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Have you ever privately wondered...

I used to worry about this too; most students probably do. But I got the PhD in the end. What are you actually writing about.

Re-submission deadline extension


I am interested to know if you got it done?


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I visited this forum again as I got my PhD certificate in the mail today and am on cloud 9.

I don't know if people will disapprove of my reason for writing a PhD thesis.

I did the degree as by doing so, via the Commonwealth Scholarship and Cambridge Uni, I could get me and my family onto an immigration track for the UK. This was my main reason for doing the degree; I am now able to get an EU passport (gained citizenship last week woohoo). So everything has happened at once (hence the happiness).

I do love philosophy (this was my area)  but I could have just read it on my own as I had previously. Since my viva I have shunned all lecturing and am working full-time as a carpenter again; this is what I did before becoming a student.

Getting distance

I don't know if it is normal but I think your discipline is great.

It took me 4 years to write my PhD and I routinely spent months on end either fucking around or working without even thinking of my thesis.

Jojo's viva journey - preparation and viva - sigh...

======= Date Modified 21 Nov 2010 22:43:23 =======
One of the points you make above reminds me of my own worries before my recent viva so hopefully my experience may help you to feel better. At the viva on my philosophy thesis I knew that I would be encountering a Hegelian thinker - he was my external - and that he might not be too pleased that I had written Hegel off in only a few short paragraphs while addressing an area that he is widely considered to be very important in. Like you I was forced to do this because of the word count.

I was worried before the viva but, again like you, I know the omitted body of work quite well. It did come up at the viva pretty early on and we talked/debated about my decision for about 10 minutes. By the end of this time, while I had not won this external over, I had at least demonstrated to him that I had this excluded material at my fingertips and that the omission was not careless but the result of a reasoned decision; a decision that he didn't agree with but was forced to concede was at least logical. He not only ended up passing me but invited me out for a beer afterwards; I had never met him before this and although he said he wanted to talk about my argument more in the pub we actually ended up just shooting the shit about life in general.

My point being; try not to worry too much about your omission but be able to justify it clearly.

One final thing. Don't panic if they don't tell you that you have passed at the beginning. My examiners forgot to do this and it wasn't until an hour into the thing that one of them blurted out "oh god, we forgot to tell him he has passed" and they both apologised. Up until this point I had had no clue how I was doing.

Good luck at the viva.


The Originality Monster...oh dear.

Hi Jenny,

This issue did not really come up for me during the course of my own PhD but another guy in my seminar group had the same issues that you have written about above. I was quite close to this guy as we were both writing about contemporary French philosophical thought and he was told something close to the following. It is perfectly legitimate to attend yourself to the same general subject and field of questions as others, even if the same methods are employed, as long as your work adds meaningfully to the current state of knowledge. That is, when building on these previous thinkers you are expected to engage critically with their work and, as you might imagine, this could take many forms. For example, a robust criticism of their shortcomings or the more gentle criticism that there work, while interesting, has somehow pulled up short of something really vital; this latter you would obviously detail yourself.

Having said that I think that you will find what my friend found. That is, as you go on, you cannot help but be original as your ideas take a more definite form. In fact he eventually ended up like me; once we had submitted we both worried that we had been too original and were too out there.

Re-submission deadline extension

Yea I remember feeling exactly the same after I had contacted my supervisor but I had to take a grip on myself and think "I have enough to worry about with getting the thesis finsihed to get too depressed/embarrassed over this'.

I hope that you have given yourself enough time. Good luck with it all. Keep me posted on your progress.

Re-submission deadline extension

I'm not sure if your asking if I was successful in the PhD/viva or in getting the extension. The answer to both is yes. I applied for the extension at about the same time before my deadline as you are.

The other thing I forgot to say is another piece of advice I got at the time from a friend of mine who is an academic at another university. When asking for your extension make sure that you give yourself all the time you need. That is, don't just ask for a little bit of time because you feel guilty at having to ask at all; be really realistic about how long you need as you would hate to have to apply for a second extension.

