My advisor invited me to do my master's thesis in his research area (of course I was happy about the invitation, but today I wish I had the discernment to choose an area based on my tastes). From the beginning, the objective/proposal of the thesis was never defined, which always left me unsure. I have tried to find a way to contribute to the body of knowledge in this area, but I cannot do this, perhaps because I do not have enough knowledge in this area (which is completely new to me). Also, this area has not stimulated my interest very much. I recently informed my advisor of this situation, but he told me to read more about the area to find motivation. He gives me the freedom to do whatever I want within this area, but I can't do this on my own. I feel like a fraud in my academic path, which up to now I have always been enthusiastic about and where I have produced good results. For the first time, I feel really depressed about my life and I don't know what to do.

Any advice?

EDIT: My master's degree is in computer science engineering and the research area proposed by my advisor is DLT/Blockchain.

  • Your description of the MSc sounds way too broad. I also agree with the supervisor's assessment. You say you "always were enthusiastic about your academic path" - what about? If you find some things interesting, why not read more about them until you encounter open problems? Posting it as a comment because it is more of a request for clarification than a suggestion. Also, just in case, consider merging accounts if that's what's happened.
    – Lodinn
    Feb 4, 2022 at 15:22
  • Thanks for the comment! I'm not sure what you meant by "Your description of the MSc sounds way broad. I also agree with the supervisor's assessment." What evaluation? My academic background has always intrigued me, yet I never had contact with the DLT/Blockchain area proposed by my supervisor. I feel regretful that I did not choose an area that met my interests. And I feel that although it is my advisor's area, he doesn't guide me.
    – user153022
    Feb 4, 2022 at 21:18
  • What I meant was that "computer science engineering" is as broad as it gets: maybe I am just not knowledgeable enough, but I do not see how blockchain/DLT would not fit in or at least overlap with it. Ergo, "this area has not stimulated my interest very much" and "I did not choose an area that met my interests" were a bit confusing. Could you please give a somewhat specific example of what does interest you on a level where DLT/blockchain would not fit in? I will address what I stated about the advisor's assessment and guidance momentarily, largely going by your last phrase in this comment.
    – Lodinn
    Feb 4, 2022 at 23:38

2 Answers 2


Given what you have said about that overwhelming feeling of the lack of guidance, I am very tempted to categorize it as a rather common problem of a poor fit in terms of personality.

You see, advisors exist on a certain spectrum of how much independence they want or expect from a student. This is a subject to a whole lot of influences ranging from the lab needs at a specific moment in time to personality quirks. Few researchers are good managers. A good manager would be able to be very flexible about their approach and treating the student the way that is the most efficient for that student. For some advisors it does comes naturally, for others it is a lot of effort. The latter is more common by far.

Students are also very different: some need at least an initial spark to get going, others prefer something more free-form. Some are more productive with fixed office hours and have a hard time working from home, others detest having more external control over them than absolutely necessary to get the job done. The list goes on.

This variety in approaches can (and often does) culminate in complaints from both sides. Either the student is unhappy with being micromanaged or the advisor does not get how (perceived) micromanaging could make someone happy and fulfilled. Yours seems to be the latter case - you want more input and the advisor might be thinking that approach is a dead end.

The above is reading way too much into your situation and probably being overly dramatic, but I reckon this is the gist of it - the advisor wants you to be more independent than you are ready to be. That is not necessarily a bad thing, some professional growth opportunities are lurking nearby, but you do seem to have communication issues.

You do need solid footing to begin with, and your advisor suggests finding something that excites you. I wholeheartedly agree. Given that you struggle with soul-searching and navigating this new field, find something that does work for you and express that in communication. Even with all the experience and wisdom in the world, a closed stance of "I do not like this and that too much" is not a lot to act or advise upon. Exploring something you liked in another field, possibly finding connections or describing what was so great about these things would be a great start. You have to confide in your advisor a little more about your desired academic path... Or find a new one, it would seem. Alternatively, it is possible to finish your MSc a bit miserably and move on to something else, but as long as there are other options, explore them first.

TL;DR: Find something actionable for your advisor - at very least a detailed example of an input that would work for you and a description of what exactly is lacking from their existing guidance. You are increasingly pressed for time - it is prudent to make more open moves. If you are in the midst of a slow boiling conflict, it is better to bring it up now and buy yourself some time to navigate it than to slowly suffocate and still have that conflict shortly before the thesis deadline.


Actually, one can move away from the 'area' to the methodology to analyze the data from said area.

If you are interested in robust statistical methods, say relating to fitting a line from available data based on a proposed model and explaining results, or robust correlation coefficients some of which have interesting interpretations which may place a new perspective on the literature.

There is also a curious statistical method related to ratings (as in the performance of judges deciding which is the best wine) or in rating expected performance.

Also, discriminate analysis where you develop/fit a rule equation to assign elements to the correct group (predicting who will perform/win...and the contrary).

More advanced studies include probability failure laws (time to an event) or hazard analysis are possibilities.

So, my advice first generally acquaint yourself with the noted tools I listed as a basis for analysis and review the literature in the proposed area and apply the tool.

It is not too likely that your professor is acquainted with the analysis and will find the results and associated discussion at least novel and interesting.

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