Signup date: 18 Aug 2020 at 4:09pm
Last login: 06 Oct 2020 at 9:34pm
Post count: 60
Hello, I'm sorry you are finding things tough. You're right, it is very normal to feel like this during this stage of your PhD. Interestingly, I'm currently working post doc in Public Health and part of that is a Delphi study, so please feel free to drop me a message if you have any questions I can help with.
Your supervisors will be very busy right now, the eyes of the world are suddenly focusing a lot on public health with the pandemic, and most academics are trying to get used to the new world of online teaching, working from home and amending study protocols to fit new guidance. However, they still have a duty of care to you and if you are struggling, please communicate this with them. Also, remember you are your own worst critic, no one is as harsh on you or as critical of your work as you are. In some ways this gives you a massive advantage, those with large egos rarely see flaws in their work and as a result never achieve great quality., but it does come at the expense of your mental health sometimes.
I know you can't take time off, but do you have anything that helps you let off some steam? It seems counter productive when you are so tired, but exercise can really help. I do martial arts and an hour at my punch bag in the evening leaves me feeling awake, alert and calmer. Yoga is also great, or even dancing. Use youtube to learn punch/kick techniques, or follow a zumba video/yoga tutorial. These are all free on youtube and might really help you. Also, please make sure you are eating well, nourishing your body and drinking plenty of water.
You might also want to rule out any other causes for your feelings if they are quite new to you, such as iron/vitamin deficiencies
Most people feel exactly as you feel, although some are better at masking it than others. A PhD by it's very nature sets you up for impostor syndrome: you are working in an environment with experts in your field, and it's intimidating. For me (terrible self esteem issues) the PhD has been really good. I really found it tough up until the moment I sat my Viva. Now I look at the giant thesis I wrote and I tell myself I do know my stuff because there is a giant wad of paper over there that I wrote!
Sometimes doing a PhD you feel like your accomplishments are totally insignificant, especially with a pandemic going on. You've not discovered a cure for COVID, you're not designing a 'suitable for all' cancer treatment, you've not discovered a new Earth like planet we are all going to move to. You're work will, most likely, contribute to a very small, very specific part of your field, and that can be a bit underwhelming at times. Remember that every time you read a journal, you are making a unique perception of that journal, and that's an achievement, each time you write a paragraph, that's you putting in words your knowledge! Getting an internship is really competitive, so if you didn't have the brains and abilities you would not be where you are now.
One simple, yet ridiculous, self esteem trick is to look at yourself in the mirror every night and tell yourself 5 things you've either accomplished or are happy with. For example it could be 'I actually showered today' or 'I wrote a few pages of my thesis' or 'I made the effort to say hi to a stranger'. In the morning, look in the mirror and tell yourself 5 things you are looking forward to, so it might be 'My first coffee of the day!' or 'I'm planning my study today'. It seems really daft but it works, sometimes you have to mother yourself to move forwards
Can you change form interviews to online open ended questionnaires? You'll need to increase the recruitment target by a fair bit, but it might be a better way to collect data. You can then use social media (it costs about £500 in the UK for a media company to get your survey out there to the right people, or you can manage it yourself with geographical boosts). If you're conducting interviews in that way you'd need to design the online platfrom and keep the questions very, very open. You'd need to recruit about 80-120 people, however from that you'd get about 20-30 decent transcripts to use. If you go down this route, look up work by Gunther Eysenbach and his work with infodemic research. It might work, and you get a really good methodology chapter out of it because it's a fairly novel research method
I think you've handled this as well as you could on your own, between you both as professionals and now is the time to get further help. Speak to your students union and your PGR leads. They can advise you on where to take this next. It may just be that she is not the right supervisor for you, but her comments that you've included do speak to a much larger issue.
Take some time away from them, then when reality has sunk in, get stuck in! Corrections can be back breakingly boring to do. I started with the very minor stiff first - typo's etc, and marked them off as I did them, then tackled the next minor issues (the odd sentence clarification) and checked it off, I then worked on the bigger stuff in order of my thesis, making sure I noted what had changed and where as part of my notes back to the examiner (a bit like a response to reviewers).
