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Significant results are hard to come by


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5 replies to this topic

#1 science noob

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 01:17 PM

I've been working on my two aims and it seem that I've uncovered a can of worms, i.e. more questions than actual answers. Been optimising, troubleshooting, background reading etc for a few months now.

Is it normal for a PhD student to go through this?

What would you do if in this position? Keep at it or start something new (new project, aim?)

It really does affect motivation and confidence....

#2 pito

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 01:25 PM

Just out of curiousity: what do you mean by start something new? Can you just "change" your PhD? Pick something new?


And about the part of having more questions then answers: thats normal.

If you don't know it, then ask it! Better to ask and look foolish to some than not ask and stay stupid.


#3 leelee

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 04:46 PM

For what it is worth, I didn't get my first piece of real data until I was at the end of my second year of my PhD. I've spent a great deal of time feeling unmotivated and dejected, but once you get that first little bit of data (and I'm talking really little bit for me), the feeling is elation. And its addictive!! Don't worry, your persistence will pay off!

#4 science noob

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 06:52 PM

Just out of curiousity: what do you mean by start something new? Can you just "change" your PhD? Pick something new?


And about the part of having more questions then answers: thats normal.


Start something new = when does a good researcher know when to pull the plug on an experiment which, no matter how many times you've tried you still can't get any significant difference/observation? I wish I could experiment forever but reality is I've only got so many years to get results.

#5 pito

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Posted 16 June 2012 - 12:57 AM


Just out of curiousity: what do you mean by start something new? Can you just "change" your PhD? Pick something new?


And about the part of having more questions then answers: thats normal.


Start something new = when does a good researcher know when to pull the plug on an experiment which, no matter how many times you've tried you still can't get any significant difference/observation? I wish I could experiment forever but reality is I've only got so many years to get results.


I see what you mean, but I find it hard to believe you can simple change your PhD.. You are talking about alterning your current PhD then? Just change the approach then?
Or really quit the current PhD and do a new one?

And as leelee said, often its hard to get results and sometimes you just wont get any good results at all... even after 4 years.

If you don't know it, then ask it! Better to ask and look foolish to some than not ask and stay stupid.


#6 zienpiggie

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Posted 16 June 2012 - 01:58 PM

Yes it can turn the way you described in your post. The past few years have been very grueling for me too. I think that part of the PhD training is also knowing of when it is time to switch direction and change strategy. In the end we just have to sit in front of our data, look at it and accept what it is saying and deal with it accordingly, including finding new leads that you can pursue. If the problem is that your research question is too big, then this is the time that you decide for yourself to narrow it down and focus it so that you can finish in a timely manner.

I hope it helps. Don't give up :D.




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