to quit a phd

A

I am considering quitting the PhD as I feel burn out. I joined a Ph.D. program for three years, assuming a well-structured topic. I arrived in a new country to study, and after one year, I realized that the topic is a mess. The supervisors don't know where I will go. It is tough to publish, and they can't even point me to specific journals. It is difficult for me to write the topic as it is loose with so many parts that are hard to connect. I am very stressed. I have been without sleep for a month. The supervisors keep blaming me that I don't have a clear plan for my work. When I say I don't know, they get upset.
I am thinking of quitting to save my mental health.
Any advice?
Thanks

Avatar for rewt

Take a break! Seriously, taking a week or two off will not damage your progress and give you a chance to clear your head. I have been were you have been with both burnout and a seriously flawed project. The trick is to not let the PhD consume you and make sure you have a healthy work life balance. Stress makes everything more difficult and a few weeks off will make you far more productive in the long term than working non-stop.

With a "mess" of a project , take a step back and try to distil the project to what you think your main contribution is. If there are a lot of use parts, do not be afraid t jettison them and focus on what you can do (if your supervisors ask say you will do it later). Most people's PhDs change somewhat during between starting and finishing for a variety of reasons. It is not uncommon for supervisors to write overly ambitious grants/projects to get funding with the expectation of doing less, so don't feel obliged to do every small part of the project. Try to focus on the most important parts of your project that you can reliably accomplish. Then after doing that, you can focus on connecting the loose parts together.

I can understand your frustration because my original PhD project had some serious serious methodological flaws. It took me a year to convince my supervisors that the original plan was not achievable because we simply did not have the right equipment. However, I kept the core concept and built upon that with stuff that I knew I could achievable with the resources I had available. It was tough and I can sympathise with you because of my experience but you need to take the initiative. As, I realised that it was my supervisors who wrote the flawed original project so I would need to reshape it myself. So I would recommend you to stop waiting for your supervisors to give you advice on what you should do, and instead tell them what you plan to do.

S

So I would recommend you to stop waiting for your supervisors to give you advice on what you should do, and instead tell them what you plan to do.[/quote]

I think this is good advice rewt but is a lot easier said than done!
Would you have any more advice on how you can put this into practice?
Like how to approach the thesis, as a whole? or is it better to look at it in sections? or something like that to help clarify the PhD?

Avatar for rewt

Quote From springtime:
I think this is good advice rewt but is a lot easier said than done!
Would you have any more advice on how you can put this into practice?
Like how to approach the thesis, as a whole? or is it better to look at it in sections? or something like that to help clarify the PhD?


Hi springtime, I read your other post and you seem to be in a very awkward position. I don't know how you can seize the initiative as you are totally dependant on your supervisor for fieldwork. Though, I would assume that you are going to do some labwork in order to anlayse your samples, am I right? As I knew quite a few fieldwork dependant PhD students who practice the labwork before their first field trip. You could collect some random samples from your garden or a park and follow the recommended procedure, or something similar. It not only gives you some practise but also means you are less likely to make mistakes on important samples.

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