Quitting PhD after four years

posted
05-Sep-18, 22:20
Avatar for softykitty
posted about 2 weeks ago
This is the final year of my extension, and I'm still struggling with the thesis. It's only completed by half until now, my supervisor told me he does not think I can make the PhD. He thought I'm not capable of doing independent research and I'm lack of creativity. To be honest I just don't enjoy it, the whole phd is a disaster. I tried my best and work long hours, but it just made me feel so bad when showing the results to my supervisor. He thought I didn't make any progress and didn't know how to explore those problems. I'm so stressful and frustrated. Maybe I'm not a research guy, not born like that. I've done 4 years and a half, now I still have six months time, but I don't know if I should continue. My supervisor will still help me if I decide to continue. I wasted more than four years time, am I going to waste more? I should have quit on my first year, but now everything is too late. I've already reached the maximum extension of the PhD in my university, and I have to submit the thesis by next February. Now the question is, should I stick to the deadline and see what happens, or quit the PhD now?
posted
06-Sep-18, 13:07
edited about 1 minute later
by rewt
Avatar for rewt
posted about 2 weeks ago
What else will you do?

Literally, 6 months to go. You have done 4 years of work so far and it sounds like you and your supervisor don't believe in your abilities. But you have an extension and have 6 months to finish. I repeat, 6 months to finish.

You can finish now or try your absolute best in full knowledge that you probably won't pass. Yet you can say that you tried your best and produced a final thesis. You won't enjoy it and may regret not quitting earlier, but you will have closure on this. The PhD will be over knowing you couldn't do any better, not that you quit

This is a hard question but I would spend 6 months to produce my absolute best and plan my future starting in February. Unless you have something else better to do?
posted
06-Sep-18, 13:16
Avatar for notsurewhattodonow
posted about 2 weeks ago
My friend did this and got a total rewrite which gave her an extra year after the Viva. Could you do this? I would try to get through the next 6 months. Could you take a short break to get some energy together?
posted
06-Sep-18, 13:45
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 2 weeks ago
Why is your supervisor willing to help you if he says it won't pass? Shouldn't he be forcing you to go to the panel for an MPhil downgrade if that is the case? Are you sure he is not trying this tactic called negative motivation? Also, why did he wait till now to tell you this? It sounds more like something has gone wrong with the project, he has become aware of it, and is now putting the buck on you. Maybe?
posted
06-Sep-18, 13:46
edited about 1 second later
Avatar for chantedsnicker
posted about 2 weeks ago
If you don't already have something else to go to then it's probably going to take you at least several months to find a job. So personally I'd be knuckling down with a structured plan on how to finish my PhD in that 6 months and going for it.

There's nothing to stop you looking for jobs in the meantime and applying for any that seem like a good fit. If you get offered something, then you can look at how the progress is going and how long you have left, but to me it seems a shame to throw it all in now when you've already worked so hard
posted
06-Sep-18, 14:08
by eng77
Avatar for eng77
posted about 2 weeks ago
Hi Softykitty. I am sorry that you had to go through this. I was exactly in the same situation. Every year I ask myself, should I quit now? I ended up spending 5 years with no PhD and then my contract finished and I had no material written, no new concepts and no good experimental results also. I say to myself I should have left after 1 years or even 4 years were better than 5.
I know exactly how you feel like no one else knows. I know that 6 months wasting is not nice and not easy. 4 1/2 years is still better than 5. But if I were you, I would look if I have something to write. If you can write a thesis whatever its quality, just write and submit and put all this behind. You do not know what will happen. My case was a bit different because the university here gives the PhD supervisor the power to allow you to submit or not. So I would not be able to submit until he sees I have enough work. The supervisor in Germany is the main (and practically the only) examiner. If you are in the UK, you can submit a complete thesis with the best quality you can and leave it for the examiners to decide. You may be surprised by passing with minor correction or even resubmit.
posted
06-Sep-18, 14:26
Avatar for softykitty
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From notsurewhattodonow:
My friend did this and got a total rewrite which gave her an extra year after the Viva. Could you do this? I would try to get through the next 6 months. Could you take a short break to get some energy together?


Thanks for the suggestion. I know what you mean. Here is the rules of my university. I'm based in Scottish university which allows me to do the PhD for maximum 5 years. I have 6 months left to reach the maximum. I have to submit the thesis at the end of fifth year. If I get a major correction or minor correction from the viva, this will leave me another 6 months (or maybe one year) for correction. If I failed, I'll transform into MPhil. I can apply for suspension only if I had good reasons. Now I just question myself, is the reason being my incapability of research, or the project itself is not suitable.
posted
06-Sep-18, 14:35
edited about 27 seconds later
Avatar for softykitty
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From Tudor_Queen:
Why is your supervisor willing to help you if he says it won't pass? Shouldn't he be forcing you to go to the panel for an MPhil downgrade if that is the case? Are you sure he is not trying this tactic called negative motivation? Also, why did he wait till now to tell you this? It sounds more like something has gone wrong with the project, he has become aware of it, and is now putting the buck on you. Maybe?


