Signup date: 07 Oct 2007 at 9:35pm
Last login: 04 Dec 2008 at 4:56pm
Post count: 76
Hi Amygdala (cool name - I assume you're a brain person too!)
This probably isn't going to be too helpful as I'm not the happiest PhD student you'll hear from at the moment. But I do know how you feel. I started October 2007 and was thrown straight into practical work with techniques I barely understood, I didn't have a masters, I'd changed topic from my undergrad research project, I'd had a couple of years out working and I moved to a new city! Yep, as you can imagine things were not exactly brill! I didn't understand the subject, was generally confused and was terrified of lab work for about the first 3 months after which I had a mini meltdown on my second supervisor. This was surprisingly useful and helped me to get some direction back and also forced a dialogue between me and my first supervisor about how pants I was feeling.
After xmas I came back and things were better, I think mainly because I was getting used to the lab work and that lifted a huge stress off my mind, also we got a new PhD student so I wasn't the new one anymore and things weren't automatically my fault when they went wrong and I got more trust.
However this summer I realised that I was just coasting along with my head in the sand doing loads of practical work with only a small amount of it relating directly to my PhD (we work collboratively in my lab). I got stuck into writing my transfer report wich was very stressful but got that done (3 months later am still waiting for the transfer viva to be arranged!). After this though, instead of it giving me direction which was what I was hoping, writing it pretty much demolished my confidence and I ignored my project as much as possible and just did lab work in the hope it would all be OK. At the start of December I started looking for jobs, no luck yet and in the current climate its terrifying. I had another meltdown on my second supervisor just before xmas and he (again) as very good, he spoke to my supervisor for me and there is an idea that my project may change slightly to try and improve it. My supervisor was really good about everything and he is very patient (at the moment) with me. Everyone at uni is doing everything they can to make this work for me and I feel guilty as secretly I just want it all to go away and just get a job.
At the moment I don't think I'll finish my PhD, it's just a question of getting a job. However if I don't have a job in 3 months then I'm half way through - who knows! I understand what you mean about guilt and I think my parents would love me to finish but at the moment my mum is more worried about my sanity to be honest.
Don't mean to sound depressing (and it does sound depressing having written it all out!). But I think there are a few key pieces of advice for you that I've learned:
- give it time, lots of people when they are in a new situation be it job or PhD have a major wobble in the first few months, if you keep plugging away one day you'll suddenly think - hey I can do this, it happened with me and lab work.
- speak to your supervisor, or if that's hard, your second supervisor in my first term I left it far too late to be totally honest with my supervisors and as a result spent 3 months bottling everything up and feeling pretty pants.
- Don't worry about letting people down, it's your life you have to do what's best for you. One person who gives me lots of advice and recommended me for my current studentship started telling me how bad it would look for my supervisor if I dropped out - tough, I am not going to spend the next 2 years crying down the phone to my mother and wondering whether antidepresants are the answer for how it makes my supervisor look. When I leave I can just give feedback to the relevent people saying he was incredibly helpful but this just isn't right for me.
A break might be a good thing, I'm sure you can broach it with y
Aww Stressed, thanks for your concern. Not ill just working from home today as no lab work to do. My house is cold so I'm layering up! I will have to wear proper clothes in a bit though as am heading off swimming to try and work off some of the christmas blubber I seem to have gained!
Quick question - would you say an MPhil will actually be a black mark on your CV (or a millstone round your neck!). Have been thinking about quitting for a while and spoke to my second supervisor about the potential for getting an MPhil. He basically told me not to bother even if I was going to quit as it's just a symbol of a failed PhD and will look bad on my CV. I totally see where he's coming from in terms of a career in academia but since I'm thinking of quitting I think it's safe to say that I don't consider my future to be in academia!
So what are your opinions of an MPhil on a CV as opposed to 1.5 years of laboratory based research?
Definitely sounds like a productive break to me. I had a full 2 weeks off, haven't read anything or even given my PhD more than a passing thought, start back tomorrow so the feeling of back to work blues / dread is setting in! Although reading lots of the posts on here has got me slightly concerned that I'm not committed enough, although not concerned enough to actually read anything!
I wouldn't worry, you definitely sound like you kept your brain active and the break will probably have done you good. :-)
I think if you have something relevent that you could present and especially as you have presented at this conference before so are clearly up to the standard required and in the right area then you are well within your rights to speak to your supervisor about the possibility of you presenting something. I think it would only look like you were trying to blag a free holiday if you scraped together some not so good data or tried to re-hash your old data to make a presentation so you could go! Your supervisor should at least listen to what you have to suggest and there's no harm in asking and appearing enthusiastic. Good Luck.
