Seems it's the second time that I came to ask a question here. But this time the situation is quite different for me.

I've completed my B.S. 2.5 years ago, and entered a PhD program in a top notch school. My advisor is a domain expect in my field and he treats all of us very nicely and friendly, and he does know a hell lot of both academia and industry. I just received my master degree and interned at a uprising company in Silicon Vally.

However for academic work, I'm not doing that well. The past 2.5 years I only published in a workshop. In the meanwhile many of my friends have published top conference papers. I feel really stupid that I can't do so. Since my mathematic background is not well to understand some papers, I tried to digest the math while I'm on free time. And now I could understand most of the papers that I read.

The problem is that, I can't think of new ideas. Every ideas I try fails, constantly. I'm don't know why my mates could do so well in publishing. Because of this, I seriously feel a lot of pressure. Everyday when I wake up, I can feel the heart beats like dumb. However during the internship in the previous summer, everything is so smooth and I enjoyed the life there.

In theory, my advisor could let me graduate even if I don't publish. But I really do not want to let him down and waste his funding. The question is, shall I quit my PhD now and receive the offer if the pressure continues? Any suggestions?

1 Answer 1


Well i have been in similar situation like yours. I chose not to give up and that is why i was able to defend my PhD last month.

It was very frustrating.I switched advisers 4 times. Would you believe that? I was recommended to be expelled from the PhD program. My situation was much worse than yours. I was almost thrown out of the PhD program in 2010. How i was able to change this? Just like you, i interned in Silicon Valley in 2009 and 2010 where my manager sort of liked me and he stood for me. He and even his manager wrote two letters in my favor supporting that i should not be expelled from the PhD program. They argued that i should switch topic and adviser and continue PhD program. All i was looking for was a good adviser who could trust my skills and luckily i got it.

After that, it was fine. The moral of the story is " i did not give up in circumstances much worse than yours." Does your current adviser like you, have trust in you, have confidence in you? If so, don't worry. Regarding publications, choose mid-tier conferences first to raise your confidence and then go for top-tier conferences.

And now on communities like stackoverflow and various forums for hardware and software, discuss your ideas with experts, shape your ideas here. Talk to your contacts in the industry as to what do they think of your problem or in their opinion what are the hot problems to solve.

Another lesson is be pro-active. Don't procrastinate or live in your own world. Get up

  • 1
    +1 for "choose mid-tier conferences first to raise your confidence and then go for top-tier conferences". You can't always have the "super" idea, so warming up by smaller conference is a good way to raise your confidence.
    – Alexandros
    Jan 11, 2014 at 8:30

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