Re-submission deadline extension

Hi Sam,

I don't know if this is helpful but I put back the final submission date for my PhD by 3 months. I know your situation is different as you are talking about a resubmission date. It really pissed off my supervisor; not just because it made me run over the four years and fucked up the department's funding but also because one of my externals was being flown in from overseas and it meant the viva date also had to be changed and thus plane tickets altered etc. What did become apparent though was that if you aren't going to make one of these big PhD deadlines you should let your supervisor and departmental head know as soon as possible. They may not like it but it is always better for them to have more time to go into bat for you. I guess what I am trying to say is let them know asap but also really plead the financial difficulty case: exaggerate your financial situation if you have to and really try to drum up some sympathy. Remember that neither your supervisor, your department or your externals want you to fail so give them some really good reasons to think of you as a special case. Also read your university's bylaws, or call your registry (anonymously if need be) and get a handle on the rules and any loopholes there may be as you cannot guarantee that your supervisor or dept head may know what to do in a case like this. That is, if you have an unsympathetic supervisor they may just be tempted to say the date can't be altered so you need to have this information yourself in case they are wrong.

Finally, if you don't get your extension don't just give up. Do as much work as you can and resubmit anyway as you never know you may still get through.

Good luck and get working; in a few months you will hopefully have a PhD that nobody can ever take off you and it will all be over.

What did you do during first few months of PhD?

Absolutely nothing; if I'm honest.

Tired and furious

Your supervisors are being ridiculous. Tell them so.

Weight! How to lose weight gained during phd.

Lost 3 stone after finishing my BA and MA on the Atkins diet over a 6 month period and managed to keep it off during my PhD using the same diet; I know it isn't supposed to be good for you but I justified this as I had so many other things to worry about concerning the thesis, via etc. I am now working as a chippy again and getting the muscle tone back too. SO this diet and exercise worked for me (I am a 40 year old male).

should I stay or should I go?

======= Date Modified 21 Nov 2010 23:10:20 =======
Hi Linda,

I had my viva a few months ago so I am looking at things from the other end of the telescope to you. I just wanted to say three things in the hope that they might be helpful.

First, having a hands-off supervisor could be viewed as a luxury as without constant advice/bickering/surveillance you can really make this thing your own. I have the main parts of my thesis currently being read by Routledge and I think a large part of the favourable feedback I have had so far is because no supervisor crammed my work into that 'in this section I will show....what I have shown in this section" format. That is, what I tried to write was a philosophy book rather than a philosophy thesis; although it was queston driven. Of course the big problem with this freedom from close supervision is that it potentially - and this did happen to me - gives rise to a crisis in confidence as you can start to really doubt yourself; 'do I know what I'm doing', 'am I just an idiot', 'is this important and does anybody care about this shit anyway' etc. But negating these doubts is what this forum, postgrad conferences, peers etc. are for. At least in the first 18 months of my PhD overcoming this crisis was my most important achievement.

Second, and also at risk of bruising the self-image of many people who read this site, I wouldn't really worry too much about being or feeling 'unintelligent' or intelligent. I certainly don't think 'intelligence' is what leads people into academia. I don't consider myself particularly intelligent - I am a 40 year old carpenter who left school at 15 and grew up in a house without books - and the people that I have met in my life whose minds impressed or interested me the most I found most often in non-academic settings. In my limited experience as long as you can get your ideas across in text and get the canonical texts, concepts and methods of your discipline under your belt in such a way that you can come up with a strong and relevant line of questioning then it is not intelligence that is important for seeing your PhD through; it is primarily endurance and a small ammount of confidence.

Finally, another thing that strikes me about your post is that less than a year into your PhD you feel you need to have 2 chapters written; I submitted in July 2010 and I only had 2 completed chapters at xmas 2009. I could give myself this luxury of over three years of time to think through and experiment with my ideas before I finally committed to them as I had successfully kept my supervisor at bay. Admittedly this was achieved via a large ammount of dishonesty about the current state of my work which caused consternation among my supervisor's less laid-back colleagues who were worried about my progress and relieved when I passed the viva with only typos. It could be the case that you are shooting for too much too soon and putting too much pressure on yourself. Talk to your supervisor about slowing things up and if that doesn't work start bullshitting in the traditional student fashion; 'sorry I haven't submitted at chapter this semester... I'm too depressed at the moment....my uncle died...I have run out of funds and had to spend the last few months working' etc. etc. Just about everyone I know who has written a PhD has resorted to this sort of thing at least once. And one thing you can be sure of is that once you have been there a few years and passed your upgrade they really cannot afford to kick you out as it will damage their funding.

Sorry if this was waffley and that I used myself as an example so much. But I think I used to feel like you currently do at the beginning before I made the decision that 'fuck it, its my thesis, and as much as I can, I'll do it my way while trying not to question myself so much'.

Good luck.

If your PhD was an album cover...

a mirror held up in front of another mirror receding into itself for ever

Viva tomorrow



you had your viva the day before I made my final submission

can you believe its over