Signup date: 05 Apr 2011 at 2:41pm
Last login: 16 Aug 2012 at 11:20pm
Post count: 122
*holds up hand* imposter here....just passed viva with minor corrections. I think there are many many many PhD students that feel exactly the same way and it is pretty normal to do so. I didn't and still haven't lost the "imposter syndrome" hence my stress over my minor corrections (another story).
As for not being interested.....well.....lots of us have to find funding to do the subject we want to do. If you get funding offered by a research council it will be in an area with very narrow scope and not very likely that you'll have had much thought about it, though generally the subject you love fits around it. You then have to *become* interested in the scope you have been given, in order to acheive a PhD in the subject that you love.
It's VERY hard to keep the momentum going, and this is where you must indeed really really want a PhD and realise that you are in fact still researching your subject area but probably having to apply it to something that you find quite dull or uninteresting or worse something you'd really rather NOT be doing for ethical/moral/personal reasons. It is the double edged sword of receiving funding to do it.
I have a feeling that you are falling in to this category, and again, this is a pretty standard scenario to be in.
Keep at it.
my external had to fly in from elsewhere, and I haven't heard of anyone having to travel for their viva. I just wanted to collapse at home after mine too, although I was promised an outing down the pub with everyone, I politely asked whether anyone would mind if I simply went home (it was all I wanted to do).
I think (and have read elsewhere) that the viva itself can help push a desicion in one direction if the examiners are unsure (not ready to agree), so in that respect your defense is quite important and can "tip" the balance if necessary. You can constructively argue against opinions/statements that the examiners make about your thesis in the viva, and I guess it is this that will help sway any issues you might have with the final desicion (in that you can refer back to the conversation).
The Viva is the final exam where you have to defend your completed thesis in person to an internal and external examiner, over a period of some hours. Seeing as NASA have a great deal to do with academia (one of the departments I have worked in collaborates with one of NASAs many branches), I would have thought that they actively encourage you to partake in part-time academic activities, particularly PhDs. As such I think you are in a perfect position to undertake one, especially as it seems they have already supported you through your undergraduate study.
Regarding family life, I found doing the PhD easier on my children emotionally than working for a commercial company (which I have done also), as my time was far more flexible. I was able to drop everything if I had to, and could work strange hours when necessary, to catch up. I'm not sure this would be the case for yourself though as I assume you still have to meet your employers normal working hours
not sure what country you are in, however I've just passed my viva (with minor corrections) for a PhD in comp sci. as a mother with children. I did however take the PhD on full time. I found that with the research council funding I received from EPSRC (which isn't taxable at all) combined with the fact I no longer had to pay council tax, student loans company, etc., meant that financially I wasn't that worse off than working in full time employment. I did have to take a bit of a drop, but it wasn't a great deal, and I found the flexibility in working hours in research far far far more beneficial than any I'd ever experienced anywhere else. It enabled me to make cost savings where I wouldn't have normally been able to (cutting down on travel costs, working from home, etc.) and simple things like time saving shopping out of Tesco "rush hour" meant I had more time to cook and therefore the meals became cheaper.
Anyway, might be worth some consideration.
I got my corrections today. There is nothing on there I wasn't expecting (bar one thing, which I can't decipher, and will have to ask the internal examiner what on earth he means). However, I have ended up in tears over it and feel completely stressed out about getting it all done in time. I do have other work commitments in the department I am in, with deadlines to meet too, though in fairness I guess it is down to me how I manage my time.
I think I've got burn out. I'm terrified of the internal examiner NOT agreeing my corrections. My internal was tougher on me than my external and I can't face him turning round and saying "no, that's not enough, that's not good enough, I still don't understand". My corrections consist of (amongst others) some "tightening up" of descriptions, including more precise mathematical definitions and descriptions of how one or to things are calculated. Fair enough. However these aren't black and white answers and I've already clashed with him my Viva over mathematical methods and had to defend my position elsewhere, so what is to say when I've written these he disagrees with them too?
Please can someone tell me that my fears I am experiencing at the moment are pretty standard and that fear alone will help me get them in on time?
I'd really rather NOT talk to my supervisor about it as he almost certainly would only add to the workload (as he had no issues with the particular descriptions that the internal examiner had and I think he'd only provide a layer of confusion) and not necessarily be that helpful.
As a mother of two teenage children (and currently pregnant with my third), who has worked in industry and academia for over 18 years WITH a family, I'd say take the job. In my experience there is NO difference to post doc positions and those at the same level in industry, other than the fact that academia seems to be a little more flexible. You will work hard at both regardless. You will do long hours, sometimes conflicting with your family needs. It is a juggle with a family. Sometimes you get it right, sometimes you get it wrong. The fact that it is a postdoc position rather than one in industry is not relevant.
Go for it.
"Basically speaking I view a PhD like an apprenticeship or traineeship w. You get horrible pay but you have someone is responsible for teaching you the trade, with the idea that you come out of it all with the skills to become an employable part of the workforce. Would you agree with this?"
In one word, NO.
Your supervisor is NOT responsible for teaching you the trade. YOU are. It is your contribution and therefore you teach yourself your own trade. Your supervisor is there to ensure you learn how to do this independently and that includes being independent from them! They are responsible for showing you how to swim in the murky waters of academia and that is quite a different thing.
If he's at home and has someone to feed him and stick fluid in front of him to drink ( I needed BOTH, I was in a world of my own at this stage), then lots and lots and lots of support ESPECIALLY when he tells you he can't do it and it won't be ready.
That and PROOF READING. Proof read as much as you can. Check the headings, page numbers, image titles etc all match up with the contents page. Look for typos, spelling mistakes, formatting errors etc etc etc.
AND finally, be his common sense when he can't load the printer, save the right version to a USB stick, remember that he's got no shoes on when he goes to hand it in, etc etc etc. BE his brain. :-)
Forget about any snapping he does. It isn't deliberate and he possibly won't even remember he did it.
By the time my viva came around I was positive that I would end up with either an MPhil or an MRes to the point where I was going to ask for it. GENUINELY.
I think it isn't that unheard of for you to be feeling the way you are about it. I certainly was. (AND I had misgivings about my supervisor's positive view as I was sure he han't read it either!)
Just get on with it. Roll with the punches and come out the other end. When it is over, regardless of anything you have been rewarded, it is OVER, and you can stop feeling so beaten up inside.
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