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job interview attire/tips

Hi Satchi,

First of all, be comfortable. Interviews are nerve-wracking enough without feeling uncomfortable because you are wearing something unusual, or not feeling your normal self, e.g. hair up or hair down etc.

I think a black cardigan would be smart enough, no need for a smart jacket. I think as long as your hair is out of your face - if you normally tie it up, fine, but just be yourself and do what is most comfortable. Same goes for the glasses. I think I look better without mine, but I wear them most of the time so always feel a bit of place with my lenses in. I would rather feel comfortable so I would wear them. Unless it's a rainy day and they are liable to get smudgy/wet!

Sometimes you need to take ID, e.g. passport, driving license.

Those are my not very scientific suggestions. They will be interested in what you have to say rather than how you look as long as you are neat and clean etc! Good luck for the interview whatever you decide.

Taking days off during the first few months

It's usually not a problem. You'd have to give them the date as soon as you know it, and you may have to use annual leave for it.

Argumentation needed: Qualitative Study in only 1 company

You could decide to take a single-case case study approach? The key authors are Yin and Stake who both give arguments for the pros and cons of single and multiple cases. Interviews (and other data collection methods) can be used within a case approach and then you could use the reasons above to justify your case selection. Presumably access also played a part in your choice?

Procrastination, what was the longest for you?

I think the nature of the PhD is that you do have ups and downs, and periods of being really productive versus periods of not doing very much at all!

I have days when I can't be bothered - yesterday, for example, I should have been typing up interviews, but instead I was looking at holidays online. Typing up interviews is incredibly dull and is my biggest cause of procrastination at the moment. I think you need to not beat yourself up, go with the flow, you will find you have good days and bad. The tomatoes technique mentioned certainly helps - I've found it good in the past.

Don't feel bad, we are all in the same boat :$

3rd year = the least work?

I'm almost at the end of my second year, data collection almost finished. I keep thinking it can only get harder, so it's quite nice to read that that isn't always the case. I've written conceptual, literature and methodology chapters already so my work is writing the findings and pulling it all together. I'm more concerned about keeping motivated through corrections and drafts!

Advice for PhD Transfer Viva - Help!!

Hi Anxious,

When I did my transfer event I had only collected pilot data - e.g. data from a couple of interviews which were mainly to test my questions, my respondents understanding and length of interview etc. No one said anything about that not being enough. In my report I discussed the findings from these, as well as how they had informed my methodology going forward, e.g. the decision to set up a pre-interview survey to cut back on time, changes to questions to make them more accessible etc.

My understanding is that the event is really a check to make sure a) you have a PhD suitable project, b) you have a good understanding of your topic, and c) there is a chance that you can complete within timescales. As part of this, I focused on my contribution to knowledge, existing information about my field, and a gantt chart for my project.

I think the most important thing you can do is talk about what you have done (and not what you haven't), and provide a good outline of how you will spend the rest of your time - keep this realistic or you might get questionned about it. I don't think there is a magic amount that you have to have done before your transfer event, but as long as you show commitment and reflection of what you have done so far, no one can question it.

Regarding the chances of getting put out, my understanding is that it is pretty rare. I've seen some pretty ropey projects get through at my University anyway - maybe speak to others who have done theirs? I certainly found mine wasn't as scary as I was expecting, and once I settled in I actually enjoyed talking about my research and getting feedback.

Best of luck and I hope this helps (up)

can I do some MPhil/MSc modules in my first year of PhD

I did a full MSc Research Methods in my first year of my PhD - mainly made up of Research Modules (qual, quant, design etc) with some credits from subject specific modules on my research topic. The dissertation was in a subject related to but not the same as my PhD topic. I just worked really hard to get everything done and I feel it benefitted me as it got my thinking about methodology in a structured way and obviously got me an additional qualification. I wasn't charged to do it which made a big difference!

I'm such an idiot! Email mistake.

I'm sure you are not alone!

Not directly related to my PhD, but to my teaching - was in the good habit of bcc'ing emails to my students while addressing the To box to myself so that they didn't all see each others email addresses. Needless to say, one one busy, distracted occassion I managed to put them in the To box - they didn't seem to care but I did email back and apologise afterwards.

It's really easily done - just point out it was a mistake, didn't mean any harm, ask them to delete that email or whatever.

