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Another should I quit my PhD thread!

Hello that sounds like a tough situation which I can sympathise with as it's not too dissimilar to my experience.  It's a terrible feeling not knowing what you are supposed to be doing! To be honest I spent most of my time plodding along hoping for the best and that my data would show something!  Luckily it did and quite a few surprises too. I didn't have a proper proposal either - just a rough idea of what the general project was supposed to be about without too much detail.  My supervisor also lost interest in my work pretty soon so it was hard to get them to help or indeed get a response after a certain point!!! I did doubt if they remembered my existence!  Luckily I found other academics who were willing to help and be pestered and I'm glad to say I survived and I did it with minimal input from my supervisor! I don't think a bit of help would've killed them but they obviously had different ideas!

Have you got other academics in your dept or elsewhere (e.g. external collaborations) that are willing to help? Usually if they know your supervisor is hopeless they're willing to help.  What about your second supervisor? Would they be able to offer guidance?  I found that it all came together when I had all my results together so I could make sense of it all and analyse them as previously when I was collecting the results it did seem a muddle and I wasn't sure if it'd work! By that point I had put so much effort into it I was determined to get something out of it! 

It's very frustrating and disheartening if your supervisor is a bit flat about constructive feedback and just picking flaws in it. I found out after a while to take their comments with a pinch of salt as their opinion is just that and only one viewpoint as in research there are no wrong answers - you just need evidence to back up what you're saying!  This gives you the opportunity to explore your research in the way you want which at the moment I know you want direction but when you do the analysis it'll be a bonus!

As for the Masters course that's awful but are you sure it wasn't meant as a joke and you may have taken it the wrong way due to the way you are feeling at the mo?  A lack of confidence in our abilities may sometimes lead us to think things are worse that they really are. Another thought - is your supervisor the kind that has foot in mouth syndrome in that they do not think before they speak and doesn't realise the impact of his comment may have on you? You sound like you are passionate about what you do and have done well to get this far. 

What about a meeting with both your supervisors together assuming you have two to see if the second one can get some more useful comments out of him? Sometimes having another academic in the room may help as he may not want to be shown up but that depends his relationship with them. 

Hope this helps, hang in there and I hope you get this sorted!

Advice for if your supervisor doesn't think highly of you

======= Date Modified 09 Mar 2011 01:22:26 =======
What about doing a Masters as I'm not sure if you're doing one at the moment or not?  Or just getting some extra experience in the lab if you are lab based or just some more exposure to the field you want to doing a PhD in? I admire your perseverance - keep at it and knock on as many doors and grab as many opportunities as you can and someone will give you chance. It may take a few years as it's highly competitive but if you know that you definitely want to give it a go stick with it!

Good luck!

How does your relationship with your supervisor work?

Well at least she's keen to help - I didn't have that as my supervisor didn't know I existed but they're keen to write papers now that it's done and I've passed! I came to the conclusion that my supervisor doesn't remember what they suggest as I would initially do what they suggested and then the next week they would ask why I did it and I could hardly answer because you suggested it! The same with writing as I would give them some work to look at and it would come back with suggestions which I would do and then show them again and it was for a talk so I was then told that the corrections I added were too long! This was in my first year when I actually got some minimal guidance but it went downhill and they lost interest when the novelty wore off and I barely heard off them for the remainder of the time! My requests for help were either ignored or I got a sarky reply back!!! I'm still waiting for feedback on my thesis!

If your supervisor is just nit-picking by the sounds of it for the thesis writing I would take it with a pinch of salt as everyone has their own style. My supervisor used to hate certain phrases - some of which I could understand the reason so I stopped using them but one I never did get why it was so awful even after checking with other academics who couldn't see why either so I guess that was down to personal preference.

I think you just have to be clear what you are trying to achieve and go for it! Be confident in your results and argue your point well! I don't think it's too much hassle to ask her to post your work back as that would surely save her time scanning it!

Research Degree based on Published Works

You can do a PhD by publications though they're not generally done very often but if you have enough papers you could have a chat with whatever perspective uni you want a degree from and see what they have to say. It can be done. But if your intention is to do a M.Phil by publication why don't you pose this to the uni in question? It would require less papers so I imagine they might be ok with it.

I passed! Now for an important question...

When you've passed your viva is a good time to use it! And for filling in pesky application forms for an academic job Dr helps me thinks!

But not to be confused with a "real" Dr!!!! ;-)

Frustrated after PhD

That sounds like a tough position and I've got all that to look forward as I'm job hunting now too. It doesn't look good I'm afraid at the mo as I have no publications so that seems to be a bar for many jobs even ones like a 1 yr research offer where they want a PhD and publications! As for a teaching job I am trying for those but I don't have any experience teaching seminars and tutorials so I'm a bit stumped there and I'm now less competitive so I'm probably going to have trouble there.

Any suggestions on how to get a foothold in academia would be greatly appreciated. I'm working on a publication now so hope to have one by the end of the year if I can get it together or early next year.

