Overview of Aussiechick

Recent Posts

night ramblings

Graham said:
Anyone who has been on the sharp side of DE’s mind will know exactly what it’s like to physically feel all ones confidence and strength seep out of their body and ooze out of the room under the door, leaving silence. DE in silence watching you, like a dementor, silence, feeding of off the positive energy in the room.

Your supervisor is a Death Eater?!!! :p

multiple case study design

I am currently working with a multiple case study approach. It is not without its challenges but I do like this method of working.

Recruitment is the most frustrating part, and there is not much you can do about it if a case drops out. In my study, my 'cases' are schools and early on in the process I had lined up my four schools, only to have one of them drop out. It was frustrating because they had an interesting structure that would have added depth to my study, but (unfortunately) I couldn't force them to take part. It was good that it happened early because I was able to find a replacement school. I was originally planning to collect my data from the replacement school last term, but my contact at the school wanted to postpone as she was very busy at the time, so now I'm all set, ready to go with data collection this term and I find she is on sick leave for four weeks!

It would make it so much easier if everybody could work to my schedule! ;-)

The richness of the data makes a multiple case study well worth while, despite the problems. If your case has dropped out there is nothing you can do about it, except move on and perhaps try and find a replacement case that matches the one who dropped out. In my case I hadn't collected any data from the dropout. How about you?

Writing your own reference

I'm applying for a scholarship and one of the requirements is a letter of support from my supervisors. My supervisors are happy to give me a letter of support, but have asked that I draft it for them to sign! I'm not sure how to approach this. Has anybody else ever been in this position? I just don't feel comfortable composing a letter singing my own praises and then sending it to my supervisors! Help.

It's snowing!!!!

I'm thinking of you all as I sit here in sunny Queensland, Australia. It's about 30 degrees C here but I've seen all the snow on the news. Very exciting! Except for those people, like Aloha, who really have somewhere to be. I hope it all works out for you. Even without snow I can't go anywhere as I sprained my ankle yesterday at my son's swimming carnival so it's another day in front of the computer for me. Oh well, that's how I was going to spend it anyway! ;-)

Supervisor, Devil's Advocate

That does sound like an interesting topic, MatthewDubya. It really sounds as though you would benefit from an additional supervisor. Since your thesis is interdisciplinary, it would make sense to have one from each discipline. I don't know about the UK, but in Australia it is common practice for PhD students to have two supervisors. It just makes so much sense, especially when academics have this habit of disappearing overseas for six months study leave. At least you then still have someone left to guide you.

With the sorts of questions your supervisor is asking, it sounds as though he is just trying to challenge you to really think through your ideas. I wouldn't take it personally. When we begin this sort of process we often come at it with lots of assumptions that we don't even realise we have. I think he is just trying to make you question more. I remember early on when I was working on my lit review and I sent some work in progress to my supervisors which mentioned 'student needs.' One of them came back and asked me what I meant by 'needs', as it can have different meanings in different disciplines. It seems like your supervisor might be trying to be helpful but is not going about it the best way.

If I were you I would definitely make enquiries about getting a co-supervisor - someone more familiar with new technologies. Good luck.

Question about abstracts

I agree that abstracts are an enormous pain to write! I don't think it really matters whether it is a work in progress or a completed piece of research. If you have already written the article then let that be your guide. The abstract should tell the readers what you are going to tell them in the article, in a very condensed form obviously. (I've always struggled with this idea. The writer part of my personality doesn't want to give away the ending!)

If you are writing an abstract for something you haven't written yet, like a speculative conference presentation, then try at least writing a framework of what you would intend to cover in the presentation and let that be your guide.

Cutting out previsou ideas??

I understand your problem Dazednconfused. It's like I become emotionally attached to anything I write. Once I have it down on the screen, it may as well be carved in stone! I am learning to let go .... slowly. ;-)

Thesis panic ...

How far into your PhD are you? Haven't you been writing your thesis all along?

I'm not trying to be rude, I'm just interested in how the PhD process is different for different disciplines. I'm in the social sciences (education) and I started writing my literature review very early on in the process. Since the literature review (albeit with some changes along the way) will form part of the thesis, I can say that I started writing my thesis over a year ago. It's impossible to really pinpoint a particular point in time when the process started. I started writing my methodology chapter as I went along, and now that I have almost completed data collection I am spending longer on the writing process. I anticipate an intensive writing-up period later this year.

