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PhD good idea?

  1. Sep 27, 2010 #1

    For a long time my ambition has been to do research in biophysics, and since I am entering the final year of my physics degree I need to start thinking about doing a PhD. The problem though, is that I'm worried I don't enjoy physics enough to spend the rest of my life doing research.

    From reading other posts on doing a PhD, it seems that being passionate about doing physics is essential. I consider doing research in physics to be very important and meaningful but I just can't get passionate about doing it, no matter how hard I try. There are very few other things in life I find interesting and I would describe myself as being most talented at doing physics, despite my apparent lack of motivation. To complicate things further still I suffer from chronic mild depression and OCD, which may be killing my motivation and making me doubt myself so much.

    Other than that I've been achieving top marks in my modules so far and set to get a first when I graduate with an undergraduate masters in physics. My supervisor has also been impressed with the research I've been doing for my masters project. There are also times when I genuinely love what I'm doing to the extent that I spend most of my free time doing research.

    Should I perservere and hope that I become interested in physics again, or just give up?

  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 27, 2010 #2
    I think the question is are you an intellectual masochist.

    Something that you should know going in is that getting a Ph.D. is hard, and you'll have bad days, and sometimes really bad days in which you hate your dissertation, your advisor, and your life. It helps going in to know that you will have bad days, that way you aren't surprised when they happen. However, you'll also have good days, when things just magically work and you've figured out something that you didn't know before.

    Passion is different from enjoyment. One thing to remember is that the term passion originally referred to the suffering Christ went through when he got nailed to the cross.

    The question that you need to ask yourself is can you get through five to seven years of graduate school to get to the Ph.D. If you can get yourself into the lab, and you can imagine doing this for a largish number of years, then it's an option.
  4. Sep 28, 2010 #3
    I don't think it is a necessary condition that you be a masochist (to derive pleasure from your own suffering). But if you are not, you will need to be able to shrug the bad days off. You will need to be able to find balance outside of grad school. Because the bad days can be REALLY bad in grad school. The good days can be great, however.

    This is spot on, imo. You have tasted what research is about. Can you imagine doing something similar for the next 6 years?
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 28, 2010
  5. Sep 29, 2010 #4
    Thanks for the replies, I think my lack of motivation at the moment may be down to my mood disorder so hopefully it might improve in time. At the moment I'm making an extra effort to do more research for my masters project to try and get some of my enthusiasm back.

    Also, is the type of research for a PhD an important thing to consider? I'm thinking that I might do better in more theoretical / computational than experimental work.
  6. Sep 29, 2010 #5
    Are you seeing a councillor about that mood disorder? Sounds like a course of CBT might be in order. Try reading "CBT for Dummies", or (better) have a chat with your GP.
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