Overview of cucaracha

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What does your general daily routine or timetable look like?
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It's interesting to see the structured routines of people who work in labs. It's really hard as a social sciences PhD to structure your day! I'm definitely in need of motivation and structure too!!

At the moment I'm facing quite a few big tasks that need starting and feel overwhelming, so I'm trying to break them up into manageable chunks and tick off small bullet-point tasks...

Worst PhD interview experience 😥😥
C

Aww don't worry, it's all about practice and gaining more experience!

I've been in your shoes a few years ago, had an embarrassing interview that made me feel negative about my abilities and knocked my confidence! In hindsight I realised that the interviewers were actually quite rude and didn't have good people skills, which made the interview a much worse experience than it needed to be. Would you really want to spend 3+ years working under people who don't make you feel comfortable? It's important that you gel with your supervisors and feel comfortable with them. You could take all the negative feelings you felt during the interview as a sign that these people simply aren't a good match for you.

I'm not sure if this is what you mean about them asking details about things they've already reviewed, but I remember feeling caught off guard when they asked questions about things that were very obviously stated in my proposal. And you feel confused like you're being tested or they're trying to catch you out, which makes you more hesitant and unsure. I think maybe it's just a case that they had simply forgotten about the details whereas we are very familiar with our own proposal, or they just want you to hear you repeat it. Either way, you've had the experience now and you have a better idea of what to expect for future interviews which is an invaluable thing.

Post-interview thank you emails are not obligatory, so don't feel pressure that you need to send them anything, and you didn't have a good experience with them anyway.

You're bound to think more harshly of yourself than you deserve, so don't beat yourself up. Do things you enjoy to take your mind off it, and when you do hear back from them, ask for any feedback so you can use it as a learning experience :)

UKRI PhD - reject a not-so-great offer or risk it and wait?
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Quote From abababa:
It's been my experience managing UKRI studentships that UKRI are very open to the student changing direction in discussion with the supervisor, unless it's really radical (like changing field). It's eminently possible - in fact quite normal - to end with a thesis title that's a long way from the project proposal.

It's a bit of a half-truth that leaving after you start will have a negative impact on your prospects. A bad Uni/prof may even suggest this because it's certainly bad for them - as they're potentially left with PhD funding for 2.5 years, which they won't be able to spend without internal funding to top it back up to 3 years. It may well harm your chances of success at the same institution with the same prof, but won't generally be problematic. Word does not travel as far in academia as most believe.

Rejecting an offer (before you've taken any salary), by comparison, carries no stigma I've ever seen. It's the Uni's fault if they don't insist on a decision by a date.

Irrespective it's essential you go into the interview mentioning none of this and being enthusiastic. This isn't dishonest, it's being professional and making the most of every opportunity. Just getting an interview is by no means a guarantee of an offer (I average about 20 per studentship); if you say you're not actually that keen you'll likely be immediately written off and the decision won't be one you'll need to worry about..! :)

I'd just end by noting, it is always risky in academia to rely on a future promise or opportunity of a post. Naive, well-meaning academics often slip into giving vague promises of future opportunities to students, when anything not signed is extremely open to the whims of HR, senior management, funding councils, etc., - an academic that's not a VC is seldom in a position to 'guarantee' a future opportunity to anyone.


It is so disappointing and worrying that you manage UKRI studentships, when you hold such discouraging, negative and stale views about students' rights. I feel so sorry for any students that come into contact with you. Your posts on here do not present you in a good light at all.

Do other people's Universities also charge their PhD students to print their final theses? (UK)
C

Quote From abababa:
It is so disappointing as a student at an 'excellent Russell group' you think and write like this.


How is it disappointing for PhD students to want better treatment?! So sorry that you benefit from the status quo or are afraid of change, but I'm afraid you're fighting a losing battle as people are increasingly demanding better.

There is nothing wrong with the way I'm writing, if you had any friends you'd know that normal people type differently in informal chats than in academic writing xD


Quote From Cat123:

I can only hope that Removed62360 does not ever get a job in a University given the views that they have.
I think if Universities require printing to be done they should cover costs. It is also my view that electronic submissions should be accepted and that hard copy submissions should not be mandatory. This also lessens environmental impact.


Agreed!! :)

Do other people's Universities also charge their PhD students to print their final theses? (UK)
C

... sounds like 'Removed62360' needs therapy to work through all their issues lol! Imagine typing out long dull essays about how PhD students should accept rubbish treatment and never speak out about issues, and getting triggered over suggestions that Vice Chancellors are overpaid greedy twits...

Luckily at my uni (an excellent Russell Group), the staff encourage us to speak out about areas for improvement no matter how complex because they actively want to improve the system rather than cling to outdated 'long-standing policies' for the sake of tradition :)

Do other people's Universities also charge their PhD students to print their final theses? (UK)
C


Do you think a University would rather spend £60,000 per year on printing student theses, or on hiring a new full-time lecturer for undergraduate teaching? What do you think is better value for money?


Universities can absa flipping lutely afford to spend a mere £60k on printing student theses. It would show some appreciation for their hard-working graduate students, who are underpaid on stipends as it is. It would hardly scratch the Chancellor's ludicrous salary.

This is just another way to flip the bird to its students, telling us we are so far down the institution's list of priorities.

Supervisor destroyed my love for science
C

Quote From Evelyn:
Edit: I just asked my supervisor if he wants to see my presentation before the defense, to check my slides, he said: "no"
Great, I feel so supported!


