Anyone ever made a big mistake

posted
30-Apr-10, 12:55
Avatar for bigmistake
posted about 10 years ago
Hi all,

I've lurked for a while but need some support. Has anyone ever made a big mistake in their work? I'm about half way into my second year and feel like it's all been a waste of time. My first study didn't get off the ground which wasted three months or so, and now I've just realised I've done something completely stupid with my next study. It's a questionnaire study and I haven't been giving my participants one of the sections, so am missing all data from that one page. :( I can't believe I've been so stupid. I'm so scared to tell my supervisor. And to top everything off I did a presentation two weeks ago on some of my results so far and now I've looked further into the stats I don' think my assumptions were very valid. Am I just in too deep with all this?! I feel like the world's biggest fraud, and maybe I should just give up. I'm so so stupid!! :(

Sorry for such a negative first post.
posted
30-Apr-10, 13:14
by DT18386
Avatar for DT18386
posted about 10 years ago
Hi there
Ahh, sorry to hear about that. First off, I know I don't know the specfics of your mistake, but I do know that we've all made very silly mistakes as a researcher - be it not turning the audio tape on in an interview, losing data or losing work from not saving, the list is endless from people I've spoken to. And I can imagine how upset you are! But you're not the first, and you won't be the last! A PhD is a journey, and unfortunately, these things will happen. You mustn't doubt yourself as a researcher though as you are obviously very capable and have managed to get this far! I would say stop beating yourself up about what's done, and just learn from it, that's all you can do. Try to think as practically as possible about what can be done to amend the situation. Remember, you're only human, and these things happen :-)
posted
30-Apr-10, 13:26
edited about 9 seconds later
Avatar for bigmistake
posted about 10 years ago
Thank you so much DT for your reply. I'm just so worried about how I'm going to make this time back up again. Our uni keeps on drumming the three year deadline into us - but I don't think I'm going to make the four years at this rate. :(
posted
30-Apr-10, 13:40
edited about 2 seconds later
Avatar for Keenbean
posted about 10 years ago
Hi Bigmistake! I think most of us can sympathise with you here- we all make mistakes no matter how careful we are! I think the main thing to think about is how you can either correct the mistakes, or learn from them. Is it possible to contact participants and ask them to complete the questionnaire at all? If they couldn't come to you would it be possible to post it out with a return envelope or maybe set it up as an online questionnaire that people could respond to? And as for the presentation, I wouldn't worry about it- I've done presentations and then realised that what I said wasn't completely accurate or I hadn't got the stats quite right! Try to just learn from it and move on- you shouldn't feel inadequate over it, you are certainly not a fraud. Even the best researchers make mistakes and I guess sometimes that's how we learn! It can be difficult to admit to a supervisor that you've had a glitch but I think it's better to be honest and then you can talk about how you might be able to rectify it. I suppose it depends a bit on your relationship with your supervisor and how they are likely to respond, but I tend to think things are better out in the open and then you can sort it out. You will get over it, keep going! Best, KB
posted
30-Apr-10, 16:48
edited about 20 seconds later
by rick
Avatar for rick
posted about 10 years ago
Hi Bigmistake,

first of all welcome to the forum.

I think most participants of the forum have made mistakes, I certainly have. It is inherent to the process of a PhD, as you cannot predict exactly what is going to happen. If would not make mistakes it is not much using in doing a PhD, it is the idea that one learns something.

I do not think anything is lost and like others have suggested, it is a matter of correcting what has gone wrong or avoiding that it happens again. :-)
posted
30-Apr-10, 16:49
Avatar for bigmistake
posted about 10 years ago
Thank you keenbean. I've calmed down a little now (slightly!). Unfortunately I can't ask the participants to come back as I have already anonymised results (it's quite a sensitive topic so part of the ethical clearance was to be vigilant on anonymity). But thank you so much for assuring me that I'm not the only one. My supervisor's on leave at the moment, but I will fess up when they get back. I feel still like some day soon they'll realise how bad I am and boot me out, but I guess I'll just keep trying my best until then. :-)
posted
30-Apr-10, 16:50
edited about 13 seconds later
Avatar for bigmistake
posted about 10 years ago
Sorry Rick, just saw your reply. Thank you also. Honestly, you guys have really cheered me up! :-)
posted
01-May-10, 08:16
by sneaks
Avatar for sneaks
posted about 10 years ago
Aw don't stress bigmistake! I've had LOADS of things like this. I ignored my gut instinct in my 1st year and was persuaded out of interviewing a separate population by my supervisor at the time. It would have really added to my research and I should have ignored her, and now she realises that too, but now its too late - so will have to make the best of what i've got! I still get really annoyed about it though!