I used tracked changes to help my examiner int he first instance, but on the understanding I would sort any formatting issues afterwards (dyslexic and working with tracked changes in challenging). It made it easier for them to see what I had done. There were a couple of points I didn't agree with so I explained my reasoning, but also made sure to include if they still felt those changes would strengthen my thesis, I would do them. My examiner accepted my responses.
Congratulations once again Dr! One last tiny little hill to climb over after conquering that giant mountain!
Hey, there will be many in this situation. I didn't pass my 2nd year, but got an extension. Try to pull together a plan of action, a GANNT chart works well. You might not technically pass but if they can see the work and how it will take place you may get a short referral
You DID NOT fail. You got major corrections. You have not failed and you have every opportunity to get your doctorate.
You need to be careful with how you are wording things. Your supervisor has not threatened you, they have responded to your aggressive emails as you wrote.
Rewriting your findings doesn't change the contributions you've made, it makes it clearer to the reader. Again, it's a common correction; we write it because we know it, to any other person the only basis they have for understanding is the words we write
I've replied to a lot of your posts. Honestly you really need to stop and take a breather. You got an R&R, that was actually major changes but R&R is the only option at your University. You say here your supervisor told you to submit, but you also say you think one of the major corrections actually came form your supervisor as they were wanting you to change something.
The way you are going about all of this is really not showing you in a great light, I do understand you are struggling right now and you had a very bad experience of your viva, but you have to stop. Everyone right now is going through a tough transition period with the current situation, and just as you are struggling you never know how the other person on the end of your emails is feeling. 7 emails with that kind of content is excessive.
You have not failed. You have a chance to get your doctorate, but you are putting all your time and energy into fighting everyone and everything connected with it. If you had spent that time critically reflecting on your literature review, you'd be in a much better position than you are now with your supervisor.
I would email your supervisor for damage limitations, don't make excuses, just apologise and highlight that it was out of character and will not be repeated and that he is within his rights to take whatever action he deems appropriate (and if it comes to a disciplinary, you can then argue your mental state wasn't great but you understand why he took the measures he did).
Next, I would turn away from your emails, stop focusing on it and speak to your therapist about all of this. you are clearly struggling right now and it's manifesting as lashing out.
Hello, if you search my profile you'll find my PhD journey story. I was full time and had 1 year of absolutely no progress, it may be useful for you to read - even if it just makes you feel normal.
The middle stage of a PhD is the hardest, that initial excitement of finding your own stuff is gone and you find yourself with imposter syndrome (I'm not good enough to be here) and a bit lost (I'm not a 'student' student, but I'm not staff). It's a really tough hurdle to get over and taking time away can feel like an uphill struggle to start up again.
Try reading through your earlier work then come up with some bullet points of what you would like to achieve. Speak with your supervisor and come up with a series of realistic, tiny goals. I.e. 'to have corrected grammar in X by X' or 'to have bullet points of future works by Y'.
If you know your end goal, you can do a GANNT chart working backwards from your end point, even if it's vague.
If you want to quit, do so because it's not right for you, but not because you don't know what to do. You have supervisors who can help you. Be aware of exhaustion, I was funded but had to work and it really can drain you mentally.
OK, in terms of your literature review, go back through and look at the main studies your highlighted. Create a table of the following: Date conducted, sample used, methodology (study design, recruitment, analysis), limitations identified within journal. Then go through each point and add the strengths and limitations, so for example:
Date: 2010 (limitation, field has moved on a lot since then), sample: Young adults, aged 16-24, 78% female (not representative of males, age should have explored older age groups for more in depth findings), Methodology: cross sectional, purposive sampling, non-parametric mean comparisons (generalizability and reliability issues, risk of type II errors, no a priori power analysis)
then you use this to critically reflect on the study better. Then add your own voice, so 'this study could have been greatly improved by using a more inclusive sample wit equal representation of gender. The methodology makes replication for this study difficult to conduct, however overall this study was the first of it's kind and paved the way for further studies such as XY & Z'
Many literature reviews are very descriptive 'this is what was done and this is what was found and this is what it means' when you a PhD you need to be able to show that you can critically look at research.
