05 December 2011

giving up on science

I think I am giving up on science. I am so tired of battling all my data with no results in it, I do not want it any more. Even though it is not my fault these data suck, well not completely, since I started collecting these data when I was young and ignorant (and had NO supervision), now I have to work with whatever I have. And that is bad bad data. Experiments with no differences between two samples, based on the experiment not having the proper pilot phases. Experiments having no significant results based on too small N.

So in the end the conclusion is: I might have been a nice scientist, not an excellent one, otherwise these rookie mistakes might have been smaller. But those mistakes were made, and I can not defend and get a PhD degree. Unless I defend with inferior stuff. Which will NOT get me any other job in science. At least not close to home. I have two leads for a possible job, one in another country, one that requires a journey of 2,5 hours in and 2,5 hours ride home. Both of these are not an option. The abroad thing is nagging, but we own a house we can not sell since it would leave us with insane amounts of debt so we need to sit this crisis out. We can not rent since this is not allowed...

Simple calculation:
No significant data = no publication
No publication = bad thesis
bad thesis = no science job other than at places that know me and the horrors of my PhD project
other places = far away = not an option
equals to
PhDBaby leaving science.

Now I only have to figure a way out to still get the title, since in any other job it is pretty awkward if I say I can manage, plan, and do whatever in time, leading to good results, without me having a degree (which thus is proving my disability to plan, manage, and get results. This I want avoid. I can do all these things. My project simply sucked).


  1. I want to say, "no, no, no! you should stick it out because once you get on to another, better project everything will be better!" But. But you seem to have been miserable doing this for so long that maybe it is the right decision. You should definitely do what you have to do to get the degree though, even if it won't get you a great research position. A PhD might still help you find other science-related jobs, like something in policy or administration.

    Still, it's very sad. I'm so sorry that things aren't working out for you. It's sad that it has come to this.

  2. Agree with EGF: You should still finish your PhD! Believe me, there are a lot of theses out there that are awful (not saying yours will be awful, just, it doesn't have to be the best or even really good).
    Slightly off-topic, but I have seen a lot of my very intelligent and bright friends get totally stuck in their PhD because they are too perfectionistic. This came to me as a surprise as well (and a happy surprise!) but it is muuuuch more advantegeous to just submit something (paper or thesis) that is good enough, than something perfect. It Will Never Be Perfect.
    Plus, I don't think a lot of people will read your thesis after you finished your PhD. Whatever job you apply for, science or not, they will not have the time to read your thesis. They will either read/scan through your papers (realizing you were a PhD, realizing these were your first papers, realizing the pressure is huge for PhDs) or only note the fact that you finished a PhD.
    In the end it is the experience that counts. I think you have gained a lot of experience from this PhD, much more so than you would have if all had been easy.
    Finally I think you have to stop thinking so badly of yourself and your thesis. I know it can't be that bad. In a job interview, science or not, you will be able to relate some of the problems and how you solved them with the means you had at the time. I think when people realize what you've learned, they won't see you as the horror-PhD. Plus, if you finish, even with a less-than-ideal thesis, that is a tremendous showing of your determination. People who do know through what you went will very much appreciate that.

    pfoooo, long comment! Good luck !