Signup date: 14 Jan 2007 at 8:54pm
Last login: 13 Feb 2011 at 4:56pm
Post count: 64
Oh my! I feel for you really. I have been experiencing the same problem, although having read your post, I realize that my supervisor is not THAT bad after all! Now, I think there are only two options. First one is that you speak to him openly and tell him how he actually has been treating you (trust me, he might not even be aware of that) and how it is affecting your work and your wellbeing. This hopefully will be a wake up call for him. If that doesnt work, I would not just apply for another supervisor. I know stories of people who either changed their supervisor, or were left by their supervisor and as a result, in most of cases, they ended up with really good supervisors! I wish you all the best really! Let us know how it all went. Good luck!
======= Date Modified 05 31 2009 13:31:44 =======
A friend of mine is a PhD student. He submitted his first PhD thesis draft few days ago. Before that all his chapters were reviewed by his supervisor. Now, he found a scholar who he sent his methodology chapter to (it was long time ago). He replied only yesterday saying that, in his opinion, his method was not systematic enough (there are some errors which I am not going to explain because it is not my area and I wouldnt even know how to explain this). He is totally stressed right now and panics. So here's the questions: what should he do since his supervisor never said there was anything wrong with his methodology and method, in other words, it was fine???
Thanks for your comments and suggestions in advance.
I can only see two solutions. You could either speak to her and tell her how it is affecting your work and that you would appreciate if she would cut off on those guys visits, at least during the week. If she's really a good friend she will respect that and make things better. If things don't change, and it will have a negative impact on yourself and your work then I would consider moving out. It is one thing to have hard times and 'loosing it' because of problems that we have(to some extent, and in different form we all have done that) but it is another when you inflicting it on others. That is simply selfish or disrespectful!
Propgand - the reasons why I didn't give up are: I love the topic I'm working on, I love the environment (our PhD room, students coming everyday and working together), I want to be a lecturer so PhD is a 'must' ( I already have tutorials with students and in October I'm going to do the course for Teachers in Higher Education).
Finally, thoughts can be changed. It is something we need to work on. It takes an effort to switch to positive thinking but its worth it. PhD is an experience through which you learn a lot about yourself, discover new strengths and weaknesses, discover that you can keep on going when you thought you couldn't do it anymore etc. The fact that I don't get enough support or rather proper support from my sup is not a reason to quit. I keep on searching, emailing, speaking to other scholars from areas which are relevant to my research and I read, read and read. To go through PhD with a great sup support is an ideal to me, but to go through the PhD without or little support, that's an amazing achievement! Finally, knowing what you want ,in long term, is what keeps you going :-)
Hope it helps even though written in a rush!
Trust me! You are not the only one who is struggling! Perhaps this is not a very helpful statement in itself, it is nevertheless aimed to make you realize that you are not alone. It is something! :-)
I don't know what is the percentage of students here who struggle on different fronts. The total lack of supervision, poor supervision, psychologically destructive :-) supervision etc are what many of us have to deal with. I am one of them. The fields and causes might differ but problem remains usually the same.
I cannot count on my supervisor when it comes to my research method design and it makes me very stressed and frustrated. I'm going from 'I can do this' to 'I am useless' every day, but I keep on going. I read, read and read. I search for similar research, I email experts from other Unis asking for their assistance and praying they would agree to 'have a look' at my work and sometimes I get good, great sometimes poor results, but because (and we have this in common) I love what I do (topic) and I know what I want and what I need my PhD for, this keeps me going! Seek help always and wherever you can (of course I refer to people and sources relevant to your research only lol).
Hi or Salaam (?) :-)
It is really a difficult situation. I think that everything depends on what stage of your research you are right now. What does it mean to 'put all this together'? You mean you have a first draft written and you need someone to edit it and do all that kind of stuff. Or you have all sources, findings, etc. and someone has to write it down. It is important that you explain what kind of help you are looking for, then other PhD students could give you an appropriate advise.
