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PhD, Child, Work... what to do

I had two teenage children whilst doing my PhD, got married, then fell pregnant in my last year, had my viva whilst heavily pregnant then submitted my minor corrections on a Friday and the following Monday went into labour! Happily they were accepted. I am now working part-time in a post-doc position (I'm actually working at the moment whilst my baby is asleep on my bed next to me). I know that I didn't have a baby during my PhD and I would have found that MUCH harder to pick up the pieces again BUT I do understand some of the child issues you are having.

What I wanted to point out (and this is coming from a mother who has worked in both academia and industry for 18 years) is it won't make any difference to your guilt whether you are doing a PhD or working. It will be there whilst you are not concentrating on your child regardless of your status.

You will be faced with many challenges during a PhD. Many many many times I wanted to throw the towel in. EVERYONE has it. It is entirely up to you how you decide to handle those challenges.

Hope this helps. :-)

20 hour part-time job with full time funded PhD?

They are very vague in their guidelines, only suggesting that it shouldn';t interfere with your studies, and that the part-time job can';t be permanent (which it isn';t, it';s fixed term). I';ll send an email to the ESRC person at our uni for more info, but just wondered what you all thought.

Would you apply?

I'm surprised by this because EPSRC states no more than six hours a week and it must be related!

When to use "Dr"

I've finally got my letter stating my corrections have been accepted, and the senate will award me my PhD next week. (So lucky, my corrections were due in on Friday 17th February and I just got them in on time, then went in to labour on the Monday morning and gave birth on the Tuesday!).

I've heard that banks favour those with a PhD so was going to change my title with mine, and possibley my passport when it needs renewing in two years time. I hadn't intended on using it outside academia, other than maybe on a professional CV as I sometimes work in industry too.

Has anyone else heard similar about the banks, or is this nonsense?

Ladies: working through your menses

ummmm my honest answer would be that it didn't affect me to my knowledge, other than a few hours of pain as it started each month, so I would dose up on paracetomal and ibuprofen together and carry on. I am guessing I'm one of the "lucky" ones though.

PhD probation

Quote From olivia:

ask for the particulars of what and where and how your progress was not satisfactory. If you do not understand what they view as to being up to the mark, how on earth can you fix it? I would ask to be presented with a detailed list of benchmarks or areas where your work has fallen short, so that you can be sure to addresss this in your future work. I would ask for frequent written feedback on the work you are developing and submitting during the course of this probationary period.

You've said you received inadequate supervision over the summer (holidays essentially) and so have been put into a period of closer supervision. Essentially, they are doing what you have asked of them (albeit naming it a probationary period won't sound that great to anyone given it).

Take the bull by the horns and get some control back into YOUR phd. Find out where things are considered inadequate. This level of supervision is actually a great way of getting a thesis written WELL, and if you handle the constructive critiscm in the right way, you'll be full steam ahead to receiving your phd quicker than you thought.

software to write the thesis, except word and latex

My other half uses lyxx and swears by it. It has a reasonably easy to pick up GUI an dyou don't have to learn all the LaTeX commands.

I would like to point out that I have LESS problems controlling the position of images in the text in word and open office than I do in LaTeX (which decides on the positions for you, initially, unlike word or office where you are able to specifically determine where they should go in the document. There are, however, commands you can use in LaTeX that will allow to specify positions etc).

My guess is that whatever you choose, you will have a learning curve to do your image manipulation.

Hope this helps.

How many references have you got!

As many as it takes!

I only put those in that I cited throughout the thesis (science based), which in my case was 138. I know I read a whole lot more than that though. My colleague had a mere 88 in his.

I was told that roughly 200 is "normal" for an entire thesis, but it really does depend on what you are doing AND whether these references are journal publications, conference publications, books etc. (a good portion of mine were journal publications).

As for your literature review the examiners will be looking for a good grounding and possibly specific techniques (or whatever it is you are doing), that they may feel important to your subject area, have been included. They won't necessarily be "counting" how many references you have and I certainly wouldnt get hung up on it!!!

If your literature review is lacking, I would have thought your supervisor would have pulled you up on it (or will do, with your best interests at heart).

Don't stress the small stuff. :-)

Giving up hope

have you spoken to your supervisor about how you are feeling about it all? It sounds like you need some support at the moment.

How much time do you take off around the holidays?

corrections have to be in after christmas, I doubt I'll have much time off except Christmas Eve, Day, Boxing Day and New Years Eve/Day. Booooo!

software to write the thesis, except word and latex

I used openoffice to write mine.


will bad data / methodological issues fail my thesis?

I completely agree with the last two posts, and it is waht your supervisor is trying to push you into doing too!

A failed experiment design for one aim produced some interesting results. Assuming you repeated the experiment many times, you then actually DID use this design for a new aim, and a set of results. This is how you have to write it up. (In the positive).

Hope this makes sense.

Any other PhD mums?

======= Date Modified 13 Dec 2011 18:38:41 =======

I'm fortunate in that I've got passed the Viva stage and mine are now 18 (and just started uni!) and 17 (studying for A levels) I myself have just turned 40! I did my degree when they were little (2 years old and 9 months old) so I have some idea how difficult it must be and merely wanted to wish you well Timefortea, and agree with the others who have said...do the reading bits you need to do, so you can pick it up and put it down with ease, if you can, AND any admin bits.....references etc. It all cuts down on the mad rush at the end if you do it now.

