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Baltar
Saturday, 12 June 2010 at 6:52pm
Thursday, 16 December 2010 at 10:48am
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Thread: Double PhD?

posted
16-Dec-10, 11:01
edited about 9 seconds later
by Baltar
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posted about 9 years ago
======= Date Modified 16 Dec 2010 11:04:27 =======
I know a few people who did two PhDs because, in terms of their research interests, this made sense. One who started, for instance, with a PhD in cognitive science, but then got interested in artificial intelligence and wanted to draw on his first PhD but push in a new direction: he needed help (supervision) so he enrolled in a second PhD. Another who started with a PhD in physics and did a second one on a related topic in philosophy; again, it made sense in terms of combining two disciplines into one research project which clearly required supervision, and which he might not have been able to do alone. And another who did a first PhD in Engineering and is now doing a second in Ethics, but related to some ethical issues in Engineering practices. It can be a smart career move if you are attempting to work on a topic that sits on the periphery between two disciplines, or if your thesis argues that there are insights to be gained from the application of concepts, methods, etc. in one discipline to shed light on a problem or help acquire knowledge in another. These PhDs can be highly original and interesting (where the ideas are, of course, sound and the project feasible.

Thread: Thinking of going back into PhD - help and advise needed.

posted
13-Dec-10, 11:51
by Baltar
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posted about 9 years ago
======= Date Modified 13 Dec 2010 11:55:40 =======
Your circumstances sound favorable and will put you in good stead for doing a PhD. The important question still remains: why do YOU want to do a PhD? You have to have a very good reason that will carry you through those rainy days and ensure you stay motivated. Also, if you decide to do a PhD once again, do take time to select you proposed research topic carefully: the more manageable, and better suited, your topic is to your interests and skills, the better your chances of success.
No one can of course make the final decision other than you, but it might help if you try to identify those elements of your last experience that contributed the most to your feeling pressurized and to finally giving up. Can these be definitively avoided this time around?

Thread: best scammers come from Africa

posted
12-Dec-10, 18:49
edited about 28 seconds later
by Baltar
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posted about 9 years ago
======= Date Modified 12 Dec 2010 18:54:31 =======
What is exactly the motivation behind this post??? To allege that "the most prolific scammers" happen to be African? But that's just one kind of scam; in fact, one kind of Internet scam. I can name 5 other types of Internet scams off the top of my head that cannot be boxed into cliches like the one you just mentioned - try websites falsely pretending to be you bank. Can you put a nationality, or colour on this, let alone claim that it is peculiar to the people belonging to one continent?! As for cliches, lets see how well they work, let alone how accurate or informative they can be: "most scammers are Africans" or "most red-necks are Americans", "most neo-Nazi are Germans", "...football hooligans are British", "...racists are Caucasian", etc. The issue of inaccuracy aside, these cliches are more dangerous than helpful or useful in any way. It's not like the above statement, even if it were a fact, has suddenly armed me with a revelation that will prevent me falling prey to Internet scam. The only thing that will, is some good luck and a little more caution and the exercise of forethought.

Thread: Exit an MPhil gracefully!?

posted
12-Dec-10, 18:28
edited a moment later
by Baltar
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posted about 9 years ago
======= Date Modified 12 Dec 2010 18:33:15 =======

I'd recommend you try going for the MA. It justifies the time you spent doing it, doesn't look like a gap period on your CV and if you ever decide to go back to higher education one day (who know? You may do later in life) then you have your MA as a stepping stone for something else. Either way, especially that you say you cannot stomach writing another 40k words, then an MA is your best bet. I wouldn't recommend going for a PG Dip.

Thread: UCL or Durham?

posted
09-Dec-10, 15:08
edited about 17 seconds later
by Baltar
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posted about 9 years ago
From what you say, it sounds like UCL is a better option for you.

