All but Dissertation (ABD) status: Can we deal better with it?

To earn a PhD degree can become an overwhelming but it surely is sought my many for it gives the privilege to be able to call oneself a doctor. With all the laurels and rewards that the degree brings with it, it is an experience that is not always plain sailing and may have the phases of frustration, trying and disappointment at different stages. Your PhD ends up becoming your life and the rational becomes uncomprehend by friends and family. However, it is the biggest character building experience one could go through.

There needs to do some strategic planning to be able to handle the problems that arise along the way in a PhD. The foremost thing is to begin by talking to someone about the problem, whatever it is. And there should be no delay in it so that things get sorted as informally as possible. The best person to talk is your supervisor. Sometimes there is a hitch in talking directly and then it is better to put it in writing.  It helps in documentation of the thoughts in a sorted manner. In case there is inaccessibility of the supervisor, fellow mates, programme director, research development advisors could be the other people one could talk to.

There could be multiple types of problems that could be related to the supervisor. Some of the commonly found supervisory problems are:

  1. Lack of  communication
  2. Absent supervisors
  3. Arrogant  supervisors
  4. Supervisors on sabbatical
  5. Clashes between the main and co supervisor
  6. Change in supervisor

All these problems may bring in disruption of some or the other kind and may hinder the pace and progress of the PhD. The best way here to deal with all these problems is to have open communication with the supervisor from the initial stages itself so that any change from either side can be anticipated well in advance and the alternative arrangements can be planned well.

The other ABD issues that may occur in a PhD can be of varied nature. Some of them could be:

  1. Overworked with teaching and other commitments
  2. Loss of motivation by the researcher
  3. Lack of enthusiasm and blues in second year
  4. Calling it a day

No decision of haste would lead anywhere, the ways to handle mid-way blues could be found in taking a short break or a vacation and give self the time to gather back the interest and motivation and overcome the mental pressure. Acknowledge yourself for the brave work of getting into research work of such high level. Not everyone has the calibre and courage to do so.

Last but not the least, whatever is the struggle in PhD, the research period is the gateway to some of the most mind-blowing skills that get applied in a wide array of careers and activities. And it will be an accomplishment to be proud of.

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