Super lost in middle of the PhD - how to keep going?


Hi guys,

I just signed up after reading this forum for like three months.
You are great, I saw some very good advice and support here, and I thought maybe you could had some ideas that could help me. Basically, I'm feeling super lost now, and have no idea how to continue my work.

To give some context, i'm a Computer Science PhD in my second year now. I'm working on a field that is not super trendy, more like a fresh take on a very traditional problem. The topic was new to me when I started, and to be honest it doesn't drive me crazy now that I'm more into it, but it's interesting enough.
I spent an year getting into the topic, and then I started thinking about the problem, had some results, and got them published at a reasonable conference (in CS we do mostly conferences). I also sent some other derived ideas to a couple of workshops to discuss them with the community.

After that, I got completely lost and I have no idea what to do next. I spent two super difficult months just staring at my screen, and reading tons of papers just to feel everything is done. My supervisor says I'm not doing badly and he wants me to continue the plan we had, but now I find the problems we discussed very uninteresting and I have no idea how I could build a thesis from that.

Any ideas of what to do in this situation? I would like to change the topic a bit, but I feel everything around is super explored and I would have to spend months reading to be able to contribute, which I don't have.... This is extremely frustrating!!

Thanks for reading!


I think you need to stick with your supervisors advice if you haven't got any better ideas. You might need to ask him for more specific help if you are really stuck.


I agree that it might be a good idea to go along with your supervisor's advice if you are feeling stuck. It's normal to have a bit of a lull in motivation and making progress on *something* is better than staring at a screen and feeling awful for not making progress, and if you've already presented good results at a conference it sounds like you are on a good path. Once you get going, you might get some ideas along the way for how to tweak things to be of more interest to you.

Could you get your supervisor to explain to you how their plan is going to build to a thesis? That might make it more exciting to tackle the work involved.


Thanks a lot to both of you. I met my supervisor last week and he is still a lot more optimistic than I am, but at least during all this time I came up with a new idea that I like and I'm happy to be working on that now. I'm still not convinced that what I'm doing is good enough for a thesis, but I'll choose to trust him, because I'll go crazy otherwise (and because my contract will finish eventually :P )
Thanks for the answers!