Thread: UCL or Durham?

posted
05-Dec-10, 11:17
by Baltar
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posted about 9 years ago
The 'best' option depends on your personal circumstances & your career aspirations. For example:

1) what do you need the MSc for? If you will go straight into employment & aren't thinking of doing a PhD, then it all depends on which university your potential employers will regards more highly. There are some universities which are highly regarded outside the uk, but in terms of your area of specialization they might not be ranked very highly. If you want a job at the end of it, a high ranking university is all that matters; but if you want to do a PhD then the department where you did your MSc could play a significant role in where you are accepted to do your PhD.
2) as the previous posters said, look online for the cost of living at both locations. London is expensive but then again it's cheaper if you want fly home regularly from heathrow or gatwick airport of your family plan to visit you regularly. London is far more cosmopolitan and a very busy city - do you prefer the calm and quiet of the countryside (Durham campus) or being bang in the middle of one of the busiest cities in the world (UCL campus)? Will London be too much of a good thing - I.e too much of a destraction, or are you quite s disciplined person?

Thread: failed phds

posted
05-Dec-10, 10:57
by Baltar
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posted about 9 years ago
Not sure I got all the relevant details from your post to give you an adequate response, but I'll give it a go. First, sorry to hear that you didn't pass. But it's not the end of the world. You can either take the MPhil & then join a new PhD program at another uni (it means another 2-3 years, but your new PhD topic could be a development of one aspect of your current research, so it won't necessarily have to be new territory & in that sense you could finish in 3 years or less).
Alternatively, you could just take the MPhil if a PhD is not a necessary step towards your career goals.
I'm not sure if at this stage (before deciding to take the MPhil or not) whether you can transfer to another uni to finish your research. It would certainly have been possible before the viva, providing you found a supervisor at another institution willing to take on your project & help you finish it. Again, the best way to find out is to contact a few potential supervisors and ask. Then again, I seem to have heard that once you fail a PhD on a specific topic you cannot re-do that same exact thesis again - so best speak to some experienced academics and explore that option if that's the route you want yo take.
From what you mentioned, I take it this is you second submission - am I right? If so, what role has your supervisor played in guiding you? How did they allow you to submit a piece of work twice that the examiners deemed unsatisfactory? Usually it is the supervisor's responsibility to ensure you submit when you're ready & the work meets the required uk PhD standards. What has been their feedback?

Thread: Help!Failed Masters Dissertation

posted
02-Dec-10, 18:36
by Baltar
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posted about 9 years ago
Leemark, some universities allow you to do retake (resubmit your dissertation) - have you asked at yours & is it defo out of the question? Did u have any personal circumstances that got in the way? Did u get enough support from your supervisor, etc.? Have you spoken to the postgraduate MSc director & explored your options (if there are any) at your current institution?

Thread: How to articulate the reasons to do a PhD

posted
19-Nov-10, 17:14
edited about 20 seconds later
by Baltar
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posted about 9 years ago
I used 'The Research Student's Guide to Success' by Pat Cryer (available on Amazon) for guidance; it has a section on how to word your proposal and how to fill out PhD application forms. This helped me state my reasons for wanting to do a PhD in a professional/academic way. I also stated why what I had done in the past has led me to the stage where I am now (i.e. the stage where I'm ready and want to do a PhD), and why the PhD is the most crucial stepping stone for my future aspirations. Hope this helps.

Thread: Academic Writing

posted
19-Nov-10, 17:02
by Baltar
Avatar for Baltar
posted about 9 years ago
I had similar problems when I started my BA (English is not my first language and I did not know that Academic English is a particular style of writing). Initially most of my tutors kept complaining about my style - with the exception of one tutor who told me that it isn't so much the style that I should focus on, but rather the clarity, focus, structure and coherence of my ideas and sentences. I got a book 'How To Write Better Essays' that familiarised me with my peers expectations. This, along with practice and reading academic journal articles and academic books, has helped me come closer to understanding what is expected of me and what I should be aiming at. That said, I've heard that there is a book out there called 'Elements of Style' that's very helpful.

Thread: Viva: How to Deal With Fear?

posted
02-Nov-10, 14:38
by Baltar
Avatar for Baltar
posted about 9 years ago
Dear Forum Members,

The moment has come where I am three weeks away from my viva. It is strange how fear keeps shifting from one area to the other during the different processes in the degree. Initially, it was fear of not knowing where to begin and to narrow down the focus of my thesis, then came the fear that I might not be doing enough, or that I'm not writing and reading enough, that was overcome but only to be followed by fear of whether it all fits into one neat and coherent structure, then there were the annual reviews. My final fear (or so I thought it would be) was whether I'd finish the write-up on time for the deadline - and after months of sleepless nights, constant work from the crack of dawn, it was handed in and I thought that would be the end of the story. And now this: fear of the viva. Will I be failed, will I be asked to resubmit? If so, I cannot afford paying uni fees for the year/time during which I make corrections (at my uni, resubmission requires re-enrolling and paying fees). So unless I get pass with minor or major corrections, then I'll just have to give up on years of hard work.

