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Thread: Post-Submission Limbo

posted
06-Sep-14, 14:10
edited about 21 seconds later
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posted about 3 years ago
Quote From KC1982:
Thanks for the advice guys. I'm the very same , submitted a few days ago. Thesis was very rushed at the end so now am freaking out about things I know we're written poorly or too vaguely. Is this normal too?!!


It's normal. Try to relax and not stress too much about it!

Thread: Post-Submission Limbo

posted
01-Sep-14, 17:28
edited about 9 seconds later
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posted about 3 years ago
Quote From Mackem_Beefy:
I thus do wonder even with humanities if there's not some background reading you could do that might support you at viva?


I don't think so, and as you know Ian I've been both a science PhD student and humanities PhD student, so know both sides well. (Emily: I had to leave the science PhD after falling ill, aged just 22, with a progressive neurological disease. I later retrained, from scratch, as a historian, picking up 3 more degrees, part-time)

With humanities and the viva the key thing is to know your key research area, and your contribution. It's not a more general test.

The only reading that could be useful is if right at the end of your PhD you discovered something relevant (aarrgghh!) newly out in the literature, in which case you should probably read it in case it comes up in the viva.

The other thing that might help is to look at publications by your examiners, especially the external. And especially anything vaguely relevant to your PhD.

But that isn't essential. And this sort of reading takes very little time. The best thing is to take a break, however hard that may be.

Have you got a viva date yet Emily? I would not recommend preparing for your viva more than 2-3 weeks ahead. But you could start thinking about how you will prepare when the time comes. My viva preparation tips have become known here as the "Bilbo 5" questions! In case it might help you I'll post them here:

My viva preparation involved reading a viva preparation book (Tinkler and Jackson) to demystify the process, rereading and summarising my thesis to familiarise myself with it and spot typos (I took a list into the viva on the day and handed it out - all examiners/convenor were very grateful), and thinking about and memorising my answers to 5 key questions: originality of my thesis, contribution to knowledge, methodology, weaknesses/gaps/mistakes, and what would I do differently if starting again.

Thread: Post-Submission Limbo

posted
01-Sep-14, 13:19
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posted about 3 years ago
There is nothing that you can usefully do to prepare for your viva until much nearer the time. You need to prepare for the viva quite late in the day, so the ideas and your revision are still fresh when the date of the viva comes.

So take a complete break. Yes really! Are there things you've been putting off doing because of your PhD? What about books - non academic - that you want to read? Or maybe a day trip to places you want to go and visit.

It's vital that you take this break because you need to be in as good a shape as possible for the viva.

I do not recommend working on journal papers at the moment if they are spun out of your PhD thesis. You are likely to get valuable feedback at your viva about publishing options, and your research in general, and it's much better if you can wait until after then before tackling more journal papers.

Good luck! My PhD was in the humanities too (history).

Thread: Anticlimactic process of submission

posted
23-Aug-14, 03:56
edited about 10 seconds later
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posted about 3 years ago
Yes I remember this well. Pre submission it seems to be such a big step to get to. And then when you get there you realise there's still the viva to get through, and you're far from finished, and yes it's very anti climax like. You can organise your own mini celebration of course. Maybe treat yourself to a nice meal or night out? Whatever you would like. And then look ahead to the next stage. Good luck!

Thread: Working full time while finishing write up

posted
07-Aug-14, 15:44
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posted about 3 years ago
This is a fairly normal situation for part-time PhD-ers to be in, not just at the end of their PhDs, but throughout it. I don't think full-timers really appreciate how hard it is to study part-time, usually fitting the PhD alongside a full-time job. People in this situation tend to have grab moments here and there, squeeze their PhD into odd hours in the evening, and at weekends. It takes over your life, and removes your social/family time. But it's what it takes.

Near the end of my 6 year part-time PhD I wasn't working, but because of severely disabling progressive neurological illness I only had a total of about 5 good hours a week on which to do anything PhD-y, including the final writing up stage. I had to work in 1 hour bursts, because of my illness, spread throughout the week.

I got through by setting myself realistic time goals, drawing up to-do lists, and keeping nibbling away regularly at what I needed to do, week by week. It's tempting to wait until you can have an extended period of time to work on a PhD, but this rarely happens for part-timers, and it's better to keep banging away at it steadily, in those hours you can grab during the week/weekend. Then you will make progress, and can finish. Including the final writing up.

Good luck!

Thread: Can I get full time work right for studying Phd?

posted
05-Aug-14, 12:28
edited about 21 seconds later
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posted about 3 years ago
You should also check with your supervisor what your likely PhD times are. A PhD isn't just about occasional meetings. You need to put in the time to do the necessary research and writing. What is your subject area? If science, then studying a PhD full-time you would normally be expected to be in the university office or lab 9-5 Monday-Friday. It's like having a full-time job in itself. If humanities there is a bit more flexibility, but you still need to put a lot of study hours in.

