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i'm so fed up and confused!! - HELP :( (Jul/06/2009 )

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Hi there everyone,
I think I need a bit of advice! I'm in my final year of PhD land, with 3 months of money left, i'm still running experiments in the lab and am really struggling to try and write up something at the same time! (and still have no papers out on my actual research as nothing is quite completed - I feel like i am really bad at the bench!!!)

The lab I work in is where I carried out my honours project, and I really like my supervisor and his wife (not as my boss's so much but socially they are fine!). The lab used to be pretty big, but when I came back afew years later after some time out there was really only me! So throughout my PhD i've had no post-docs or tech support in my area and have just muddled through with all the experiments kind of self teaching! Also, because its just me, and i have a seriously problem saying NO to stuff i've ended up doing so much other things as part of other smaller studies and I feel like my own project has suffered quite a bit for that! (we had a grant for my project to take on and do loads more stuff with post-docs etc, and my bosses have basically managed to get most of it done just by me! i'm shattered!!!!). I feel like because there's so much quantity of little things, the quality of the main stuff has suffered and I dont feel confident about my work, the results or anything! Like I said I really feel like I am not good at bench science, and I don't trust results or anything I do anymore. I have lost all confidence and basically just want to stay home all day and stare at the wall!
Anyway, i'm blabbering abit now sorry! My point is, this whole experience has really put me off working in science for the rest of my life. I know other labs may be different with more people, more money etc, however when I look at senior academics who spend long hours/weekends doing work and never getting any decent breaks I really dont think i want that for my life! I have recently applied for a job as a part time lecturer at a college, and my experience throughout my phD stands me in good stead (i'll let you know if i get an interview). Really though I dont know what I want to do anymore, but I really feel I can't quit at this late stage, and so many people are looking up to me to get the work finished, write a good dissertation (and family to be Dr!!! ;) ). My partner asked me seriously the other night if i wanted to quit and really I do, but its just too late, I should have done it in first year.
Also, If i get my PhD and then decide to leave academia then my chances of getting a job are slim as i'll be TOO experienced for stuff, is that really the case, as I really see my future as a less stressful job with better hours and plenty of time for family and a social life.
Apologies for the long post, I think I could go on forever I just have so much on my chest, and my partner is fed up of hearing about it!
Any advice or just support would be really appreciated,
Cheers, KT


I really do understand how you feel. I have felt exactly the same way and stll do at certain times about whether i should quit or continue on with my phd.. there is no easy answer really - i think if you are really really unhappy then you should not continue. but this is not feasible in your case. i strongly suggest that you continue on.. especially since you have completed the majority of your phd program. reason being - you have a plethora of skills which you have gained throughout your doctorate.. and these skills will be rewarded no doubt once you reach the end. i assure you that you will find a better and more rewarding place to work in - whether its research or any other area really. your phd will come in handy! it's often hard as a scientist to project to the future and imagine yourself being a scientist working the long hours.. as research often doesnt give you immediate gratification. i guess gratification is hard earned.. but that doesnt mean you wont ever be happy. your situation sux.. however the journey you have gone through - working on your own and figuring problems out on your own will serve you well in the future. you are self sufficient, you are independent, and you can work with pretty much anything, adapting and problem solving. now that is a true scientists! you have accomplished all these things, so i wouldnt feel so bad if i were you. i understand about your thesis. have you talked about this with your supervisor? im sure you can get an extension to help give you a rest at the bench so you can concentrate on the more administrative side of your research. if you are getting results in those other little projects.. then maybe you can incorporate them into your final thesis.. have you thought about perhaps publishing those little projects?

dont think you are stuck in a hole though. i completely understand about the whole lack of money thing! our lab had the same problem ;) its a pain isnt it. its a very tough life being a scientist.. however the rewards far outweigh the negatives. yeh so basically.. i would suggest that you continue your efforts in getting results.. and once you finish your phd you can think about what you want to do with yourself. a phd graduate doesn't have to stay in research.. there are many other options out there!

i really think that you should discuss this with your supervisor. your supervisor has been in your shoes once before and im sure he can work something out if you are really unhappy with how your project is going.
hope this has helped somewhat :D


Thanks TheMoon! (are you a fan of Mighty Boosh? :) )

thank you for you encouragement, in retrospect I guess things could be a lot worse, i'm just having a bad week (month) and just struggling to face the lab everyday, but like you say i'm so close and i'm not going to quit!

We are trying to get a paper out on one of the small pilot studies we did, however the research was only small with few samples so its quite tough, but we have taken them to conferences so there is something to show for it at least!

Hopefully when i get a holiday next month my main experiments will be finished, and when I get back i'll be analysing last samples and hopefully will have some more time for writing, so fingers crossed! I just really want to finish as close to 3 years as possible!

I will update the post when things move forward and let you know how i'm getting on, or if I decide what to do with my life! :)
Good luck with the rest of yours too, stick at it and we'll be there soon!


Get a hold of yourselves,

I would kill to be able to do my PhD. So many others would too!
I dont want to be mean but i gotta be real, why the hell did you go into research? maybe you need to reevaluate those reasons.


Wow thats pretty harsh, MaggieRoara.
Why aren't you doing your PhD if you want to so badly??


Stick with it through completion. You apparently have no other prospects at this time and any employer is going to be put off by your abandoning your PhD effort so late in the game.


leelee on Jul 15 2009, 08:53 AM said:

Wow thats pretty harsh, MaggieRoara.
Why aren't you doing your PhD if you want to so badly??

completely agree!

Everyone gone (or going through) PhD has faced phases of frustration. Thats part of the process. It helps to shout it out. It helps to cry and rant over it, but in the end you get your head up and finish your thesis. :)

So if you badly want a PhD, what stops you?


Hi, thanks for the comments,

MaggieRoara - before you criticize, always walk a mile in another mans shoes! If i wanted that advice i'd have spoken to my Gran!!! :) Sorry to be blunt in return but thats not why I posted this spiel! I know there are people out there who would kill to be where I am, and I'm sorry that you clearly want to do one and for some reason can't? However, I did enter research because I love it, but as time has gone on i've changed and so have my circumstances, and sometimes its very difficult to see the big picture when you've not had a full day off in 3 months!!!

Don't worry guys, i'm not going to quit, I've come this far and I would never waste my time and prospects! but like you say, sometimes you just need to rant and get things off your chest to anonymous people who haven't heard your ramblings before and have been in the same situations! My head is firmly back down to the grind to get my work done.

So thank you for letting me vent, and I will be quiet now and get on with my work! :D

Cheers, KT


You asked - don't criticize maggie for answering.


Apologies, that wasn't meant to sound like a criticism. I know Maggie is right in what she says, I've just got to stop moaning and get on with it.

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