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PhD Discussion Forum

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This Category: > PhD Advice / Support


Can a different phd topic give you renewed enthusiasm

User: MALVOR87 - 07 December 2020 22:24

Hi I posted recently regarding whether to continue with phd or leave. Just into my second year and long long story but a recent conversation with doctoral college has given me 3 options
1. Come up with a new research topic
2. Mphil
3. Leave

I haven’t fully enjoyed my 1st year tbh for various reasons and wondered about just leaving. I had made the decision to leave until point 1 above was put to me by doctoral college. My question is- If it is your own phd proposal as opposed to one which is advertised would you have more enthusiasm and passion or is it better to just cut my losses and go? I don’t want to go into academia. Any advice would be greatly welcome. Thank you

User: PhoenixFortune - 09 December 2020 11:27

If they let you change topic, will they still allow you to study for 3 years, or is the year you've done now lost? Also, will changing topic affect your funding situation? Will this also affect your supervisory arrangements? Those are three pretty vital questions, which once answered, should help you make your decision.

Generally, I think people do enjoy their own research project more than pre-proposed ones, but it can depend on the discipline, how complicated you want your project to be etc.

Maybe think about why you're doing a PhD in the first place: if you don't want an academic career, then will it help you in other ways? If it presents more losses than benefits, realistically it might be worth considering leaving.

User: rewt - 09 December 2020 19:54


Sorry about the delay.
I think that most PhD projects change in some way through the 3 years because research always evolves. There is no harm in changing your project as you learn about the topic and figure out what is actually achievable. Saying that, I wouldn't change your project too much, as you will essentially being doing a PhD in two years, which isn't easy. You mentioned before that there are two aspects to your PhD and you are more comfortable in that area. You could possibly ditch the technology aspect and focus on what you enjoy, so that you don't have to start from scratch.

User: abababa - 10 December 2020 16:57

There is an element of 'graft' in any PhD, regardless of whether you pick the topic or not. Most successful PhDs are absolutely sick of their own thesis by the time they graduate. To research even the most interesting topic rigorously usually involves a degree of repetition, tedium, and attention-to-detail.

So, changing topic won't automatically be a magic solution, if the problem arose from the tedium and monotony of academic rigour. Especially if you don't want to go into academia I'd carefully consider the 'cut your losses' route, as employers outside of academia tend to attach little value to a PhD, and you'd be better off with 3 years industry experience than a PhD. This obviously depends on the field/area/what you want to do with your life, but if you're not interested in becoming an academic, I'd think carefully before spending both money and time training to become one.

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