Well! I am not surprised that you feel the way you do. I don't think anyone can/should tell you whether to quit or not because this not 'skipping dinner', however, if I may suggest something...I know it is difficult but could you please try to imagine, at least for a while, how would you feel if the situation was the opposite and that is: you are having support of your supervisor, you use 'her' presence and knowledge as an asset rather than the 'motivation killer', etc. What I'm trying to tell you is that it is very important for you to see if the idea of quitting is because you are simply unmotivated, because you don't get support etc. or is because you truly are no longer interested in the PhD, in the project, in what you do all together? It is very important to see this distinction! If you're able to see it then it will be much easier for you to take decision.
I can tell you that some time ago those 'giving up thoughts' were ringing loud in my head. I had to remind myself why am I doing my PhD and on the other hand imagine the situation and my steps if I gave up. Then I tried to understand why I was feeling that way. And I can tell you that it was many things such as: lack of expertise, lack of proper support from my supervisor, feeling that I am just left alone with all this and it is growing big, bigger than me (and trust me I'm not tiny :-) ), I was tired. When things get tough we tend to get even more depressed. We loose confidence, we feel we are not even capable of doing this etc. SO without boring you to death...try to makes that distinction and sort out the causes of why you feel the way you do, ask yourself what is it that you really want (job wise) etc. When we are in this kind of state fear becomes a good companion and its presence makes even slightest problems grow to extraordinary proportions.
There is a person who posted the 'coping mantra', have a look at it. You are not the only one that is facing these kind of thoughts, isn't it a positive thought it itself;-) Good luck!
If you seem not to have read much about methodology yet, then how can you be sure that the qualitative methodology is best for you? I cannot recommend you any books on methodology in general. Both quantitative and qualitative methodologies differ depending on the filed of study (social sciences, history, media etc.). I'm sure there are books that refer to methodologies within your field. Finally, remember that there is a major difference between the methodology and method!
Sometimes it is not enough to just say to your parents/friends/partner that you're tired and expect them to understand. I've learnt that with my partner. I was (still am) stressed and often easly irritative and it was effecting my work, my relationship and myself. I also have other responsibilities: I teach part time, I spend quite alot of time with students when they need help, I cook and clean the house and take care of my dog and my partner :-) What I would suggest is that you have a proper calm discussion with your parents. Explan to them what is your PhD about and how much time and attention you need to dedicate to it and how you would appreciate if they understood you a bit more and offered support. You can then mention you nephew etc. I am quite certain that it will bring about some good changes :-) Good luck!
I don't suffer myself from any mental illness [although I'm sure many of PhD students in times of frustration and stress as themselves this question:-)]but one of my students and currently a friend suffers from bipolar disorder. One day he just disappeared. This was when I was no longer teaching him. I was away for 2 weeks and when I came back my colleague told me he didn't submit his essay and he just disappeared! I couldn't believe in what was happening. He is extremely smart and had a great academic potential. He was always involved and simply put himself out there. So it all sounded very strange to me. I couldn't just leave it like that and I sent him a text asking what was going on and requesting a meeting. Fortunately, he replied and we met. Although I told him he didn't have to share his problems with me, I simply wanted him to come back and sort things out. He trusted me enough to tell me he was bipolar and this was the reason why he didn't submit his essay and stopped turning up. He is back now and doing well. I asked him if what happened could have been prevented and he said it could. He said it was his fault. He stopped his medications and he stoppe going to his regular meetings with psychologist. I don't know whether you are on medications, but from my friend's experience I think that it is possible to be a PhD student or do anything as long as you take your medications (if you have them prescribed) and meet with psychologist on regular basis and especially when you feel something is not right with you and you're about to 'crack down'. Also, although I don't know whether you've done that or not. I think that your supervisor and people close to you in the department should know that your bipolar. People have more understanding than you might have ever expected. They will understand and be there for you if they understand what is happening and what is the source of your problems/behaviour and you should not feel guilty when it happens, only try to do your best to prevent this.
======= Date Modified 27 27 2009 16:27:47 =======
============= Edited by a Moderator =============
I just received this message from a friend of mine:
Extracts from The seven habits of highly successful PhD students
Researchers who know and make use of these seven secrets get through their doctorate more quickly, and just as importantly are happier, according to the Staff Development and Training Unit, Flinders University, Australia.