Thread: Early quit from PhD program

posted
06-Jul-14, 20:38
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posted about 3 years ago
Good advice already. Are you funded or self-funded? Would any replacement PhD be funded or self-funded? If you drop out of one funded place and look to get new funding you may struggle to find a supervisor willing to take you on. Funding is scarce, and many supervisors do not look kindly on people who drop out of other PhD places. Just a thought. It's not like resigning from a job and taking on a new job, but very different.

Thread: PhD and Rheumatoid Arthritis

posted
02-Jul-14, 11:30
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posted about 3 years ago
... [continued reply]

When you say "working full-time" is that full-time studying? If so, have you considered switching to part-time given how many problems you are encountering now? It could give you valuable breathing-space, and more time to rest/recuperate from the pain and fatigue from typing etc. If you are funded by e.g. a UK research council they will support such a switch for medical reasons. They also support short breaks, as I took during my second PhD.

Have you had a candid talk with your supervisor? What about disability services at your university? Most universities now have a disability support team, and they should be able to give you advice. Have you been assessed for Disabled Students' Allowance? The assessment should be free, and may suggest some solutions you hadn't thought of. Importantly the disability support team can help to negotiate with your supervisor and any funding body to make any necessary changes.

But I wonder if going part-time might be your best option. Importantly it would give you more time to rest, and spread the load and typing pain etc. Significantly it may also reduce the stress that could with an auto-immune disease make your condition worse, with a significant chance of relapse.

And I'm assuming that you are getting proper medical care, and that you are on the most effective drugs. Is your consultant fully aware that you are a PhD student and the problems you are having?

Anyway hope those ideas help. Good luck! You can do it, but you may need to shake up some of the ways you have been working until now.

If you want to read more about my story, including 2 separate goes at a PhD, see

Thread: PhD and Rheumatoid Arthritis

posted
02-Jul-14, 11:24
edited a moment later
Avatar for BilboBaggins
posted about 3 years ago
My situation was a little different, but I am probably on many similar drugs to you. I have a very rare auto-immune neurological disease, similar day to day to multiple sclerosis, and severely disabling. I had to study my history PhD part-time - I'd had to leave a full-time science PhD years earlier after the disease struck me at 22. I have enormous cognitive problems from my disease, and huge problems with fatigue. For much of my history PhD I could only work in 1 hour chunks at most, spread throughout the week, often no more than 5 hours total a week. But I did it.

I think given the stage you are at you need to have a proper sit down and work out both how much you have left to do, and what your limitations and practical working circumstances are.

For example you say you're at the writing up almost finished stage. But how near are you really? I know that stage can go on for a while you see :) Basically what have you left to do, how many words, how many months.

Also re your limitations I think you should look afresh at voice recognition software. For writing your thesis i.e. the stage you are at now understanding isn't the issue, but rather getting the words out. And you need to get those words out whatever way you can. If writing is too painful then try speech recognition. You may find it helps you a lot.

Have you also tried shaking up your writing timetable? For example rather than trying to write for many hours try working in short bursts. You may find it surprisingly effective, and less painful for you with typing etc. It may also help work around your confusion from the drugs. I found this was the only way I could work. I have enormous cognitive problems from brain damage from my disease, plus the drugs on top of that.

.... [going to continue in second message]

Thread: HOW MANY DAYS A WEEK REQUIRED AND TIMES FOR PHD?

posted
27-Jun-14, 13:06
edited about 32 seconds later
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posted about 3 years ago
Oh and I agree with Wowzers that on-campus students get more opportunities. This is particularly the case with teaching/tutoring opportunities/experience, which can be so essential for securing an academic job after your PhD. People off-campus, whether full-time or part-time, are frequently overlooked for these opportunities, and have to work that much harder to secure them.

Thread: HOW MANY DAYS A WEEK REQUIRED AND TIMES FOR PHD?

posted
27-Jun-14, 13:04
edited about 10 seconds later
Avatar for BilboBaggins
posted about 3 years ago
The answer does vary enormously by subject, institution and people (supervisor and student). You should really ask the staff at the university you are considering attending.

I've been a PhD student twice (had to drop out of first one after developing severely disabling neurological illness). The first time I was a science (computer science) full-time student, and it was basically like a 9-5 job, Mon-Fri permanently. I needed to be there to do the work needed, and was expected to be there by my supervisor. My second PhD was part-time, humanities (history), and I pretty much did it all from home, in very few hours. I had to work with archival source material, but arranged copies of everything needed pretty much to be brought to me at home, so I could work on them there. Vital given my illness.

