Signup date: 26 Mar 2008 at 5:45pm
Last login: 13 Jul 2011 at 1:27pm
Post count: 76
If you're worried about typos and mistakes in your thesis then you can go through and locate them, make a list of these corrections and give a copy to the examiners at the beginning of the viva. From what I've heard, this is usually well received and shows that you're keen to improve you thesis.
As far as length goes, it's not about word count but content. I know someone who struggled to pass with over 90,000 words, but another breezed through the process with ~50k because it was succinct, to the point and well written.
If you know your subject really well, then the viva is your chance to let this shine through and become obvious to the examiners. They may have an idea of the outcome beforehand, but if you can answer questions well and show how well you know your subject then that's the way to sway their decision!
Lots of luck
I don't know if it works the same way at all unis, but I have just started my 4th year, and although I am still registered with the university, they call it 'continuation status'. Basically, because my funding has run out, if I were to re-enrol as a full-time student I would have to pay full fees which were previously covered by the funding (which are over £3000), but as I'm nearly finished I can pay ~£200 and then still be registered with the uni on continuation, but it's not the same as being a full-time student.
In reality it seems nothing has changed, but strictly speaking I should no longer be entitled to council tax exemption. I too have got a letter from a nice admin person which states my end date as being my maximum registration date which is next year, so I certainly won't be letting the council know (I've got less money now than when I was receiving my stipend from the PhD funding, so have nothing to pay the council tax with!). Also, being unemployed does not automatically make you exempt from council tax, you need to be on benefits I think.
If your uni is different though and you are definitely still registered as a full time student (regardless of whether you are being paid) then you are still exempt from council tax. It's because the council who make the rules don't understand how a PhD works- just because you're writing up rather than still doing the research doesn't mean it's not still a full time commitment!
Hope this helps :-)
An offer of a job is fantastic, well done. If you really want a postdoc position, and haven't been able to find one, you could take the scientific writing job but keep looking for postdoc positions at the same time. As far as I'm aware, it wouldn't be a good idea to do the writing thing for too long as you might be considered to have been away from research too long and more recent PhD graduates would be prefered, but if it's only for a year it shouldn't be a problem. You might even find you really like the writing and decide not to persue a postdoc position :-)
Good luck with it all
As I understand it- the government gives money to the research councils, who then pass it on to researchers by way of grants. If the government has less money due to the recession, then the research councils will have less money. This means that some grant applications that would previously have been accepted will now be refused. If there are less research grants, then there are less post-doc positions available. The government has also reduced the amount of money universities receive, so presumably there will be fewer teaching positions available as well.
This all sounds really grim and depressing, and I'm sure it won't be that bad (I certainly hope it won't). My experiences are based on recent events in my lab. A grant application that we had been told was really strong and had good reviewer feedback was turned down a few weeks ago. Now one of our post docs has to leave as well as our technician. I know quite a few other labs around the country who have also had similar situations. That said, not everyone is having similar problems. You only need to look at some of the academic job advertisement websites and there are still loads of advertisements, so plenty of people are still getting grants to employ post-docs. It just might be a bit harder or more competitive than it used to be.
I think it will turn around eventually. Investing in research is important, and even the government knows that. I really don't think that all us PhDers will end up having to take jobs unrelated to our research just to make money. If we're commited and look hard enough I don't think all the hard work of a PhD will be in vain. But maybe it will come down to what your discipline is- science and engineering areas seem to fair better than social science subjects in levels of funding during a recession (based on the experiences during the last recession of an old prof in our dept)
Btw- I don't think it's selfish or childish to have these worries. Getting a PhD is seriously hard work and we deserve to get jobs that we enjoy/want at the end of it.
I am also in the same boat- funding about to run out as I'm about to enter my 4th year. I'm finishing off a few last experiments and starting to write up at the same time. I'm hoping to get a full first draft done by the end of the year, so I've started to have a bit of a look at various job websites to see what sorts of post-doc positions are available (not sure if this is a bit early, but I guess it can't hurt to see what's out there). I have had the same experience of everything seeming to want more skills/experience than I have, however, I've been told that I shouldn't be put off just because I don't tick all the boxes. If you don't have a skill that is listed as essential, then applying is probably a waste of time, but if you have the essentials covered just not some of the desirable skills, then it shouldn't put you off applying. All the other people who apply may also only tick the essentials boxes, not the desirable ones meaning you are in the same boat as the other applicants and not at a disadvantage.
If you're really not sure if you have enough of their requirements, then consider sending an informal email to the person advertising the job. If you give them a brief rundown of your skills and experience they can decide if they think it's worth you applying without having all the requirements they listed in the advertisment.
One of the PhD students from our lab who finished a few months ago has recently got a post doc position and she didn't have everything that was listed in the advertisement. She had the most important skills and said she was willing to learn anything else that was needed.
