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how formal are you with your supervisors?

Hi Researcherboy

Hmm... for me, mostly an office thing. Can't imagine having my supervisor's home number and doubt I would want it. In some ways, keeping things in the office helps to keep a sense of distance. That sense of distance can be quite important at times. Especially when you get to thinking, well, you're my supervisor, mentor, guide... but this is 'my' thesis. *grin* At the same time, I know I can call him at the office if I need to, anytime, and he always answers my emails pretty promptly. I think it's a good thing to allow each other space... and to remember that your supervisor is a human being, possibly with a family, with a whole life (and job) of their own that they like to live, quite apart from the time they allocate to you. :) If I want a chat over coffee, I usually do that with friends, other PhD students, other colleagues... especially useful if you want to talk through things you don't necessarily (yet) want to talk to your supervisor about. *chuckle* At the end of the day, I guess it's all about finding a balance and, above all, finding out what works best for you and them. Get it right and you have the makings of a valuable, profitable and helpful relationship. (up)

Part-time teaching/work - how to avoid it taking over and the whole teaching/research contradiction

Hi Bonzo (Are you Scottish?) It's just the "ye's" that make me ask. :-)

Okay, let's see. Yes, part-time teaching is both a boon and a bind. Need the money (good), gives experience (good)... takes up all your time (bad). I've been doing pt stuff on and off for the last two years. It was great at first, and manageable, but now I'm into the final stages of my PhD, not so good... too distracting (as you say) so I'm easing off as much as possible. I can't say I've ever thrown myself into it 'big time' (although I work hard and am conscientious about it) - my PhD's always more important to me somehow.

I don't agree that you need a PhD to lecture (lots of people I know lecture who have, at most, a Masters... but, a PhD is generally expected). I don't think PhD's make for inept lecturers... I think they make for specialised ones, and good ones know their stuff and are valuable members of staff (well, at least the one's I know - in education and social sciences).

Not all research is introverted... lots of research involves people. You should ask what training is available with HR if you want some. Most new lecturers these days are expected to take training in post-compulsory education at some point (as far as I know). I think training helps, but so does mentoring and experience (in and out of teaching).

Planning to have a good weekend also (after long day of writing/revising/reviewing journal articles and juggling PhD analysis - somewhat unsuccessfully - so it's not only teaching commitments that get in the way). Bob Dylan's great, isn't he... (up)

Revising the Literature Review

The other thing is, when it comes to analysing your data, you will feel like you are constantly revising and redefining your theoretical framework. The point of the analysis is that you need to justify your study design, the data selected and your findings and results. You also have to show your originality. The only way to do this is to link your data back to your research questions, literature review and methodology... you need to show how your data answers the research question, how it fills the gap in the literature and how the chosen methodology was the most apt solution - using the data. Also, you need to do this in a coherent, organised way that makes it easy for readers to follow the thread of your argument - hence the themes - these will help you to organise the data. You should make notes as soon as you start to tackle the data because this is part of your justification... think of it in terms of:

- this is what I did (how I looked at the data)
- this is why I did it that way (what I was looking to do)
- this is what that produced (e.g. a mind map of initial themes)
- this is what I did with that (used it to revisit research question and lit review, etc.)
- this produced ... (new themes, new literature, revision of research question, etc.)
- this revealed ... (these issues, problems, gaps)

and so on. If it helps, this kind of analysis is based on a Grounded Theory approach which allows themes to emerge from the data. It's perfectly acceptable to use this as a means of identifying initial themes to be analysed with a more focused theoretical approach later. Well, hope this helps.

Revising the Literature Review

Hi Christiana,

Look at your research question, look at your data. Think about what data you collected and why. Look through your data and start to work out some exploratory themes (one word ideas that leap out at you) - use these to look back at your lit review, see which ones have been met and think about why you think that, see which ones haven't been met and think about what might have changed between the lit review and data collection for things to have changed in this way. Use these key words to search for new literature (always keeping in mind your research question). With the new literature, think about your research question, the study (and the rationale behind its design), the data collected and see if any new themes emerge. The point is that what you now need to embark on is an iterative process that you will go through several times, constantly switching between research question, old lit review, new literature, study design, data collected, etc. When I did mine, I looked through the data and made a mind map with the research question at the centre, with key themes and sub-themes branching out from there and from those, relevant papers. Maybe that will work for you. (My research is also qualitative). This site might also help you: http://onlineqda.hud.ac.uk/Intro_QDA/what_is_qda.php Don't worry, initial forays into your data always seems chaotic. What your supervisor is trying to get you to do is to organise and structure your ideas. :-)

views of postgraduate students on teaching and the student experience

Sorry, but I find this question a bit vague. What is it that you want to know, exactly? Are you talking about taught research methods courses? Are you talking about tutorials with supervisors? In terms of HE and PhD... at the end of the day, there's not much teaching... it's a case of how you manage your ideas and how you are guided along the way, surely?

how to write journal articles?