In terms of integrating chapters, are they asking you to merge chapters or ensure a greater flow? A thesis should be a like a story (albeit a boring one) with a logical flow. One of the things I struggled with was ensuring that the end of one chapter set the scene for the next chapter, and the start of the next chapter related directly to the ending of the previous chapter. I then triangulated all my research within the concluding chapter and brought it all together. depending on your area of study you can use a theoretical framework to guide this
If you push for another Viva, you might fail. Currently you only have to do your corrections, and as long as you can show you have done the corrections you will pass. I'm trying to word this as delicately as I can, and I'm only able to make assumptions based on your word son here, but you come across as very, very defensive. A viva may be a 'thesis defense' but it does not mean you defend it against everything. You have to concede that other people have read your work and found room for improvements. You've given a few examples of you amendments and I wonder if you are seeing them as more major than they are? for instance the comment about critically reflecting in your literature review, and on another post you wrote about integrating chapters; these are all very common corrections and not actually that major. You also highlighted that some of the corrections you think actually came from your supervisor because they wanted something done differently. If you've submitted something that your supervisor didn't agree with, it is always a risk; sometimes it pays off but it's not surprising to then get corrections on it.
If you do sit another viva I think you need to reflect on your own shortcomings, can you say for certain your attitude was entirely correct? Your examiners comments sound like they found you to be quite confrontational when challenged on aspects of your PhD. You cannot do this, you can defend your decisions without going to war with your examiners.
I really don't want to upset you further, and I can see you are still very angry and feeling hard done to in all of this, and as I was not there I cannot say whether this was justified or not, but I really want to see you pass this. I want to be able to log on and read you are officially Dr PhD20sb! My concern, as I've stated before, is that your anger and indignation at the outcome is going to interfere with this. Do the corrections, work with your supervisor and try to mend those bridges.
It's heartbreaking to feel like you've not done enough, and it does bruise your ego. If PhD's were awarded purely for hard work then everyone would get one with no corrections, but they are not. You really, really need to put your anger aside and work on your corrections, because form what you've written they don't sound that bad. Also, many Uni's have an option for minor (1 month), minor (3 months) and R&R, but R&R does not always mean another viva. If you've been told they are major corrections, you may not need another viva. Right now you have complained about your supervisor, your examiner, your corrections etc and it's taking away energy from your corrections.
You're asking for advice, so the advice is to do your corrections, reflect on your own short comings, pursue your complaints about the breach of protocol and racism, and get your doctorate.
Can you meet with your supervisor to go over the amendments? Not critically speaking enough in a lit review is quite common. All it means is to look at the evidence you’ve provided and add your own perspective. For example ‘whilst a novel contribution, the methodology is problematic/the study only represented younger adults. This study would have benefitted from exploring the views of different ages in order to represent XYZ better’.
You need to do the corrections. I know your viva went badly and you have a separate complaint, but part of achieving a PhD is the ability to take constructive criticism. If you disagree with feedback, you don’t argue, you reason it. I.e ‘whilst the method you’re suggesting is advantageous, I believe that these disadvantages xyz make it less suitable’. If you can concede, ‘that’s an excellent idea, if I were to do similar research with the knowledge I have now, I’d probably explore this method’.
I’ve said on your previous posts, you are seemingly going to war with absolutely everything to do with your PhD. You need to separate out the bad conduct of the viva from everything else. Persue the misconduct, but also examine your own responses. Very rarely do people pass without changes, and yours are not that bad. It’s not an MPhil or a fail.
There are plenty of people who have been in your position and still achieved their PhD. Yes, you have the right to get them investigated for the racism, but unless you can show it directly relates to your amendments you are going to have to do them. You need to put your effort in to them.
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