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Can I get final draft done by 1st July?

Hi all,

I realise this is a 'how long is a piece of string' question but was hoping for some advice. I'm currently re-writing/structuring empirical chapters x 3 (qual thesis) - 1.5 still to do. Drafts are being given to supervisors for comments. I still have to re-write literature review, discussion/conclusion, re-structure a study context chapter and methodology and write intro from scratch. The weird anxiety dreams are happening and it all seems to be taking toooooooo long. It feels the more I'm doing, the more confused I 'm getting and am totally beginning to doubt the 'it'll all come together/Eureka moment' that others keep talking about. My personal deadlines are being exceeded and it feels as though there is still so much to do. And, it is soooooooo taxing and dull at this stage. Anyone got any advice? Any tips for easing the process?

I'm planning on getting final draft to sups 1st July as I have a wedding to attend later than week and am hoping they'll have a chance to make comments whilst I am away. Final submission date is beginning of August.

Thanks for reading......
Yours, increasingly beleaguered Blackbyrd

is my phd killing my relationship?

Hi there,

I'm sorry to hear that things are not going too well for you. I'm roughly at the same stage - final submission August (social sciences) and the PhD journey which started in 2007 has had many ups and downs. I can say that the write up stage is challenging. Peace, time to concentrate and get the damned thing finished is the most important, yet, money woes, self confidence issues, relationships, supervisors etc etc, make the day to day tasks harder and the emotions do become a bit more raw as the deadline looms. I think its normal to feel pessimistic and anxious and it's not helpful to have little support regardless of how 'difficult' you may be seeming at the moment. I knew for me that I couldn't do both - my relationship and the PhD. I didn't have the emotional strength to finish PhD and sustain a relationship which had many challenges independently of the PhD. I agree with other poster though that you need to have a wee break if you can. Do something where you will 'succeed'. Bake a cake, swim 20 lengths, climb a hill (if there are any!) my point is do something which will give you a level of control. It might give you a confidence boost to plough on again tomorrow. I would suggest tackling the PhD (as this is imperative to your career and livlihood most likely and your sense of self belief and confidence to finish it) as much as you can and if isolating yourself is the way to finish it - so be it. It's not fun at all but it's for a short period of time.....12 weeks or thereabouts and it's submitted! That's not long. Good luck! I'm where you are and I have turned into a hermit. It is very boring but soon, soon, it will be done and life (whatever that's going to look like) without PhD is waiting....

11 weeks til submission - eek!


Thank you for your replies. Thanks Jenni. Your reply gave me a wee boost. Good point about computer assisted analysis programmes although you and I both know that Nvivo doesn't really do the analysis, our brains do. I agree, after coffee and choc, that this might not be a total disaster. A pretty big disaster but at least I have done writing although agree that argument is still fuzzy. Perhaps this is common in qual?

Anyway, thank you for your reply and good luck with your final draft to supervisors. I'm looking forward to that day myself when it's off my desk and on to theirs :)

11 weeks til submission - eek!

Hello all,
Still writing up here and have to submit final draft to supervisors first week of April. Managed to finish first drafts of analysis chapters before Xmas. Still to re-write/edit everything and fully write discussion/conclusion and introduction.
But have had major set back and my nvivo file (the only one I had) is irretrievably corrupted and cannot be salvaged. I can barely type this without crying. 3 months of work and absolutely necessary for write up as doing qual analysis. Have been in a major panic about this as it stopped working before Xmas. Just found out today it was looking hopeless so I've been in a bit of a funk about this.

I know I should dust myself off and plough on but do you ever have times when it just feels so flipping hard and all that's still to do feels so overwhelming. That's how today is going for me. I actually feel in shock.

The point is, can I get my whole thesis re-written, edited and making sense (it doesn't feel as though my argument is firmed up at all at the mo) by first week of April, given my analysis file calamity. To rectify this in itself will take at least 3 weeks of work. Any advice please? Words of wisdom?
Thanks BB

didn't get the job

Hello all,

I had a job interview for a post today. I applied for the post as it was part-time and I thought I could finish writing up but earn some much needed cash. I didn't get the job. The feedback = ' I seem preoccupied with my PhD and a tad overwhelmed.' Not sure if that constitutes good feedback to be honest but I'm actually feeling embarrassed and a bit irritated. They knew prior to interview that I was completing PhD. Hmmm. Just thought I'd share this :-(:$:-s

write up rant...well more an ongoing grumble actually

hello again,

I would like to say thank you to all who replied to my post. I really appreciate the advice and pointers. I've been mulling things over although I'm not happy with having to move out of my flat, it is the only alternative at the moment. I'm remember how fortunate I am in that I do have the option of moving back in my my parents. The getting used to people around thing will probably be harder for my parents to adjust to me again, than me to them. I've no doubt I will revert back to being a stroppy teenager until this PhD albatross is completed. Poor them! But it is true that I've come this far and it would be a gigantic waste of time NOT to complete. That said, I can't see past my deadlines for Christmas so I am going to stay in flat until January and then move out. One last Christmas in my flat :( but at least I can stay til January. I was reflecting that I have probably achieved quite a lot since summer, although wish I could see/truly believe that! Nevertheless, I must keep going.... thank you again for your posts. :-)

