PhD quitting advice

05-Jul-17, 11:54
edited about 9 seconds later
Avatar for marinephdd1
posted about 7 months ago
I am entering my third year of a PhD in applied social sciences - economics/marketing
I have been having doubts about by capability to do the research for quite some time and recently this has started to take over my life, and as a result I am depressed and have started treatment
I have not been told keep going, my supervisors have basically told me it will fine just keep on collecting data, however one supervisor has said she cannot help me because she is not an expert in the method and area and the other was on sabbatical for the first four months of the year and is only now getting up to speed.
My issue is that I have lost sight of why I am collecting data (doing interviews) and feel completely lost. I wasn’t familiar with the type of research I am doing (qualitative) and havent been able to pick it up. I didn’t choose the topic, it is a policy question and I feel I don’t know why its being done, as it doesn’t really come from an academic gap more a functional policy gap.
In addition I changed the focus of my research at the end of first year, with really knowing what I was doing. I am based off campus at the funders office and feel obligated to the funder (also my boss). I meet my supervisors once every two months thereabouts.
I feel trapped by my own decisions and ashamed, and really don’t feel that I can turn this around. I don’t even feel like I can ask for help, because I don’t know what questions I should be asking.

I don’t feel like I am in a fit state of mind to make a decision. I feel obligated to keep going but don’t see any point to it.I would love the see the positives of my work but I really can't
Would greatly appreciate any advice from someone who has been in a similar situation or has quit a PhD?
07-Jul-17, 10:16
edited about 28 seconds later
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 7 months ago
Can you take a break for 6 months or so? This might help you get some focus and decide whether you want to continue.
08-Jul-17, 22:43
edited about 2 minutes later
by Pjlu 4 star member
Avatar for Pjlu
posted about 7 months ago
Hi Marinephdd1, sorry to learn of the depression. I think Tree has made a really helpful suggestion, which might give you the time to work through some of the issues you have outlined in your post, without you having to quit your PhD.

Can I ask how long you since you have started treatment? I ask this as one of the key things that I have learned about depression is that it can be very hard to make decisions and also to see a range of perspectives while one is experiencing depression for any period of time. Sometimes the only thoughts that happen in this state are the thoughts that have a negative flavour. So making a decision during a period of depression isn't necessarily the decision we would make when not depressed. Likewise with your thoughts about 'losing sight of why you are collecting data". These might be how you are experiencing things now but with treatment and a little bit of time, you might find that it is not as confusing.

Is your relationship with your supervisors okay? Do you think if you told them about feeling lost and down about what you are doing, that they would be helpful? They may be able to support you through this and offer encouragement. Particularly in relationship to the feeling lost with the qualitative data collection and purpose. Qualitative data (its collection, its processing and its analysis) is messy-which doesn't always help. Wishing you all the best. If these suggestions seem just completely useless to your situation, just ignore them. However, I hope you do feel or are feeling better soon.
09-Jul-17, 21:40
edited about 7 seconds later
by Kamali
Avatar for Kamali
posted about 7 months ago
Just take a break for one month and then you can decide your future about your thesis.
10-Jul-17, 10:05
edited a moment later
Avatar for marinephdd1
posted about 7 months ago
Hi thanks very much for the reply's, greatly appreciate the advice.

I decided to take a break for a month and see if I can work through some of my personal issues before I make a decision on what to do. I think the choice in continuing is firstly whether it is possible under the current structure to complete the thesis, secondly if I can figure out what completing the PhD will cost in terms of time, personal life and general emotional fatigue whether its worth continuing. I cant seem to be able to think about it at the moment so will take a break and try and build up a bit of resilience.

Hi pjlu, my relationship with my supervisor isn't great, I find it very hard to communicate with her. As well she is very standoff and inconsistent with her advice. I feel I probably should be open with her and confront her, but I'm struggling to find the calm to think clearly about it. As well I am probably afraid that if even if I did go to the trouble of getting a new supervisor its not going to help matters as my confidence isn't there at the moment.

I have been doing treatment for about two months now, but am finding it really difficult to come to terms with it while still struggling with the PhD. I hoping with the month off I can keep at and hopefully start to improve and get a more holistic perspective on the situation.
10-Jul-17, 21:22
Avatar for linzedin
posted about 7 months ago
That sounds stressful. Seems obvious you need a better supervisor. This is about you, your health and your future: it is worth finding someone supportive. Time off and a few months or medication may help.

Can you change your research? I'm doing a Prof Doc. and was able to switch focus and research (twice) initially. Not sure if it's as easy in PhD.

Hang in there.


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