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Fishing for sympathy

Hey Heifer: I'm sure you're feeling a bit better now, but I still wanted to add my experience. I got my second article rejection a couple of months ago and did the same thing and closed it without reading it properly. Last week I got an email from the journal's new editor, saying they'd like me to rewrite and resubmit it. I'd either read it wrong, or they'd changed their minds, but I'm not saying no to another publication!

Now I've got two articles on the go (one provisionally accepted on the basis of an abstract, and this one in resubmission): Huzzah! I definitely think the abstract route is much nicer, because it stops us wasting time on stuff they'd never be interested in because of the methodology or topic.

Re your subervisor: I probably wouldn't tell him/her unless he/she asks, and then just act breezy and un-hurt about it.

How do you all do it? Kudos and confusion.

I've worked part-time during my PhD so there's no way I could have done 9-5.

These are my top 5 motivational tricks:
- set a target at the weekly level, not the daily level: in my second year I wrote 1000 words a week, every week, and put a star on my giant wallchart for every 1000 words.
- find somewhere to work without wifi. I work in a room where I can access the internet on a uni computer, but my laptop has no wifi. I tot up 10 things I need to look up online and then go on the internet.
- for night-time working at home I have leechblock set up.
- just sit down and work for ten minutes even if I don't want to. I know Lara uses a timer for this!
- exercise. Seriously: makes me feel really efficient and more awake all day.

I don't ever feel bad about other people having done more work than me: I'm handing in next month and I'm so happy I haven't had to delete and edit loads of words out, which is what people who wrote much more have to do.

Call for Papers Terminology : Panel Proposal

A panel proposal is a group proposal for a panel (usually three) of papers that are linked by a similar topic. If you send in an individual proposal (this is the normal option) you'll get assigned a panel which will contain other linked papers, and a chair who sould be reasonably familiar with your field.

Calling Languages Postgrads!

At my uni the language tutors get paid the same as me: just under £22 an hour. This pees me off no end because they only have right/wrong marking to do, they teach out of a textbook (so don't have to do any preparation) and don't have to pay for the books they use (I teach English lit: we have a lot of books). If I spend more than three hours in preparation (including the time it takes to re-read primary texts and critical material) then I'm already below minimum hourly wage.

I get paid £8 an hour at my main part-time job in a call centre. It's pretty outrageous how little I get paid for teaching.

I would complain, but I think if they paid us more then there would be fewer hours of teaching, and I want it to go on my cv. Instead, I'm organising an online resource for people to pool their teaching materials and lesson plans so people teaching in the future can do less work than I've had to.

Is everybody working particularly hard at the moment?

Submitting at xmas.  Agreed to write an article by xmas that's not even started.  Too much teaching.  Currently bricking it.

Really interested in the concept of almond butter, though, Olivia!

writing up and its strange effects

I'm not hungry at all :-( I keep having to set my alarm clock to remind myself to cook tea. I also keep dreaming about my thesis. I had a viva nightmare the other day: it was horrendous!

Is it unrealistic for someone of a working class background to become a lecturer ?

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You might find this page useful: it lets you see the stats for specific areas of AHRC funding. In English this is about 30% success (but this is skewed a bit by a higher success rate for language funding) for doctoral awards.


Applying for internal funding from your university is also really important. In my experience I've found that people who've stayed in the same institution for undergrad/MA/PhD seem more likely to get funding. You might want to consider if this is the case at the institutions you apply to, and your current institution.

There's really not that much more funding out there for English research than that.

I'm self funding by working part time while I study full time: it's really really hard, expensive, and stops me doing a lot of things that would really help my career development. I really feel like I'm going to be disadvantaged in my job hunt as a result. It's do-able but I'd consider a few things: can you move back in with your parents? Can you choose an institution where you can live extremely cheaply? Do you have a lot of personal debt (except your student loan) already? Do you have any savings you can use to pay fees?

