Overview of Aussiechick

Recent Posts

Research question, statement of problem, hypothesis..

Not all research has to include a hypothesis. It depends on the field and the methodology. For example, if you were doing grounded theory research in the social sciences you wouldn't be expected to have a hypothesis, as the theory is supposed to emerge from the data, and a preconceived hypothesis could influence the findings.

Can you look at some other theses in your field that have passed and see how they have structured the introductory chapter(s)?

Struggling to stay sane

Sirius, you really do sound as though you need to take a complete break. I agree with BilboBaggins. See if you can arrange to take a few months off. Perhaps you can get a temporary job, in a totally different field, to take your mind off your PhD, recharge your batteries and replenish your bank account. After a break, your problems with database access might not seem so insurmountable. As for your supervisor, is there any way you can get a supplementary supervisor for the final year of your project? Even if they are in a slightly different field, someone more experienced and with a different style of working to your current supervisor might help you.

Don't feel like you have to hold it all together and can't crack because you're the rock. You have to think of yourself first. Take a break. Lose yourself in a good book (you sound like you might be a Harry Potter fan!).

Bad Taste in the Mouth

Yes, a good moan session sounds like it is in order.

On another topic, I can't believe you are being so matter-of-fact about dislocating your knee! Have you done this before? Is this a regular occurrence for you? I only ask because I had the unbelievably painful experience of dislocating my knee a few years ago and it was sheer agony! Second only to childbirth in terms of pain. I had my leg strapped up for about six weeks afterwards and even when I could bend it again I was terrified of doing so. At the time I thought I'd rather walk with a limp forever than go through that pain again. How are you doing?

How long did your PhD take or do you plan to take?

I'm also aiming to submit in 2.5 years, but I'm doing qualitative research with no pesky statistics to worry about. I'm certainly not under any pressure from the uni to submit in that time, but my supervisors are happy for me to do so if I'm ready. I've collected all my data and I'm about half way through my analysis, so I've got six months to finish analysis and writing up. But, if I don't feel ready it's not a big drama to keep going for the full three years. The timeline is my own. Good luck PN!

literature review - what goes in it?

It's also OK to repeat information. You might want to take aspects of your chapters and rephrase them or rearrange them in your lit review. I really struggled with this concept when I was writing my Honours thesis - I was so familiar with my subject that I baulked at the idea of repeating myself, but my advisers all said that it was a good idea. The thesis (more so with a PhD) is a lengthy document, so it's OK to repeat things, to refresh your reader's mind of something you said earlier. It is a way of 'signposting' the important elements.

Acknowledgments questions

I went through a similar dilemma with my Honours thesis. I just felt that I had done all the work, pretty much on my own, with minimal input from anyone that I didn't really feel like putting in any acknowledgements. Of course, it's expected so I just went through the motions, but I can't say it was especially sincere.

Viva confusion

I'm so sorry you are in this situation. It sounds horrible. I don't understand how your examiners could consider your research to be unethical. I presume, like all of us, you have had to jump through the many hoops that is the ethics application and that you had received ethics clearance for your study. In fact, given that you were studying school students I presume you had to get ethics clearance from a number of different bodies - the university, the education department etc. Given all of this, how could they justify their statement regarding it being unethical? All the re-writing in the world is not going to change the way the research was conducted, so wouldn't they still consider it to be unethical no matter how it's written.

Given that your supervisor appointed these examiners, I think he should be taking a very strong interest in resolving this situation for you. Good luck.

Bibliography query

I use the APA style of referencing and it only requires page numbers from a book if you are using a direct quote. Otherwise, author and date is sufficient. The main thing of course is to be consistent, so choose an approach and stick to it. Good luck with submitting by April 1st - interesting date to choose! :-)

Conference question

Of course it's not silly Angie.

The conference business would dry up pretty soon if the only people attending were the ones presenting. The idea of a conference is to communicate ideas to the wider community in the field it addresses so it would be expected that there would be lots of attendees who were not also presenting. Observing and listening is fine. It can be good experience to attend a conference as an observer before you attend one as a presenter.