You're right, I also wonder why didn't he kick me out at my first year or second year, since we need to submit reports every year. Maybe it's his strategy. He would listen to my advice before making any decision on my PhD. I wouldn't say my supervisor is a bad guy, he is just young and inexperienced, so he doesn't know what to do either. To be honest, the project itself is not that mature, or I should say it's too creative and challenging that I have to prove the most popular numerical methods are not suitable. It seems too late to make major change on the topics.
posted
06-Sep-18, 14:42
Avatar for softykitty
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From chantedsnicker:
If you don't already have something else to go to then it's probably going to take you at least several months to find a job. So personally I'd be knuckling down with a structured plan on how to finish my PhD in that 6 months and going for it.

There's nothing to stop you looking for jobs in the meantime and applying for any that seem like a good fit. If you get offered something, then you can look at how the progress is going and how long you have left, but to me it seems a shame to throw it all in now when you've already worked so hard


Thanks for reply, that's what I'm thinking now. My main focus will still be the thesis, but I need to think about what else to do at the same time. I will continue as long as there is a chance.
posted
06-Sep-18, 14:47
edited about 29 seconds later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 2 weeks ago
It's totally the wrong time to be worrying about whether you are any good or not.
Time is of the essence. Just get the thesis written and worry about the rest of it in March.
The only thing you can do to make your situation worse is to voluntarily do something which will leave a near 5 year gap in your CV.
So, find a way of sucking it up and get the thesis finished.
posted
06-Sep-18, 14:54
Avatar for softykitty
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From eng77:
Hi Softykitty. I am sorry that you had to go through this. I was exactly in the same situation. Every year I ask myself, should I quit now? I ended up spending 5 years with no PhD and then my contract finished and I had no material written, no new concepts and no good experimental results also. I say to myself I should have left after 1 years or even 4 years were better than 5.
I know exactly how you feel like no one else knows. I know that 6 months wasting is not nice and not easy. 4 1/2 years is still better than 5. But if I were you, I would look if I have something to write. If you can write a thesis whatever its quality, just write and submit and put all this behind. You do not know what will happen. My case was a bit different because the university here gives the PhD supervisor the power to allow you to submit or not. So I would not be able to submit until he sees I have enough work. The supervisor in Germany is the main (and practically the only) examiner. If you are in the UK, you can submit a complete thesis with the best quality you can and leave it for the examiners to decide. You may be surprised by passing with minor correction or even resubmit.


Thanks, my research area is quite new, basically I need to defend the most popular method, and conclude the new method is better performed. I can always have something to write down. It's just not creative or original, like a summary or review. I will do what you suggested. I should let the panel decide if I'm qualified. Have you ever thought what the problem it might be in your case? I mean the reason that stops you from being productive. I still don't know what mine is. Am I being incapable of doing research or my project is not doable.
posted
06-Sep-18, 15:43
by Crions
Avatar for Crions
posted about 2 weeks ago
Hello! To be honest, i am not an expert in this area, but i think that it will be better for you to quit the PhD now. Sorry, if my answer is too late for you.
posted
06-Sep-18, 16:34
Avatar for softykitty
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From Crions:
Hello! To be honest, i am not an expert in this area, but i think that it will be better for you to quit the PhD now. Sorry, if my answer is too late for you.

Can you tell me why and give more details on your suggestion?
posted
06-Sep-18, 17:10
edited about 14 seconds later
by eng77
Avatar for eng77
posted about 2 weeks ago
Hi Softykitty. I think I know what my problem was. My supervisor was stuck with some ideas with previous PhD student and was not willing to accept anything from me. He was demotivating me and I was not strong enough to work hard or confront him. Moreover, my work depended a lot on some design and experimental work which I did not perform well. So to be honest I say it was 50-50 my fault and my supervisors fault the overall thing. My major problem was not concentrating to finish something and get somehow accepted results. Also when I am demotivated I do not work well. You can see my blog for more details :)
posted
06-Sep-18, 17:17
edited about 3 seconds later
by eng77
Avatar for eng77
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From Crions:
Hello! To be honest, i am not an expert in this area, but i think that it will be better for you to quit the PhD now. Sorry, if my answer is too late for you.

Very strange answer. Someone who is not expert and who is writing his or her thesis advices another one to quit PhD at the final phase and to take this drastic decision without even an explanation.

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