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Mark_B
Friday, 30 August 2013 at 12:52am
Wednesday, 7 August 2019 at 12:55pm
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page 1 of 10 recent posts

Thread: Book recommendation - PhD: An uncommon guide to research, writing, and PhD life - worth it or not?

posted
07-Aug-19, 12:56
edited about 19 seconds later
by Mark_B
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posted about 1 month ago
We do review books on PhD study over on the FindAPhD blog, but I'm afraid Hayton's isn't among them. . . yet. If anyone would like to review it (or review a similar work) do let me know.

Mark
FindAPhD Editor Person

Thread: Passed with minors!

posted
09-Jul-19, 14:32
by Mark_B
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posted about 2 months ago
Congrats! And cheers for all your responses and supportive messages to others here on the forum :)

Thread: PhD Study Survey

posted
21-Jun-19, 13:21
edited about 27 seconds later
by Mark_B
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posted about 3 months ago
Hi folks,

For those of you who don't know me, I'm Mark and I'm the Grand High Admiral Baron Lord Captain of Content* over at FindAPhD (and co). Basically, I look after the advice and info resources you may have come across there. I also pop on here from time to time and help out with questions where I can (my own PhD was in C18 Travel Literature - ask me about William Gilpin and 1770s walking tours).

Anyway, right now, I need your help - if you don't mind.

We're launching a new survey about PhD study (a PhD Study Survey, if you will) to try and gather some information about what students think about and expect from PhD study. Without getting ahead of ourselves, I think this has the potential to be pretty important: exposing some of the areas students need more information about and perhaps debunking a few myths.

I'd love it if those of you who are *thinking about a PhD but haven't started one* could take part. It shouldn't take too long and there's a chance to win a £25 Amazon voucher as a thank you. Plus, you'd make me smile.


Anyway. . . about William Gilpin. . .
*May not be actual job title.

Thread: Chances of getting a PhD place? - English Literature

posted
10-Jun-19, 12:25
edited about 2 seconds later
by Mark_B
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posted about 3 months ago
Hi,

My PhD was in Lit. If you were applying for funding (AHRC and so on) then the reality is that a merit might be something of an Achilles heel (the margins being so fine). I wouldn't have thought it would prevent you being admitted as a self-funded student though. A high merit is a perfectly good grade that shows you can handle advanced postgraduate work.

The potential of your topic and its suitability for the institution / dept you're applying to will be far more crucial. Which is to say that your research proposal is the thing. The MLitt should only matter in so far as it relates to that topic. A good dissertation mark will also help - especially if it relates to your proposed PhD.

My advice would be to focus on getting as much out of your MLitt as possible (especially the diss / thesis) and to work hard on your research proposal. There's also nothing wrong with getting in touch with prospective supervisors nearer the time and asking for their take. I imagine most would be far more interested in your proposal, enthusiasm and knowledge of the field than they will in which of two very good grade bands your MLitt fell in.

Stay positive!

Mark

Thread: Looking for others who are working/parenting while studying

posted
28-May-19, 16:18
edited about 18 seconds later
by Mark_B
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posted about 4 months ago
Hi minklou,

My PhD is done and dusty, but I did write-up whilst working a full-time job and trying to explain doctoral degrees to a three-year old (he told me his own PhD would be on a kids TV show and then claimed to have finished it in an afternoon). It was tough, but manageable with consistent ring-fencing of a couple of evenings / weekend morning.

Thread: Postgraduate Forum 'refresh'

posted
14-May-19, 11:38
edited about 29 seconds later
by Mark_B
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posted about 4 months ago
I think that's definitely something we'll look at - thanks for the suggestion!

Thread: Upcoming viva - any tips?

posted
24-Apr-19, 10:30
edited about 27 seconds later
by Mark_B
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posted about 5 months ago
I'd echo most of the advice above. The one thing I'd add, based on my own experience is kind of obvious, but perhaps easily misunderstood: be prepared to defend your thesis and don't panic when you have to.

Despite knowing more than most about the PhD process (it goes with the FindAPhD Content Ed' role) I still slipped into the trap of thinking I had to carry my thesis through the viva unscathed and that a successful examination was about confirming the perfection of my research and ideas. It isn't. It's about making sure you can explain and justify the decisions you made and the approaches you took, even if the external disagrees.

I faced a pretty tough question early on: 'your thesis is about x, yet I'm surprised not to see y anywhere in your bibliography'. For a few seconds that felt as if I'd started a driving test by pulling out of the car-park, speeding and failing to indicate. In fact all I needed to do was say 'yes, but my objective with this project was to move away from y and examine x in the context of z'. Which was exactly what the examiners wanted to hear. I don't think they actually agreed with me that x can be discussed without y, but they recognised that I'd made a plausible decision and was able to justify and explain it to them.