Anyway, I guess because the process is so drawn out, the nerves are not so focused on the writing part. How do other disciplines do it?

Feeling incompetent about my primary research

It really depends on what your research involves, what field you are in, and whether you are known to any of your potential participants.

If you are going to be 'cold-calling', i.e. approaching strangers, then you need to decide how you are going to make your initial approach, whether by letter, telephone or email. A letter is the most formal approach so is probably suitable for people you have had no previous contact with.

Your letter should give some brief details about your research, probably only a paragraph or so. You need to write enough to pique their interest but sending a three page letter packed with dense research information is likely to put them off, so try and be succinct. You should then describe what would be involved in the research - will they have to be interviewed, how long is it likely to take etc. You should also explain their rights (anonymity, free to withdraw without penalty etc). If you are offering any incentive to participate, you should mention it here too. You don't have to be exhaustive. When you have your participants and you are proceeding to the data collection stage, you will need to provide all of them with an information statement and a consent form, so don't feel like you have to cover everything in this first letter.

Most universities will have a standard clause that you need to include somewhere in your letter as well, stating that the project has been approved by an ethics committee, so check with your uni about that.

Make sure you follow up your letter with a phone call or email or another letter if you don't get a response. Finding participants is hard, especially when you have no prior relationship with them, so you need to be persistent.

Good luck.(up)

ESRC Language Training Funding

Learning french seems a bit time-consuming and long-winded. Couldn't you just get them translated?

Hours per day

Threads like this always make me feel inadequate. I really shouldn't read them! ;-)

My working time varies enormously, depending on what else is going on. At the moment it's school holidays, so if I spend all day sitting at my computer working I feel guilty because I'm neglecting my children. Not that they complain. It just gives them an excuse to spend the day sitting in front of the X-Box, which only increases the mother-guilt! :$

If I spend time doing other things, then I feel guilty that I'm neglecting my PhD! There's guilt either way, so you just do what you've got to do.

Financial worries

As Smilodon says, you should check what the regulations are at your university and department and try to work within those. Is there any other work within the uni you could do? Things like marking - it doesn't pay as much as teaching but you can do it at home in the evenings so it's not taking time away from your PhD. Also check out whether there are any scholarships that you can apply for to top up your funding. No guarantees there, but if there are some available you may as well apply.

Funding implications of quitting

Hi, I can't advise on the funding issue as I am not in the UK, but I do have a couple of comments.

Firstly, you need to change your user name, especially if you intend to actually make a go of a PhD.

Secondly, why did you start a PhD in an area that you weren't interested in? You should probably keep that part quiet if you do decide to quit, but either way I don't think it would look very good at this early stage. Hopefully somebody else on here will have some more information on the likely funding implications.

Dazed and confused with PhD

Second year blues, first year blues, third year blues - it can strike at any time and it's best not to make any decisions while you're feeling like this. Think back through your first year very systematically and make a list of everything you have done so far. You'll probably find that you have done more than you think. Also, make a forward plan of what you would hope to have achieved by the end of the year, but make sure it is realistic. If your principal supervisor is not supportive, what about your co-supervisor? Can you talk to them about the situation? Failing that, is there another member of the faculty that is 'on the same page' as you, that you could talk to. It is possible to change supervisors if that would help.

I think we have all been where you are now. I have certainly considered quitting a few times. Mostly for family reasons. We could really use a more substantial income coming in than I'm able to bring in with my scholarship. I'm late thirties with two children and lots of financial responsibilities so it's a real struggle. I'm also not convinced the PhD is a great career move. I've gone through stages when I've been convinced that if anything, it will be detrimental to my career prospects, but I'm determined to complete, for my own satisfaction. To know that I have done it.

Find a sympathetic ear, make a few lists, and things will start to feel better. :-)

Publishing & PhD - Query

I too am confused by this issue of self-plagiarising. How is this even possible? People publish from their theses all the time. OK, if you sent the same paper (or almost the same paper) to two different publications, then that is very strongly frowned upon. Is that what you guys mean by self-plagiarising?

I think some of the comments made above regarding the specifics of the creative writing field seem very sensible. But otherwise, I can't see how publishing from your thesis (either before or after your submission) can be anything but good.