I myself have a BIG deadline. My corrections are due in on the 16th February, I'm due to give birth on 19th February (and am high risk early labour), and I am working full time in a post doc position. EEEEEEK. WILL do it. Fingers firmly crossed.

calling all post viva people!

======= Date Modified 13 Dec 2011 15:06:29 =======

The Day.
Mine was brought forward by an hour earlier than I had been previously informed. GULP. This meant a very rushed light lunch for me (which I forced down my throat because I really didn't want to eat anything). EAT breakfast. EAT lunch if yours is in the afternoon. Take in water (I actually got through almost a litre in mine and I'm not a big water drinker, but at least I was well hydrated, which we all know helps the brain). Take in biscuits. (Mine were untouched). I was nervous but attempted to be assertive and courteous at the same time. I DID take time to think things through before answering and I didn't worry about making the examiners wait for my answers. I couldn't answer everything but didn't bluster about it, I simply said so. I defended HONESTLY and was congratulated for this.

My examiners had what looked like an awful amount of sticky notes all over my thesis and I was terrified that I was going to be ripped to shreds, but as it turned out I think I managed to disarm some of the questions in my presentation anyway and others came out as I was talking generally. In my case I found my external examiner, though he asked more thought provoking questions, easier to deal with than my internal examiner, who it seemed was there just to make my life a bit difficult (I might feel a bit different about this once I've had some time to reflect). I'd say DON'T let the number of sticky notes you can see on the dissetation put you off or make you more nervous. I don't think any examiner gets through all the questions they might like to pose.

As for journal publications which might help you defend contentious points, I DID use mine and it did give my internal examiner no room for manouvre when he asked me questions about how I'd gone about using a certain technique. His paper was a conference publication which had said what I'd actually done in my thesis wasn't possible. I had a journal publication which showed why it was, and I'd implemented it. If I hadn't had this with me (through doing some background reading on my internal examiner) I would have had a much harder time defending it. Do try to find things that are relevant to your research that your internal and external examiners have published. It will show their train of thought when reading your thesis and give you a little bit more of an advantage.

I was asked all manner of questions. Do remember that some of these questions ARE a matter of opinion of the examiners and not gospel. Don't roll over if you disagree. But at all times, be polite and courteous about it. It ISNT personal, and you do have to keep reminding yourself of this.

My viva took roughly three hours and I was asked to leave the room. I wasn't left waiting long at all which did surprise me. I know it was less than ten minutes, and I have a feeling it was much shorter than that. Essentially I didn't really have time to worry about the final conclusion, I was only ust starting to think about the relief of no more questions. It was quite an intense experience but it did go quicker than I realised and at NO point did I feel as rough as I had done in the lead up to it. In hindsight I'd have sat there alot longer if needed and didn't feel I needed to call time on it. The examiners just suddenly seemed to stop.

When I was called back in, I was given time to get myself seated again and I was immediately told that I had done enough to warrant passing my PhD. I was GENUINELY shocked. I was told I would have some corrections to do (minor). To be perfectly honest it hasn't really sunk in yet.

I hope this helps someone, I had two proper panic attacks before mine.

calling all post viva people!

======= Date Modified 13 Dec 2011 15:05:54 =======
======= Date Modified 13 Dec 2011 15:03:47 =======
Trying to find my thread on mine....
here you go....PART ONE

To start with, I WAS a nervous wreck in the final week leading up to the viva. I felt ill through the anxiety of it all but learnt that the more I prepared for it, the more the anxiety eased off a bit. In hindsight I'd rather have spent more time in the preparation, but as it was, due to commitments, I spent a solid week organising my thoughts and I mean SOLID (like 10am through to 10pm or later some nights). I hadn't really been briefed what to expect by my supervisor other than "A presentation would be helpful, no more than 30 minutes", and "It's ok to disagree with them. Defend your work. Be confident.".........well, a presentation of almost four years work (in my case) condensed into 20 slides and being "confident" were no small task. I took it apon myself to check out my external examiner's latest publications AND my internal examiner's. After going through a huge list I found one or two publications which had topics of relevance to my own thesis. I read them. I am VERY glad I did this as I was able to then appreciate the thoughts of both examiners in regard to some of the subject areas that cropped up in my thesis. I was then able to prepare my presentation with some forethought and bring out my defence in areas where I could see there may be some questions, preemptively! I disarmed the questions before they could be asked. I also took in journal publications to back up my defence (more on this later). I didn't summarise my thesis into one page per chapter (as is suggested on some websites) as I understood that in preparing my presentation, I was essentially doing the same thing. I read a great deal online about viva preparation and experience whilst preparing my presentation which I think in hindsight DID help. The best sites for me were the ones that explained it from an examiners point of view and those where the emphasis is on boosting your confidence, NOT the ones with all the horror stories! "

PhD, 'passed with no corrections'

I disagree with everyone else. I've never heard of someone getting no corrections, so CONGRATULATIONS! I don't think it is brattish at all. If I had received the same I WOULD be putting it on my CV. (as it stands I got minors). It certainly is something to celebrate. Well done you!