When I get to the stage of actually applying, rather than just browsing through the job advertisments, I don't think I will be put off if I don't have a few desirable skills- I'll pitch it to them that I'm a quick learner and as long as I have the main important skills I have as good a chance of getting the job as anyone else (hopefully! :$ )
You're right about it being different for each person and also for different disciplines, so maybe in my area what my supervisor is expecting is possible (if I keep telling myself that it might seem less daunting !:$ ). I guess all I can do is write at the pace that works for me, whatever that ends up being, and make sure I spend enough time on it that it's a decent body of work that reflects all the effort that's gone in to the project so far. My supervisor wouldn't want me to rush it just to get done in 3 months, he'd rather it was good, but he does still seem to think that 3 months is long enough to produce a good thesis. Hmm, I should stop stressing about how long it will take, and put more of my energies in to actually writing, and resign myself to it being finished when it's finished, whenever that may be! :-)
Eeek, I'm a bit worried by the comments of supervisors laughing at writing a chapter in 3 weeks- my supervisor is completely the opposite. He wrote and submitted his thesis in 3 months (then had a 2 hour viva and only a handful of minor corrections) and seems to think there should be no problem in me doing the same. If other supervisors are telling people to expect to spend much longer writing, is my supervisor some sort of writing machine having done his so quickly? And would trying to get it all done in 3 months mean chaining myself to my desk 24 hours a day? :$
I'm just starting to write up, whilst finishing off the last few experiments I have on my to-do list, and so far I'm quite enjoying it. It's nice to finally have some actual finished words down on the page and I finally feel there's an end in sight. However, I know this feeling won't last and that fairly soon I'm going to hate it and be desperate to get back in the lab, so do people think that it can come down to 'mind over matter' and if you tell yourself you're enjoying what you're doing it can really make it less awful? That would be amazing!
When I first started my PhD, my supervisor told me I should expect to work 9am-6pm 5 days a week, and late evenings and weekends as necessary. It means if I work shorter hours than that I feel I'm not working hard enough and I will be judged for it, but in reality the number of hours I'm at work never really has any correlation with how productive I'm being. My productivity varies week by week and so do my hours. I'm glad to have some sort of guidline, otherwise I'd be tempted to work shorter hours on a regular basis (even though I know I shouldn't), but it is just a guideline- no point working really long hours if you don't need to, but it's definitely worth putting in some serious hours if it's required.
Seems like a good time to go and speak with a student advisor (or the equivalent at your uni). They're usually the people that know all the rules on getting extensions, how to deal with personal issues when they affect your work, and what you need to do to make sure you get the support you need to finish your PhD. I know there are rules, but I can't believe that any uni in their right minds would let you fail because you missed a deadline, particularly when you've had personal issues.
Don't panic about what might or might not happen- try and get it sorted with people who can help you, then you can concentrate on getting your PhD finished.
At my uni we have to write a 2nd year progress report so supervisors and Director of PG Studies can check that we're on the right track etc. It's basically a continuation of the 1st year reports we had to write for our upgrades. I don't know what other unis do, but although it's stressful writing a 20 page report, we're all finding it a useful review of what we have or haven't achieved this year- turns out it's quite good at motivating those of us who haven't managed to get many meaningful results this year!
Thanks everyone- I think I do need to get a bit of perspective. The other PhD student in my lab is at the end of her third year and only started getting good results a few months ago and tells me not to worry. I'm sure I'll get there in the end, but sometimes it seems an impossible task. It's not the first blip in my confidence, and I know it won't be the last...thank goodness this weekend is a bank holiday, a few days out of the lab will do me good and hopefully I can come back on Tuesday with renewed enthusiasm
Anyone got any suggestions, or should I really just get my act together and realise this happens to most people and I have to just get on with it? Sometimes I think I just need someone to give me a kick up the arse to get on with things, and other times I can't see how I can go any further when I don't want to be there. It's a waste of time discussing these sorts of issues with non-PhDers, as with the best of intentions, they just say things like "it'll be alright" or "I'm sure you'll get there in the end"....how is that really supposed to help?! Perhaps a bit of venting on here with people who understand (I hope!!!) will help.
I'm now half way though my PhD (assuming it takes me three years, which at this rate is entirely unfeasible), and have very little useful data to show for it. I've had numerous problems that have delayed progress and for the most part my supervisor's fairly understanding. However, I have a second year progress report due at the beginning of next month, and in my most recent meeting with my supervisor all he could talk about was maximising production of data and that if something isn't working I need to just work harder and get it done. Since then, every time I see him it's just more questioning on why I haven't finished something, or why I couldn't get it to work, or what have I been doing with my time. I know he must be feeling a bit nervous about how I'm going to write a progress report that really doesn't show much progress from last year's progress report, but instead of it motivating me, I feel totally deflated and completely demotivated. At a time when I really need to get my head down and put in some serious hours in the lab, I'd rather be anywhere but there.
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