I have 2 supervisors, the first one is highly regarded and head of the department but not so knowledgeable in my specific area or my methodology but still very much aware of them. The second is more aware of my area and an expert in my methods. It has been a long slog and I have had the usual contradictions throughout but early last year my funding ran out and so I had to start working 3 days a week to fund myself meaning I have 2 days during the week and whatever time I can snatch when DH is not working and is able to look after DD who is now 3.
I was due to submit an analysis chapter today, its not done and I am so disillusioned with the whole PhD that I need to say something. I have drafted the email below - do you think it would be okay to send this today?
"I'm afraid I don't yet have a completed analysis chapter to send you, I will try and get this to you by the end of the week. I don't have any excuses as to why it's not complete, I just haven't managed to do it yet.
I have to be brutally honest with you both too. The last few meetings I have had with both of you together have left me feeling demotivated and lacking in confidence in my abilities. I know that I can do this (despite my complicated life at the moment) but when I walk away from the meetings I seriously doubt myself. I also appreciate what you say about not being able to give continuous feedback and that is absolutely fine, what I would actually prefer is that I work on the chapters and as long as you are happy with the structure and general direction then I would rather not submit for full feedback until I have completed the chapter. I personally think feedback throughout each draft is counter-productive and it would be much more effective at the end of each chapter.
I hope I have not spoken out of turn, what I want to do is to crack on with writing this thesis in the limited time I have each week and submit as soon as is possible"
I am an ex-academic who supervised a number of PhD students and post-docs.
If it were me, I know I would appreciate the honesty from a student, but I think you need to aim for a slightly less accusatory tone. State what exactly makes you feel demotivated and lacking in confidence as whilst it may be obvious to you, it probably is not to them (academics are not known for their great social skills).
You may also find you get a better response if you can face saying this stuff face-to-face, also going with an action plan of what you plan to get done when and be brutally honest about your personal circumstances. If your university is like the one I worked at, you had to submit your PhD within 4 years of starting when full-time. They may be able to buy you extra time on this by transferring you to part-time registration.
Most supervisors will want to work constructively with you to get your thesis submitted as students who don't submit look bad on the supervisor and affect their ability to attract funding in future.
Writing up is the hardest bit of your PhD. Your supervisors will know this. Most will not go mad if you don't hit every deadline you get, but will want to see progress.
Also consider any tough questions you get from your supervisors as prep for your viva. I used to know my post grads were ready for submitting when they argued back with me.
Good luck with your thesis. Most people find it tough without other responsibilities, fwiw, I think you are doing amazingly well to have got this far.
I know that I am months out magrat but my supervisor in engineering hates me disagreeing with his statements. He tells me that I am being aggressive, and that I do not have a good outlook for success. I have decided that for the remainder of the time just to nod and accept whatever he says. I have submitted my draft 6 months before the final 4th year deadline, but dare I even breath in his office then I expect a beheading x