Signup date: 07 May 2009 at 4:05pm
Last login: 10 May 2012 at 6:33pm
Post count: 204
My sup says he doesn't want to see me again until I have a chapter to show him. (I've just started my writing-up year and it's not that I haven't written anything before, I have lots of stuff down but it needs organising and filling out so that it makes a thesis rather than a collection of papers.)
My meeting is supposed to be tomorrow.
I have worked every available hour, every day since the last meeting and I still don't have a chapter. I'm not even close. Really - I have a bit here and a bit there but nothing coherent.
I feel so depressed because I've tried so hard and I know I can do it I just can't face yet another meeting where I have to apologise for failing. What else could I have done? I really think I tried my best. I don't want to cancel either because that will be even worse. :-( What do I do?
I don't think your experience is uncommon. At least, I know I feel something similar now I'm writing up. It seems to me that it is about developing the ability to (temporarily) put aside something you have done and say 'that is not going in my thesis'. It's really hard to do! Every time I meet with my sup lately I say 'what about this bit on x'? And he almost always responds 'brief footnote' or 'you don't have space for that'. It seems like throwing work away but actually it will make for a better thesis and you can use the other material in future publications and conference papers.
So, my advice would be that, painful as it is, you have to be incredibly specific and focus. You can't construct a big grand theory of everything. You can pay really close attention to one particular piece of data, bring that data into connection with one or two theoretical structures and draw some solid conclusions. Then repeat! I'm not in the same area as you but this is what I have ended up doing. i.e. My original idea was to talk about a whole collection of papers, then just one group, now an even smaller section of that group, in really close detail, bringing in conversation partners from the discipline to enable me to say interesting things about the papers. So I have no grand theory, but draw all the time on specific "data" and make fruitful engagements with theory, but not with all the theory that could possibly be considered relevant - just the bits I have selected as especially useful.
Hope this helps. (I'm not very good at it in practice so I know how tough it is).;-)
This has come up before but I thought it would be interesting to have a poll.
Perhaps respondents could also indicate whether their field is sciences, humanities or arts? I think things are likely to be quite different in different fields.
This all comes out of a conversation with a student at another uni who is worried about her rights - It would be interesting to see what the norm is.
I'm going to say DONE on goal 3 - even though I haven't actually done all I said I would do. I've done some different reading instead and planning. And I started at 10 and it's seven thirty and I have worked every day since the dawn of time and I'm sick of the misery of this bl**dy thing hanging over me the whole time and I've had one beer and am now really emotional because I'm so worn out.
To finish, I'd just like to say: PHDS ARE STUPID. (Except for the ones being produced by all you intelligent forumites out there, of course).
Goal 2 - Done
Goal 3 - Read Chapter 5 2.a,b,c and d and make notes
This is going to be after lunch though, so let's see how well that goes! Why does time go so quickly when you are under pressure?!
Sneaks - you seem to be racing through those analyses. You can do it!
Okay, well I've read an article and almost finished making notes on it.
I've also chased up a couple of references. And that's it.
Jacking it in to go have a beer and watch the debate.
Can someone please tell me I'm not a total waste of space? (She says, needily!)
Up really, really late last night - basically all night - trying to get some work done. Couldn't sleep because I was so worried about it.
Did get some things done, but in consequence got up two hours ago!
Really tired still but must do something this eve.
Goal 1: Find out what Mr. Seminal author thinks about Mr. Other seminal author and write 50-100 word summary.
I completed the AHRC application process some time ago when you had to apply directly rather than be nominated through your uni. I don't remember being asked about this, and I must say that it strikes me as symptomatic of the way in which education is being increasingly treated like a business - you always need to show "quantifiable" outcomes.
However, as satisfying as it would be to challenge this utilitarian view of learning, that's not going to help your application!
Being as charitable as I can be, they are asking you "Why do this? What will you have produced at the end of it? What difference will you have made?" One way to approach this would perhaps be to talk about what your work will do for the field. I realise this overlaps with aims and objectives a bit, but try to take it wider - how does the research contribute to the field more broadly? What would it enable other people to do? Another area to think about would be what might this contribute to non-academic discussions of the topic (if there are any!) This would probably be harder and more tenuous, but perhaps you could show you are tapping into and advancing a broader cultural discussion. Or you could concentrate on a more basic "service" you are providing (business speak!) - e.g. are you going to use someone's unpublished letters and thus make them more widely available for scholarly discussion through your work? Are you going bring any new "data" (again, not really suitable for philosophy, I know) into the field?
These are just some suggestions and as I read them back they look pretty feeble! So... the best advice I can come up with in the end is to do what I did and ask some other successful applicants from previous years if you can read their applications.
Maybe you'll get some clues from that?
After 3 good(ish) days I woke up this morning with an overwhelming sense of ennui.
Have only done 2 tomatoes so far despite getting up at 8.30.
:-( Don't you hate it when you're just tired of it, stressed with it, and basically just fed up! But I need to work. Must work. Oh dear - starting to feel really sad now.
Goal one: read and make notes on 50 pages of a book
Have spent the morning doing admin. (Replying to emails, confirming speakers for upcoming conference, etc.)
Very important stuff and I feel pleased it is done - but it's still not PhD work!
So... Goal 1: You have 4 tomatoes to read and make notes on the relevant sections of book X
If you complete this, you can reward yourself with a cup of tea and an iced bun ;-)
PS - try not to worry. Doing a PhD is incredibly hard and I'm sure you did your best. If there are problems with your thesis (and you might be surprised by finding the examiners don't even spot some the things you think are horrendous errors!) it doesn't mean you should think badly of yourself or expend energy feeling guilty. Be nice to yourself and trust yourself - you've worked hard and you will be able to cope with whatever comes your way at the viva. We believe in you! ;-)
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