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To do a PhD or not?

Not so succesful PhD

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#1 lyok

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 11:58 AM

Dear all,

I have been offered the oppertunity to do a PhD.
Which is great, I always wanted to do this, however this is a big but!

The problem is that the goal of the PhD is more likely not achievable.
What I mean is very simple: the aim/goal of the PhD is something that might not work at all.

I now wonder: should I go for it or not? What if I stay for 4 years (length of PhD here) and end up with pretty much no "real" results?

The PhD is something completely new and the changes are I will not be able to do what it aims for because a lot has to be done prior to really starting the research.
So its possible I end up with a lot of "small" results about preparations and not really with a clear, good, result.

Any advice?


I wonder: is it even possible to get your PhD degree if you dont attain the end goal? Because in the end: you cant really know up front if you can achieve it.

#2 bob1

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 12:29 PM

Your fears are well grounded, there is the possibility that your project will go nowhere, but (and it is a big but), your supervisor and you together should be able to see relatively early on whether or not the project will work, and if possible switch you to one that will. I know people who have got through 2 years (out of a 3 year PhD) and then had to switch projects.

On the other hand, you have been around a while, and from your posts on here, are certainly technically competent, so you shouldn't have a problem with the lab work itself, so that is a big benefit.

New projects are scary (I started one for my PhD too), it is panning out OK, though it is definitely going to take longer than the 3 years my uni says PhDs take (actually average finishing time for PhD in my Dept is 4 years).

#3 lyok

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 12:49 PM

Your fears are well grounded, there is the possibility that your project will go nowhere, but (and it is a big but), your supervisor and you together should be able to see relatively early on whether or not the project will work, and if possible switch you to one that will. I know people who have got through 2 years (out of a 3 year PhD) and then had to switch projects.

On the other hand, you have been around a while, and from your posts on here, are certainly technically competent, so you shouldn't have a problem with the lab work itself, so that is a big benefit.

New projects are scary (I started one for my PhD too), it is panning out OK, though it is definitely going to take longer than the 3 years my uni says PhDs take (actually average finishing time for PhD in my Dept is 4 years).


Here it is a standard 4 year(in some cases 6, but thats not the case here). So I just have 4 years to do it.

The problem is that I can not really switch to something different. The project is pretty straightforward and there are no real back up plan.
(its a very practical project with a clear goal and no real alternatives).
Also: from experience we know it can take up to 3-4 years to get a result!
So its only after 3 years we can start to concider to change "it" (if I allready can change topic)

The techniques itself (most of them) will not be a problem I think.
And for some , very special techniques, I will even have a lab technician to do something very special that has to be done on a dialy basis...
But the problem stays the same: very big risk to start it!

A similar project (other university, not a PhD) had to be stopped because they were not able to get any results.




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