I do think the state of AHRC funding is a bit unfair (for instance, I'm living on about 7 grand a year, AHRC grants are £12,000: what are people doing with all that money?!). If I could change one thing, I'd like to be able to get access to another student loan to pay my fees; PGCE students can for living costs, so I don't think it's too outrageous an idea.

'The Zone' and how to get into it...

I have a firefox add-on called leech block that has increased my productivity hugely: I can use the net for research, but I've blocked pretty much everything else between 9 and 7. Classical music helps me sometimes (for a long time I listened to the same Elgar cd whenever I was doing hardcore working!) and wearing headphones is one more thing that keeps me on the computer rather than wandering about the house and cleaning. Getting enough sleep, water and exercise are key for me: if I'm tired or dehydrated my concentration is crap, and if I haven't been to the gym in the morning I get all restless and twitchy by about 2pm! I also have treats for about two hours into my work day (usually some nice fruit, but I also have special tea bags for this purpose!) because that's when my motivation drops off.

Even now, writing up and being way more productive than I have been before, I think I'm only properly in the zone about every other day: on my off days I end up just doing a couple of hours on my thesis and then checking my references, filing or doing a bit of teaching prep for the rest of the day. I'm not sure the zone is sustainable long-term for me - I'm an inveterate dabbler!

What is your teaching style and how does this affect students' learning?

That's really useful, thanks! I'm an ISTJ on Myers-Briggs (it's insanely accurate for me), so I'm all about backing up your position with facts, and I hate group work with a fiery passion. I try really hard not to let this dominate my teaching, since I teach English and many of my students are either extroverts or (more difficult for me to get my head round) feelings-led.

Phd study zen music

Aren't trout and salmon both salmonids? I'm addicted to smoked mackeral at the moment (it ticks all my fish boxes, given that it is cheap, sustainable, high in omega threes, and doesn't need cooking: bonus!).

Finding funds for transport cost in London

Is this a journey you're doing regularly as a commute for your Phd, or is it a one-off trip to use archive materials or go to a conference? If the latter, then you might be able to get a travel grant from your department. If the former, then you might just need to get another job! Make sure you've got a young person's/student railcard, or the buses are fairly cheap.

How does your department treat you?

We don't have desks, we have a computer room with four machines for the taught and research postgrads. It has a free printer, but you have to supply your own paper. We don't get free photocopying unless it's for teaching purposes. I'd say we're generally treated as equals with the staff, though: we go to social and work-related events together. I'm pretty happy with it, although I would like a common room for reading groups and general social activity.

How to go on?

Good thoughts to you Alex. If you aren't interested in your research any more, and the low pay isn't being balanced with job satisfaction then, yes, leave! Try the idea on in your head, talk about it with your friends (maybe your ex-gf if you're still on good terms), go and see the counselling service and careers advice at your uni to explore all your options, see if you can at least get an MPhil at this point. Mostly, make sure it's not just short-term emotional turmoil or something treatable, like depression, that's making you feel this way, and that it's not a decision you'll regret later. There's no shame in making a good decision to quit while you're ahead, as long as you've thought it through.

If the main issue is the money, and you can see yourself coming to be interested in your research again, can you try and get some extra teaching or demonstrating for some more cash?

My favourite quit-the-PhD story is Jimmy Doherty, who completed a PhD in entomology but quit academia to become a pig farmer of Jimmy's Farm fame! I have dreams of it myself on bad days (that, or becoming a professional knitter).

Supervisor/Student Responsibilities

There have been a couple of posts on here recently about supervisors and whether they're doing what they should be doing! I just got this in my inbox from the Graduate School at my university, and found it interesting. I'm sure you'll be able to request something similar from your own institutions, but this is a pretty comprehensive document, and I thought it might be helpful to both prospective and current researchers. I hope you're able to access this (warning: it's a pdf)!


Another Viva

Good luck with it! I'm sure it'll be better the second time around. Are there any stats on how common this is (just because I enjoy fuelling my 3am cold-sweat doom fantasies).