I read this page and it was uplifting and motivating. Some of highlights:
I love how it suggests reading your advisers dissertation so you can see how much it sucks (paraphrase).
This paragraph was liberating
"Many, many people lead happy, fulfilling lives, build lucrative and rewarding careers, make important contributions to knowledge, share interesting ideas with others, and generally get along just fine without three letters after their names. Deciding not to continue with a Ph.D. does not mean that you have "quit" or that others who remain in the program are smarter, more driven, or more virtuous than you are. It also does not mean that you have wasted the time and money that you invested in the degree up to the ABD (all but dissertation) stage. It may simply mean that after considering your own personal motivations and goals, you decided this career choice wasn't for you—and that you plan to use the skills you honed as a graduate student in other ways that are more suited to you."
This paragraph makes me feel less guilty about taking a day trip tomorrow and makes me want to work out more.
"Be reasonable. A lot of people beat themselves up with expectations to work 10 or 12 hours a day—many people recommend a max. of 4 or 5 hours. You simply can't write productively all day long and trying will just burn you out. Schedule in breaks and time for procrastination. Your brain needs a rest every now and then—better to schedule one than to have your brain mutiny on you and take one anyway."
Technically my dissertation is written. I have six chapters plus an Introduction and Conclusion chapter plus an Appendix that list all my data for anyone interested in looking at it in a different way later. All of these sections now have a completed draft. Each of these chapters has been read by someone else. So, my dissertation is more than just at draft phase . . . . I’m pretty happy with all my chapters. However, my adviser has only read two of these chapters. One of them we have submitted and the other one he made revisions and suggestions, which I took two days to fix and send back . . . with no further reading on his part. He is currently working on a third chapter and, via e-mail has told me that it has a lot that needs to be fixed, even though this same chapter came back from the co-author with minimal revisions. The co-author, by the way, has published and co-authors dozens of manuscripts on this particular contaminant.
The months of revisions I feel that is ahead of me makes me depressed and not excited that all chapters have been written. I went through 12 iterations of my master’s thesis with this adviser, and as previously mentioned we have been working on one manuscript for four years. By the way he’s requested I do more lab analysis for that never ending manuscript. The reviewers didn’t suggest more lab work. *Sigh*
-------Although I contemplate quitting because getting a Ph.D. may just not be in my life plan I have come up with what I think is a better solution . . . cutting out chapters of my Ph.D.
The title of my dissertation is, in essence, "Studying contaminants X and Y in an important environment in a specific study area." I worked on X for my master's thesis and have continued as part of my dissertation but focused mostly on Y for my dissertation. If I cut X out of the title then I can cut out two chapters of my dissertation. Granted these chapters have already been written but not including them in my dissertation means that my adviser won't have to read them before I defend.
One of the “cut” chapters will be best as a report to our funding agency. The other chapter was a bonus use of my data that was never part of my initial plan but seemed like a cool thing to do as I read through the literature. It would be the first analysis of this type of data for my study area. Possibly publishable but it’s also possible that I could care less.
To summarize I want my life back. I feel like I’m under some evil spell of my adviser. I also wonder why he hasn’t published on this type of information with his previous students. I use to think it was because they were master’s students but now I just think he is unreasonable. But maybe it’s me, maybe I’m lazy and not the type of person who can publish.