What are common stages that PhD student researchers go through with their thesis project? - PhDData

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What are common stages that PhD student researchers go through with their thesis project?

September 2022

PhD research may be a highly emotional experience; this is partly because it is not a task that can be completed in one day, one week, or even one month. It may take months or even years to complete, and while you work on it, you may get more invested emotionally and worried out about whether or not it’s going correctly or whether or not you will be successful as a result of your efforts. Because they are unsure whether they are doing a decent job and are really stressed out from a lack of information and direction, many students throw away draught after draught of the dissertation. Students experience these feelings since the success or failure of their academic careers rests on these papers, and they have no idea how their efforts will be evaluated.

Here we will have a look at the different emotional stages that a PhD student has to go through with his thesis project.


Enthusiasm is shown by how passionately a researcher works on his or her research. At this point, the possibilities seem endless; all it takes is dedication and hard work to reach the pinnacle. At this early stage, every idea is novel, every proposition is first, and every viewpoint is undeniably correct.


Now is the time for disillusion to set in. Once the researcher’s initial enthusiasm has dissipated like steam, they are left with a mountain of work, a lack of focus and direction, frustration, and an annoying fear of failing and being publicly exposed. These emotions stay with the researcher for quite some time, and lead him to place blame on everyone and everything having anything to do with the research except himself.


It’s nature for students to deny the possibility of failure; after all, in the past, they’ve written dozens of papers and essays and received great scores. So what could possibly go wrong this time? There is a widespread belief among students that they can deal effectively with any challenge that may arise in this regard. Some of these students are so far down the road of denial that they are prepared to quarrel with the supervisor if they point out any errors in their work.


The next stage is anger. The students become angry over the criticism of their thesis. There could be some counter questioning at this stage with fellow students and the supervisor sometimes. The students become too sensitive to handle criticism at their perspective project. They think, how dare anyone criticize. This sensitivity manifests into anger, and the students express it on and off in the form of harsh words.


At this stage, the researcher realizes he or she has over defended their activities. This is “acceptance.” By now, the researcher should have habituated to the fast-paced world of academic research, developing useful interactions with colleagues and absorbing kind but constructive criticism from more seasoned professionals. The researcher creates unique research methodologies, rethinks previously held views, and works with newfound passion after joining a research community.


After a period of fruitful work, the researcher begins to feel down since he has no idea when his thoughts will be ready for the final draught. At this point, depression has reached a critical and perhaps devastating emotional low. Further, this stage is an apparent sign of how far and with how much work you have covered your study trip in the broadest sense. These seemingly negative emotions are really gifts in disguise, as they psychologically prepare you to feel an amazing sense of accomplishment in the future.


It’s not easy to fight negative feelings, but the rewards for doing so are worth the effort. The researcher, at this stage, allows himself to gradually reawaken a sense of love to learning and discovery, which in turn aids in overcoming the perils of clinical depression. Returning to an interesting and productive research life offers its own advantages, including providing fresh insight into the nature and challenges of human existence. In this period of revival, there is a mixture of apprehension, tense anticipation, and excitement.


You know the sensation when you’re about to print your last draught or send your final email to your superiors or reviewers? When you give in, you get a new lease on life, renewed optimism for the future, and a great feeling of accomplishment. Patient endurance is tested during the agonizing last countdown that follows submission, whether for the viva or for research feedback. After the results are in and the glory is gained, however, the hardships will be forgotten.

In short, you’re probably doing well because you’re skilled. Your tenacity and determination will make the difference. You should keep on moving on and one day you will be succeed. This is a great accomplishment that will boost your career.

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