A (probably quite stupid) question. How interesting do you find your subject? At the moment I really don't think I'm interested enough in mine. On the face of it it's a fascinating subject but when you get down to the detail and the nitty gritty as it were I'm just not that gripped. I'm trying to finish my upgrade at the moment and I keep getting distracted and not doing it, I just don't seem to be bothered even though I desperately want the stupid thing finished. I'm starting to hate my PhD, for a number of reasons but the most worrying is that I can't really get excited about my topic. Whenever I talk to my supervisor about the subject area he rattles off all these papers he assumes I've read (which I then write down and try and find) and speaks to me on a level far above my level of knowledge. I avoid talking to him now as he always throws out about 3 or 4 different directions in which I could take the research and I'm never sure which one he wants to go in (I feel it will be his decision in the end) and I don't have enough knowledge to discuss them with him. I feel like I'm totally floundering and my subject knowledge is pitiful, however whenever I try and read papers I could be reading a foreign language and I just stare at them. Most of the time I just live in a state of blissful denial as there is so much lab work to do in our lab (mine and everyone else's - we all have to muck in with everything that's going on) that I can go for weeks without even thinking about reading a paper, but recently I've been very conscious that I've actually got to get a PhD out of this. Sorry to rant on, I think it's been building up for some time and this weekend it seems to have hit home!
I think my supervisor looks for a working pair of hands - as long as you can hold a pen to label tubes you're in. And also preferably an inability to say no. In reality what he should look for is fluet mandarin, incredible hand eye coordination and excellent design and technology skills all combined with an indepth knowledge of neuroscience and the ability to mind read! That would be his perfect student - unfortunately I am none of these!
Just a quick and rather silly question but what sort of things should I be wearing for a relatively small (not international) conference in the UK. I'm a science PhD student and am just going as a delegate, no poster or presentation.
Thanks for the encouragement. We do a pipetting exercise with left over radioactive solution - pipetting 10 samples of 100ul, 10ul and 1ul then running them through the gamma counter, we then look at the error between the samples. I've been told I need to get it down to an error of under 5% for all of them, last time it was 14.3% for the 100ul, 15% for the 10ul and 25.3% for the 1ul. The crucial amount for my assay is 200ul so in theory I should be able to do it!!
I'm just coming to the end of my first year of my lab based PhD. Before entering into this PhD I hadn't had any experience of working in a lab as my undergrad. dissertation didn't require it and I did an anatomy based degree with no molecular biology practicals. Anyhow, it has been a steep learning curve to integrate into the group, get my head around the topic and learning lab skills. I really struggle with lab skills, my supervisor didn't seem to think it would be a probelem me not having done lab work before but I'm now having problems. Specifically my pipetting is rubbish, I'm running assays and it's not good, I've had someone check my technique and have done a little practise with water on the recommendation of my supervisor (very boring). The second scientist in my lab informed me that if I was working in the NHS then my assays wouldn't be good enough and wouldn't be used. I'm supposed to do the assays for the whole lab and am getting worse if not better, I'm sure they were better earlier on in the year! If anyone has any advice it will be greatfully recieved!
After about 10 months I have been put off even the thought of academia for life. I have kind of decided to put my head down and get these 3 years done and then try and get a job in the areas I mentioned previously. Has anyone had any experience of these areas? Will a PhD really help? I get the impression that I will be better placed with one and I don't want to stop the PhD and then not be able to progress any further in the future. I know this question seems waffley but really I was just interested in peoples thoughts on employment outside of academia after a lab based science (neuroscience) PhD? Thanks.
I'm currently in the first year of my science PhD I'm trying to write my transfer report at the moment as well as run my first set of experiments that I have organised. I feel like I'm running in circles and nothing is ever good enough. But anyway, what I wanted to know was what are people aiming to do after their science PhD or what are people doing after a science PhD. When I started I was so excited about doing this and was interested in either aiming for spending a good few years in academia if I could get a post-doc position after or maybe aiming for industry either big pharma or possibly communications / science or medical communications type stuff.
Thats interesting. I once had a lecture on presentations during my undergrad course and the lecturer told us that bright yellow writing on a dark blue background was best. I think, if I remember correctly, he said that made it clearer for people who were dyslexic to read. It didn't occur to me at the time that he might not be catering for people with vision problems as he seemed to be trying to make the presentation accessible to everyone. May have to rethink my usual strategy of white on dark blue!
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