Mortgages and PhD

Personally, I thought BHC's original comment was meant in a light-hearted fashion and was not intended to be offensive or to ignite a debate. I think anybody, of any gender, would love to have a partner who had a fantastically high-paying job or was otherwise independently wealthy, so that we wouldn't have to worry about such mundane things like paying the mortgage. Whether children enter the equation or not, freedom from financial drudgery is an extremely attractive option.

Full of self-doubt, anyone too?

Yes KL, everybody goes through self-doubt when doing a PhD. Are there other PhD students at your institution you can talk to? I'm sure they'd be able to offer you some reassurance and advice.

You said you are in a 4 year PhD program, and you're doing coursework, so it sounds as though the first year is a bit of an add-on to get you up to speed with research methodologies and such. If so, then you probably don't have to worry too much about not having a firm set of research questions yet. As always, be guided by your supervisor's advice as to when you should expect to have your research focus defined. It may be that he doesn't expect to see too much of you this first year if it is focused on methodological coursework, but you can always be proactive and ask for a meeting if you feel you need more contact. Or just ask him some questions in an email. I'm doing my PhD by distance so I rarely get to see my supervisors, but we email regularly.

Regarding PhD standard, the main criteria is that it should be an original contribution to knowledge. The best way to get an idea of what is an appropriate standard is to read other theses in your discipline. Having journal articles published from your research is a good sign that you are contributing to the knowledge base, and can write in an appropriately scholarly style, but I'm not sure that you can equate a PhD to 3 or 4 papers.

Good luck. (up)

PhD proposal HELP

You should be guided by the requirements of the institution you are applying to, if there are any, or ask advice from a potential supervisor.

My proposal was two A4 pages (I was told that was the maximum) and included:

A brief statement of the problem / mini literature review - about one and a quarter pages
Aims of the research - about a quarter of a page
Possible research questions - about a quarter of a page
Possible research design - about a quarter of a page
Then I had references on a third page - I figured they really didn't count in the page limit!

I just had a look back at my proposal to see what I had included and my research has evolved considerably since then. So don't feel that you have to get everything perfect. It's OK to be a bit vague.

PhD to MPhil/MA

======= Date Modified 12 Feb 2009 22:49:55 =======
I think sometimes we put too much faith in our supervisors and lose all faith in our own ability.

Exactly! When I read your first post I thought, what does she mean her supervisor told her she'd be ready to submit by March but has now pushed it back?

It's your project. Have faith in your own ability and tell your supervisor when you'll be ready to submit.

Bottom of the food chain

While being left out of meetings may be something you can live with, having your name left off of publications that include your work is definitely not on. There should be some sort of intellectual property rights clause in your PhD handbook (if you have one) so check what that says. It may also include the appropriate procedure to follow if you feel your IP rights have been violated. The obvious thing would be to raise the issue with your supervisor, but I realise that might be very awkward. Still, it might be the only course of action. Or approach the lead author if that is not your supervisor.

This is a very delicate situation. Good luck with sorting it out.

multiple case study design

Thanks for that, Alli.

I think the key to recruitment is persistence. At the beginning of the process I found the recruitment of cases to be the most daunting aspect. I couldn't help thinking, why would they want to participate? What's in it for them? I was worried that I wouldn't get any volunteers so I was SO grateful to those that did and I really tried to minimise any inconvenience for them. As my research design has developed along the way, I have found a way to give something back to the cases that have participated so I feel it is more of an equal relationship now. It's win-win for both of us. But I did find the persistence required in the beginning quite hard. When I was a kid I always dreaded sponsorship events, you know like a sponsored walk or something, because I always found it very difficult to ask people to do me a favour. I'd be like, 'would you mind sponsoring me? Only if you don't mind. It's OK if you don't.' I think there are similarities with recruiting research participants, except I'm asking for their time instead of money. I'm getting over that a bit more now!

With my cases, I wrote to the principals of the schools first. Then I followed that up with a couple of emails until I started to get responses. The principals that replied and said yes all referred me on to someone else within the school and from then on my contact was with them. The research literature likes to call them 'gatekeepers'. So I discussed the nitty-gritty aspects of the project and negotiated access to each school via the gatekeepers rather than the principals.

Good luck with your ethics application! (up)