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Am I screwed? :( A year in, still zero motivation, not happy with progression...

Hi Cad,

I'm also at the end of my first year, and I've definitely had bits of time where I've felt like this. One thing I did to help motivate myself was to come up with really quite small deadlines (i.e right now one of them is 'finish transcribing FG 1 by Monday 5pm') and I emailed the spreadsheet to my supervisor. Knowing that she knows where I am supposed to be (even if she doesn't comment, which she normally doesn't!) gives me a bit of a kick up the bum to get moving.

It is hard working without classmates. Are there any communities in your department that you can join? I found another student at my Uni doing work on a similar topic to mine (focusing on a different aspect of it), and we have started a research group for that topic at the uni. I only found out about her via Twitter as well! Is that something you might be able to do?

A PhD is a really difficult move from a Masters for all the reasons you described - if you love your topic is there anything you can do to reignite your motivation to study it? Is there anything you can look to that makes you think 'that's why I'm doing this'?

I do agree with eng77 above - something like a Pomodoro technique might be useful to start off with, maybe working in 20 minute chunks? And you could definitely send a plan to your supervisor - even knowing that they have it has been helpful for me.

Psychology and Drama

Hello, Psychology PhD student here.

I don't have too much to add, I just wanted to emphasise how competitive psychology is, and particularly clinical psychology. That is my aim as well, and I am doing a PhD to have a better chance at getting onto the DClinPsy afterwards. It is insanely competitive, and unless you are at Oxbridge or similar you will need a masters at least.

I'm not saying don't do it - I am doing it myself! What I am saying is make sure you really are passionate about clinical psychology before you make your decision - I would try to get some experience volunteering for the Samaritans or Mind. That will both boost your CV and give you more information as to whether you think the competition of clinical psychology is worth it.

Mphil scenario

Maybe there needs to be an honest conversation regarding what people believe a PhD should be for.

I completely agree with this, but I think the focus shouldn't just be on grades/degree classification. I had a very mediocre academic background prior to starting my PhD, but I had plenty of experience in the world that I am looking at and I have a strong passion for learning more about it. That, for me, is the whole point of my PhD, and it feels like I am doing something that is meaningful. I share your need for the journey more than the end result - I have spent most of my twenties looking for a job that provides me with a meaningful way to live, and I found it really hard to work when I didn't feel that meaning. I feel like I am in the right place, and I don't see that passion in all of my colleagues. For some their days just seem to be like a 'day job' and I keep thinking 'why are you even doing this?'.

Yes I agree that a PhD is an academic pinnacle and should be regarded as such, and there does need to be stringent admission procedures in place. I would just argue that this shouldn't be entirely based on prior academic achievement, as if someone fully immerses him or herself in a PhD it is a lot more than that - it's about communication, generating new ideas and looking at whether the ideas we do have are really as valid as we think they are.

Anyway, just another two cents. I've been following this thread with interest :)

General advice - first year upgrade

Hi all,

I'm coming up to my first year upgrade interview - I've done my presentation and submitted my report a month ago. Does anyone have any general tips/suggestions for the interview? I have about two weeks to go.



PhD fellow vs PhD candidate

I've never heard of a PhD fellow. A PhD candidate is, I believe, someone who has passed their first year upgrade right? Not entirely sure.

Poster Software

Yeah, I had an issue with this quite recently. We had a poster competition and I was using Powerpoint, and then I looked at some of the other students' and they looked amazing, and most said they used other software. I'm hunting down something that isn't horrendously expensive too.

2 weeks left and 10k to write

I definitely missed this.

I am a first-year and nowhere near such a hurdle yet, but all I wanted to say is that 10k is doable in 2 weeks. Set yourself small, manageable goals (for example, 500 words this afternoon, read A and B tonight) and keep track of them. Make notes for yourself going forward - things that you think of to include later on.

I know it's really hard, but you have come this far - try to think positively and get the thesis in and worry about the viva afterwards (this is my advice, anyway).

It sounds like your first supervisor is a bit over the top and as Tudor mentioned, definitely think about yourself first and foremost. Remember that they are not the ones submitting the thesis - you are. It is your thesis and your decision about what to do.

Is it okay to expect advisor(s) to offer a word of condolence?

Hi Karma,

Very sorry to hear about your loss. Just one point - do you think that maybe your supervisors simply didn't know what to say? It can be very hard to talk to someone whom you know is going through such a difficult time, and it could be that they just didn't know what to say to you.

I would have expected a reply too, but still, just something to consider :)

Will I be too old to apply for Ph.D. at the age of 30

Erm, I am twenty eight and just started mine. Nope, you are not too old.

originality in the social sciences or humanities

Sometimes originality comes from the approach you are taking to making links between different things - for my PhD, the novel aspect is in the combination of factors that we are considering in the context of two problems. They have individually been looked at extensively, but little has combined them.

Maybe you need to have a closer look at a specific problem, and at some of the proposed answers/solutions to that problem? If it has all been said already and you need to say something new, build those established answers into your thesis and argue against them - what are the alternatives? Is there another way to approach this problem? What is a different angle? Have the methods others have used been quite similar, is there any way you could approach it using a different methodology?

Is it necessary to publish papers

Quote From TreeofLife:
This is a very old post but I'll still reply.

It does make a difference in your viva. If you have a paper published, it shows you're punishable, so they find it hard to justify failing you in a viva, even if they want to based on your performance or thesis.

I think you meant 'publishable'! Although, that being said.....

I think it depends on what you want at the end of your PhD as well. I am in Psychology, and have more interest in clinical practice after my PhD than academia, so I'm not that focused on publishing (although it would be nice!).

'Off' Days

Thanks for the advice, folks :)

'Off' Days

Quote From Nad75:
I do the same, Kenzie...except I decide to binge with Netflix and pizza or go shopping to reward a piece of good writing. Unscheduled 'off days' are the perks of this PhD position, and necessary for our mental health so don't feel bad for taking them...you won't be able to once you are employed! :)

That sounds like a heavenly day, and I will try my best to take your advice :)

PhD Government Loan

Not sure how, but I didn't know this loan existed! I don't think I'll take it - I have managed to avoid debt so far (grants and scholarships etc), I don't think I want to start now.

First-year PhD upgrade advice


I am a fellow first year - nervously awaiting my upgrade. Congrats for passing! I don't know anything about what went on during the meeting, but I do have two things to say:

1) Is it possible that rather than re-structuring the entire PhD this is just 'a lot to do'? I only ask because I've had that in the past - thinking comments meant an entire re-do and when I really dug down into them they actually didn't mean that. And do you agree with them and their comments? Do your supervisors?

2) I definitely don't think you've wasted a year - if you do have to make these changes then write down why, what the examiners and you have found that means it wouldn't work in its original format. Why do the changes have to happen? My supervisor always says that a PhD isn't about learning something new; it's actually about learning what you don't know. And at the end of the day surely its better for this to happen now than during your viva?

Lastly, just a word of encouragement: I know someone in their 2nd year (of a life sciences PhD) and who has just had to start from absolute scratch, including a new literature review. She has created a timeline with her supervisors, and although she will be very busy she is down to submit on time! These things seem to happen a fair bit :)

Oh, absolute lastly - you are right to think the examiners must think you have the potential to pass on time. They definitely wouldn't have passed you otherwise - the mini-viva is not a cakewalk :)