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Seriously messed up

Just wishing you luck on the interview!

When you get the job, this will be the funny "and I almost didn't go" story!

Have you always been a good student?

Have you always loved school, and knew from day one that you would earn your PhD?

Or did you hate school, but love learning? If so, what was the pivotal moment (i.e. great teacher, inspiring course, a book) that turned things around?

How much do you consult your supervisor?

I don't think you should feel shy about bringing it up, Lughna. Your sup might actually appreciate being asked!

I think Wadett's example really illustrates the point about "advising style" - my sup won't correct spelling and grammatical errors. She would - in the nicest way - suggest getting someone to proofread for that. Yet, in terms of the concept, she'll give great feedback and have a million suggestions about how to polish the draft. On the other hand, if your sup's style is very "hands-on" she (he?) might be put off if you don't show her everything first.

I'm such an idiot! Email mistake.

I haven't done that yet, but I think eventually it happens to everyone.

A colleague accidentally emailed me a file of nude pics of her that was meant for her boyfriend. She apologised profusely. I didn't know what to say.

The people emailing you back to point out the mistake probably think they're being helpful!

How much do you consult your supervisor?

I have a good relationship with my sup. In my experience, I discussed abstracts and papers with her verbally, but submitted drafts for journal submissions. It could be a matter of the supervisor's advising style. There's probably no harm in asking what she or he prefers.

Why do you most want to be a Dr?

Great question!

For me, my family comes from a very poor country, and it will be easier to get funding for development and education projects there with the PhD. It helps when dealing with bureaucrats, and actually getting things done - this is what I've observed.

The art of seduction hypothesis is interesting, but I'm married so probably not a good idea to test it out. (;

My viva, I passed!

Congratulations! Well done!

How long to prepare for a viva?

Quote From catalinbond:

...I just can't wait til it's over really.

I know what you mean - I can't stop eating! (turkey)

Reference letters

I agree with Ceylan's suggestion. I have always received a good response when I've offered a draft (both a printed copy, and an electronic copy). It's less work for the person you're asking, and in my experience, they always add a few personalized lines. Of course, it's awkward writing about yourself, but I would write specific achievements such as topics you researched for that class. Try to give examples of the work you did, rather than using vague catch-phrases (i.e. "She's a hard worker"). Good luck!

Should your own boss be an examiner?

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Is it a good idea for your employer to be on your examination committee?

My sup asked whether I want my boss to be an examiner for my oral defense/viva. She suggested him because we need someone from a different department.

The "pros" are it would be good to have someone there whom I know well, in terms of his interests, how he thinks, and anticipating the types of questions he would ask. He's not the type to turn red if he disagrees, and actually listens to what other people have to say. He knows what I'm capable of doing, which is important to me because this dissertation is not my best work, for reasons beyond my control. (The time doing fieldwork and data collection was substantially cut because my father, then my husband, became seriously ill.) He knows about all that, and has been morally supportive. However, the work I do for him is completely unrelated to my dissertation, and we have never discussed my academic research in detail.

The "cons" are it would be awkward if he thinks the work isn't worthy of a pass. It would also be mortifying if the other examiners tore me to shreds. (Sure, it's too prideful, but I admit I think about "saving face.") Even if all went well, what if people inferred cronyism? I would hate if anyone thought I got a pass just because of a personal relationship, or favoritism when the examination process is supposed to be impartial.

(I don't know if the process is different across institutions, or across countries. In my case, the student chooses two committee members, and the sup chooses two examiners. At my uni it's not unusual for a sup to discuss examiners with the advisee, but in the end, it's the sup who chooses and invites examiners.)

I've never used the poll feature on this forum, so here goes...

How long to prepare for a viva?

Hi Jenni! Like you, I wish I had stumbled upon this forum much earlier in my program. I was able to find a lot of great tips just by searching "viva."

My viva is scheduled in February, and I talked with my boss about it. He graduated from the same university, and has been an examiner. His advice was to demonstrate that you addressed the purpose of the research. He said his first questions are "What was the purpose?" and "Did you reach the purpose?" He also said that most humanities students don't spend enough time on the conclusions, usually because they write this chapter last, and don't give themselves enough time. The third interesting point that he made was that he has only had one failed viva, and this was because the student became "overly defensive" and didn't listen to the questions. He explained that by "overly defensive" he meant that although students should defend their work, the purpose of the viva is to demonstrate what one has learned. His view is that acknowledging weaknesses (preferably before the examiners do) demonstrates more understanding than rejecting every critique offhand. In this particular case, the student just became angry.

Some of the pointers I picked up from other people on this forum is to look into your examiners' current interests and recent publications. This makes sense, because profs do have a tendency to want to talk about what's of interest to them. Also, check what has most recently been published about your topic. I found this great advice, because a lot can happen during those months you're immersed in writing, and it demonstrates good scholarship. (I don't remember who said this on the forum, but thank you!!!)

I'm not sure how to answer you question about exactly how long it takes to prepare. My sup told me to prepare a ten minute introduction. Perhaps others will have a better sense of how much time is required. I'm interested to hear what others have to say...

You've come a long way - congratulations and good luck!!!

Ladies: working through your menses

This is a really good question, Hailey! I finally got into the habit of creating my schedule around my "bad days." It's predictable, so I have my calendar checked off several months in advance and avoid scheduling anything important near those crucial days, such as meeting with supervisor, presentations, deadlines, etc. Those "bad days" are reserved for lower-order thinking tasks - organizing files on the computer, making lists of books I'll need, catching up on laundry - things I need to do, but that don't require much focus. Sure, it's frustrating when you want to work, but you're too physically and mentally drained to do so. In the past, I beat myself up over it, but then realized I can still use the down-time constructively.

What helps? Warm showers, hot water bottles, and lots of sleep. Your diet is also important. I stick to fresh fruit and veg - especially dark, leafy vegetables (lots of iron). Ever since I stopped eating processed foods, I've noticed a difference in my health overall. Vitamin C helps iron absorption, so try fresh orange juice with iron-rich meals. Is it possible for you to see a dietician? That might help you in the long run more than medications and hormonal treatments.

Hang in there!

I'm back... and struggling with my introduction chapter and a loss of confidence.

Sorry to hear about the email incidence, and health issues! I hope you're feeling better after the break. Is there someone you trust who could read your draft and give feedback? Even if it's a friend who is not in your academic field, he or she could check for clarity and organization. Perhaps you could find an affordable proofreader who can check details such as where you need to add footnotes or clarify terms. You obviously don't have problems with grammar and syntax - it's just that a manuscript of this size and scope is a little overwhelming. That's why another pair of eyes would help. Good luck!

The nightmares begin

LOL! That's the funniest anxiety dream ever! Maybe there's a positive spin...the next part of the dream is the examiners believe you've made a profound statement on Eastern postmodernism! They're dazzled by your brilliance! They alert the press! You're short-listed by the Nobel prize committee...!

Keeping it a secret

Thanks very much, everybody! I thought I was being weird, but apparently I'm not the only one! I'll just make my phone calls when it's over...or find a hole in which to drown my sorrows!

I agree with your comments, Delta. It's not fair to let a candidate simply walk into the lions den with no support. At least tell the student if he or she isn't ready to submit. Fortunately, I have a great sup. Meanwhile, one of the examiners has a reputation for not reading anything. Let's see what happens.

Warm wishes for a happy new year to everyone on the forum!