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Kindle for reading papers

I'm finding the Kindle to be a bit of a god-send with regards to reading papers etc. I'm dyslexic so I have to print papers out so that I can put my coloured filters over them (the white of the computer screen makes it difficult for me to read the text for any length of time). But I'm not made of money ... With the Kindle's greyish screen, as long the size of the text on the pdf is a decent size, I can use the highlighter facility on the bits of text I need. Then when I attach the Kindle to my computer everything that I've highlighted is in My Clippings.txt. I cut & paste into a Word doc and, hey-presto, I have all the relevant bits that I need.

I also find it useful for texts that I can access via Google Books or Archive.org, although if the text has been scanned the words can go a bit haywire!


I agree, you should tell your supervisor, and you should definitely give him the note from your doctor - it's evidence that supports you incase some idiot should think you're making it up (I know from experience that some people can be complete idiots when it comes to mental health problems). It's worth remembering that under the old Disability Discrimination Act (I haven't got up to date with the new equality one yet) that depression was considered to be a disability. Which it is. I've had trouble with depression since I was 17 including some really dark periods, and no amount of "Think happy thoughts", however well meant, can alleviate the effect it has on your ability to live your life on a day to day basis - you become dis-abled.

You said that you're worried about being given less work to do. Yes, that might be a concern with regards to your degree BUT you also need to give yourself (mind and body) the chance to get better.

Should you tell your supervisor? It's never easy telling someone you have depression, but I would suggest that you do. My supervisor can tell when things are going well for me, and yes, he does lessen my work slightly but I am grateful that he does because the stress of trying to get a load of work done when just getting up in the morning is a major task puts you in a downward spiral. Be fair to yourself. And it is also being fair to your supervisor - if he's decent bloke his concern will be for your health and the ways in which he can support you (re: workload) whilst you get yourself better.

I hope you feel better soon.

(sorry if this is a bit garbled - my depression has got a bit better since I've been home for Easter, but I have to go back to uni tomorrow and I really don't want to).

Funding yourself - How difficult is it?

I'm now in my second year and I'm finding it a bit tougher than my first. I'm doing some teaching (more hours than I should), I have my own funds to pay my rent and some of my bills, but I'm having to have a sub from my parents this year (which I feel guilty about). It's not the physical lack of money so much as what it does to your head - "Can I really afford/justify buying that?" becomes a bit of a catchphrase. It is also very easy to get annoyed at funded students who complain about not having much money! I might be being uncharitable to our esteemed academic establishments but do they take more notice and care of funded, especially by a research council, students? Of course, age and experience has made me cynical (bitter? me? never!). The upside of that is that you're not accountable to your funding body.

Oh, and you get stalked by the finance office and their 'polite' requests that you pay your fees NOW.

I'm sounding a bit negative, sorry, it's been a stressful few weeks.

Before you start you need to make a detailed budget so that you know how you're going to pay your fees, rent, bills, food, research related 'stuff'. It takes a bit of the worry away. I would also suggest you attend a uni in the middle of nowhere - things tend to be a cheaper (pub etc), there are less shops to temp you, and internet access can be patchy so online shopping isn't too easy access, and public transport is so awful you just can't be bothered to trek for hours to find the nearest reasonably sized town! You might think I'm joking, but it helps. Saying that, I can't wait to move back to a city.

PhD not going well

This probably isn't much help, but I feel *exactly* like you do. I really hope this is just a temporary slump because the thought of another 18 months feeling like the stupidest person to have ever attended this university is just, well, not really worthing thinking about.

It's exhausting.

Do you have a welfare rep or personal tutor within your department that you could have a chat with? If it's a case of you feeling like this but you actually do want to see the PhD through to the end perhaps they could help you draft out some sort of timeline/schedule so that you can actually see what needs to be done over the next 18 months, instead of it feeling like a ball of tangled wool in a thunder storm inside your brain. Or is that just me?!

Are you able to give yourself a day or two off so that you can get away any thing to do with your research? I'm hoping to do that this weekend. If I don't get away from this place for a few days I might easily lose it and tell some members of the department what I REALLY think of them!

Hope you're able to work things out.

Our lives



Teaching Query- Advice Required!

I agree, don't give your number to your students. 200-odd students? You're bound to have a few that would completely take advantage it - save yourself from creepy texts from students you don't know at 3am! If you want to involve them more re: asking questions, then perhaps you could highlight it at the beginning of the lecture that questions are welcome throughout. Depending on your teaching style let them know that you want them to stick their hand up if they want to ask a question, or that they can just yell out the said Q. Personally, I prefer the old school hand up as it allows me to finish my sentence before taking the question.

If you are planning on letting them out of the room during the break, for example, 15mins, then tell them they've got 10mins! Students are incapable of using a clock or watch (and include myself!). Playing some film/tv footage sounds good but have a backup, especially if you plan on using iPlayer. I remember having 3hr lectures in my 1st year as undergrad (lecture & screening). I wish you had been our lecturer as our bugger didn't give a break!

With regards to being 'down with the kids' (haha!) they main thing is not to try to hard, just be yourself. Don't go OTT with appearing to be super strict because you'll lose them. Too friendly and they could take advantage, discipline-wise. Undergrads are a bit like dogs (stick with me on this) because they can sense fear. If they feel that you're not in control, or, in my case, APPEAR to be in control, they can sometimes be less cooperative.

