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nordsee
Monday, 2 July 2018 at 11:43am
Friday, 16 November 2018 at 8:03am
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Thread: Still no research question after a year

posted
29-Sep-18, 16:58
by nordsee
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posted about 2 months ago
Quote From iwan:
[...]

It doesnt matter of your current progress is slow. What matters is you occupy a niche that can be researched on and within interest of you and your supervisor's. Dont ever make my mistake of rushing through things.! At the same time, do you perhaps have a thesis comitee that you can consult woth for expert advise? That will be something you can tap on.


Hi Iwan,
Yes, this is exactly the case. At least I have the impression that I am supervised in an "independent" way. However, this is not helping me. I need a kick to start running. Not really doing a lot of useful things in the past months, but instead I am working on assistant jobs.... And yes, as part of my annual review there was supposed to be a third/ external person, but there wasn't. I guess I should ask about this, since I'm also paying for this "service"...

Thread: Still no research question after a year

posted
29-Sep-18, 11:13
by nordsee
Avatar for nordsee
posted about 2 months ago
Quote From tru:
Could you have a chat with your supervisors to voice out your concern about not having a PhD reserch question? [...]

When you said that your supervisors increased their support yet did not give you a topic, what do you mean? I am concerned that you are self funding your PhD and so it is more important that you finish in a timely manner. Could you discuss a deadline with your supervisors to identify a suitable PhD topic, maybe say in the next 2 months? A PhD topic could change over the period of candidature but you need to identify a suitable topic as soon as possible to work with. It is the responsibility of your PhD supervisor to guide you on what is a suitable PhD topic. Otherwise you can go down many wrong rabbit holes and waste a lot of time. That is not ideal since you are self-funded. Have you also thought that maybe these supervisors are not good for you?


I have actually also a "third" supervisor, a researcher who is in supervisorial training. I told him my concerns, and he tried to push me in a certain direction. I am reading / collecting information on this now...

Concerning the increased support, my lead supervisor started organising regular meetings where I have to show some output which then will be discussed. This was a great idea at the beginning, but I had to cancel the last two meetings, since I don't really have anything to show... yes, you are right, I need to finish within these three years, but I also see this possibility getting smaller every day.

It is hard for me to judge whether my supervisors are good or semi-good. I don't really know to be honest.

Thread: Still no research question after a year

posted
29-Sep-18, 11:07
by nordsee
Avatar for nordsee
posted about 2 months ago
Quote From pm133:
rewt, this is very good advice but the problem is that very very few people starting a PhD will have this ability. Even those with a 1st in their subject are going to really struggle to come up with their own research question. This is especially true in science for example where the level of maths required to be able to understand leading edge papers is well beyond that taught at undergraduate level.
Good supervision is needed at this early stage with supervisors helping students to craft the first problem they will solve. If I'd had to come up with my own problem on day one I would still be on my PhD today. Maybe I was just lucky but when I hear starting students being expected to craft their own research proposals I get sweaty palms. Kudos to those of you who can do that.


Exactly. I feel like if I would be given a clear topic with clear structure I could just start working properly. However, at least so far I don't have the ability to come up with own research questions particularly in view of a topic area I've picked myself. There wasn't a predefined projects...

This also reminds me of a fellow PhD student who was struggling at the beginning and didn't know what to do, but since his supervisor noticed this, he is being more treated like his supervisor's personal assistant. He is working well now and going to many conferences. That sort of supervision would certainly help me...

Thread: Still no research question after a year

posted
29-Sep-18, 11:02
edited about 13 seconds later
by nordsee
Avatar for nordsee
posted about 2 months ago
Quote From Tudor_Queen:
Ps. I feel your pain. I had a bunch of ideas before starting my PhD, but then went for a project someone else had thought up. It didn't work out because of problems recruiting participants from a high risk group. So I ended up having to sort of come up with questions as I went along. Not ones arising from genuine interest so much as, crap, this is the data I do have, what can I do with it? It wasn't fun. That's why I feel quite strongly about having a clear gap you're addressing - one that came to your mind and one that you're interested in. Then your questions will come out of it. Rather than poring through the literature hoping that questions will emerge. Does that make sense?


Thank you so much for your empathy! It does sound like a pretty awful and frustrating situation. But great to know you managed.

Concerning my initial topic, I though I am interested in it, but the deeper I go in this topic area, I am either not sure anymore or I "have just read enough" for now.

Thread: Still no research question after a year

posted
29-Sep-18, 10:59
by nordsee
Avatar for nordsee
posted about 2 months ago
Quote From Tudor_Queen:
Hi Nordsee

Sorry to hear you're in a bit of a tough time. It sounds like a bit of a rut to me. You're probably stressing yourself so much that it's affecting your ability to identify a research question.

[...]

That's my take on it anyway.

Tudor


Hi Tudor_Queen,

Thank you for your quick and valuable reply. I really appreciate it. Please excuse me my delayed response.

