Reflections on finishing

posted
01-Oct-11, 16:44
by phdbug 5 star member
Avatar for phdbug
posted about 6 years ago
Hi all - Having just finished my minor revisions, I thought I'd share some reflections/tips on what I have learnt through the process - shaped as Dos and Donts :-) They are in no order except for as they come into Bug's brain.

1. Keep your friends close, but share your burdens amongst a few not one or two i.e. ensure that you have a support net at all times but do not burden any one node in the net too much. My "net" was spread across the country I am from (an old teacher or two, a school friend or two, on Skype), this country (some PhD friends), an aunt or two - at the end - not all of this net survived the process, but overall, the net supported me. These are different from 'hang out buddies' - they are real nodes of strength.

2. Bad moments pass. Avoid sending emails, or having conversations - with anyone - when the day looks blue.

3. Produce a first draft as soon as you can - be it rough, be it dirty. The sheer confidence that a finished draft (albeit replete with errors) gives you is unparalleled. This is my THE most important tip.

4. Conferences. Put yourself out there. It is hard. But do it. And as my supervisor said - no confernce paper needs to be a finished thing - but with every conference ensure that your thinking has gone ahead - by one extra argument, or one extra rethought point. this worked WONDERS for me.

5. Keep all of this writing. It will contribute towards your rough and dirty first draft.

6. When "life" happens during the PhD - bad moments I am speaking of - deaths, separations, broken relationships, suddenly changed friendships - have faith. Things get better.

7. If you are blessed with a great supervisor - engage, engage, engage. They will listen as you muddle through. If you have a bad supervisor - invest in external support - a colleague, teaching and learning centres, a peer you can trust.

8. Peer review - give feedback to others. Offer to read their stuff. You will learn SO much. Even if it is not in your area. Take feedback. Ask for criticism.

9. Contribute to departmental life if you can - committees, meetings, pub outings. it gives you a boost somewhere.

10. Write, write and write again. Whether 500 words a day or 10,000 words in a week in a sudden burst of energy - all towards that Rough and dirty first draft.

11. Focus on the finished product from the beginning - I accumulated almost no notes, photocopies or books - all I wanted was 80,000 finished words and would just stack up anything I wrote.

12. Back up. Free online drives - Dropbox, Idrive, Log Me In back up regularly.

13. Things will be emotional and turbulent sometimes. Sometimes, you will be misunderstood. At other times, people will change - but the PhD monster will not stop and wait. Be kind to yourself at moments such as these. They too, will pass.
posted
01-Oct-11, 17:06
by huhu 1 star member
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posted about 6 years ago
Thanks Phdbug!(up):-)
posted
01-Oct-11, 17:32
by skig 3 star member
Avatar for skig
posted about 6 years ago
Thank you for sharing your tips and congrats on finishing your revisions! Very well done(up)
posted
01-Oct-11, 17:33
by sneaks 5 star member
Avatar for sneaks
posted about 6 years ago
aww this reminds me of that sunscreen song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQlJ3vOp6nI&feature=related
posted
01-Oct-11, 18:10
edited about 24 seconds later
by phdbug 5 star member
Avatar for phdbug
posted about 6 years ago
Quote From sneaks:

aww this reminds me of that sunscreen song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQlJ3vOp6nI&feature=related



:-) :$:p:-x
posted
01-Oct-11, 18:23
by lughna 3 star member
Avatar for lughna
posted about 6 years ago
======= Date Modified 01 Oct 2011 20:43:34 =======
A big congratulations on finishing! :-)

Thanks for your wise words. I am going to try internalize them, for whenever the going gets tough.

I am amazed that you accumulated ''almost no notes, photocopies or books''. Do you mean that you just kept all your relevant material on your computer?
posted
01-Oct-11, 19:49
edited about 29 seconds later
by phdbug 5 star member
Avatar for phdbug
posted about 6 years ago
Yup - I was earning and paying corrosive central London rents for a tiny slice of a room which had a narrow bed and a desk so I didn't have other options! My office space was a desk as well so, I wrote my entire thesis on uni H drives for which I am ever thankful!
posted
01-Oct-11, 22:35
edited about 3 seconds later
by Eska 4 star member
Avatar for Eska
posted about 6 years ago
======= Date Modified 01 Oct 2011 22:36:27 =======
Thank you so much for this Bug. It's really good to hear from the other side...

