Overview of charmlessman

Recent Posts

Final year support thread

Writing the methods section drags so much.

Writes out protocol >> can't remember where he bought a particular reagent or enzyme >> hasn't written that info in his lab book >> has to log in to stores ordering section of the intranet to check.

Remember kids, write everything down. I mean EVERYTHING!

When people ask you what your PhD is in?

Totally dependent on context. I'm likely to go into Agricultural Consulting when I'm done and if a farmer asked I'd err more towards the plant pathology side of my work. If a physicist or someone like that asked I'd talk to them about the structural biology side of my work.

If someone on the street asked I'd probably just say 'Molecular Biology' as a generic catch all term.

Final year support thread

Quote From sonia0524:
Dear all,

I am going to apply for doctorate course at Manchester, but I do not know how it is going in UK. Also I heard some kind of degree. So what is the difference between MPhil, MRes and PhD? Each based on the other?

And I heard not exist serial number on PhD degree. Is it true, or not? ...cause this case it may be not acceptable for nationalization (?)
Please give me an answer for these question, I am so confused.


MPhil and MRes are Masters degrees that are achieved by research as opposed to the traditional MSc/MA which are referred to as taught courses. PhD is a doctorate. I believe Oxford and some other universities refer to it as a DPhil which may be a source of confusion for some?

They do not have to be based on each other. Most PhD studentships require you to have a good BSc/BA as a minimum. I don't have a masters degree and have nearly finished my doctorate.

Hope that's been of some help, I don't understand your last question and you may get more help by searching through the forum for a more appropriate thread to ask on!

Final year support thread

Quote From chickpea:
Oh, the literature review/how much to read seems like a bit of a minefield! I wrote a literature review in my first year, and am leaving it pretty much til the end to update, so that I'll be able to go back over papers without having too many other tasks still in the way (that's the theory, anyway!). I think that as long as you make it clear that you only reviewed papers up to a certain cut-off date, it doesn't matter if something spectacular came along after that date. My problem is that I wasn't very systematic with my initial gathering of the literature, and followed trails of stuff that interested me rather than going through all the results for my key terms, so I think I have some plodding literature searches still to do!

Anyway - hope you all have a good Easter weekend :)

Mine is structured specifically as 'this was the state of the knowledge when I started' anything new is irrelevant here and will be discussed as the story unfolds.

Final year support thread

Quote From Zutterfly:
Is anyone taking the Bank Holiday weekend off? I am allowing myself a long weekend if I hit the quarter-way point of this findings chapter tonight!

I did. Friday-Monday. Except I did a little bit of writing with a pen and paper which I like to do as a means of getting me away from a laptop. I find it relaxing and not work-like at all so I'm happy to do it on 'days off'.

Spent the time to see friends, relax and come back fresh. Away again this weekend but with long train journeys that offer prime writing opportunity!

At what point in your PhD did you know what you were really doing?

From the start I knew what I wanted to do. That changed when those experiments went to a bit of a dead end, got parcelled up as a 'negative result' chapter. Took about a year to figure out what I'd do from there. But that year involved a lot of valuable troubleshooting and thinking.

Do any of you have just one supervisor?

I have one supervisor who is my lab's PI but a couple of other advisors who are PIs. Not directly related to my project but there to impartially make sure me and my primary supervisor aren't chasing down a blind alley to Masters land.

Final year support thread

A little over 6 months out. One draft chapter submitted, great progress on another (and I write very quickly) so happy with that. Data collection session on Saturday (at a synchrotron facility) which should give me the data I really need to nail down the crystal structure of the protein I work on, which would be a big deal and make me feel so much more confident. And had my final meeting with my committee two weeks ago who weren't at all concerned, rated my progress as good and just helped me solidify the key experiments in my mind. Of which there are three which are very achievable.

All in all I'm feeling good. Leaving work at just after 6pm which is the earliest in months. Going to hit the gym as my hobby (powerlifting) is the thing really keeping me sane and then make some notes for how I want to structure a results chapter that I haven't started yet but have all the data for.

A night away from a damned computer screen!!! I can enjoy eating and thinking about experiments I won't have time to do before submitting!

How to write a thesis that disproves another student?

I've not experienced a similar situation myself although I'm aware of people who have. The answer is quite clearly yes. If your results have been obtained through good experimentation then they need to see the light of day. No question. We have to be honest and we can't bury anything that doesn't confirm what has been found previously. We need to be open and talk about why they don't confirm what was found previously.

entering 3 year soon and hardly any results, and experiments all fail

Yes. Me.

I always feel like this and find it helpful to re-cap what you have achieved. I always forget one of my chapters is on a protein I found does not do what it's predicted to. That's not massively exciting but it's a result and it's a 'contribution' to the field, albeit a small one.

