Signup date: 16 Sep 2016 at 4:26pm
Last login: 30 Mar 2021 at 8:43pm
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Whether you are just starting your PhD, you are partway through, or you are nearly finished, these tips may help you keep your mental health on track and have a better postgrad experience.
Background: My uni (Southampton) recently asked some of their postgrad students to submit some advice for incoming students, so I put this together and thought it might be of interest here, too.
Six months to go in this Music Composition PhD. In the writing up stage. Amazing supervisors. Can't believe how supportive (emotionally and financially) Mrs Consistently has been.
I'm also convinced there's only a tiny chance I'll finish, and if I do I'll certainly fail.
I've not written a single word for a fortnight - been hiding in my studio with a knot in my stomach, wishing I could run away from everything, permanently. It's going to be an ugly six months.
Thanks, rewt - I spent the whole of yesterday getting to grips with Word, and then Zotero. I'm feeling SO much better about all this now. I should have learnt from every single one of my previous meltdowns that all of this is solvable!
Note to anybody else who stumbles across this and feels the same way: if a dunderhead like me can get through a formatting nightmare, you can too! 😆
Music Composition PhD here - so rather than a thesis I need to provide a 30k commentary to go with my portfolio of compositions. Into the writing-up stage now, aiming to submit by December. I've got about 3/4 of my commentary to write, and because I'm an idiot it's only just clicked that maybe the university has some very strict guidelines on formatting one's thesis beyond "Don't Use Comic Sans". So I checked, and it seems that everything I've been scribbling in Pages is completely wrong.
Not only that, but a very helpful MS Word template they provide - with fancy automatically-updating contents pages and chapter numbers - is completely unusable as far as I'm concerned because I'm an absolute moron who can't use do anything in a word processor fancier than underlining, bold, and italics. The online how-to guides are, in true university style, totally impenetrable; and the helpful training sessions they offer to explain the whole thing were done and dusted by last February.
I'm shitting myself enough at the thought of how I'm going to write my commentary at all... but somehow the prospect of getting it all into the proper format - and THEN producing an accessible PDF version from it with links and bookmarks and god knows what else - has completely broken me.
It's 2am and I'm freaking out over paragraph spacing and typeface sizes. What an idiot. All I need is that sodding paperclip to pop up and say "Hey! Looks like you're trying to write a thesis! Need help?"
First of all, well done for reaching out on here - you're *NEVER* alone.
Fact is, if you weren't "Smart Enough" to do a PhD, you wouldn't have got three years into it. Your university wants to be able to say that its students produce the best research, so if you weren't up to the task they'd have cut you short either on application or at your upgrade/confirmation/whatever your place calls it. So the fact you're three years in is an indication that they believe you can do it.
If they believe you can do it, then it's also in their best interests to help you as much as you need. So don't be afraid to reach out to your supervisors. And if you're unlucky enough to have supervisors that aren't attentive to your needs, then contact the doctoral college and see how else they can help. Reach out to other students. Other lecturers you get on with, even if they're not in your field.
I'm going into my last year and I've realised my research has had nothing to do with my original research aims! Massive panic! But no problem is insurmountable and, with my supervisors, I have a plan. I have another friend who was in EXACTLY the same situation - it's more common than you think.
Lastly, don't say you're just "whinging" while other people are "really struggling". There's a big difference between being worried about your PhD and saying your problems are more important than anyone else's. You're not in the latter camp, we know that. :)
Yep: no BA here; got on an MA course with 15 years of Relevant experience. Now doing PhD.
I’m sure different unis have different requirements, but ultimately they need that postdoc money, so if you want to do the course and they think you’ll probably do a good job of it, you’ll be good to go. 👍
Same here. Had a very unproductive Summer and it's left me very demotivated - all I can see is the mountain of work I have to do before my upgrade/confirmation in the Spring, and I'm absolutely bricking it.
I guess we just have to take it one step at a time. But remember, you *CAN* do it - otherwise they wouldn't have accepted you on the programme.
Ah, that's all very reassuring. 👍🏼
Feel bad for you, Spiral!
MRes in Jan; PhD after that. Glutton for punishment!
Just wanted to say thanks for your words of support the other day. Submitted the Diss yesterday, and it feels SO GOOD! I got home and just collapsed like an empty potato sack, with a big grin on my face.
Stupidly, because it was a rush to the deadline, my electronic submission (TurnItIn) had an old version of the contents page with incorrect page numbers. I'm pretty sure they only use that as a tool for checking for plagiarism though- they actually mark the hard copies (which were fine).
So if I'm docked for buggering up pagination I'll be annoyed as hell with myself, but it's a lesson learned. And also, tbh, I'm just glad to have finished.
And then I start again in January! #masochist
Dudes, you are all such lovelies!
Unfortunately, due to the moderation of newbies, the post I wrote on Saturday didn't appear til today! But thank you for your kind words of encouragement all the same.
Thankfully, my wife (who is doing her MSc dissertation) dragged me to the library. We worked side by side in a reasonably well-populated area of the library, which stopped me from slumping over the keyboard and crying... And somehow I ground out the revisions on one chapter. This was enough to get me on my way, and last night I handed in my final draft.
This morning's meeting with my supervisor was difficult but productive. I have A LOT to do to whip this thing into shape, but at least now I have a finished draft (however shoddy) to work with, rather than feeling like I'm catching up with myself.
Now hopefully in the future I can remember that I got through this*! 😄
Thanks again, everybody!
*btw, I am totally aware that I'm talking about "getting through" a dissertation, not something actually life-changingly traumatic! #FirstWorldProblems
Long story short:
I've been a professional musician and music teacher for years. Just finishing my Masters. *Really* want to go on to do a PhD and go into university lecturing. I've been doing so well with my course, but the wheels have come off it over the last few months, mainly with depression and being overworked in the day job. The dissertation has killed me.
I need to give my final draft to my supervisor on Monday. It's shit. Three main chapters, plus Intro and Conclusion. The latter have yet to be written at all. The three main chapters have to be re-written from scratch. Terrible style. All description; no analysis. I've been doing this for two years and I'm still not entirely sure what "Methodology" is, ffs.
I have the most awful feeling I'm going to completely screw this whole thing up - like I've done with pretty much everything else I've ever done.
I'm almost certain I'll pass the MA, even with a poor dissertation. But I need to do more than just pass... I guess what I want to know is, would making a pig's ear of my MA dissertation put a stop to my hopes of going on to a PhD and then lecturing/academia?
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