Signup date: 21 Aug 2010 at 4:46pm
Last login: 23 Apr 2012 at 8:37am
Post count: 188
Has anyone been in the situation where their two advisers seem to strongly dislike each other? Especially if they both have conflicting research interests, world-views and general attitudes to life? I have a very similar philosophy to my main supervisor and so far we have worked well together. But in some ways I'm more like my second sup. I really, really like them both and I like both of their research and I like them both as people. They are always making little digs at each other and making snidy comments when the other isn't around. It puts me in a difficult position of not knowing whether to laugh, join in, look stern, disapprove... I can be a bit sensitive and I worry about being caught in the crossfire. Has anyone been in this situation?
Also, I do really like my main sup. He's close(ish) to my age and we have a lot in common. When he's around, I see him more as someone I can have a laugh with and sometimes wonder a bit if I'm crossing boundaries. I told him I'm lucky that he's my supervisor which I think might have been a little bit weird. I don't want him to think I'm too open about myself but I'm not good at sticking to complex rules either. I've always worked jobs where my bosses were either friends, or acted like prison guards. I think I prefer informal relationships, but is there a line that's too informal? Has your relationship changed over time?
Sorry for asking random questions lately, but has anyone got experience of finding a tutor in a subject you're lacking in as part of your PhD? Right now I feel like I really need some basic physics / maths support (I'm a biologist by training). Thing is I am too broke to pay anyone and tutors are expensive. I don't think I can teach myself what I need to. I mainly need help with basic calculus and physical systems.
If anyone has needed a tutor for their PhDs, how did you go about getting one? Where did you look? I am at a complete loss as to where to even start...
Dunni, is the equation editor an add-on? If so, is it free? I've had a quick look but I can't find anything. The trouble is writing quite complex integrations -- I haven't been able to get the formatting right. Plus it takes so long inserting everything symbol by symbol. It's basically environmental physics so it is quite maths heavy. I wanted to use LaTeX but I need to write in Word to pass drafts to my supervisors. Trouble is I only have Open Office at home and Word 2007 at Uni. Every time I switch from Word to Open Office and vice versa all my equations are misaligned. There must be a better way of doing this, it's driving me crazy.
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What mindmap software do you use? I use a free one and it doesn't allow me to do half of those things...
With the word count thing, I also have that trouble -- I know I can write very fast. Unfortunately I've just figured out that academic writing is very different, and whilst I can write 1000 words in 15 minutes, I am lucky if I can write a ten word sentence in ten minutes on my lit review when I keep having to go back and check exactly what it was the authors of one paper were really saying.
I really wish I could just see a sudden marked improvement that will get me on my way, but I don't feel like that is happening at all. I only have a little over 2 weeks now.
PS Bilbo -- I don't have a voice recorder but I did write around 2000 words stream of consciousness about what I thought I wanted my lit review to say, and gave it to my supervisor. I'd been able to use the paragraphs from my SoC to come up with headings and subsections that I'm not trying to "colour in" with the notes from the journals I've read. It's a horrid, hideous jigsaw of a proto-lit review, but it's helped me get over that first inertia.
Speaking of colour, my paragraphs are colour-coded in Word. For some reason this "proves" to me that it's a work in progress and is allowed to be messy, as well as having an easily recognisable colour scheme (blue for paragraphs from abstract notes, red for things I've written myself, black for headings, violet for the stream of consciousness parts, green for concepts that I need to come back to...).
It's stupid and childish, not remotely academic, but... it works. Kinda.
Thanks everyone for your advice. I like the three circles idea too. I also have mind-maps, but every time I change the structure I change the mind map so I have five or six different versions. What I do have is the notes I've made from a bunch of different abstracts which I have started just turning into random paragraphs and putting into my lit review document under vaguely appropriate headings. The idea is not to "write" the lit review but get things down that I can edit later. I keep hearing two phrases: "Write early, write often," and "don't get it right, get it written."
Copying-and-pasting my notes has got me up to around 3200 words. It's a false security because I have to go back and add things later, and edit all these random words into something coherent, but it is giving me the chance to write odd paragraphs of real work in between them. The trouble is, I can set myself "small" goals of write 50 words, read the methods section of one paper, and it still might take me several hours to do it. Every day, that concrete deadline for internal review gets closer and closer and I don't seem to be getting anywhere at all.
I keep bursting into tears too, and sleeping much more than usual. I think the feeling of depression is stemming from something else -- the thought that, for some reason, I would find a PhD "easy" because I felt like I've done a lot with my life (and overcome a lot of tough things). The writing side I assumed I would find especially straightforward. I felt like I made far too many promises, and finding out that a) I'm really not the perfect student that I assumed I would be and b) that my past experiences really don't count for much at all, and I still have to start at square one, just like everybody, has hit me hard. But, even if I acknowledge that, it doesn't change the fact that I still have a 10,000 word literature review due in a couple of weeks, and a completely disorganised set of notes and probably at least another 150 important papers which I haven't even read the abstracts for...