Feeling lonely at work

Hi Sparkles,

I could have written your post a year ago because that was how I felt when I started. It does get better though. I'm finding now that I'm doing teaching I have more reason to catch up with people and discuss how we are getting on because we are all in the same boat.

I think you need to focus on the task at hand, be friendly when you can and don't take it personally when people are already in cliques - you'll notice that it's not as tight as it seems initially as someone else has said. Also, everyone works at different paces, so you will find commonalities with different students at different times. Don't beat yourself up about your own quietness, there's nothing wrong with being quiet!

Good luck (up)

Is it a good idea to take time off, ever?

In which case I guess you need to decide whether you will be able to work well enough to get it done in time - including potentially giving time to it on evenings and weekends. If you are quite a dedicated person who works under pressure, then I'd imagine you could.

Will the job lead to a permanent post after the PhD?

Worth a discussion with your supervisors if you have good relationships with them?

Job vs Phd

I don't work part time but I chose full-time PhD. I did my MA part time while I worked full time and that was hard enough, so I didn't want to do the same with a PhD which would be a lot less structured.

I moved back with my parents and am pretty much financially poor, but I decided I didn't want part time work to be distracting me from getting the work done. I've got the option to pick up bits of work round the Uni now and then so that ticks me over.

It really depends on how you cope with focussing on one or more things at a time, whether the job is related to your PhD or not (either way has advantages and disadvantages), and what you want to do at the end of it.

Where do you work best?

I'm lucky enough to have access to an office at Uni where I have my own desk so I work there most days. I work at home the odd day but find I am more likely to be distracted by the television and other things. I too find the library quite difficult as it can get noisy.

Regarding concentration techniques, have you tried the Pomodoro technique? I read about it on here, it's basically a technique of working for 25 minutes and then having a 5 minute break. It helps you get on with your work but have short breaks for checking email etc. It doesn't suit everyone, but when I am feeling distracted it helps me get my head down.

Good luck finding a way of working that suits you.

What's your view of PhD students who constantly name drop?

Quote From WanderingSage:

I managed to train one name dropper to stop (at least around me). Every time they dropped a name, I would hit my hand on the table. Finally they asked me and I said that was just the sound of a name being dropped on the table. After they figured out that I wasn't impressed, they stopped.

However, be careful of who you shut out. Sometimes the superficial or 'weak' ties are the better resources for things. You just have to learn to use the resource properly. I'm trying to remember the author(s), but there was at least one good paper about this called the Strength of Weak Ties. It makes for interesting reading if nothing else.

I've just read some of the work on Strength of Weak Ties - it's by Mark Granovetter and it's really interesting stuff (up)

Re: name dropping, I would try to ignore it, maybe they are quite insecure and you don't want to have bad relations with anyone. That said, if it becomes unbearable then cut them off when they start it...

If you could give a first year PhD student one piece of advice for PhD what would it be?

Similar to the others really. Start planning, reading and writing early.

It's useful to write a summary of everything you read because once you get beyond the first few papers you will find it hard to remember who said what!

Get to know endnote/refworks/mendeley and start putting your literature into it within an overall system of organising papers.

Get into a good routine too - you don't need to work 24/7 but get to know what works for you and keep yourself moving forward. Sometimes you have days (weeks even) where you don't get much done, but if you are working well overall, this won't matter.

Best of luck!

How do you record details of your reading?

I too have a chronological notebook and endnote system.

Basically as I read an article I highlight pertinent points on the page.  I take notes of these points in my notepad, as well as thoughts that occur to me as I'm reading. I label these notes in the margin as 'direct quote', 'consideration', 'read further' and so on.

I give all articles keywords which I enter into endnote, and I set up a record card for each item (in case endnote fails me!).  On both I enter the date I first read the item which allows me to cross reference with my notes.

I write up an annotated bibliography in which I note the title, author, keywords and perspective of each paper I've read.  I share this with my supervisors regularly so they can see what I've been reading. I've been a bit lax at updating this lately so thanks for reminding me.

When I wrote the first draft of my lit review, I used my annotated bibliography notes to generate a mind map of my field which formed my section headings.  I then used my keywords to find papers that fit in each section and wrote from there. My notepad notes then were used for direct quotes and linking ideas.  As I've redrafted, I've got less direct quotes and more of my own words.

When I read new papers now, it's easy to see where the ideas fit with my existing writing and reading.