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Feeling like things are moving too slow in my PhD


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Hello everyone! 

This is my first time posting in GradCafe, so I figured this would be a great way to share my thoughts. 

I am a PhD student studying cancer epidemiology. I have been in my program for 3 years now, so I will be entering my 4th year next week. I came in with no masters degree, and straight out of undergraduate studies. Although I feel like I've learned a lot thus far, I sometimes worry that I am never going to graduate or get a steady job after I am done.

First, I have made the decision that I do not want to go into academia whatsoever. I would like to go either into science policy, or industry. However, I still worry because to this day I have 0 publications. I don't even have my name as 2nd, 3rd, or 4th author on any papers. I am really concerned about this and quite disappointed, because I have tried my hardest to build connections and collaborate on projects within my college. I feel like its just the pace of research and faculty members being super busy in my department that has had me in this pickle. (I have reached out to numerous professors outside of my own primary advisor, in addition to consistently asking my advisor for external opportunities). Thankfully, I have completed the manuscript for my first dissertation aim and sent it over to my primary advisor. Although he takes a really long time to review my paper(s), I feel like this is a good step towards the right direction. Nevertheless, I oftentimes feel myself discouraged because I feel like I am always working with no end product in site. I have tried endlessly to have a paper published, but either it was never reviewed no matter how many times I've asked or it has been rejected. I had another paper completed 1.5 years ago that was never even read once, after me asking over 20 times for updates and feedback and receiving nothing. 

Ever since this, I have channeled my energy into other activities and do have a lot of experience elsewhere. I have TA'd two classes, was a track representative for my department, and have just finished a 6-month science policy fellowship with the NSPN. I also got promoted to chair of the science policy group in my college so that's exciting. However, I feel like me not having any papers at this stage of my PhD is of concern and now I am really worried that I will never be able to graduate or get employed anywhere. Has anyone had similar experiences like me who have ended up getting a paper close to PHD completion? I just want some advice on how to handle my current circumstance, and to see if anyone has come out of a similar situation. Thank you so much!!! Anything helps :)

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