Last night I was working on my lit review and I found that the deeper I dig, the more material I find that supports the fact that while my ideas are good, they're not as original as I thought. I'm finding that, in this modern world, where we have access to pretty much all research that has been ever done, it's difficult to find a niche. My supervisor, who effectively told me my topic, may not be aware of the state-of-the-art research that's going on in the field. I'm hoping this feeling of uselessness will pass. Am I alone here? Thanks. Wishing everyone a happy start to the week/year!
Bald Monkey, there's always a new way to look at something. Even if something has been researched before, they may not have done it in exactly the same way, or looked at it from the same angle. Look on the bright side. It's reassuring in a way to find that other researchers have looked at the problem / issue / phenomenon before. At least it shows that the topic is worthwhile studying. :-)
But you are right to be thinking more realistically about an original contribution to research. Your contribution doesn't have to rock the discipline to its foundations (although we'd all love that!), it just has to contribute to the research base. Even replicating a previous study could result in an original contribution. So, don't be downhearted, but by all means discuss your concerns with your supervisor.
This is something that worried me. Pretty much everything I'm doing has to a degree been done before, and more and more things get published each time I look :-( Whenever I raise it with my supervisors they reassure me, but then when I'm on my own I forget what the reassurances were! Anyway I'm trying to keep track of the little bits that are unique - such as other ways to analyse the data. I do dread goign to my viva though and being told there's not enough that is unique. I try not to worry about it too much though.
I've got a slightly different perspective on this, because 1 year into my part-time PhD I found that another new student at a nearby (!) university had started an extremely closely related PhD. It sent me into a huge panic, and the other student ditto. But we were able to meet and agree the differences and that our research was complementary rather than competing. Having said that, by the time he submitted he'd moved more towards mine, which is annoying. But I'm playing up the strengths and individuality of my own research. My supervisor always advised me that even if there was a much closer overlap it would be fine: independent analysis of the same thing is perfectly acceptable. And it's not *that* close!
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