Thinking of quitting


My second year is approaching its end - that would be the end of September - and I am seriously thinking of just chucking this stupid Ph.D. It's like this: I made the mistake of thinking that a Ph.D. is about the results. It isn't. It's about the _methods_. I am now going through each of my methods and slowly, systematically optimizing them. Now, if I'd have done this in first year, I'd be laughing. But this isn't first year. Plus, I have a supervisor who know slightly less than bugger all about the subject, let alone how to run a lab (in addition to my Ph.D., I'm being a post-doc & lab tech - setting up and running a lab on my own).

I work all hours and have mastered the technique of napping in the lab, and my mood seems to vary between suicidal and homicidal, and it's been this way for months. Due to my mistaken assumptions in my first year, I only have one and a half lab books worth of lab data (bunch of sim data - 4 DVDs worth - but that is of less importance). I don't know whether to even try anymore.


One and a half lab books worth of data is a lot of data. Possibly too much. I only have about 20 pages of data.

It's not about quantity but quality and how you interpret your results. Do your results show anything new?

Do you know what the aim of you project is? What are you trying to research?

I suggest you sit down with a sheet of A4 and write down what the aim of your PhD is. What you have done so far and then a reasonable plan of what you can still do in the available time, which may mean analysing what you have and writing it up. Try and set up a meeting with your supervisor to discuss your plans. Do you have a second supervisor. If yes also have a meetng with them. Preferably try to organise a meeting with both supervisors.

You are at the end of the second year. Don't give up now, you're nearly there! 8-)


You still have loads of time Havenomouth! I know it seems at this stage that you're scarily close to running out of time, but you'll be fine. I lost an entire month at the start of my final year due to freaking out and being totally unable to do anything because I was so overwhelmed by just how much I had to do. I have a few lab books, but much of it is trial and error and so is unusable, I have files of stats results that are just plain wrong! and I'm still trying to finish off my last bit of work, it's possible I'll be in the lab right up til the end actually. So if the data you have is usable, then that's something! I also have a friend who is just finishing her lab work, we submit in 3 months and she has 1 lab book in total! And hers is a totally lab based PhD, so I'm sure it's not as big a deal as you may think.
As for your supervisor, there's not much I can say there, crap sups are just, well, crap. But on the upside, think about how much you've learned and how much experience you'll have gained from this. When you get through tot he other side, and you're applying for postdocs or another job, you'll have handled so much during your PhD that it'll be wee buns, while others will be struggling to cope with the extra responsibilities.

I would say it's important to give yourself some down time though. No matter how busy you are, you need a day off or an evening at least where you can just chill out, and remember what real life is like. It'll help give you something to aim for when you're finishing. Above all it's a long hard slog, and you need to pace yourself. Can you have a word with your second supervisor or the head of school or something to get your supervisor sorted out? I would also recommend having a chat with a counsellor about how you're feeling, it's a bit strange at the start, but it has helped me in the past to get some perspective on things. (up)