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Book recommendation - PhD: An uncommon guide to research, writing, and PhD life - worth it or not?

Hi StephanieK,

The cheapest copy I can find is from World of Books and is 8.99 pbk, and is in very good condition. However, if you look on Youtube for James Hayton there is an excellent lecture entitled 'How to get through your PhD without going insane'. It's one hour, twenty nine minutes long. Having just looked at as much of the book as I could on the Amazon preview, I would say that a lot of the most relevant material is covered in the lecture. I saw this lecture a couple of months ago and, although I got my PhD in 2006, I actually learnt a few things from it that I did not know! Hope that helps.

PhD and disability

Hi WitchingHour, I have experience of both of these. I'd message you personally, but I can't work out how to do that. So if you could somehow get back to me, I'd be interested in talking further. Best wishes.

*really* tough day and a difficult decision

Dear Angelofthenorth, my heart went out to you when I read about your problem. I would echo walminskipeasucker's remark about it being about "as bad as it gets". For what it's worth, some thoughts on the matter. I don't know whether your thesis is in the physical sciences or the social sciences / humanities because I can only comment on the latter. Presumably, after your viva you were given a fairly specific list of corrections. My understanding is that if those points are addressed, then they have to pass you because they had their chance to mention anything else at the original viva. The fine point here is just how well do you need to address them? I think 404's remark about simply turning in a piece of work which "does the job" is spot on here, i.e. you address them as well as you can even though you may feel you have done so inadequately. When I resubmitted my thesis (I had fairly substantial corrections) I was advised by my supervisor to submit it with a covering letter to the examiners saying that I had addressed points 1, 2, 3, etc. even though I was conscious that I had not made a very good job of some of them. As for the issue of answering the research question, I would not be overly concerned about this. Not EVERY PhD is able to do so, and that is some kind of answer in itself. The key point about this strategy is that it offers a slightly different angle on the dilemma facing you - either give up, submit for an MPhil or try for the PhD. If (and I stress 'if') you aim for the latter, but they still decide to fail you, then I would expect them to aware you an MPhil anyway (which they invariably do as a consolation prize). I personally would not bother to submit for an MPhil, I'd at least have a go at the PhD because it's just possible you might squeak it...

Possible to submit one's thesis to another University?

Hi 404

I'm very sorry to hear about your problem.  For what it's worth, my thoughts are (like previous posters) that the most important thing is to do as good a job as you can on it and get something submitted by the end of June. However, I also note your point that you might not be allowed to do this because of the outstanding fees.  This seems particularly harsh. Might it be useful to speak to someone from your student union because I would have thought that if your institution operates the same way mine did, then when you hand in your thesis all they require at that point is an examination fee (a couple of hundred pounds).  After the examination, there are two possibilities: one, corrections, either minor or major, or an outright pass. If it is the latter, only at that point would the payment of any outstanding debts be necessary in order to graduate. If the former, then payment would effectively be deferred untill the corrections were completed.  And, I would have imagined, that if someone could not pay the fees then, then whenever they did pay them, at that point they could then graduate - which would be a solution to the problem. I think this point about when exactly the outstanding fees need to be repaid needs to be properly clarified. It seems very harsh and you can't be the only person ever to be affected by it.

Am I going to fail? How to get out of a rut - help needed!

Hi Rebel

I would echo previous correspondents remarks about 31,000 words being perfectly do-able in seven months.  It's the feeling of panic at the moment, that makes if feel that it is not.

I got a PhD over 4 years ago (social sciences ESRC funded / (very) mature student) and found myself in a not dissimilar situation where I was given a deadline (it felt more like a DEATH warrant) to complete in five months or that was the end of my registration.  I did, however, have a very detailed plan at the time - chapters, sections, sub sections - but calculated that I needed to write 40,000 words (I only had 45,000 done). 

I set myself the task of producing 2,000 words per week which translated into 400 words per day (Monday to Friday - 8 hours each day) and then five hours Sat and Sunday for final corrections. I reasoned that this would be equivalent to writing a 2,000 word essay each week - which sounded simple enough / less frightening.  So, to sum up, I went for a particular number of hours each day and a certain number of words per hour - 50, which is about a sentence every twenty minutes.  Of course, sometimes I managed more, other times less - but that was what I was aiming for.

I might also add that I was living on my own at the time and so my days consisted of writing for an hour or two (I recorded the time very precisely), lying down for an hour or two's rest / recovery, and then back to the computer.  It was like living down a claustrophobic tunnel, especially so if you are a serial procrastinator, as I was. I've never felt so physically exhausted in all my life.  But... I did produce 40,000 words on time (well, one day late actually. I obciously did not want to let APP (The Association of Professional Procrastinators) completely down) and got my PhD.

You just need a plan that will work for you - it can be done.  The very best of luck.

Doing the PhD for all the wrong reasons

Hi lostinoz.  No, I certainly don't think that wanting to be called 'Dr' is a ridiculous reason for doing a PhD. If you don't want / expect to get a job in academia (for example, because of your age), then what other reasons might there be for putting yourself through years and years of mental hell.  If the degree did not carry the title, would anyone seriously want to do one - to focus on one extremely narrow topic for 3+++ years. It was certainly my principle reason.  Like yourself, I too have suffered from chronic health problems all my adult life (I am now 59 and got a PhD at 57). It was for me a way of making a point that could not be made any other way - it said that if I had been dealt a better hand of cards, then I might have achieved more than I have (that might be a fantasy, but there you go), and relatedly it has also enabled me, I feel, to be a 'someone', a slightly different (more confident) person to the one I was before I got it.  My thoughts are that people do PhD's for all kinds of personal reasons, leaving aside straightforward career reasons, but that they are rarely admitted to. I do hope that you don't chuck it in and go on to complete it.  It took me a long time to abandon the idea / fantasy that I might have an academic career, no matter how short, at the end of it. There are lots of people who do PhD's and never think of academia.  To do a PhD you probably need to be slightly insane to start with - so to want people to address you as 'Dr' is quite minor in general insanity terms.