way you can get a supplementary supervisor for the final year of your project? Even if they are in a slightly different field, someone more experienced and with a different style of working to your current supervisor might help you.
Don't feel like you have to hold it all together and can't crack because you're the rock. You have to think of yourself first. Take a break. Lose yourself in a good book (you sound like you might be a Harry Potter fan!).
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