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Considering Quitting in my 4th Year Social Science PhD

Hi Struggler

Keep going, it's true you're closer to the end than the beginning. Honestly, writing up is the worst part of the PhD (few people tell you that) - it's like the last 10% of your time equates to 50% of the work and 90% of your perseverance. The writer below is correct too - best way to overcome writers block is to just write anything (the ideas will come out by themselves). Set yourself timed writing activities - and don't stop writing and try not to overthink the writing during that time. I used the alarm on my mobile phone for the timed activities and 9/10 this got me going again. Also - try, if you can, to write forward... towards a full draft and only then come back to rewriting chapters (believe me, my work changed direction majorly twice and I understand how that feels)... in the end I just had to tell myself - don't get it 'right', get it done... having just completed the first draft - the result of 2-3 months of 'getting it done' (at the start of which I already had 5 chapters and 2 'unworked' ones and 2 unwritten ones... and having had good feedback from my reader and a viva date set - it can be done. I too felt like giving up several times over the last 6 months (in year 5 of a P-T PhD) but, like you, that feeling was balanced out by the amount of time I'd already spent on the darned thing - and I wasn't prepared to lose that effort. So glad I persevered now. My PhD was also social science. Here's a couple of poems for you:



Russia, CE and Central Asia Studies

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or LSE


Harvard Referencing - translated works

Hi J

Agree with Keep_Calm... I have lots of translated works in my thesis and I reference them 1996 [1958] - bit clunky but works for me - and agree with you, its sometimes important to have the antecedent date as it sets the work in its true context - at least that's important in mine.

Does anybody have this book? Material Memories


Sorry, don't have the book, but have you tried putting the full quote into Google in quotes, e.g. "This is a quote" - sometimes that will get you a reference - if it's in another paper or place or if someone else has quoted it.

please help to find an article

Hi Emaa

Why not email the author and ask for a copy - has worked for me in the past (not with this author, of course) but I find folks are often quite happy to share and this one is a bit old, so don't think he'd mind. You can find his email here.


What does a 'Chapter 1' look like?!?

My two pennyworth... chapter one comes last... when you know what the thesis is about. :-) Usually it wil contain a brief overview of the problem your research question seeks to answer (problem statement)... possibly some background to who you are as a researcher and how that relates to your interest in the question (depends what discipline you're in) and then a summary of chapters... think of it as kind of setting the scene. Speaking as one, now thankfully close to final submission, and having written that darned first chapter at least six times... well, you get the picture. Best of luck. :-)

fee35ng rea33y sad

Hi Ev

Good that you shared, though. I'm feeling a bit the same at the moment with my PhD... and Walmin's response to you really cheered me up - especially the bit about the u-bend of the toilet - that really struck a chord. *grin* When I feel like chucking it all in, I always remember this poem my auntie gave to my uncle (way back in the 1950's). Yesterday, I got to thinking that success is a precarious perch ... and, well, if you want something badly enough, you just have to keep on hanging on by your fingertips. :-) Here's the poem.

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit-
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a fellow turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don't give up though the pace seems slow -
You may succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than

It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up
Whe he might have captured the victor's cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out -
The silver tint in the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It might be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit -
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.


Hi Pamplemousse

Your post reminded me of my first experience of presenting a poster... there are some tips and things here on my old blog. Whilst this first poster I made wasn't really the best (too much information really)... the experience was a good one and although I was nervous - eventually I realised that presenting the poster was just a good way of discussing my research, getting feedback from conference visitors, etc. and in a much less intimidating way than presenting orally. Good luck with yours and enjoy the experience. :-)


Finding a place to live

Hi Matt

Don't know if this is much use to you but I found it the other day whilst surfing... at the very least, it'd give you a free 'bed' for the night whilst looking and also lets you meet some local folks who might have some ideas about renting, etc.

http://www.couchsurfing.org and http://www.globalfreeloaders.com/

Best of luck.

Anyone else bored of their thesis?

Hi Pineapple

I see we're at the same stage again (thinking back to your first upgrade...)... and, yes, I'm bored with my thesis and just want it out of the way. Same like you... I want to have a complete draft by the end of summer (for first reading, and mock viva) and to have it submitted by end Nov... ready for Viva in early Jan. Actually, I was bored and frustrated... until yesterday when I made a sort of a new commitment to the work and decided just to accept that for the next six months me and my thesis are going to have to have a very close, intimate and single-minded relationship. LOL ;-) I'm not funded, so I've spent a lot of time juggling finances this last year... and whilst I did have a lot of research opportunities and started working as a researcher ... not on my PhD work... it felt like my thesis got side-lined a lot and so I didn't make as much progress as I wanted to. Had a wake-up call supervision this week and so decided to put the horse back before the cart... *chuckle* instead of having the horse (PhD) push the cart (paid research work). So I've reduced down the workload, told everyone to stop offering me work and generally made myself more unavailable. We'll see how things go. I do know I feel a whole lot beter today, having made a decision and a commitment, than I did earlier this week (during supervision)... :-) Relieved actually. Feel like I've managed to clear the decks again... and that's made the thesis more interesting again.


It's just one day... even less than that. You're the expert and you know a lot more than you think you do. The finishing line is just ahead. And, if all else fails... just picture your panel in some vulnerable position... like on the loo... at the end of the day, they're just people, like you... maybe, yes, with a little more experience, but not in your exact area of expertise...