I may have identified a gap area, but I can't really come up with a research question or a specific gap. What I have not mentioned so far is that I initially applied with my own research proposal, which has quickly proven to be both not academic enough and not being a gap. This contributes to my struggles.

My supervisors recommended me to look into several things in the past months, which I did. However, after reading and writing on these things I was just like "Ok, all clear, so what now?" I never really had any questions on it, which couldn't be answered by existing literature or by one of my supervisors.

I was thinking of leaving for a while now, but then and also now I am not clear what else to do. So I stayed with the studies, although my interest, motivation, and efficiency are probably close to zero. In contrast, when looking at my research assistant job, I perform quite well...

Thread: Still no research question after a year

posted
27-Sep-18, 12:10
by nordsee
Avatar for nordsee
posted about 2 months ago
Hi all,

I was previously consulted this forum and I am very grateful about both the quantity and quality of help I have received. Thanks again for this. In my previous thread I was concerned whether a PhD is the right for me. I'm now convinced to have found the main issue: the missing research question.

I think this is important for the context: I'm self-funded and every time I have to pay tuition and invest my time, which I could spend earning money and consequently afford a potentially decent standard of living, I feel like doing an investment deemed to fail.

I'm looking now for over a year for a feasible research question. My supervisors realised the struggle I'm in and have increased their support which I'm grateful for. I have gone through a lot of literature and related areas. However, I still have no more than the area of research. The more I work/read the more I feel away from an actual research question. I have told this my supervisors, but obviously the can't give me a topic. I don't really know what I'm doing and this kills my focus, efficiency, and worst: motivation.

Are you aware of anyone who has quit because they failed to identify a topic?

I'm grateful for any type of help/reply.

All the best,

nordsee

Thread: Dropping out of PhD - what's next?

posted
09-Jul-18, 13:34
by nordsee
Avatar for nordsee
posted about 4 months ago
Quote From profkmorrell:
In terms of procrastinating, one suggestion might be to avoid using this general label and instead try to think more specifically about what is happening at particular times with particular tasks in relation to particular goals [...]



Absolutely, I should really set daily aims and will do this for the next day before leaving uni on the day before. Thanks for this and all the other help!

Thread: Dropping out of PhD - what's next?

posted
09-Jul-18, 13:31
edited about 27 seconds later
by nordsee
Avatar for nordsee
posted about 4 months ago
Quote From profkmorrell:
It's great you are getting help. Thanks for the feedback, I'll try to add more.

Often in my view the 2nd year can be the hardest. It's difficult to generalise but often the first year is all new and a bit more structured so it can go by fairly quickly (also you have an end of year exam to concentrate on). By the time you are in the later stages 3rd/4th year you have a block of work behind you and can feel the pressure of deadlines coming up so it is still anxious but drives focus. It's hard to generalise but the 2nd year can feel like drifting which is a different kind of anxiety and often more uncomfortable for some.

[...]

Another positive on procrastination this might sound a bit crazy but the best general suggestion I can offer is really work hard on your morning routine. If you get the first hour right it helps so much. And also start this the night before writing a 2-3 minute plan for the day. Again I can try and say more just let me know :)


I'm in my first year and would love to have some structure. All I get in structure is sometimes a little push from my supervisor in a certain direction. But I personally feel that I either end up in dead ends or that in areas where I can see the wood for the trees. I'm doing a PhD in the UK and the overall time should only be three years in total.

You are right, I should be clarify what I think my supervisor is thinking.

yeah, I'm already doing the morning thing and it clearly works best, although not satisfactory.

Thread: Dropping out of PhD - what's next?

posted
09-Jul-18, 13:27
by nordsee
Avatar for nordsee
posted about 4 months ago
Quote From Tudor_Queen:
Ooops, I edited my reply while you responding to it! It is slightly different now (I noted that you didn't have funding and added something else).

Yeah, not being funded gives certainly more flexibility (you can't loose anything if you don't have it), but its it actually possible to transfer to another institution and to be still in 2nd year (which will start soon)?

Thread: Dropping out of PhD - what's next?

posted
06-Jul-18, 14:10
by nordsee
Avatar for nordsee
posted about 4 months ago
Quote From Tudor_Queen:
Quote From nordsee:


yeah, I don't think it is a short term low, since it's going several months now and only getting worse even after my one week holiday. However, I want to rule out any other reasons which are influencing my attitude towards my PhD studies, as I always wanted to become an academic and to stay at uni. However, the environment at my current uni is not what I'm used to from both my BSc and MSc uni. A lot of people seem to be very isolated. Can't tell whether is this willingly or unwillingly.
Yes, I'd love to have a doctorate, but if I don't stay in academia it's just a fancy title and doesn't really have any further use for me.

So, I better come up with some alternative pathways before I leave the programme or have to pay another year tuition.

Thanks again!


It's so so important to be happy (and in turn productive) in your context. Can you switch to somewhere else and take your funding?