write up rant...well more an ongoing grumble actually

Having started PhD in Oct 2007, having hellish time with principal supervisor, ethics and data collection which took me to the end of my funded period in Sept 2010, I secured a RA job at a different uni for 8 months and took a leave of absence as I needed the money. I was still working on PhD during this job and resumed Ft studies in May. I've mostly completed analysis and am writing up. My grumble is that I feel I've put in such a lot of effort, worked to try to pay my way but am now relying on family financial support to finish yet I'm still MONTHS away from submission. The money is running out (end of Jan) and there is no more and I don't feel I have time to pursue FT work (if I can find any??!!) and I'm essentially going to have to move out of my flat and back in with my parents. I've applied for all sorts of financial support, Pt jobs etc but supervisors seem completely unaware (even though I keep telling them) that completion is highly contingent on being able to live/eat etc. I know it's not the end of the world having to move but it all feels so stressful and unsettling. I'm trying to complete draft for Christmas but the realisation is that it's a first draft and the effort to repair and finish seems so far off. I've barely the energy or interest to write the draft. Feedback from supervisors feels like a slap and I've had enough of borrowing money, thinking about this project, having little life... This PhD so far has felt like a series of losses - bereavements, relationship breakdown, liklihood of moving out of my home that I'm almost convinced (given that there are fewer and fewer job opps) that it's been a waste of time. Although, what is the alternative....Sorry. Just feeling overwhelmed, under supported and stupid. Sigh:-(:-s

Advice for someone just beginning the write up

Hi there,

I'm writing up at the moment but have probably done it the 'wrong' way. I spent the summer analysing and getting to grips with Nvivo and the writing I've been doing has been based on huge coloured mind maps of themes which are stuck to my kitchen walls. I've broken down quotes into themes on nvivo so I can find them and I'm just trying to tell a story. I've not meticulously planned any analysis chapter. The structure is a problem but I feel that if the content is on the right track, then the structure will need re-worked, as well as all the previous chapters I've written earlier on anyway. I'm giving myself til Christmas to have a draft (barring intro) of the whole thing. I will be pleased with this but under no illusion that's it finished. I plan on taking another 2 months to re-write/edit everything then that is it! I will have had enough. But this is by far the hardest part I think. The sheer mental challenge of pulling it together is tough which is why I'm just trying to write. It's hard to start but easier to keep going when you have started. Good luck. It's true, chipping away helps as does regular rewards, however small. One needs to keep ones sanity and turning into Mr or Mrs Hermit is not the way to do that. :-)

Applying for a RA position while writing up.....is this a mad idea?

Hi Catalinbond,

I'm in much the same situation. Totally end loaded PhD with data collection (qual) nearly there but endless transcribing and analysing with funding running out September. I, too, will need to get a job as the usual university 'there'll be some work here' is just so vague and hasn't materialised to date so I have RA job starting in Sept. It's annoying but great at the same time. Lots of PhD work to do and lots of work work to do.
Perhaps once you get the job you can negotiate hours. I've managed to stretch the time of the contract but not the funds which gives me 1 day a week (which I will be really strict about) to keep plugging away on PhD. I think a leave of absence for the duration of the contract will be a good idea - at least it covers me and the clock officially stops, so to speak, although I won't stop working on it. Realistically, it'll take a while but absolutely necessary to keep roof over head. Something that it seems few of the academics I know appreciate!!! Hope this helps ;)

Ideal write up time

Hi there,
I have been worrying about the time recruitment, data collection and transcribing will take over the last year. I'm two months away from funding running out and still have a number of interviews to do and a huge backlog of transcribing with no research funds to pay for it. It is not ideal. Supervisors not particularly sympathetic as they're more quant (which has it's own issues!). My advice is just to keep plugging away at it. I have spent a lot of hours worrying and therefore, not doing anything productive. It is hard and at this stage it seems like finishing this monster is a long way off. I'm thinking of going part time for the 'writing up' year as not sure how else I can make ends meet with a job and not kill myself with the stress of getting it all done and submitted before September 2011!! Perhaps this final deadline is not so final after all. I'm beginning to think what difference will it make if I take an extra year to submit. It is my PhD after all and better to get it done if my own time. I'm hoping that I can still continue to chip away at it whilst working. I'm aiming to at least have transcribed all the interviews by December, started to analyse them a bit too but it is all a bit up in the air. I wish you luck. It's not easy.;-)

Interdisciplinary Study - pros and cons

Hello Natassia

I think it is a good idea to keep these paradigm problems in mind as they do crop up. However, in interdisciplinary PhD's and depending on the PhD supervisor of course, it is usually possible to apply and draw on theories from a broad range of disciplines and focus the research along the lines of what interests you most.
I am doing a PhD in Geography but with a first degree in Psychology and MSc in Applied Social research (sociology dept), I sometimes feel at a disadvantage when talking to either Geography/Psychology/Sociology purists as I sometimes simply don't get or have all the lingo.

