The Student Room Group

Can’t get my PhD project off the ground

I am almost a year into my PhD and don’t know if I can honestly carry on. I’ve been given a set of structures to synthesise and then I will be testing them for certain properties as the main part of my project. However, only one person has successfully synthesised them before and the methods they have left are really confusing. I managed to make something that looked similar, and went on to test its properties to give a good basis for my confirmation review. However now I’ve submitted that it’s time to return to actually synthesising the correct structure, and I’m finding it completely impossible. I have tried to learn from my mistakes but I have now made incorrect structures 16 times (it takes a week to make them so I’m sure you can see my frustration when I get my spectra back at the end of the week to see I have wasted it all.) I feel like I could do the actual part of the project, the assessment of activity, but I can’t even test that because I just cant get the right structure made to test it. I’m struggling so much, I can’t say the project is failing because I can’t even get to the stage of testing if it is failing. I’m so tired and bored of doing the same synthesis every week and getting nothing in return. My supervisor is quite keen that I make this specific structure and i feel that I am running out of time to change to something else. How can I convince him that I can’t keep wasting my timeu on this stage of the project?
If you are still a 1st year PhD student then this sounds par for the course. Most experiments fail, in my field it's probably less than 5% of lab time that actually generates publishable data. You do however sound like you are developing important skills and closing off some unsuccessful routes, that is useful progress. Now is the time to sit down with your supervisor and discuss next steps and that needs to include backup plans if the initial aims are not delivering. Also think about lab time efficiency, if a process takes a long time, can you streamline this or do multiple runs in parallel?
Reply 2
Original post by Mr Wednesday
If you are still a 1st year PhD student then this sounds par for the course. Most experiments fail, in my field it's probably less than 5% of lab time that actually generates publishable data. You do however sound like you are developing important skills and closing off some unsuccessful routes, that is useful progress. Now is the time to sit down with your supervisor and discuss next steps and that needs to include backup plans if the initial aims are not delivering. Also think about lab time efficiency, if a process takes a long time, can you streamline this or do multiple runs in parallel?



Thank you for your reply! Unfortunately due to limited resources I can only do one experiment at one time which takes around a week, so I’m not able to do multiple runs at the same time. I’ve spoken to a lot of people who have said the same about their first year, it seems that usually happens with their actual research whereas this feels more like just failing continuously to replicate results rather than actual research. I do want to get some backup plans in place- just feeling a lot like I’m losing out on an area which has potential for papers and novelty, which is a great shame!
could i read the methods of the person who successfully synthesised the structures? i hope i can restate them in a simpler way
Reply 4
Original post by beautifulworld
could i read the methods of the person who successfully synthesised the structures? i hope i can restate them in a simpler way

Do you hold a PhD?

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