I have been trying to write the 1st draft of my Lit Review (10K, due in <3 weeks) but every time I sit down to write I have been frozen by anxiety and depression. This is leading to huge amounts of procrastination because I keep using distraction techniques to "get away" from the anxiety of trying to write. I have written less than 500 words in 2 weeks. Last week it took me a whole day to write 45 words. My supervisor is very disappointed in my lack of progress, but supportive, but also needs me to get the work done.
Does anyone have any "spot" advice about what to do when I actually sit down at my desk? What to do when I feel the urge to break away from my computer? I've broken things down into much smaller tasks: "write one sentence," "read one abstract," so I can't break it down further. I just can't seem to even do those things. The thought of writing, of summarizing someone else's work, of trying to express something I don't understand... actually hurts. The anxiety is a moment-by-moment thing leading to a more general feeling of depression and despair of the things I'm not getting done and the work I should be doing when I get home.
I might have to go to the doctor but in the meantime I need to know how to actually sit down and get something done.
I am two months in. By three months I am expected to have got to grips with departmental requirements, written a 2000 word internal document about my research plan and training needs, learned the building blocks of my data analysis work and written the first draft of my 10K literature review. I was doing very well, but about a week ago I started to panic and have written all of 500 words out of 10,000 (I'm supposed to be giving it to my supervisor tomorrow).
If anyone has access to JSTOR or "Arctic and Alpine Research" (my access is only since 2003), could you send me this paper? It is rather obscure. Thanks...
Ovhed, M. & Holmgren, B. (1995) 'Spectral Quality and Absorption of Solar Radiation in a Mountain Birch Forest, Abisko, Sweden', Arctic and Alpine Research, 27 (4), pp. 380-388.
When I can't understand what I'm reading, I stop (but don't leave the room or make a cup of tea) and I focus on the paragraph. I ask myself, "Why are the authors saying this?" Sometimes merely just understanding WHY there is some complicated equation or theory in a straightforward-sounding paper actually helps me to gain a much deeper insight into what is happening in my field and why. When I first started reading, nothing made any sense. I didn't understand why certain things were important. When I started asking myself "Why" these strange concepts were being included, suddenly the papers made a lot more sense, even if I still couldn't understand the detail. Also, something else I have found very useful is just summarizing abstracts. Reading a whole paper can take a lot of energy, but sometimes summarizing an abstract in a few sentences can help you focus your reading. Keeping a record of abstracts (I use mind maps) can make it easier to go back and say, "Okay, I only need to read the conclusions of this paper, and I only need to read the methods of that paper," rather than spending three hours staring blankly at the first few lines of the introduction to a paper you can't really follow.
I hear you about the isolation, too. This can be one of the worst parts for me. Finding other postgrads to go for a coffee or to the pub with can really help. Of course, it isn't always easy to find the time, or to find others...
I also make sure I find SOME time for non-academic interests. I'm a writer but I'm also an artist and like to draw in the evenings. I'd take a class in one of those things if I had the money or time. I'll make sure I have time with my husband to go watch a movie, go shopping, or walk in the countryside (the woods by my house are lovely at this time of year). Anything to help me get grounded and not make me feel like I'm completely cut off from the rest of the world. Still, again, sometimes it's easier said than done in practise.
I find that writing here really helps me, too.
Noooo -- I am doing anything to avoid NaNo this year!! But I hadn't thought about challenging myself to daily word counts in the same way. I could even resort to the awesome "Write or Die" which has got me through the last three Wrimos.
It's just that, with my Lit Review, I don't know what I'm trying to say and the clock is ticking. I don't think I know 10,000 words on my subject -- I am referencing dozens, perhaps hundreds of papers that I haven't had time to really read. Skim read the abstracts, maybe, but I haven't gone into the depth that I need and now I feel guilty about wasting so much time.
I realise how unfamiliar academic writing is -- what grammatical structure am I meant to use? So often I stop and wonder if Author, et al (1999) says this or said this. Does he show or did he show? I also just noticed that my question doesn't actually include the keyword of my topic. If I took the question literally, it wouldn't even be about my topic at all.
And... and... I'm procrastinating. Even when I'm not procrastinating, my progress just seems so incredibly slow.
I know I will produce something, but will it be good? I made the mistake of telling everyone what a fantastic writer I am, and how many papers I've read, but right now it feels like I can't remember who said what or exactly what they said, and the time it takes to go find out is exponentially longer than the time I have to finish writing.
I know I shouldn't whinge, but... Gah.
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