How do you hide your qualifications? I mean how do you explain what you've been doing for the last few years if you don't put what you've actually been doing (i.e. your PhD?)


24 hour access to facilities: Reality or a distant dream....?

We have 24 access to our shared office with own computer, large desk and shelves as we have keys/access codes to the buildings but sadly no common room so we can only sleep and eat at our desks. The library's open until midnight during term time and weekends during holidays but closes at normal home during the holidays.

24 Hours Post-Viva and Not Sure How to Feel

======= Date Modified 06 Mar 2011 15:04:25 =======
Firstly congrats - you've passed which is great!

Funnily enough the same thing happened to me. I was rushing to get it finished in time so it wasn't 100 % when I submitted it but I had run out of time! So the stuff I have to restructure and do again were the bits I wrote in a hurry and apparently it showed! Doh!!! It wasn't what I had hoped for but under the circumstances I didn't do too badly as they didn't complain too much about the rest of the thesis! I even got told that the other main chapter was good which was the one I really enjoyed doing unlike the one I have to reorganise so it flows better. So I can definitely relate to you. It sounds like you've come to grips with it so it should be a piece of cake now.
(gift) - they really should have a cake instead!

My viva was today!

Congrats! I had similar experience too as I was numb too after my viva and didn't know what to feel. It was a very strange experience particularly as I hadn't sleep much the night before and afterwards like Bilbo!

Advice for if your supervisor doesn't think highly of you

I would take it with a pinch of salt! Afterall that's just his opinion! Is your supervisor just a blunt sort of person that speaks before he thinks type - the type that lacks social skills? Is he also quick to judge? Is he know for making these types of comments/this type of personality?

As you've said you haven't finished your current project yet so how can he make a judgement already? Especially as his background/specialities are different to yours. The fact that you are willing to do his courses that you find difficult without prior knowleddge says alot about your willingness to learn and develop your skills. Exams are not the be all and end of everything - they show you are good at studying but not that you are good at research which is an entirely different matter!

Have you asked his why he thinks what he thinks? I think you need to get to the bottom of this.

Have you asked other people what their opinion of your work is?

If you really want to continue in your field I would perserve and keep knocking on doors. Grab all the opportunities you can. Have you tried getting extra experience in your field - e.g. try volunteering to do related stuff so that it looks good on your CV.

I hope it works out.

Help, how to fight against unjust PhD failure?

It sounds like there is some internal politics going on. What does the external think as surely they are supposed to have the final say? Have you followed their recommendations? If so they can hardly disagree with themselves?

Have you checked with the postgraduate tutor in your department to see what they say? Or check with your research office of the uni to see what the official policy is? What about the Students' Union - they might have a postgrad rep who can take up these matters on your behalf?

If it's a personal difference between opinions who is to say that the examiners are right or if it's a personal vandetta it really has nothing to do with you? What does your supervisor say about all this?

Fear of Public Speaking

Go for it! You are very lucky to get the opportunity to do it and if you want a career in academia this is excellent experience!

Have you tried going to courses at your uni as I think most unis will run some courses or lectures on presentation and teaching skills as part of your transferable skills training that they are very keen on these days.

Remember you know more than the undergrads so not to worry as you are in charge so let them know that. They are also quite easily impressed so as long as you engage them at their level things should be fine. As your supervisor asked you he/she must have confidence in you as they wouldn't ask you otherwise.

Public speaking is very nerve racking as others have said and I agree the key is preparation. I have found that talks get easier the more you do - I usually practice before all mine but the last one I gave at a small informal conference I didn't have time to practice and it still went ok (I was recycling earlier talks with updated results!) I even found places to crack a few jokes as it was a small gathering! I still have yet to pluck up the courage to present to a large audience at an international conference which I know it must be done sooner or later to progress and make yourself known. It's the questions at the end that stump me as they can be unpredictable. Think of the seminars as good practice for those conferences.

Useful advice I follow is to speak slowly, pitch your talks/seminar at an appropriate level so you don't lose your audience and don't put too much text on a slide, pictures/diagrams get the message across better. You can always use notecards to prompt you if you need to. Finding out the layout of the room helps before the seminar/talk as I prefer lecturer halls to smaller rooms as you don't see the audience so well so can't see their faces as clearly as in a small room. Just remember to take a deep breath and enjoy yourself.

Good luck - hope this helps.

£112 million - what would you do?

I would get somebody to do my editing for me - I am soooooooooooooooooooo bored of the corrections that I'd happily never look at my thesis again!!!!!! It doesn't help that I am feeling so tired that I can't seem to work!!!

How can you bear to read your thesis?

What about thesis repulsion even before you submit? I seem to have it now as I am editing my chapters and can't bear looking at them so I am here instead! I don't seem to have any motivation to do them either but I need to do these corrections before I submit very soon. Has anyone ideas of how to handle this? I would really appreciate it.

If your PhD was an album cover...

(snowman) poor frosty didn't work last time :p