I've had my stomach in knots for the past 18 months! I feel like I've been living in fear for so long that I've almost forgotten what it's like to enjoy the simpler joys of life. Is this normal? Does everyone panic before their viva, or could my fear suggest that there is a genuine danger that my work is not up to scratch?

My supervisor said my work is fine and I should pass, though he cannot guarantee what the examiners will finally make of my thesis. But that still won't silence the fear since I read his comments as: if I were your examiner I wouldn't fail you, but your actual examiners may do otherwise! So I might be failed after all.

Please help, I think I'm losing the plot!

Baltar on the edge of a paranoia breakdown.

Thread: Viva: How to Deal With Fear?

posted
02-Nov-10, 14:37
edited about 22 seconds later
by Baltar
Avatar for Baltar
posted about 9 years ago

Dear Forum Members,

The moment has come where I am three weeks away from my viva. It is strange how fear keeps shifting from one area to the other during the different processes in the degree. Initially, it was fear of not knowing where to begin and to narrow down the focus of my thesis, then came the fear that I might not be doing enough, or that I'm not writing and reading enough, that was overcome but only to be followed by fear of whether it all fits into one neat and coherent structure, then there were the annual reviews. My final fear (or so I thought it would be) was whether I'd finish the write-up on time for the deadline - and after months of sleepless nights, constant work from the crack of dawn, it was handed in and I thought that would be the end of the story. And now this: fear of the viva. Will I be failed, will I be asked to resubmit? If so, I cannot afford paying uni fees for the year/time during which I make corrections (at my uni, resubmission requires re-enrolling and paying fees). So unless I get pass with minor or major corrections, then I'll just have to give up on years of hard work.

I've had my stomach in knots for the past 18 months! I feel like I've been living in fear for so long that I've almost forgotten what it's like to enjoy the simpler joys of life. Is this normal? Does everyone panic before their viva, or could my fear suggest that there is a genuine danger that my work is not up to scratch?

My supervisor said my work is fine and I should pass, though he cannot guarantee what the examiners will finally make of my thesis. But that still won't silence the fear since I read his comments as: if I were your examiner I wouldn't fail you, but your actual examiners may do otherwise! So I might be failed after all.

Please help, I think I'm losing the plot!

Baltar on the edge of a paranoia breakdown.

Thread: Am I eligible for a full-funding PhD in Europe?

posted
19-Oct-10, 11:48
edited about 21 seconds later
by Baltar
Avatar for Baltar
posted about 9 years ago

Hi

For fee purposes, students are divided into groups at UK universities: Home/EU Student, and International/Overseas Student. From what you've said, you fall into the latter category.

Up until this year, full-time Home/EU student fees were approximately (depending on your degree, and whether it is lab-based or not) paying £3300-3500 per year in fees. International/Overseas Students, on the other hand, pay anywhere between £10,000-13,000 per year in annual fees (this does not include accomodation, examination fees, books, etc.)

For Home/EU Students, the Research Councils (funded by the government from tax payers) are a primary source of funding for PhD programmes. In addition to this, there are some private sector funding opportunities, and some universities also offer their own scholarships in addition to the Research Council funding. You cannot apply, as a non-EU student, to the Research Councils directly for funding your PhD. However, some departments/universities receive block-grants from the council and then distribute them where needed (for conferences, workshops, PhD funding, reserach funding, etc.). On rare occassions, a department or academic in receipt of such funds may offer them to PhD applicants irrespective of their nationality. However, for the most part they specify that the applicant should be Home/EU Student. The best place to look is at university websites. In your case, this would be the department of economics, where they give information about PhD's in economics - there is usually a link to Scholarship pages which are aimed at letting applicants know if the university can offer any funding to help PhD students. Some of these scholarships only pasy the difference between Home/EU fees and International fees (about £6000-7000 per year), so you'd have to pay the remainder yourself. There are other scholarships that make up this difference. So you may have to apply for 2-3 different scholarships (one paying the difference between Home/EU and International fees, another paying something towards cost of living/a stipend, etc.) But all this information will be offered at the department's website, in the section discussing the particular PhD programme you're interested in. You can also contact the university's Registry or Scholarship office directly and then can point you to a list of scholarships they offer to International students.

