Thinking of quitting


I'm in my first year and am having serious doubts as to whether to continue my PhD. I haven't really enjoyed it from the start but I kept thinking I'd give it more time and see if things improved. Now that I'm coming to the end of my first year, I wonder whether there's any point continuing. For a start I find it hard to answer the question 'do I really want a PhD'? But then there's the problem of will it look really bad to future employers to have quite after a year - does anyone have any experience/thougths about this. The alternative of course is to just get on with it and stop wasting time thinking about quitting but is there any point wasting 3/4 years feeling bored and miserable?


I think that if you are going to quit this is the ideal time. It isn't that uncommon and I don't think employers will be concerned - especially since presumably the jobs will not require a PhD. If you are miserable and you don't need a PhD for a future career, then 2 more years might be pointless. You could try assuming you've definitley decided to quit and see how you feel after a couple of days. If you are just relieved - that's your answer.


That's good advice.


I tend to go through phases-sometimes I want to quit, other times, I'm dedicated to my PhD and see it has the ultimate challenge. I agree with the previous posts-see how you feel about your decisions to quit. I think you will find on this forum that many people have thought about quitting! I'm gathering this is a common feature of PhD life. Today, in my own case, I received a message from a friend saying that I should quit. She thought that 'nothing is meant to be this hard'. I was strangly insulted! My friend has dropped out of numerous things and I just felt like who are you to say that! I know that I if I did drop out, I would regret it big time. Yes it's VERY hard work, and most of the time I feel like crap-but when things do seem to work-then encouraging enough to keep going. I also believe in my project (it's a v. under researched area) and I've put too much work into it to quit now.

Good luck with your decision! xxx


At the beginning of the week I was seriously considering telling my supervisor that I wanted to leave my PhD at the end of the first year, which will be in September and to write an MPhil thesis. I'd been feeling this way for a few weeks, probably not helped by my nearly non-existant social life. I even thought about writing a poor end of year report just to force them to tell me I couldn't continue as a PhD student. I even thought about jobs I could do when I'd written my MPhil, such as train to be an electrican.

Today however, I seemed to wake up with a burst of momentum to actually succeed and want to pass the first year. In the process I found a really good paper that uses references to nearly all the papers that I have read since I started. I managed to solve a calculation that I couldn't do for weeks.


My good feelings probably won't last and doubt will soon creep in again, but I think that at least if I get through low periods, then when another one comes along I will realise it and just try and ride it through.


sm888 - you have experienced a personal paradigm shift!


Have you spoken to someone about this? Maybe your second supervisor or someone else not connected to your work would be able to offer some good advice. I always find that staff are very approachable if you have concerns and want a chat.

Maybe you could also do with a break from work? i.e. a few days where you don't think about work at all and just take time out to enjoy yourself and do what you want. It would also give you time to consider your position and decide whether you really do want to quit. Plus a break might be just what you need - you'd come back refreshed and perhaps more able to tackle your work if you want to continue. But I'd definitely suggest talking to someone first.


It will not look bad on your CV, on the contrary, it reflects courage and maturity. You might consider doing it in the future and that's OK. Remember, the PhD is always going to be there for the taking, but you have to live your life here and now.
Alternatively, speak to your PGRT about temporary suspension and see how you feel about 3-6months.
Good luck!



Does anybody could compare hardship of being advanced PhD student with MA one in economics? Is it realy much more difficult?

Thanks in advans.


Mikra, everyone's experience will be different when comparing masters courses to PhD research. Personally, I look back at my masters as a bit of walk in the park compared to my PhD research. The standard of my written work is considerably different from than of my masters thesis (some people view a PhD as a very long master's thesis...this is very, very wrong).

The intellectual vigour involved in a PhD is much higher. Most students can pass a masters course with an average intelligence level, however I do believe PhD students have to be bright, creative and very's a tough and lonely road, but can be very rewarding.


^ excuse bad grammar..

Admin will we *ever* get an editing facility??


I agree totally with missspacey. This PhD is cetainly the most challenging and difficult things I've ever put myself though. I'm coming from having recieved 2 demanding MSc degrees yet I managed to contain good results in them (both average 68). Coping with PhD life is on a completely different level to MSc. Not only is the work so much more demanding than at MSc level, the work ethos is completetly different (no fellow classmates, no essays, no structured lectures). Dealing with constant criticism is another feature of a PhD-which I'm not coping with really! People are constantly telling me it will be worth it in the end-let's see what I think in 1/2 years time! I thought the MSc(s) were tough-this PhD is something else. People are not kidding when they see a PhD is hard work, particularly, if the PhD is in a completely new area-as mine is.


I'm kinda half agreeing, half disagree with you guys (sorry! )

Intellectually, I found my BSc much, much harder.. Maths, logic and programming are still alien concepts to me and I struggled an awful lot - even now I doubt I could pass my maths A level :-S

The PhD was mentally draining and was also the hardest thing I have ever, ever had to do.. but not because it was 'intellectually challenging' - it was just bloody crap having to edit and re-edit and re-edit stuff again and again and again. Due to it being 'research', I was able to tailor my research to my strengths (no maths, logic or programming) so it wasn't as challenging academically.. but man.. it was a hard slog and it takes so much effort to keep the motivation going after the 6th rejection of a paper or a thesis chapter..


I tend to agree with PC. It's not so much that the PhD is more intellectually challanging than the masters - but it's a much tougher slog, alone, through the mud, without a compass, on hard rations - get the picture?

Actually I thought my MPhil was pretty intense - the PhD has ebbed and flowed over the years (maybe more for me than most people). The MPhil was an a totally new field for me. I worked a lot more intensely for that than I have for this. I guess the last months (hmm aren't these the last months come to think of it?) will get prety intense (i.e. panic-stricken).