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Everything crossed for Sneaks

No corrections? Lazy examiners!

Seriously though, congratulations on your achievement.

Doing a PhD while in a relationship

This is an unanswerable question. It depends on the people, the relationship, the PhD. I will say though if you think it's stressful now, imagine what it will be like when he's writing up, or waiting for a viva date, or looking for work afterwards.

If you're young, you want or need to move somewhere else for your career - regardless of your partner's situation, whether they are doing a PhD or whatever, then you need to seriously consider what's important to you. Relationships always involve compromise, but when you have to give up something that feels like a part of you it can make you resentful and be quite poisonous. You really need the will to make it work.

Take my post with a pinch of salt, though. I'm currently in the middle of a messy relationship which has sort of broken up and feeling quite mixed up about it all. One of the contributing factors is the fact that I graduated in November and I am still out of work - I have to apply all over the country, too.

Submitting a paper for publication - help!

When I was submitting my paper, I looked at the editorial board, googled the names and picked people with expertise that was relevant to the work.

Friend named as author and asked to present a paper they had nothing to do with

As someone else said, there's nothing wrong with presenting a paper on behalf of other authors if you're open about it. I've done it before, was at a conference, supervisor didn't come, and I presented a paper for him and others, as well as my own.

However, it's a dick move to put someone's name on work and drop it on them to present. It's easy for me to say now that I am through the process but I would outright say I was uncomfortable with it and that I'd be prepared to present it if my name was last or (as it was in my case) not on the paper at all.

In my case, before I presented I said that I was presenting on behalf of the other authors who unfortunately could not be present, that the work pre-dated my commencement of study but with that in mind I would be happy to field questions as best I could. I got asked a few, nothing too grave, but having briefly familiarised myself with the work I was able to provide brief but reasonable answers. It seemed like the only solution to me.

If this is the only reason she's going to the conference, I think my suggested solution would be to re-jig the order of the authors. Stick her name last and learn it a bit. Of course there's other factors, like does she have another paper to present at this conference, how long has she got, how closely related is the work to her area of expertise etc. If her name goes last and she is responsible for preparing the slides or revising the paper at all then it's not especially misleading.

Why do you most want to be a Dr?

I always fantasise about being on an aeroplane and them announcing over the tannoy that 'there is a medical emergency on board, please press your buzzer if you are a Doctor', and then me pressing it, but then saying 'sorry, I'm actually an academic Dr'. Obviously I hope there is never a medical emergency on any flight I'm on, but this did happen when we went on holiday last summer, so it made me think.

This happened to me coming back from a conference in Canada. They did, however, specify "Medical Doctor on board". Also, I didn't have my PhD at that point.

Harvard Textual referencing

That is crazy. I can't really see any benefit to it. I don't especially like Harvard referencing as is, and that makes it even worse.

Where'd you get a job like that anyway? Sounds good.

How many references have you got!

250 pages, 233 references. In general terms I think I was fairly thorough and I don't think 'over-referencing' is really a problem if the things being referenced are relevant. The main thing is that you don't reference badly or mislead the reader about the point you are trying to make and how it relates to the literature.

This information is fairly useless, though, since everyone's studies are different. My longest chapter was also the one with the least references. *shrug*

Viva prep

My last post made me look like I think I'm the coolest dude ever. I am pretty cool but that's not what I meant - my point was that there's only so much you can do in terms of prep anyway so if the viva creeps up on you after seeming far away, as long as you've refreshed your memory and your dissertation is half decent then you should do well.

One further specific bit of advice from me would be to look at your external's research interest (and you should know your internal's a bit, too). This isn't necessarily the same as reading papers that they've written, though that may be part of it. Their interests should obviously not match yours exactly if your research is novel, but that's not the point. The point is that though they have (hopefully) read your complex document and are asking you about it in depth, that academics always lean the conversation back to their area of expertise, probably because they feel more comfortable that way. You have to humour this for 3-4 years while studying, and you might have to engage in it in your viva, particularly if your research areas are closely related. I should point out that this is not me being malicious. It's perfectly normal and sometimes provides a good starting point for discussion and very helpful, although other times it can go nowhere and you think 'why did you bring that up'?.


E.E. [Question about something specific in your thesis]
You [Concise / technical answer / rationale]
E.E. "Oh, that's interesting, because in [my field] the results indicate [something similar / something different] or the approach taken is to blah blah blah
You [Something about the appropriateness of that approach or the relevance of those results to your project]. Be diplomatic if you think it's necessary, and this is where it's nice to know something about their research area, though if you reach the limits of your knowledge in that part of the discussion, just say so.

Anyway, this was meant to be a quick post. I have papers to write, too. Proof that even after the viva you don't leave the procrastination station, eh.

Viva prep

I didn't do too much, either. Had a job interview the week prior which ate into my prep time. Still passed and got corrected in time for Dec graduation.

Viva prep

Don't look at dissertation for a while, then read it again.

Andrew broad's list of nasty phd viva questions, etc.

Make chapter summaries. Make short sentence summaries of each paragraph of discussion, asking yourself 'so what'?

Brush up on the principles of any techniques you used.

Relax. You wrote the thing, so you should know it pretty well.

Ownership of PhD topic

I don't think there's anything unusual or too unethical with sups expecting their names on papers their students produce whilst under their supervision. The issue is then if they push for first place without their contribution warranting it, which is a dick move. Like many things in this environment, there's no set of rules, but the rule should really be that the authorship is weighted relative to the contribution.

please... no more students... I beg...

At the risk of sounding like a stereotypical bitter research student, a lot of UGs tend to be a bit feckless and dependent. I've seen several colleagues bogged down and pissed off at that time of year.

Never happened to me much, though.

How much paperwork have you amassed?

I'm bad with it, journal articles everywhere and I have a tendency to print chapters/papers several times in order to annotate them.

I can't read off the screen. I always miss stuff. Not to mention I tend(ed) to grab papers and read them/scribble on them for an hour before bed quite frequently.

I do feel a bit guilty when I see all that paper sometimes though. Then I just shove it under the bed, innit.

How are conference/flight costs covered?

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Like already said, there might be money available in the school/faculty or from the research council. I received a travel grant from the Royal Academy of Engineers which covered flights and a hotel in Canada (very cheap flights!) to do a couple of presentations. I also managed to get the school to fund a trip to a more local one in the U.K. even though I didn't present at it because it wasn't much (~£250) and I argued that they hadn't paid anything for Canada. I think I was lucky to attend two, and the money was there without too much trouble apart from some forms to fill out. Things are obviously different with different disciplines, though.

I think it's good experience, helps with your confidence and networking skills. I went alone on both my trips which probably helped. It's pretty fun, too. I do agree however that it's not entirely essential and I don't think it's worth paying for any of it yourself though, unless you're just making up a little. Maybe look into it and see if there are any external funding sources or see what the school policy is.

Viva Confusion

Wow, that sucks. Our uni has the 12 week minor option as well which sounds more appropriate. I'd be fairly pissed off about this but all the same, well done.