When searching for funding, just make sure you read the criteria, unless speacify that only Home/EU students can apply, then they probably accept international applicants too.

Finally, there are some website that can help you find universities/departments that do offer funding to International students. See links below:

http://www.scholarship-search.org.uk/pls/mon/hc_edufin.page_pls_user_studmoney?x=16180339&y=&a=220707

http://www.findaphd.com/

Thread: MPhil?

posted
24-Aug-10, 14:40
by Baltar
Avatar for Baltar
posted about 9 years ago
======= Date Modified 24 Aug 2010 14:47:06 =======
Sorry you've had such a terrible experience at your university.

Why not contact an economics expert at another UK university and explain your situation. If they like your research and think that you have what it takes to do a PhD, then you can transfer to finish your PhD with them instead. A PhD thesis can be submitted after (a minimum) 24 months (if you're a full-time student). So if you enrol to do your PhD at another university, then after 2 years you can submit your thesis. I know it means an extra year for you, and you've already paid the fees for the 3rd year at your current university, but it's an option which is worthwhile if it means that you have a good chance of getting the PhD at the end of it - especially if your current university won't let you get that far and want you to submit for an MPhil instead. Transfers at PhD level are not unusual; and academics are used to receiving emails from students who want to move universities and join them instead. Pick a few 'good' departments/universities and send them a revised version of your proposal stating that you've already got 2 years worth of research and you'd like to enrol on their PhD programme. They sometimes ask to see a sample of your work before they decide to make sure that you are good enough and that the reason why you cannot finish at your current university is due to bad supervision (not because anything's wrong with your work). If you're going to do this, you'll need to apply to the new university, which means providing 2 academics refrences. Do you have people willing to be your referees outside of your university?

An appeal at your current university may end up getting you through the MPhil to PhD Transfer stage, but would you want (after all of this) to work with a group who have let you down so badly? What stops them from letting you down again when the time comes to submit your PhD thesis? Either way, good luck and hope things work out for you.

One more thing: if you mean that you've already paid the fees for the academic year starting September 2010, then you can ask the university to refund you for this because the academic year hasn't started yet.

Thread: How perfect was your footnotes style n biblio when you submitted?

posted
22-Aug-10, 03:14
edited about 1 second later
by Baltar
Avatar for Baltar
posted about 9 years ago
======= Date Modified 22 Aug 2010 16:58:37 =======

I have to follow the style used by my department, which means manually doing the whole thing: ibid. and all! My sup's taught me a few tricks to keep the word count short. If you use one source quite a few times, then you can abbreviate it, so The Journal of Molecular Biology can be shortened to JMB. The first time you cite it put in brackets next to it (hereafter cited as JMB), and then use the abbreviation from there on.

Also, little things like 'p. 155' or 'p155' are both ok and you can use either one of them (as long as you are consistent). However, the former counts as two words whereas the latter counts as one! By doing this I've managed to cut at least 400 words from my final count!

Instead of: "Jones (2003), p. 107" I just do: "Jones, op. cit., p107". If I'd used Jones in the previous footnote, then I just do: "ibid., p107". If it's the same page from Jones as per my last footnote, then I just do: "ibid." (which means the same page of Jones as my last footnote). In the end, either "ibid." or "ibid., p107" would count as less words than "Jones (2008), p. 107". I keep an Excel sheet where I keep note of who I've cited first, which chapter and which pages number. That way, by chapter four, if I'm unsure if I've given full reference to one author already, I glance at the excel sheet (do a quick search). The excel sheet's really handy because I can do my bibliography straight from there.

Hope this helps.

In the end, I think it's best checking with your sup as mine was quite particular about the system that I should use.
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