1. Care and maintenance of your supervisors
Meet regularly with your supervisors (even if they think it is not that necessary.)
Discuss and negotiate your progress regularly.
Understand your different styles. If your supervisor keeps wanting you to follow up new leads and you are happy to, and you are five years into your study, it is time to get some outside perspective and guidance.
If it is not working out, do something about it. Don’t just think it will get better or that you can do it on your own.
2. Write and show as you go: this is show and tell, not hide and seek
Always write and show as you go. If you are reading an not writing, after about 3 or 4 weeks you will forget what you have read
Writing and showing your work forces you to stay on track and refine your thinking.
Writing is helpful because at the end you can’t hand in your head full of lots of good ideas.
Set deadlines for your writing and handing in. People generally don’t write because of issues of perfectionism, so avoid this with deadlines.
Generally it is a good idea to write journal articles (on your exact thesis topic), as you go.
Practice writing with your peers: this can be very effective.
Some web pages that support thesis writing:
Remember that your College Graduate School will also have specific help on how to write a PhD thesis available.
3. Be realistic: it’s not a Nobel Prize
When you are doing a PhD you are learning how to do a PhD, you are not expected to know this in advance.
Original work does not mean a cure for cancer. In reality it means one small step in advancing existing knowledge.
Do not go off on tangents in the hope of answering ‘The question’, stay focused.
You have a cast iron guarantee right now that your thesis will not, cannot, and probably should not, be perfect.
Separate yourself from your PhD. It’s a bunch of thoughts on a piece of paper, it’s not you.
I cannot answer many of your questions but what I would suggest is to have an honest discussion with your supervisor. Share with him all your concerns. Tell him that you appreciate his offer and funding etc. but that the project you are meant to work on is not what it was supposed to be. Explain that it might effect your work and general well being, as it already does. See what he says and what can be done from his point of view.
If he won't show any understanding and will want to keep things the way they are you then can start looking for another supervisor. Contact those you think would be interesting in your research. If they show an interest then you just be honest with them. It is important that you do not speak badly about your current supervisor, that you let them understand that you are undermining his position, instead explain exactly what the problem is and mention that you have had a conversation with him which was fruitless and therefore lead you to seek other solutions.
First of all calm down and approach the situation one step at the time.
Oh my God. I am so sorry to hear what happened to you! In fact, I don't want to sound ignorant or not to mention naive, but I have never heard about PhD being failed. I know it could be with no or minor corrections but not failed! I cannot say that this is an encouraging thought but it is definitely an eye opener for people like me who were simply unaware.
I do have a question though to everyone. How is this possible that having had a supervisor who is reviewing whatever you submit, usually on regular basis, can lead to such a bad end? How could he/she let it happen!
Finaly, since I know now that it is actually possible to fail PhD then what are factors that might lead to this (of course except the horrific supervisor)?
Yeah well...I think we all go through this. I have just finished my 'doing nothing' period. It lasted for quite a while. I worked really hard before that and perhaps it would not end badly if I didn't let myself get involved in other things related to what has been going in my Institute. I ended up not being able to spend ANY time inside of the building. I felt exhausted, frustrated, totally unmotivated and for a while I even thought of quitting everything all together. I knew it was time to take a break. And I did. I went away to visit my family and stayed there for 2 weeks. I took no books, no notes, no nothing related to my research. I promised myself not to give a single thought to it. And I did. It really helped. So what I'm trying to say is...sometimes you really need to take a break and I mean a total break. If you take a break but keep on feeling guilty and thinking of your work then it won't work. You need to take a break and accept it that for sometime you won't do anything. When you allow yourself do that soon (er) or later:-) you will feel the need to go back to your research and you will find your motivation again.
Don't sit infront of TV though. Go for a walk. Read the 'no requirement of thinking' book lol Watching TV will make you feel even more tired.
Don't know if it helps. All I can say is that it happens to everyone, at least all PhD students that I know. My friend, who is a Dr already, told me that once he had a period of three months where he did nothing, couldn't look at his laptop, was sick of everything that reminded him of his research but he let it be and when it ended he worked with new found energy and confidence and soon after that completed his research.
Good luck and all the best!
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