I have no idea if this is any help. Good luck!

Would you do this?

Seconded, thirded and fourthed!

I sometimes worry that my accommodations are an easy way out. And then I tell myself to get a grip. As mentioned below, a PhD is enough of a slog at the best of times but health problems, whether they are neuro or physical, makes the whole experience not dissimilar to trying to wade through treacle.

I think the fact that your sup has done this for you is great. Yes, your PhD progress will reflect on her, but she could have easily decided that is wasn't anything to do with her and sent you off to find support yourself (I may be speaking from experience!).

Don't worry about it, don't stress about accommodations being made for you (if it helps, legally they have to give you 'reasonable adjustments' if you have long-term health problems/disabilities), and don't feel that you're using your health as an excuse because you're not, you're being a responsible, upright member of the academic community!

Article access - Journal of Visual Culture??

I've found it - pm your email address and I'll send it over!

Battling with anxiety

Hi CB, I'm really sorry you're going through this. It sounds a lot like OCD. I'll come straight to the point - seek out help and support for your anxiety. Trust me, I know from experience. I started having panic attacks in my early teens, OCD by 15 and depression by 16. By 23 I was agoraphobic and my body couldn't take the strain of the anxiety and I had a sort of breakdown.

Sorry if this sounds a bit too dramatic but I could have possibly avoided this if I had sought out help when it all started 20 years ago. If you get help now, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is good for OCD, you can learn how to control it before it gets out of hand. Personally, the fact that you've been able to control some of it sounds positive to me. But don't deal with it on your own.

Learn from your Auntie DoWhatNow's mistakes!

There is a one positive aspect to my OCDness - I know when someone has been moving my stuff


Fingers crossed that you can get it sorted.

acceptable no. typos for a pass?

I just tried to go to the Premia site just now and it's not letting me access it without logging in (?). Hopefully they're doing something to the site and not blocking access. Their pdf about research and disability can be accessed if you google 'premia' and 'disability' and then look at it via 'quick look'.

How annoying!

acceptable no. typos for a pass?

Have you had a look at the Premia site?:


It might be worth having a look at the bits about the viva. I'm dyslexic but I have a few other neurological problems as well which make the whole PhD process, umm, "interesting"! To give my dept. their dues they are willing to apply the suggestions in Premia re: viva - letting the examiners know before hand that I have a number of disabilities* that will affect my performance in the viva. Because of the short term memory problems that Dyslexia causes I will also be given a copy of the questions the examiners will ask me just before the viva, and be given a bit of time to read and note down my answers. If anyone thinks this is unfair - tough. A viva is a stressful event whatever your health, but imagine trying to answer questions on something you haven't read for six months and you'll some idea of what the experience is like for us.

I'm sorry your DSA didn't get processed in time (don't get me started on my LEA!) but the important thing is that you're on record as declaring your Dyslexia. It means that, legally, if you ask for support/help they have to provide it (as long as it is 'reasonable'). Not to do so would make them in breach of the Disability Discrimination Act.

Oops, a bit soapbox, sorry!

You've already been proactive by noting down your typos, all you need now is to make sure that everyone involved in your viva knows about the Dyslexia - that old playing field needs to be spirit-level flat!

*I know that some people with dyslexia etc don't like to label themselves as being disabled but I find it useful as it stops me from beating myself up about the way I work e.g. when I see that I'm not working as fast as others

How much teaching?

If you are receiving funding for your PhD have a look at their rules and regs, especially if it's a research board as I'm fairly sure that they stipulate the max amount of hours a week a funded student can teach. Are there any students in the year above you that have been seminar tutors? It might be worth having a word with them on their experiences and what they would suggest. I only co-lecture and have never taken a seminar but I know that those in my department that do take seminars have to attend the module lectures so they know what to base the seminar on.

Hope you enjoy the experience!

After 3 years and 10 months...

WOOHOO!!! Congratulations Dr. Chrisrolinski!

Minor corrections? Those are microscopic, surely? No worries, you can get them sorted by Saturday tea-time!

Raising Awareness: Your University's Code of Practice and Regulations

In my registration week I was given a cd with the rules and regs, and a paper copy of my department's regs. And that's it. We don't automatically get any updates, or a new one at the start of the next academic year. My uni is quite poor in this respect. I have some friends in one specific department that had no idea about certain aspects of what the uni expected of us, despite having already spent 5 yrs in the dept. After having issues with the uni about one of their policies (don't ask!) I think I know how to access the relevant bits on the website but the site is devoid of logic. But it's still easier than getting a paper copy - I will never forget an admin manager telling me "Oohm, the X policy? Yes I think we've got one. Somewhere. I haven't found a copy yet, but then I've just started" Is being in a job for almost eight months counted as 'just starting'? I finally found it online, with a different title. Oh, and then there was the time I accidentally found my dept's rules and regs for supervisors when I googled something quite unrelated ... !

My grammar may be a bit suspect, sorry, it's been a long day at the University of the Unanswered Question!

In 50 words or less..


*throws flowers*