Unfortunately there is no funding. I was so keen to do a PhD that I decided to finance it with savings, parental support, part-time jobs.

As far as I know changing the university would to start again.

Thread: Dropping out of PhD - what's next?

posted
06-Jul-18, 14:06
edited about 1 minute later
by nordsee
Avatar for nordsee
posted about 4 months ago
Quote From profkmorrell:
It's difficult without knowing more about your situation but my experience has been that most people who do a PhD think of quitting at some stage. They also do tend to find it very isolating. Doing a PhD especially in the social sciences or humanities is almost like becoming a monk. It does sound like you have been struggling for some time with this, I feel for you. If you really think other kinds of work would be very dissatisfying then it may be worth persevering with your PhD because you will have greater autonomy in academic study than in many occupations. [...] .


I'm impressed by your reply. Thank you so much for it.

As you say, I've already contacted student services two days ago and got a first counselling appointment for in two weeks. I'm really hoping that the root of the issue is elsewhere and that counselling may help me to identify this.

In my first review, my supervisors expressed their satisfaction stating that my progress is quite more advanced for someone at my stage. I have to say, I was quite motivated at that time and produced a lengthy report / review concerning the technical aspect of my studies. I enjoyed working on it and learned actually quite something. However, now I'm on the political science part of study and don't really find a lot of useful things (or I don't recognise them as useful). This said, my background is not political science...
This situation is getting worse for about 6 months now. From my lead supervisor's facial expression and can clearly see that the level of satisfaction has decreased. Clearly, the current situation is quite different to when I started. I'm not really producing anything, which has to with two things a) I can't really find a lot of relevant things and b) I procrastinate like crazy despite coming into grad school and "working" from there.

Thread: Dropping out of PhD - what's next?

posted
06-Jul-18, 13:10
edited about 23 seconds later
by nordsee
Avatar for nordsee
posted about 4 months ago
Thanks for the further replies and suggestions!

@Becky1210

Why exactly did you drop out then? Didn't want an "average" PhD? Didn't expect a thriving academic idea? What are your doing now?

However, what you are describing pretty much sounds like me. I'm very hard working and really have to say my BSc and MSc were simply a lot of work, but that's it. The BSc was even harder...

My topic is used to be interesting, but this is decreasing now. Not entirely sure about the reason yet. Anyway, it is definitely not keeping me awake at night...

@Tudor_Queen:

yeah, I don't think it is a short term low, since it's going several months now and only getting worse even after my one week holiday. However, I want to rule out any other reasons which are influencing my attitude towards my PhD studies, as I always wanted to become an academic and to stay at uni. However, the environment at my current uni is not what I'm used to from both my BSc and MSc uni. A lot of people seem to be very isolated. Can't tell whether is this willingly or unwillingly.
Yes, I'd love to have a doctorate, but if I don't stay in academia it's just a fancy title and doesn't really have any further use for me.

So, I better come up with some alternative pathways before I leave the programme or have to pay another year tuition.

Thanks again!

Thread: Dropping out of PhD - what's next?

posted
05-Jul-18, 11:09
by nordsee
Avatar for nordsee
posted about 4 months ago
Thank you Nad75 and tru for your replies and the advice. I really appreciate it.

@Nad75 I'm cutting it down now to 5 days and 9-5 and will see how this goes. However, I just spend a week back in Germany without doing anything and I expected my motivation to be higher again. Well, it was pretty good on Monday, but now it is simply getting worse again... I'm not entirely confident about the issue here, but reading what @ Tru wrote, I see at lot of matches to my personality and came up with similar thoughts already.

@Nad75, I think I will do the two week thing and then see whether @tru's reply is the situation here.

Thanks again!

Thread: Dropping out of PhD - what's next?

posted
02-Jul-18, 11:57
by nordsee
Avatar for nordsee
posted about 4 months ago
Hi everyone,
I'm currently at the end of my first year of a fully self-funded PhD study and I need to make a choice whether I should pay another year of tuition fee or to drop out. Maybe someone else is or was in the same situation...

I was quite successful throughout my BSc and MSc both academically and personally (i.e. social life). I enjoyed my previous studies and the quick results (papers, exams...). Then I started working and it really bored be like nothing before (two different jobs on two different continents). I wanted to get out of it and thought a PhD may be the right thing, since I've always enjoyed uni.

However, a PhD is absolutely different. I don't really have any contacts here and don't know how to change this. My PhD topic averagely interests me and I'm sure I could somehow do it if I had more motivation. Social life etc could contribute to this. However, is this the issue? Currently, I'm coming into uni 6-7 days a week and trying to force myself to do some work. However, I mostly procrastinate. I'm already considering to quit, but have no plan for afterwards. The alternative of doing some boring and meaningless stuff in an office simply kills me.

Was anyone in the same situation? If so, what did you do about it?

I very, very much appreciate any sort of report on your experience. Thanks in any case!
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