A useful book is Writing for Academic Journals


Some tips I had from a Journal editor:

1. What's the question that underpins the enquiry?
2. How does the question tie in with your theoretical framework?
3. What's the literature that frames the study (wider contexts)?
4. What methods were used and how were they appropriate to the question?
5. How was the data analysed and presented? Was a particular framework used?
6. Is it empirical or polemic (a think piece)?
7. You need to address the questions: 'So what?' and 'Who cares?'

Also agree with previous posters, read journals, familiarise yourself with style, content, and requirements - read guidelines for authors (usually available on website).

Good luck.

PhD without an MA

Hi apleeds

I'm similar to yourself, mature student, big gap between BA and PhD. Like you I was recommended to just apply straight to PhD as that was what I wanted to do. I have no regrets. I do agree with what others have said, though... there have been times when I've wished I'd had a 'practice run' in terms of research techniques, especially data analysis but for the most part it's been okay and having a decent supervisor helps. I did take the research training courses at my university and they were a big help. I think most funded PhD courses now are 1+3 and the first year is a Research Methods course anyway.

Demotication, Depression, Failure

On the Post-Doc bit, I appreciate how you feel and it is discouraging, but you just need to take the hits and keep on ploughing on - maybe ask for some advice about how you are framing your applications to see if there's something there you can improve on, to make what you have to offer more explicit, more of a 'fit' with what's being asked for, etc. Keep your chin up.

Demotication, Depression, Failure

It sounds to me like you are tired. The feelings you are having about your PhD sound quite familiar to me. It's well known that many PhD students have a perfectionist streak in them (I certainly do)... and that can make us look at our work in strange ways and, sometimes, prevents us from keeping things in perspective. You say that others think you are doing good work - believe them. When you look at your work, try to see what's there... not what's not... that is what they see. For sure, you'll see gaps and weaknesses, you're close to the work, you know what went on under the surface of things... but you can't always say everything in one gasp... save those gaps for future work. In terms of papers... I agree with the previous poster - I don't see many students having more than 2-4 papers prior to completion of PhD and, certainly, outside of the sciences, it's rare for students to even have 1-2, so don't beat yourself up so much.

What do you do when you experience writer's block?

I visit this forum, read Lara's many threads on the topic, then I tell myself 'just write'.

I also play this YouTube lego movie which makes me laugh.


Other tips I've had - take a break.

- go for a walk or a bike ride
- phone a friend
- watch a movie
- tidy up
- look at photos

That way, you'll stop thinking about not thinking and come back to things fresh.

views of postgraduate students on careers in research

I guess it depends on your motivations and on whether you have worked in industry before. For me, coming to a research career after some 15 years in the workplace, the research career is more attractive but then my motivations are different than they were when I was younger. I have previously worked in law (10 years) and education (5 years). I know from reading this forum that research careers are often perceived as difficult to enter, highly competitive, restricted by funding opportunities, etc. For me the intellectual challenge and rewards of a research career are sufficient motivation to engage with the other issues, for some that's not the case. For me, the research career is also, for this reason more attractive than law, media, etc. I think it's a very subjective issue.

should I do a PhD?


Patent attorneys (and trade mark attorneys) are qualified to practice law in this country, but only IP law. They are specialists in this area. They do not tend to practice in courts, though, and will usually brief general lawyers in litigation cases. Mostly they work on protecting intellectual property around the world (brand names, copyright and inventions). They take professional exams on the job in the same way that Accountants do and are admitted to a professional institute upon qualification. Usually it takes around 4 years of part-time study whilst working full-time. It's an interesting job, actually and as someone suggested... a nice niche job if you can get it. I liked the international dimensions of it myself.

should I do a PhD?

am4184, hi

Okay, let's see... I used to be a trade mark attorney and worked in an IP practice. I would say that if you aim to work in a general firm, your MSc would suffice and getting a PhD in Alzheimers won't really help you. Given that it takes 3-4 years of part-time study to qualify as a Patent Attorney (if your really good at it)... I would suggest you get into practice as soon as poss if that's what you really want. A PhD in Alzheimers might help you if you wanted to work in a biotech company as a Patent agent but only in specialist niches like that rather than general IP. In general IP you would need to develop a wide understanding of scientific protection if that's the field you wanted to go into and it would be better to learn that on the job, I think.

How do you cure your PhD blues?

Hi Olivia

If you are interested in kayaking, you can use this site to find your nearest canoe club. Usually there's general paddling twice a week at most clubs and I know there are a few in London. Costs are usually quite low, between £5-10 for a few hours, including use of a club kayak. I also have mostly done sea kayaking rather than river kayaking (great fun, chasing waves).


How do you cure your PhD blues?

Thanks, Rosy. Yeah, it was the right decision. I've been feeling much better today. I even went down to the river for a quick walk... I have a 20 mile stretch of river on my doorstep, through rolling countryside, so having the kayak will be fantastic and the south coast is only an hour or so away as well.

I found a local canoe club that go out twice a week, barbecue once a month in summer and France once a year so I'm all excited about different possibilities now. I just needed to get out of the house more and stop being chained to my desk (which I enjoy but get over-addicted to).

Happy. :)