Signup date: 24 Nov 2013 at 9:59pm
Last login: 05 Jun 2018 at 6:12pm
Post count: 30
Guidance/support leads to papers, papers lead to grants. It's how it is, though we might not like it. I went into science to make science, but navigating in the system (which actively harms science, or so I think) is also a must. At the certain age you are expected to take the leading role anyway. Informal help is a great boost however. If not for my health, I'd be in a different situation now :/
It's not normal and I'd get out ASAP. I've commited the mistake of loyalty to a PI that was not worth it, I wasted four years of my life, I did PhD later elsewhere, but these lost 4 years mean that I was not competetive for young scientist grants (age limit) and since no grants means no grants, I cannot get the grants for the older ones, because people prefer to give them to the "promising" people (it was explicitely mentioned in my grant review- it got maximum points in the scientific part). I had good papers and a good PhD, my papers are highly cited, and at some point I had a chance to make career anyway, but after a miscarriage I realized I can't catch up and it will probably end here. Just flee while you can, after a throrough talk about the issues.
What's the field? In life sciences generally there is no reason to do it unless your project is complete and you don't do experiments anymore. Completing figures on the current basis is advisable, especially that PI wants you to present the results (to other students ect.) as soon as you have it.
I tend to have this problem in communication. I tend to be direct and I like people being direct with me, since I can't really read between the lines - usually I'd ask the supervisor or the colleague for it early on. It's a trait that is often present in academia. Some people I know tended to get offended, because they interpreted it as orders - since then I've learned to tone down with them, usually mellowed voice tone helps.
It might be that she is a very energetic person that does not want to lose time when she feels you drift off (or she herself drifts off). After all, if a thing needs to be done, it needs to be done, and it's hard to hold yourself back and let the student figure out the answer when you already know it. I also feel this might be a generational issue. You might talk about it gently with her, and assert yourself. I know that I'd be quite confused and probably ashamed if this popped out during my talk with a student. This type of people loves to do lists and presentations, so if you show them, and show that you are on time, things become clear and she feels she might be more hands off.
This will be a horrible thing I'm proposing here, but given the choice I'd pirate the book in question. Being true to the knowledge is more important in this case. Misquoting a source - if one person makes a mistake in citation and the rest replicates it - is very harmful for research. There were several times I'd actually look into the paper I was supposed to cite and turned out that the source was simplified by the review to the point of misinterpretation, and I learned.
If it's a rare gem, you might consider writing to the author for the excerpt you need.
I'd prepare as much as I can and if I don't know something, I'd just say that I don't know/remember, but I'd direct them to the source (for example, a book). And pretend that I'm explaining it to my little brother. It gets better with habit. Anxiety tends to disappear when something is really well rehearsed.
I usually direct myself inwards when I do the presentation and I focus on the presentation itself, like I'm playing in a movie or a school play. I don't look people in the eyes, just at the audience like it's a blurred image. To the outside observer I seem confident and outspoken, I decompose only after I've finished and I have time to think about the performance. It's similar to a lot of people, I guess.
I had clinical panic attacks and anxiety disorder, and still did presentations then. I'd rehearse the whole thing at my home before, several times, and two days before. Then I'd behave like a tape recorder. It worked. (anxiety disorders eventually dissolve when treated behaviorally).
What you need is a health break, not a PhD. Several months, probably. Enough to make space in your brain that urges to be filled, and then you'll know your next passion in IT, and probably remember why you started it in the first place. I'd go for some therapy as well. Adding stress (which making a PhD is) to the burnout may turn out ugly.
If you yearn for intellectual development, and are bored, it's better to try to attend free lectures and some courses, and take in novelties without commitment to deliver. This will also boost creativity and help to break out from overspecialization. You may also join some projects as a freelance if you know people.
Try to find out if it's possible to get a year off and extension, also a therapist (possibly starting within your institution, if there is any). You can always return then, after you heal a bit, and complete the thesis.
If you don't want to, as mentioned above, seek help of the student's advisor, because health reasons are perfectly ok for quitting (you probably need some sort of evaluation from a psychiatrist) and perhaps you don't have to return anything.
She looks like she's very okay for PhDs and not okay for postdocs. Safe research is what you want to do at your PhD, it's the postdoc job to disarm landmines. If I'd were to guess, she's one of the younger in the staff and has no power to stand up for you when the senior profs are involved. She might understand that you want to try somewhere else, because if she understands the plight of a researcher, she also will understand you want to boost your career by changing the focus and going to different places. She might even offer help if you do explain it nicely.
Now a word of warning, most of the time it's your job to know the details of your project, and most of the time supervisors don't know everything. It's also good if they don't, because it's a sign you are becoming a specialist in your area.
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