On the plus side - I think I probably, by the very nature of hopping around disciplines, I approach problems in a different way or at least question disciplinary boundaries in a different way. I think it very much depends on what you are interested in and the topic you choose for your PhD. My topic is related to health - I'm interested in inequalities of health, risk behaviours, beliefs and perceptions, area and place influences and equity of health care. Many of the theories related to these parts can be drawn on from a range of disciplines.

You may be interested in health psychology - this locates the individual in context and often uses qual methods (although not always). Perhaps worth keeping in mind! Hope that's been of some help. It is tricky but given that a lot of funding now in social sciences involve external partners such as NHS organisations, voluntary sectors orgs etc, there really is a lot more inter/cross disciplinary research happening, I think. It seems to me that real world research should attempt to answer the research questions in whichever way is applicable and by using whichever methods are appropriate, not by sticking rigidly to disciplinary rules.
I say bring it on with regards to interdisciplinary research - often the disciplines in question are often more complimentary and most are interested in 'the social'
Having a broad understanding of different disciplines should be seen as a strength and you're likely to understand social processes from a wider viewpoint.

Is it possible to finish writing and field work in 14 months

Hello Agniparbon,

I'm in a similar situation to you. I'm a 2nd year and am doing a mixed method social science PhD. I am planning on collecting data from NHS patients and I have been struggling to formalise my research, develop interview schedules and/or questionnaires and complete the IRAS form for ethics committes submission before I can actually collect data. I am a bit worried as this ethics permission can take a while. Realistically, I won't be collecting data until probably Oct/Nov at this rate. So that gives me 11 months for data collection/analysis/write up!!!

I think by 'finishing on time' means using the 4th year to finish (although I'm concerned about combining employment and write up) but i doubt I have a choice.
I think if you can get all the data collection and analysis done and know the format of your thesis and what'll be in each chapter, then at least you'll have the 4th year to finish. Not ideal, but it seems that whoever I speak to at my Uni and other ones that no-one finished within the 3 years.

So it's just head down and keep ploughing on. Good luck.

2nd year blues ongoing or something else?.....

HI there,

Thank you for your reply. I appreciate the comments. I will double check with funding body - not one of the funding councils though.

2nd year blues ongoing or something else?.....

Hello All,
It's been a little while since I've been on this site and it's been interesting to have a read and see what folks are up to.

I wrote a few months ago about the problems I was having with supervision. After, completely non sensical and bureacractic 2nd year review progress report recently which only stated negatives, I had a meeting with my supervisors to discuss my progress in a hopefully more balanced manner. Apparently, my progress is slow and that the project is not coming together!!!

However, mostly I meet my supervisors who continue to argue the merits of doing a mixed methods PhD - although this is what I have wanted to do (and the PhD was also advertised as such) since the start and I have written on this since Dec but STILL one of the sups is arguing, sorry constructively criticising, if this is the 'correct' way to do it. I have to add that he is a quant person so I'm somewhat on a losing battle. My second sup was present at this meeting and even he seemed exasperated. It's no wonder that progress is slow.
We even argued about the number of interviews to do and doing 40 wouldn't merit a PhD!!!

I can't help feeling that either I am the 'wrong' student for the project and that my 1st supervisor would've liked someone else. He seems pretty bored in the meetings and at one point left the room while we were discussing things without saying anything!
The methodology which I want to use is not where his expertise lies but this means an ongoing uphill struggle which deflates me and at the mo my motivation and patience is wearing thin.

Has anyone experienced this and if so, any advice?

Again, I am thinking if this is worth it. It means it'll be hard to finish and almost certainly I won't have any publications by the end. Realistically, I won't be finished qualitative data collection until at least April 2010 - 6 months before funding runs out. In fact, I asked 1st sup about this (financial situation) and he regaled a wee story about how he got unemployment benefit when he was a PhD student and perhaps I could do a 'spot of demonstrating.'

Does anyone else have supervisors who are completely devoid of life skills!!! I sat there feeling as though my eyebrows were glued to the ceiling - does he really think that a 'spot of demonstrating' will pay the bills....

I have been considering perhaps, taking a break from the PhD and taking some paid employment in a non academic environment but I wonder if that is just avoidance and the danger is I prefer that and don't return. Does anyone have any comments on taking a hiatus from PhD life and returning. I have been reading that it can be challenging to return. I just sometimes feel that I'm doing something that really isn't making me happy, my confidence is slipping out of my feet, I'm wasting everyone's time and that I may be better suited in another career...Oh dear.

Any comments appreciated. Thanks for reading and apologies that it's quite a long post


Beat the Boredom Tactics

Hi there,

yes, I know what you mean! Or especially those times when really you should be very busy but just can't seem to get going! I find red wine helps and a good chat/moan/grump (delete as appropriate) with chums who haven't died of boredom listening to the chat/moan/grumps associated with continuing PhD life. I believe that's why there is an opportunity for acknowledgements - so that all the long suffering friends/partners/families/ random people in shops or at bus stops can be formally thanked for putting up with it.

On a serious note, lists are good so that tasks can be ticked off. I actually have a special pen so that it gives me a bit of a cmile when I've ticked something off - this is clearly sad, I know, but you've got to survive somehow....good luck...:p