As for the rest of my work, I remind myself I've done loads of work so far and I'm just falling at the last hurdles. It'll be deeply unsatisfactory to me to finish without the results I want but I'll probably still pass. The 'end point' in my RCUK funded PhD is pretty arbitrary and to not have the perfect, finished project by the end is not a mark of failure.

Final year support thread

Quote From Zeejet:
I'm also a final year (or final semester at the time of this post) PhD student in chemistry. I know I can finish my thesis and defend on time, but my greatest fear is not being able to publish my last chapter (I only have two papers from grad school) and leaving with a publication record that is not competitive in the job market. I'm also light on awards and breadth of technical skills. I guess things could be worse, but right now I'm struggling to maintain focus when depression sets in everytime I try to work.

Yeah, I have nothing. In my fourth year. Will hopefully have two papers but very little of what I've tried has worked out. I've seen people get decent jobs with poor publication records.

So 7 months to go, writing is going well but my final experiments are going horribly. I'm really worried.

Final year anxiety

Hi all,

I don't post much at all on here but here goes:

I'm approaching the final 7-8 months of a 4 year PhD (hard deadline, my institution will not allow submissions after that).

I'm now really struggling. If all the stuff I've got planned between now and the end experimentally comes off I know I'll be fine but I can't help but feel like it won't work. I have a niggling feeling that all my work to date is built on sand and my supervisors haven't told me. I also feel like I know the square root of nothing about my field. I feel like I'm lazy and bad at my work but my advisory panel haven't told me in one of the 3x yearly meetings we have.

I recently submitted my proposed thesis outline and my advisors came back saying it was good, only suggesting some minor changes to the themes in the general introduction. Despite this I feel like I've actually got no chance of passing this thing and that my advisors have just lied to me for an easy life or to avoid stressful/time consuming managing out. I realise that rationally this is ludicrous because it hurts their chances of future funding to have students get to submission then fail their viva, so they really don't want it to happen. I just can't get over this nagging feeling and it's crushing me to the point of self sabotage where I'm now actively procrastinating.

(easy) PHD in Biology with no prior knowledge?

Quote From deepb:
To be completely open, [b]I am getting a PHD for the title[/b]. Unfortunately I am living somewhere where titles are _VERY_ important, so it would help if I get one. I know the wrongest reason out there. So if I am doing it for the wrong reason anyway I thought about going for the topic that is the most interesting to me. However if there is another easy one out there I am happy about other areas as well.

Furthermore to be completely honest, and I might be very naive here, I do not really see why writing a thesis has to take that long. I wrote my last master thesis, which had around 90 pages (excluding appendix and so on) in less than two month. Ok, the phd thesis takes much longer, is of a higher standard and so on. But 18 times longer per page than a master thesis? (If you do it in 3 years). Of course I understand that you can loose yourself in a phd thesis, but if you have a narrow defined research objective, you do not stray much from the path, and research a field that is relatively new, where there is not a lot of literature around?

Before someone suggests a diploma mill: I need one that is recognized in the EU.

Best regards

I wouldn't give you the time of day if I were a supervisor. Seriously, do not no a PhD. You will not complete it and will end up wasting other people's time.

And it's not the writing that takes a long time, it's the research.

How long would it take to hear PhD interview response?

Quote From TheEngineer:
I remember the time I was searching for a PhD studentship, I got interviewed on a number of occasions. At the end of the interview when I am given an opportunity to ask the interviewer(s) some questions or seek any clarifications, I would always ask when I should expect to get a response and they'd tell me.

The rule of thumb is to apply for as many studentships as possible, don't give up when you get a rejection, build on that to improve (amend) your CV or Statement of Purpose etc. I started searching for PhD studentships in 2011 and I finally got it in 2013. I even developed a spreadsheet which contained data of institutions I had applied for, the date I submitted the application, date interviewed (if any), date of expected outcome and the outcome.

Just to give you a rough estimate of how long it took to get a response for my current PhD position; I was interviewed on 26 March 2013 and I received an email on 20 May 2013 that I was successful (happiest day of my life).

I disagree with the idea of applying for as many positions as possible. Academia can be a small world and supervisors in the same field talk. It could end up harming your chances.

How to protect my idea?

Having a paper trail (an online paper trail) that demonstrates the idea was yours gives you some recourse to action but as far as legally protecting a research proposal goes... that would be very difficult unless the idea was totally novel and not obvious given prior work in the field. It would be very easy for an expert in the field to claim they arrived at the idea independently and it would be on you to prove that they didn't.

Really you'd need a signed, dated and witnessed log of how you developed your idea and I doubt you have that. Besides, what's going to happen if the professor used your idea and you took legal action? Can you demonstrate that the idea was going to make a stack of money that you would miss out on?

Just preface the correspondence with "I trust this will remain confidential." and hope for the best.