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What do you want for 2012?

Happy New Year and good luck to you both with landing THE new job, and a great new home!

As for me, in 2012, I would like to pass my viva - and odd as this may sound - finally get affordable health insurance. The latter sort of falls under your "health, happiness and prosperity" category.

Keeping it a secret

======= Date Modified 31 Dec 2011 17:20:33 =======
My viva is in February, but I have a confession to make: I've been keeping it a secret from my family and a few of my friends. The idea of telling them just seems to make me more anxious. I think one reason is I don't want to hear the "it's okay if you fail" speeches right now, which is the reaction I know I'll get from certain people. Sure, I know it's okay if I fail, but I don't want to approach the viva in that frame of mind! (That's why I like the positive energy on this message board!) I realize another reason for the secrecy is I want to avoid the embarrassment of having to tell them I failed. I'm okay with the possibility of revisions, I just don't want to fail.

I've had some setbacks because of major family issues, and one friend even told me outright, "You'll never finish!" I haven't mentioned anything about my studies in a long time, so I think they believe I've given up on it. A part of me wants to share the news, and the excitement. I would also like to talk about my work, which will probably help me with my presentation...Just not sure what to do!

Calling other PhD parents

Do PhD mums with partners find that their partner/spouse takes over most of the household duties? Just curious!


Out of curiosity, I wonder what such people do when they actually get a job? Do they just spend their whole life paying others to do their work? Sounds like an expensive lifestyle!

Years ago, I worked with a young woman from a wealthy family who graduated from one of the best private prep schools, yet her writing was like a seven-year-old's. She never got fired because her mother was socially well-connected. Really strange.

Illness in the family

I'm very sorry to hear about your step-father. I experienced a similar situation when my father was diagnosed with metastatic cancer. Like your step-father, he was only in his 60s, very active, and rarely had a sick day. It was quite a shock. The two questions I asked myself were: What would help the family? and What would make me feel better about the situation? He wanted to die at home, in hospice care, so I ended up temporarily withdrawing from my PhD program, and left my job to work part-time in the evenings so that I could look after him. This arrangement allowed us to spend a lot of quality time together before he became too ill to speak. After he passed, it was still important to be available for my mother, so it took a while to regain momentum on my research. There were times when delving into my work was a good distraction from the grief, and times when I just needed to take a break and go for long walks in the woods.

I can't really give advice because everyone is different, but I do think that later on, even taking on tasks that your step-father usually attends to (such as paying bills online, car maintenance, etc.) will be a great help to your family. It's good to hear that your step-father is feeling okay right now, and that you can spend some time doing some of the things he has always wanted to do. (If it feels comfortable, you may want to tape record your conversations with him. It will be something nice to have in the future.) I hope this is somewhat helpful to you during a very difficult time. Just know that you'll get through it okay.

By the way, I distributed my manuscript this week, and will be defending (the equivalent of the VIVA) in February, so yes, people do finish in spite of these personal adversities.

Qualitative analysis - book suggestion?

These two are very well respected, and accessible:

Handbook of Qualitative Research Methods Edited by Norman Denzin and Yvonna Lincoln

Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods by John Creswell

Post viva and working minimum wage :(

I went through that experience of getting turned down for supermarket cashier and shelf-stocking jobs, as well! Temp agencies also gave me a hard time over clerical jobs. Like you, I found it hard to tone down my CV without leaving huge gaps, and inconsistencies. Most of all, they think you're going to leave as soon as something better comes along!

Living alone?

Honestly, if you're managing okay financially, I think you should keep living on your own until you finish your PhD. As others pointed out, it's hard to adjust when you're already used to having your own space, and your own work pattern. Once you've finished, you can spend all the time you want with your friends. Having a quiet space to write is too valuable of an asset to lose right now!

Post viva and working minimum wage :(

Well, sometimes it's good to vent and get things off your chest!

I know it's small consolation, but you can't take the minimum-wage-job-situation personally considering the state of the global economy. It's not a reflection of your ability. There are so many people like you who invested a lot of time and hard work (not to mention money) on a good education, only to find themselves unemployed, or underemployed. That said, it's important to stay positive that things will turn around. I wonder if there are any professors at your uni whom you could approach about assisting with their research. You said that there are no jobs at your university, but many professors do consulting work on the side, and sometimes need help with organizing data and editing.

You also might consider starting a research project of your own, looking at an issue important to your field that you can examine at the adult community care facility - perhaps a case study. Why not use the job to get a couple of articles published? Not only will that boost your CV, but it might help your morale while working there. I know it doesn't pay the bills, but it's constructive use of your time. (Of course, you would have to go through getting permission, but you know how to do all that already!)

Just a few ideas...hope it's helpful!

I just want to be done...

Quote From cplusplusgirl:

======= Date Modified 12 Nov 2011 18:55:51 =======
I think you can't gauge an expected bare minimum as there ISN'T such a thing. You are either on your way to providing some new innovative contribution to your area or you are not.

I agree. It's sort of like saying you're "a little bit pregnant" - either you are, or your aren't!

There's truth to the old advice that you have to find a topic, or question, that you're truly very passionate about. That underlying passion is the one thing that will motivate you to keep going when you feel like you're ready to throw in the towel.

write up rant...well more an ongoing grumble actually

I read your post with great interest because this is a huge obstacle for so many PhD students! It's really challenging to fully focus on research and writing when you're not sure how you're going to pay for food, or keep the electricity on. (In my case, my spouse became and ill and disabled, and I hadn't planned on having to support both of us, as well as take care of all the medical bills.) Ady's time management strategy is a great suggestion. I also want to add that after you move back to your parent's house, you should make sure you have a quiet place to write. After living alone, it may be challenging to adjust to "room mates."

Good luck! It sounds like you've made a lot of progress in spite of the setbacks!

Unemployed, no idea what I want to do anymore :(

Could you explain more about the community sector job that you enjoyed?


I received feedback from my advisor that there's a lack of confidence in the tone of my manuscript. I was taken aback, because I thought I was doing a good job of hiding how utterly terrified I am of facing the oral defense (viva). I didn't relieve how much it shows in my writing!

Without going into too many boring details, my degree is in the humanities, and the fieldwork didn't go as expected. At the same time (like many people on this forum) along the way on this PhD journey, a lot of challenging situations came up in my personal life, which rattled my self-confidence.

I really enjoy writing and data collection. In fact, writing is often a nice "escape." However, the thought of having to defend my ideas in front of a panel of experts is disconcerting. This may seem like a strange question, but how can I build up confidence in a short time in order to get through the defense without falling apart?

How to talk about yourself in the dissertation

A committee member told me that I have to explain in the manuscript my personal interest in the dissertation topic as the researcher, and the inherent biases - particularly why I decided to conduct the research using a particular methodology, and how my identity may bias how I interpret the findings. I can't find examples of how others have done this in the social sciences. Do I refer to myself in the third person ("the researcher...")?

Help! I'm confused!


======= Date Modified 06 May 2011 01:23:16 =======
Hello SallyD,

I'm sorry that you're going through a difficult time.