Basically, don't panic when you get the tough questions. Dig in and defend your thesis. You'll probably do a lot better than you think you are. I got minor grammatical corrections in the end (ironic, given my day-job).

Good luck!

Thread: Postgraduate loan scheme - good or bad??

posted
27-Feb-19, 13:17
edited about 28 seconds later
by Mark_B
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posted about 7 months ago
Hi Jane,

I'm a bit of a Postgraduate Loan 'geek' (someone has to be) having been responsible for the resources over at FindAMasters and FindAPhD since George Osborne (remember him?) first announced the loans back in 2014.

You're right that the Govt can change the threshold and rate. I'd personally say that they're unlikely to make the terms worse. The most recent big change to student finance was a threshold rise for undergraduate loans (from £21k to £25k pa). It's more likely that the same would happen for PG (though not currently on the cards) than that they'd lower the threshold. Never say never, of course, but perhaps that can offer some limited reassurance.

Mark

Thread: Postgraduate Forum 'refresh'

posted
27-Feb-19, 13:13
edited about 1 second later
by Mark_B
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posted about 7 months ago
Thanks Rewt - we'll definitely pass these on. And yes, the blog section and 'hall of fame' are likely to be refreshed as part of this.

Thread: Postgraduate Forum 'refresh'

posted
22-Feb-19, 10:29
edited about 29 seconds later
by Mark_B
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posted about 7 months ago
Thanks Ian - we're certainly hoping to make posts look a little nicer / feel a little more flexible.

Other suggestions welcome!

Thread: publishing in academic press

posted
09-Jan-19, 17:47
edited about 22 seconds later
by Mark_B
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posted about 8 months ago
I also published a couple of times during a Humanities PhD, but I think it's fair to say that there's less expectation for students to do so - which is perhaps what rewt is really getting at? All peer-reviewed publications should, of course, be worthwhile contributions to their field - by definition ;)

Thread: Reassure me- I’m about to quit!

posted
07-Jan-19, 14:08
by Mark_B
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posted about 8 months ago
Hi,

First up, people have definitely quit and gone on to lead full and happy lives. I know a few. You're also at a very early stage so getting out now won't leave you with a large amount of wasted work, or an odd looking gap in your CV. Some reassurance there, I hope.

Reading between the lines, it sounds like you're not enjoying the actual work and don't feel an academic career (or other career 'with the PhD') is for you. There's no shame in that, but do sit down and discuss with your supervisor. PhDs evolve quite a bit and your experience three months in won't necessarily be a good indicator for the remainder (the first three months of my PhD were probably the dullest and most 'grindy', for what that's worth).

I'd also suggest chatting to some other students in your field. How did they feel after three months? Did they ever feel like you do now?

Best of luck with the decision.

Mark

Thread: Turning a chapter into the whole thesis (whilst half-way through PhD?)

posted
22-Nov-18, 12:07
edited about 20 seconds later
by Mark_B
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posted about 10 months ago
Thanks pm133,

Really though, it's the scope of the argument and projected outline of the project that's being identified as (potentially) sufficient here, not the total amount of material researched. In my case there was plenty of further research required before the thesis itself was ready.

3-4 years is typical for a full-time UK PhD. I'm aware of one person who managed it in 2, but they were fairly exceptional.

Thread: Turning a chapter into the whole thesis (whilst half-way through PhD?)

posted
20-Nov-18, 12:16
edited about 23 seconds later
by Mark_B
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posted about 10 months ago
Hi Camparisoda,

This very much happened to me, actually - and I don't think it's all that uncommon.

In my case it became apparent that there was simply far too much to cover in my first chapter and that the argument I was constructing there was sufficiently detailed and significant for a PhD. This was about two years into a part-time PhD, so a little earlier than the point you're at.

However, if you've got sufficient material and feel confident that you can write it up as a thesis, I don't see that you'd necessarily have a problem making this switch. I'd definitely discuss with your supervisor though; they should be able to say whether the new plan for your thesis works as a PhD and advise on how much (if any) additional research is now required to expand the chapter material.

I'm sure others here will also share their own advice and experiences.

Mark

Thread: Doctoral student loan success

posted
07-Nov-18, 12:47
by Mark_B
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posted about 10 months ago
Thanks for sharing your story here William. It's great to see that the application and approval process is working well.

We've covered the PhD loans in detail over at FindAPhD, producing what we hope is one of the most comprehensive FAQs around.

https://www.findaphd.com/funding/guides/uk-phd-loans-scheme.aspx



Student stories and experiences are also something we're always keen to share on our blog. I'd be up for chatting if you're at all interested in that - you can reach me at editor[at]findaphd.com

Cheers - and enjoy the PhD!

Mark
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