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2.2 to a 2.1 topup

To be honest it doesn't matter by what % you missed out, no one ever asks about the grades, just the 2:1 or 2:2.

In the first instance, I'd speak to the companies and explain, some may be less strict than others. Then if no joy with that, do a masters to top up.

I've got a 2:2 degree and a masters, and that was enough to get me into PhD. My undergrad is rarely relevant now.

What did you achieve in Year 1 of your PhD?

I think he is maybe panicking a little. I'm assuming you are doing interviews or similar? It is difficult to benchmark what should be done when but would you be able to test out your methods soon?

By the end of my first year I had developed my literature review and methodology and had piloted my methods with some participants. So really you are just about at the same stage.

Could you maybe demonstrate that you have firm participants signed up? Or at least a good plan for who/when/what? I think eight months is early to be panicking about progress to be honest.

Honest Opinion

If you love the topic then go for it. You have a good offer and a decent supervisor lined up.

If it doesn't work out, you can still go back into the private sector.

What happens if I quit?

Have you spoken to them about how you feel? It might not be clear to them that you feel isolated. How does the other PhD student feel?

The only thing I would say is that all supervisors are busy, you won't see them every week, and you will be generally left to your own devices (regardless of their experience). My supervisor has been in the academic system so long he doesn't have a PhD, although he has supervised many. He is constantly busy.

I don't know what the chances are of starting again, can you transfer to another institution? Or talk to your existing institution about your experience? Are you due an annual review after twelve months where you could discuss these issues?

Feeling stuck

Definitely recommend using a timing technique like pomodoro so you can have a balance of work time and rest time. I've found it really useful when I've been struggling.

The positive side of going for your PhD

I have really enjoyed my PhD. Almost finished and I still feel upbeat about it.

Yes, I've had days/weeks when it has annoyed me and I've felt frustrated and upset, but overall I've got a lot out of it.

I like the freedom of it, the freedom to take up opportunities that arise, the chance to take part in departmental events, the chance to speak at conferences, teach, mark assignments, meet loads of new people, discuss interesting ideas. You need to not let it take over your life though - I very strictly worked Mon-Fri daytimes for the first three years, and then ramped up to full time when I was submitting. It meant I didn't burn out early and I had something more to give at the end.

The reason you mainly read negative stories online is that people use forums like this for help, so they are naturally posting about bad times, and if you just read those you will come away with a bad impression. We tend not to talk about the good bits so much, but trust me, they are there.

Can't stop comparing myself to others and losing in comparison

I think you will know yourself that there is little to be gained by comparing yourself to others. On the outside, everyone looks like they are doing great, but I'd bet that person also suffers self-doubt, and also has concerns about where they fall down compared to others.

It's easy to feel concerned about what others have done and how you compare, but you will have nine years of other experience that he hasn't had. I'm the same age as you and am older than some of the shining stars in my department, but I have work experience that they don't have, so it's swings and roundabouts.

I'm not sure what to advise, but you need to focus on what you can do and not worry about others (easier said than done in a competitive PhD market).

Degree awarding and PhD start date clash

I think you need to be honest if they ask. Try to find out the start date as it may be towards the end of the month.

There were people at my institution finishing off their masters when the PhD started. So it may not even be an issue. I take it it's not the same institution?

What is the process after accepting a PhD?

I got a formal letter in the post and returned the acceptance slip (July).
Then I didn't hear anything for ages.
I then got a pack from the Uni in early September with information on induction, training, departmental stuff etc.
When I went along to enrol I had to make contact with my supervisors. There was no contact until my official start date (October).

As I was giving up my job, I contacted the Uni before I gave my four weeks notice to double check everything was ok, but otherwise it was very casual. That might have just been my institution though.

I didn't get an outline of the proposal, I just had what I had put in when I applied. I then used this as the basis of initial discussions with my supervisors.

Well done on being offered a PhD!

Coping with the emotional strain and isolation of a PhD

I'm sorry to hear you are having a bad time. I think even when we are not physically isolated during a PhD, we still suffer from isolation.

I think you need to develop some interests away from your PhD and away from your partner as it will be good for your relationship too. Could you join in a local walking group to get outdoors for fresh air? I'm trying to think of cheaper things as you mention affordability of traveling to university. I am a member of a speakers group locally which helps me practice public speaking. Does your local library have a book club? Are there any similar things you might do? If you were nearer campus I'd suggest joining clubs/groups, but that might be too difficult?

I'd definitely start going for daily walks to clear your head though, being alone or indoors all day isn't good (I've been there!).

I hope some of this helps and if not, please know you are not alone.

How to improve academic writing?

Does your uni have a PG training programme or resources? We get sessions on academic writing with externals who come in and share their expertise.

I've found the book by Dunleavy great - Authoring a PhD, your uni library should have it.

What are the questions you were asked for transfer/upgrade viva?

I would say that the main things they are looking for are:

have you read enough about your subject to understand where the gap in knowledge is that you research will fill?
have you got well structured research questions that you can answer?
have you got a workable methodology?
have you got enthusiasm for the subject that will see you through?
have you got a timeline that shows your phd can be done on time?

So your presentation needs to show on some level that the answer to each of the above is yes. Be clear where your questions have come from, drop in key authors etc, be clear on what you are doing and how, be clear on what you will be doing in your 1st, 2nd and 3rd years. Overall, be enthusiastic about your subject as this will reassure them that you can keep with it.

Best of luck with it :-)

Phd timeline and outline?

In terms of a timeline, I created a gantt chart which showed the three years across the top and the key activities down the side. This pretty much went with the first year being around literature review, shaping methodology and testing questions, the second year on data collection and the third year on writing up.

The outline is usually the research aim, objectives and questions, or they might want an idea of the thesis itself, e.g. what chapters will you have. Basically a page that describes what you are doing with a bit of structure.

Working with rude/problematic PhD students

Hi Tulip. Sorry to hear this, sometimes hell is other people! Before coming in to 'academia' I always thought it was a lovely collegiate environment, but I've now realised it's even more bitchy than other workplaces.

I know it is getting you down but I would ignore this bully and not give her the time of day. I think you need to make friends with people in your department outside of her organised events, how about meeting other staff/students on a one to one over a coffee? Is there a 'staff room' where you can go to have lunch and get chatting? I think if you speak to individuals outwith the arranged stuff you will feel better. Don't make a big deal of not being invited, just arrange your own things with the people you want to be friends with. If they aren't friendly back, then don't waste your time!

I think sometimes the PhD environment can be quite unhealthy, there seems to be a lot of competition and some people spill it over to being really nasty. She sounds like an idiot, so please rise above it and do your own thing withour her input.

Referees for an aged returner?

Hi Maus,

My understanding is that the references from a PhD should demonstrate that you are able to commit to and complete a PhD - so showing that you can research, communicate, project plan and work to deadlines (etc, etc!).

I would think that your Chief Exec would be good for a current reference which will show your existing skills and experiences. For your academic reference, it may well be that after all this time you get a bog-standard reference saying you completed, unless you personally contact a tutor you worked closely with who would give you more personal comments. I think it would look strange to get a reference from undergraduate as that was before the Masters and will be less time-relevant. So I'd contact the place you did your Masters, see if there is someone there who remembers you personally, and failing that ask them for a standard reference. If the current person talks up your existing skills and experience, then the academic one will show (at the least) that you can complete a degree at postgraduate level.

I hope this helps. I had a similar issue and settled for one bog-standard, slightly out of date reference for my Masters and one current reference from my line manager. The Uni were fine with it.