I find your last point the most useful! 'Sometimes you will be misunderstood. At other times people will change - but the PhD monster will not stop and wait.' And nor would I want it to... I think I will be bereft when it's all over.
posted
01-Oct-11, 22:59
by phdbug 5 star member
Avatar for phdbug
posted about 6 years ago
I think I will be bereft when it's all over.


Yes - be prepared, this is (seriously) a possibility and happens with many esp if other endings/things coincides with the PHD ending.
posted
02-Oct-11, 11:41
by Eska 4 star member
Avatar for Eska
posted about 6 years ago
How do people cope Bug, do further research projects help? X
posted
02-Oct-11, 17:00
Avatar for cindrella
posted about 6 years ago
Hi Dr. Phdbug,

Congratulations on your massive achievement!!! Thanks for the heads up :-) It is much appreciated! I can totally relate to myself to your points as I have been experiencing everything you have mentioned.

Cheers!
posted
02-Oct-11, 20:07
edited about 8 seconds later
by phdbug 5 star member
Avatar for phdbug
posted about 6 years ago
Quote From eska:

How do people cope Bug, do further research projects help? X



I am PM ing you...ok?
posted
02-Oct-11, 21:06
Avatar for mak_2011
posted about 6 years ago
Dr PhdBug

Heartiest congratulations!!!! And definitely very nice tips!!!(up)

Cheers
posted
02-Oct-11, 21:45
edited about 22 seconds later
by phdbug 5 star member
Avatar for phdbug
posted about 6 years ago
Thanks Mak and Cinderella!
posted
03-Oct-11, 10:40
edited about 18 seconds later
Avatar for Mackem_Beefy
posted about 6 years ago
======= Date Modified 03 Oct 2011 10:47:29 =======
Congratulations on completing the corrections and thanks for sharing your thoughts with everyone else.  The battle plan you detail is that I roughly followed myself in retrospect.

Point one is spot on, simply because people get sick of hearing you on about the seemingly 'one thing' in your life.  People did move on and when I asked one friend about his decision to move away, a little bit of the reason was I was seemingly 'not there' anymore.  He wanted a new life and new friends because for varying reasons, I and another mate weren't there for him.  He perceived we were not there when we needed him.

As regards write, write and write again to produce that first draft, this is the one point where I'll slightly differ from you.  Different approaches suit different people and I initially followed your plan in this respect.  However, I found it suited me better to have a set of milestones with each milestone being a section of the thesis first in draft then in final form. 

This was partially to do with my supervisors wanting the thesis delivered to them in bite sized chunks and partially me wanting to deal with and as far as possible finalise each section before moving to the next (Abstract, Introduction, Literature Review - effectively spilt in two - basic background theory and directly relevant literature, Introduction to Current Work, Methodology, Results, Discussion - the hardest bit for me and spilt into five bite size chunks, Summary / Conclusions, Further Work).  If I did have to redo any previous work, then changes were minimal and I could concentrate on one thing at a time rather than dot between different sections or go back over old ground (bar read through at the end for typos or minor errors).

I guess in this respect, it's horses for courses and what suits the individual and their circumstances.

As regards peer review (official - journal - and unofficial - reviewing other people's work) and contribution to departmental life (i.e. helping out others), that I ended up doing in a big way. 

Shortly after I submitted hard bound copies, a Thai lad was told he had three days to sort out his thesis and submit, or be failed.  This normally only happened when the supervisors got to the end of their tether with someone.

I said I'd look through and wished I hadn't (well not literally as he was a canny lad - at least so I thought).  The discussion part of the thesis appeared to be nothing more than a collection of random words rather than a coherent passage.  I roped my mum in and using her grammar skills, the two of us in the next two reworked his discussion into what we considered a workable passage.  We gave it back to him and he accused me of 'changing the meaning' of his document.  I replied "What meaning, it was incomprehensible before we looked at it?"  He still submitted it though.

The outcome?  Our work on his discussion got him through with minor corrections.  In the years since?  He's the one with a successful career working in his field for the Thai Government.  I've returned to the real world and am basically back where I was pre-PhD (long story I've discussed elsewhere on here).

I was never thanked for my and my mums efforts.  I don't mind helping and doing my bit but I think sometimes things can end up very one sided when one takes and does not give back. Contribution is a two way process and those that just 'take' can soon find themselves frozen out.






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