Thread: 3 months in, feel out of my depth..

posted
26-Jun-14, 16:19
Avatar for BilboBaggins
posted about 3 years ago
3 months in is very early on. A lot of people are still doing literature surveys, for the first year. At least you are getting on with research.

Basically it's normal to feel how you are at the moment. Maybe not so normal though to be encouraged to make some of the decisions you are making now, at least without guidance.

I think you should have a candid chat with your supervisor about some of the problems you've been having. Things like not having the stats course until September but being expected to do stats stuff now seems a bit unwise.

I agree that more experienced academics - e.g. PhD students and post-docs - should be able to give you tips / help. But you should discuss this with your supervisor.

And although it's not much encouragement, feeling out of your depth will probably continue in some degree or another until the end! The key thing is to learn how best to manage it, and that includes seeking proper help and advice about things that are troubling you, from those who are there and paid to help you i.e. especially your sup.

Good luck!

Thread: Retake studies/Go back into the academic flow/Starting over(sort of)

posted
24-Jun-14, 14:53
edited about 7 seconds later
Avatar for BilboBaggins
posted about 3 years ago
Going into conferences and seminars can help you get into the student swing of things, but I'd suggest it's not what you should be focusing on. You need to focus on your thesis, and what needs to be done to sort it out.

First of all I'm assuming that you've got a detailed report from the examiners on what needs to be done. If not chase this up.

Have you met your supervisor? Are they supporting you? They may have useful advice on how to approach the resubmission.

Most of all though you need to sit down, maybe with a cup of tea and a biscuit as a treat, and work through the examiners' report and work out what you need to do. Convert that report into a to-do list of tasks. Don't make them big ones, but rather break them down into small things you can be getting on with. Then think about which tasks you might tackle first.

A routine can help, but only if that suits you. It wouldn't have worked for me, because my neurological condition varies all the time. So rather I would grab odd moments, work in spurts. My to-do list was vital for finishing off my thesis (I wasn't referred).

Then once you start tackling the to-do list you should find - whether you are working to a routine or more sporadically - that your confidence grows. Cross off each item on the list as you do it, and move on to another task in the list. You do not have to tackle the list in sequential order. Rather you are probably better off tackling tasks in the order of most-manageable / least unappealing, if you're anything like me.

But yes, focus on your writing. That's really what you need to do at the moment. And see if your supervisor can offer good tips.

Good luck!

Thread: Humanities phd - publish as a book or as papers?

posted
20-Jun-14, 10:06
Avatar for BilboBaggins
posted about 3 years ago
In humanities a book is normally regarded more highly than individual journal papers, but papers - if enough of them - can be a good substitute.

I'm a bit concerned by your publisher asking for a subvention. Make 100% sure that this isn't quasi vanity publishing, as many academic publishers are. For example I know one ex PhD student at my department who had her PhD thesis published by a German academic press, which is very dodgy, and little more than vanity publishing in the way they operate (I'm not going to say the name for legal reasons, but there's tons out there on the web). So this book publication carries very little weight with academics who know enough.

Assuming your publisher is really bona fide I think you need to weigh up the cost of the subvention versus potential gain. It could certainly help you get an academic post in future. Is that worth it enough?

Alternatively ditch the publishing contract and go for papers. But be warned these will take ages to produce, and may not all succeed. Academic journal publishing is a very slow and difficult process. It could take some years for you to see the full results. With a bona fide publisher you might be better off paying up-front for the publishing and see results fast.

Good luck!

Thread: PhD Meltdown

posted
16-Jun-14, 14:50
edited about 1 minute later
Avatar for BilboBaggins
posted about 3 years ago
Supervisor comments at this time can come across terribly. I say this as someone who - quite legitimately, it wasn't just a supervisor being difficult - had huge trouble finding my writing voice, and ended up having to restart my thesis after a year of part-time writing.

It's likely your supervisor's criticisms are not as bad as you think. What you need to do now is take a little step away from them, for a few days. Then concentrate on how you can turn the critiques into an action plan. Focus on each of his points, and work out how to fix it. Draw up a to-do list based on this, start tackling it, probably with the easiest things first.

Try not to focus on your supervisor's comments as aggressive/emotional. That isn't helping you. What you need to focus on is what you need to finish.

It is hard that you haven't seen your supervisor much in the past year, though that's not unheard of. My supervisor moved 500 miles away and I was very much on my own for the next few years! You can complete a PhD, but you need to stick at it, and focus on what you need to do.

And if you carry on into academia after you're going to have to get very tough about feedback from readers/reviewers. Anonymous peer review feedback is *much* *much* tougher to take than anything you will get from your PhD supervisor now.

But for now, as I say, step back. You've handed in your first draft, and you have your feedback. In a couple of days you will turn that into an action plan and get started. But for now treat yourself. And focus on the positive route ahead.

Good luck!
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