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This Category: > PhD Advice / Support


Motivation recharge

User: adan - 11 January 2021 21:40

I finished one year of my Ph.D., and I joined a Ph.D. program at a young university. I got attracted by the research methodology announced. I had the feeling that I will join a professional and expert team. The good part that I am employed by the university, which is helpful as a foreigner to sustain a living. However, I have been suffering because my supervisors are not knowledgeable enough about the subject, and it is even hard for me to find relevant work. It is a new topic with a lack of real data. I don't have many options; otherwise, I would change the topic or the supervisors. Now, I lost motivation and confidence, knowing that my work is not efficient or worth publishing. I am a sincere person, and I can't fool myself by pretending that my work is strong and competitive.

Any suggestion on how to overcome these feelings and move forward!

Thanks & Regards

User: rewt - 14 January 2021 22:47

The coronavirus lockdown has not been easy and I can completely sympathise with you. I think it is even more difficult starting a PhD during this time, as a PhD is tough. It is not supposed to be easy but usually PhD students build a support network with each other and the lack of social interaction with your peers can amplify your self doubt even more than usual. Most PhD students will have have some form of impostor syndrome during their studies and it sounds like lockdown is triggering it. Impostor syndrome can be dealt with and there is lots of good advice out there on how to deal with it. Personally, having suffered several bouts of extreme self doubt, lack of motivation and months of procrastination; you need to learn to forgive yourself and congratulate yourself on the little things. Building self confidence is a process and it begins by focusing on the positives and not the negatives. Even if you only read 1 paper or wrote 100 words, that is better than nothing, be happy that you did something, not what you could have done. We are often our own worst enemies when in reality if we put ourselves out there we are just as good as everyone else. You are only in the first year of your PhD, you aren't expected to be super polished, as it is easy to compare yourself with full-time academics when in reality you are still a student. I read some of the stuff in my first year and cringe at how bad it was but I also could compare myself with other first year students who were as equally shambolic. I understand lockdown makes it difficult to interact with other PhD students but if there is any opportunity to share your work, it really helps to build confidence.

To go through some of your points; most supervisors are not knowledgeable/available, there is no perfect supervisor so learn what they are good at work around what they are good at. If there is nor levant work, that is actually a very good thing in the long run, you have a niche. Regardless of how good your data is, your research is inherently novel and will make anything half-presentable publishable work. Again if there is no data out there, that is a good thing, you are a head of the curve so figure out a plan to get some data.

PS: If what I wrote was a bit weird I have been watching Bojack Horseman and it is very emotionally dark

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