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Aiming to finish off by 31st December! Is there anyone else?

Well, you and me both, Cinderella. I have a combo simulation and lab-based Ph.D. My Ph.D. experience has been less than wonderful, and I really, really want to get it complete. I have written up ~20% of my first draft in the last two days, but I am now really, really slowing down, as I need to write up a lot more of my individual results, as well as complete a large-scale data mine.

Good luck and godspeed. Everyone on this thread - if we all manage it, beers all round!

Those smarmy "how to do your Ph.D." lists

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*Edited by mods*

Is anyone else fed to the teeth with those smarmy lists online "How to finish your Ph.D."? With advice like "write up as you go along" and "make a detailed plan at the start of your Ph.D." or even - love this - "make sure your supervisor is capable before you accept the project". If any of these applied, we wouldn't be looking at these lists in the first place!

I have not met a single, solitary Ph.D. student who has used these lists. Not _one_. I can't shake the feeling that this is the writer's vicarious wish of what he wished he had done...

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.

Lack of supervisor interest

Okay, listen: you enjoy the subject matter. That is good, and to your credit. I'm in my second year, stuck with a project that's a dud - and everyone knows it - and a supervisor who's input has been worse than useless, costing me huge swathes of time.

The question is: does that hour every three weeks provide you with good info? Are these suggestions that can be used and adapted and put into practice? Even if it's something like "You should take time to optimize your methods - draw up a checklist & work through each one". Even if it's something like "showing how you sorted out your method problems will be the core of your Ph.D.". If it's that - don't worry. That's good enough, and you can find contacts (third years can be very gracious in providing real support for the price of a glass of wine or a meal) who will provide the day-by-day help you need. Even in other labs. _Especially_ in other labs.

On the other hand, if this is one of those whose response is: "You must have done something wrong", or lets you get two months into a crucial stage before saying "Oh, you did do _this_, right?" and treats you like an idiot when you didn't - then you should be concerned. Because that won't stay frustration, it will turn into the most deep, black hate you can imagine - which doesn't help much when it comes to the daily slog of doing a Ph.D. Yes, I write with some feeling about this.

Now here's the ugly truth: a supervisor can comprehensively fuck you up during a Ph.D. with few consequences for him, compared with the ones for you. If the situation with the sup. is beyond the pale, do the following: work like a nutcase, pile up your data and your method optimizations until the first year assessment is past - and all the while make a list of things that make working for this person impossible. Then, once that first year asses. is past, apply to switch to another one.

Saving yourself from the brink

I've written here before. I'm in the grinding horror of the second year (well, I only really have four months of this left), and realizing that I don't seem to have enough results. I don't mean I have not enough positive results, but not enough results period. I spent most of the first half of my Ph.D. faffing around with simulations and their products, as well as trying to extract a new gene. What I did not know and what my supervisor never bothered to tell me was that the various failures and crashes during that time could be written into thesis chapters. So I'm not even sure I have enough data of any kind at all to write up.

I just dread going back over my past notes to try to link them together - that's the one good thing about sims, you can make and run things much more rapidly than in the lab. Ye even beyond that, I can't seem to find the time to do it. A typical cloning preparation carries me through to midnight most days, so I can't even start this stuff in my own time...

Feeling suicidal

Agni - been there. Sometimes go back there. The best thing I can say is to talk to anyone who isn't directly involved in your project, whom you feel won't judge you or give you any "well, you should have...", but can help with suggestions on how to sort things out. I mean practical suggestions and support.

Halfwaythrough, in despair, don't know how to keep going

Thanks guys. Part of this is my fault - I had a stack of what I thought were useful sims a mile high during my first year - then it turned out that the program had a bug in it. That is, the actual program itself had a bug in it that threw everything to the dogs. So I was overconfident in the first year, and then it took me another six months just to get my damn gene out of the genome.

Just to clarify, you guys reckon I can still get enough experiments designed and done to submit?

Halfwaythrough, in despair, don't know how to keep going

I am halfway through the Ph.D. from hell. It was apparently scribbled on a cocktail napkin by a supervisor who doesn't know _shit_ about the subject in questions (Christ alone knows how she is going to mark my dissertation, if I ever get that far), does not provide any suggestions except bad ones (which have already cost me a year's worth of work), and I am now eighteen months in with no lab results to show for it, only some simulation results.

I am dead serious about my supervisor's ignorance - this is someone who did not know about the key paper in this field until I discovered it.

I really do not know how the hell I am ever going to complete at this stage.
Does anyone have any advice?