More and more I'm realising (having just been an examiner albeit at a much lower level) that good examiners (if you've chosen well) are good people, interested in new ideas coming through, looking forward to having a good discussion with a candidate... try to think of it as an opportunity to talk about your work with two people who have actually read your thesis and are interested in the outcome. :-) That said, I suspect I'll probably feel exactly the same as you feel when my turn comes, in a little over 6 months time, I guess. Go for it... nearlty there and it's what all of this has been about for you... (up)

Want to Quit PhD...Please Help

Hi Dave

Good response from PhdBug. :-) You sound quite a focused person from your post and, as you say, quite balanced. If you can't find the sociality you're looking for within your academic environment, seek one outside of it. Try to enjoy the opportunity to generate purposeful study/interests in your own PhD work - PhdBug's suggestions are spot on in this. Finding and building your own path can seem hard in the early stages but sometimes, simply generating some sense of direction can help put you in touch with people who are a little more enthusiastic about ideas and sharing them. That, in turn, can make PhD life a little more interesting. Your life doesn't have to be ob hold - you can make your own decisions... and it's entirely up to you to seize what opportunities may come your way (or even to go looking for them if they are not happening along quite fast enough for you... *grin* The PhD is what you make it, for sure it takes a lot of commitment but that doesn't necessarily have to equate to deprivation. So, some solutions...

Aimless - think up some goals
Lonely - join some clubs, find friends outside of your work/study zone
Depressed - make a list of why you feel that way, then make another list of desires that can pull you out of the first
Poor - well, sometimes a little harder to get round - can you tutor, teach, mark papers... find free things to do/get involved in

Now, we all know PhD work takes up a lot of personal time, but you can choose to take some regular time out... a change is as good as a rest, as they say.

Best of luck with it all... :-)

Are pre- course portfolios normally required

On most Masters courses there will be some taught elements but you will also be expected to write a relatively lengthy disseration (not as long as a PhD thesis, of course) - you should check out the course requirements in the prospectus - it's probably available online. Asking you to do something like this is usually the uni's way of getting a preliminary insight into your potential skills early on.

One thing you could do is combine your Summer Season work with a research project... think about a research question you could ask and investigate whilst away (depends if you have access to a computer, I guess)... if not, you could always do the pen and pencil way and sketch out some rough ideas rather than doing deep research... So, maybe something like impact of credit crunch on holidaymaker's spending habits, etc. Maybe conduct a survey of guests, etc. Pick something out you're interested in that might fit with your work. The kind of thing I suspect Brighton might be looking for is... can you think up a problem to investigate (research question), can you identify a way of investigating it (methods), can you implement it (case study), can you reflect on practicalities (finding participants, thinking about ethics of their involvement), can you - assuming you manage all these things - make sense of any data you collect (analysis) and produce an answer. Ethically, you'd probably need permission from your employer (and participants) - but you may even find your employer has something they might like you to look into. Think of it as an exploration of what research is like rather than a formal, full-blown, research task at this stage. Best of luck with it.(up)

Cheeky e-mail from undergrad student

Hi Pam

I agree with PhDBug and you should picture the student and then decide. If she is a keen student generally, it's more likely she was, as she says, doing these things but just wanted to seek reassurance. In some of the books I've read about students and learning they talk about two types of students 'cue-deaf' and 'cue-seeking'. The latter are described as those who, as a criteria for success, will seek to improve their understanding of what is required by "button-holing staff to probe them for information" about what they have to do and why they have to do it. Apparently (and perhaps naturally) these students do best in exams, etc. Is this being spoon-fed? I don't know. It depends, I guess. For direction, I would have thought it was okay to give some feedback on the books listed by the students and, as you appear to have done... perhaps suggest a general direction, e.g. have you thought of looking at key theorists in this area, such as X (and only naming say 1 to give a general sense of direction). On writing back, it is a tricky one... you don't want to put yourself in the position of defending yourself but at the same time, you might not want to leave a student thinking that the door to dialogue is closed. If it was me, I'd be tempted to ask her to drop in for a quick 5 minute chat as these things are difficult to sort out by email as, as is clear from the discussion here, tone (and intention/perception) is difficult to determine in this mode.

Need some advice :-)

Hi PhDBug

Ha... (try to) enjoy the juggling... and accept that it's hard - but actually, it's also good preparation for the post-PhD research life. You say you don't want to 'go part-time' but actually, effectively, by working 20 hours a week, you are kind of making your PhD work part-time - why not think about it - you'd save on fees at least as part-time fees are much less (especially if you are an overseas student) - you could still aim to finish in 4 years (which is what it takes most full-time students anyway). I'm also (officially) working 21 hours a week as a Research Fellow on non-related work (similar but not tied to my PhD) - mostly I find it takes a lot more than 21 hours a week sometimes, but hey ho... other times it's slack (like in summer months). My goal is to do 3 days a week on that - 2 days on PhD but it rarely works out that way - other ways I've tried are 4 hours per day on job and 3 hours (min) on PhD - job in morning, PhD in afternoon - but the sucker on that is that I work better in the morning. As others have said, though, the trick is to learn to juggle, to find what mode works best for you. Other than that... will PM you. Don't panic - you'll be fine. Honest... you'll find a way of working that suits you when the time comes. (up)