Not to defend your terrible supervisor at all, but maybe when dealing with people like this it is more useful to rephrase it from asking if he wants to see your presentation to directly asking what you need from him: 'Please can you look over my presentation before the defense to check my slides?'

Nearing some sort of breakdown while waiting for examiners' reports...
C

I can't imagine how nerve-wracking the time between submission and viva is, especially when dealing with mental health difficulties on top of it all :( At the very least it strikes me that you really love and care about what you do, 'there's nothing else I want to do with my life', hence you're so anxious about it.

Regarding your reasons you think you'll fail,

Quote From MoonMilk89:

- I feel like the language in my thesis is simplistic. The thesis itself is very easy to understand compared to papers and other dissertations I've seen which were heavier in jargon and more dense.


Ahh I'm such an advocate for clear, accessible writing. It is such an underappreciated (and rather rare) skill! I bet you're a much better writer than the authors of those dense papers you've seen, because you actually have the skill to make hard concepts easy to understand.

You could always slip in some specialised terminology during your viva too.


Quote From MoonMilk89:

- I found three typographical errors upon re-reading my thesis after submission. They were super small, but they're haunting me.


Ok the thought that you'll be failed for three typos made me laugh!


Quote From MoonMilk89:


- My supervisor allowed me to submit earlier than we had previously anticipated. What if he just wants to get rid of me and get it over with?


Your brain is just being mean to you telling you that. He sounds like a very nice, supportive supervisor from what you've said :) Trust in his judgement, he thinks your work is excellent.

Quote From MoonMilk89:


- My thesis isn't a groundbreaking piece of research. If anything, it has only managed to make a minor adjustment to an already existing idea.


It's a PhD not a nobel prize :)

Literature Reviews
C

Hi msabier,
- You only do one thorough literature review but as XinyangLiu says it's a continuous process. So you do most of your literature review at the start but you add to it and make it more detailed as your reading develops throughout the PhD.
- You need to try and link those different (but related) aspects of your topic together within the lit review and show why you're focusing specifically on children in Asia.

How do I know if I should leave my PhD?
C

Quote From jxlx:
I know! Several people go in on weekends but I can't (normally) do that because I go back to see my partner and our cats most weekends. Although with the pandemic my ability to do this has been seriously affected which is really getting me down :(

I have a second supervisor but he's so absent - he has no idea what I'm doing and I've only ever had 2 meetings with him since I started last year. He's getting ready to retire so I don't think he's too invested. I just wish I had someone to go to who can guide me with my research. A lot of this is new to me and often times I don't know why things aren't working. I need more feedback than just "try it again".

I'm not expected to reply to those emails in the middle of the night but I have had emails as late as 9:30pm which I've had to reply to. I understand that science is an around the clock thing but I wish I had some time to switch off.


Sounds like you're really being let down by a lack of support in place :( There must be pastoral support academics, head of department or someone who you can go to? You have to fight your own corner, unfortunately, but it's invaluable to have another academic's support. Be very clear that you're not going to respond to emails outside of working hours.

At least you're trying to have work-life balance while the others are slaving away at weekends!

A lawyer with experience in university policy
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Phd20sb should absolutely seek advice from their Students Union, supervisors and any other points of support before deciding to take legal action. Going through the uni's complaints procedure should be the first port of call. Make a noise about what has happened. Are your supervisors supportive, Phd20sb?

I'm just shocked at the suggestions that they should passively and quietly accept what's happened because there are lots of douchebag academics/it's safer to just get on with the unfair corrections/the examiners did nothing wrong/it's not illegal. In fact, it's literally a Hate Crime to be racist. Decent unis will also have policies against staff slagging off students in this way... it's completely justified to make noise and seek an apology here.

Maybe I just have a stronger sense of injustice than you lot lol, but I would hate to be in an academic culture where we encourage each other to stay silent and just get on with it rather than speaking out.

How do I know if I should leave my PhD?
C

Oh no what a horrible work culture, 'silent competition of who can stay in the lab the longest' ew :( sounds like you had really bad luck in the type of supervisor you got and the lab culture you're in. No decent supervisor dictates to you the amount of hours you work lol. They're meant to support and guide you, not stress you out. Do you have a second supervisor or personal tutor or head of pastoral support or some other truthworthy academic you can speak to about your issues re the meanie supervisor?

Btw is there an explicit expectation that you answer their emails in the middle of the night or are they just a nightowl? A bunch of academics at my uni specify at the bottom of the email something like, 'Under the current situation I may be working outside of office hours. Please do not feel obliged to respond to emails outside of office hours; we all have our own working hours/mine may be different to yours'

A lawyer with experience in university policy
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I mean I'm more struck by the fact that the examiners mocked this student, laughed at them and said inappropriate comments about their country? Anyone would be upset at this. How unprofessional and gross of the reviewers. By saying the reviewers did nothing wrong apart from leaving the camera on, are you suggesting it's ok or normal for reviewers to slag off students in this professional setting?

It's also not our place to 'evaluate' whether what they experienced was racism or not and I don't think we should expect a transcript of these hurtful remarks in order to believe Phd20sb.

Oh and they also said the major corrections report does not even match what was discussed in the viva outcome... I'd be annoyed about that too!

Recording of online viva- academic scandal
C

I would absolutely encourage you to raise a complaint and seek an apology. Speaking out against racism and unprofessional academics is the only way either of these things will ever change.

I'm sorry you had to experience this but I'm also glad the internal's technological incompetence led to their true colours being revealed :) It's only fair that you let the uni know the way their employees behave.

A mistake with registration document of phd made
C

As always really well put Em! Can I hire you to write my emails when I make mistakes :)