I've also had interviews not record and miss hours of good material, I've had interviews corrupt before I could transcribe, so I've just had to slog away and get more participants.

As others have said, just make sure you learn from it and double check everything next time. Could you put the questionnaire online? - that may help ensure all data is collected
posted
01-May-10, 21:12
edited about 2 seconds later
Avatar for bigmistake
posted about 10 years ago
Thank you Sneaks. I'm sorry about all your wasted hours, but I feel comforted to know I'm not the only one. I'm actually in the process of designing the online one now so thanks for confirming its a good idea! :-) Just got to make sure I catch up on all that wasted time now!
posted
02-May-10, 01:57
by Sue2604
Avatar for Sue2604
posted about 10 years ago
Hi BM

Yep, we all make mistakes - only now have I discovered that I should've asked my participants a range of additional questions, and I haven't contacted some of them for 18 months. They're now no longer interested in helping me - but oh well, will do the best I can with what I've got. So, these things happen, we learn from them. And you are NOT stupid, you just made a mistake, that's all.

Just one other thing BM - you might want to think about changing your user name. You don't continually want to be reminded of your 'big mistake', and it's such a negative name!

Good luck, keep going!
posted
02-May-10, 07:09
by sneaks
Avatar for sneaks
posted about 10 years ago
Make sure you PILOT the online one!
posted
02-May-10, 12:33
edited about 26 seconds later
by satchi
Avatar for satchi
posted about 10 years ago
Quote From Sue2604:


Just one other thing BM - you might want to think about changing your user name.


ooh I agree with sue :-)

I made mistakes too--typos for data figures (!!!) which calculated the wrong stuff--and I sent this off to CONFERENCES!!!
How daft can you get???? In preparation for a journal submission----phew, the mistakes were "discovered" by my agonized supervisor "SATCHI what did you think you were doing???!!!! People will make inferences from your paper!!!!!"

:-) :-) :-) and all I had was that sheepish "you got me" look :-) :-) :-)

and sometimes during our meetings, when looking at my analysis...
my supervisor grunts "OK what have you done now?????"

have a wonderful May holiday :-)
love
satchi
posted
02-May-10, 14:33
edited about 11 seconds later
Avatar for Dispatcher
posted about 10 years ago
======= Date Modified 02 May 2010 14:34:15 =======
:$ I made a few mistakes in last few days by attempting to Persuade someone of other people's right and privacy. But, some people are so engaged in selected charity work that they cannot even evaluate that it is doing good or harming a person's Integrity. That is a real Shame. A Person Born n Bread in UK would have perfectly understood that. I will never attempt to do that again wasting that energy spent in pressing about 1000 keypresses.:-s
posted
02-May-10, 14:41
edited about 26 seconds later
Avatar for PhD_smug
posted about 10 years ago
nice of of you to throw a little bit of racism in there for measure too! keep up the good work ol' Dispatcher!!
posted
02-May-10, 14:51
Avatar for Dispatcher
posted about 10 years ago
======= Date Modified 02 May 2010 15:32:31 =======
Quote From PhD_smug:

nice of of you to throw a little bit of racism in there for measure too! keep up the good work ol' Dispatcher!!



Silly Santa! Did I Say anything about Caucasian, Asian, Black etc... I talked about Culture n Human Rights Old Boy.
Someone Coming from Uganda or a Country where Wars/Brutality/Genocide has Dominated for years will of course not have the same value n understanding of Freedom as one from A Civilized Society. Do not exhibit more of your Poor Intellect here Santa.

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