Almost there but...


======= Date Modified 08 14 2010 01:14:42 =======
Hola everyone, I'm back! Though I probably wasn't missed, I hadn't been around on the forums long before I went AWOL. I hope things have been going well for everyone though!

My funding finished so since the start of September I've moved away from Uni to my Dad's, been to two job interviews (didn't get either) and been at my partners for a week or so due to a bereavement of hers. So things have been a little hectic.

I've been making progress on my thesis regardless but I'm coming up against a few problems. Hopefully somebody will have some words of wisdom!

1) All 8 chapters have been written, re-written and tweaked. My introductory chapters and final discussion in particular. Chapters 3-7 where the experiments dwell haven't needed much. All I have to do to them now is make sure the way I've reported the results is consistent across them all, or at least as close I can get considering some of the changes in design. And I'm hoping to have this done by tomorrow so I can send them all into my supervisor.

This had led to a question that I hadn't even considered until now. I use mixed ANOVA's throughout my thesis, and have used the greenhouse-geisser correction (Mauchly's is a bust and I'm conservative with stats by my very nature). Do I mentioned I've used the correction after every significant stat or can I get away with just mentioning it once? For example, 'An alpha value of .05 was used for all analyses the thesis. The Greenhouse-Giesser correction has been applied to all reported significant effects.' ?

2) How do you prod your supervisor into reading the monster you've created? My supervisor is great but I'm getting to the point where I can't actually progress without concrete feedback from them. Especially on the key chapters (1,2 and 8). I think 1 is ready, 2 may need a slight tweak, and that 8 is strong. But I've been looking at them for so long I can't see straight. I've already handed in my re-drafts of 1,2 & 8. About a fortnight ago now and haven't heard a peep.
As I'm no longer on campus, or anywhere near in fact, I can't just drop in to remind him. Any tips?

3) How do you know when it's ready? I think I'm about there, and with timely feedback I don't think I'm more than a fortnight away. (Less really. I have nothing to do but write at the moment). Do I just keep redrafting and drafting until my supervisor gives in or can I push things along? Do you just *know* when it's done?

4) Jobs. I've had 3 interviews this year. I was runner up in 2 of them, and fluffed the third and perhaps perfect one for me. I'm starting to think about sending my C.V to key people in the field or putting together a fellowship proposal of my own. Any tips on approaching this without appearing to just be job canvassing?


Avatar for sneaks

Welcome back Peljam! congratulations on being ever so nearly there :-)

1) I would put it once in each study (if you've had to use it across different chaptes). In my study I've just put a sentence before reporting the ANOVAs, which although this may identify me in years to come..."As Mauchley’s test of sphericity was significant (X2(?)=?, p<.001), the Greenhouse-Geisser estimate is used (e = .??) in the following results"

2) personally, I'd just email what you just wrote!

3) I think you have to go for it at some point, I know people who are perfectionists and couldn't let go - 4 years down the line they're still hanging on to a perfectly finished thesis!

4) Not sure myself, but I'm in exactly the same situation (apart from not being nearly finished with the thesis) and I'm starting to feel demoralised by it all. I'm hoping the finished Dr. title will allow me to actually get the jobs I'm going for.


Thanks Sneaks :)

1) I'll give adding it to every chapter a go I think. I don't have the Mauchley's or any meaningful epsilon to report though. Each and everyone of my tests has no score at all for the significance, and the epsilon is 1 for everything. I've no idea why that's happened but I know for certain it's not because I can actually assume sphericity!

2) As it stands I'll try a variation on that then :) I do hope he gets back to me though. I know he's busy but I'm yet to get a reply from an email I sent on Monday. There's nothing wrong with my email though. The optimist in me thinks it's because he's busy reading the chapters I sent earlier. The cynic, who is firmly in control of my mood, is convinced he's just forgotten.

It's hard to get mad at him for the delays though. I know it's a lot to read, after all I wrote it, wrote it again and have read it over and over. And I know he's busy. I just wish these delays had come in the middle of everything where it wouldn't have mattered instead of at the end.

3) I'm certainly not a perfectionist! I've come to the realisation that the collected experiments will never be perfect. I just need to show I can research and write, and then pass. I just don't want to get to the stage of submitting and defending and then being told it's not very good, or that it needs major work.

4) The job hunting is terrible. You have my sympathy, well empathy. My supervisor told he me he lost count of the number of interviews he went to before he got his first job. Probably not as reassuring as he thought it was but it was a little bit. If we keep applying, keep turning up to interviews then eventually we're going to get one! And every interview is a learning experience.

I'm hoping the Dr title will help. Or at least the fact I've submitted and have become less of a risk to employ in that sense. I've come close twice now (being told you were second is mind-boggling!) but I have a feeling if my CV said, submitted or Dr on I'd have maybe gotten one of them.

From one of the ones I was runner up for when I was given my feedback I was asked if I minded if they passed my C.V along to someone who might be getting funding soon. I've not heard back from them, and I've no idea whether they'll actually get any funding. So I'll have to wait on that but it did get me thinking about sending out C.V's to people. I don't want to come across as rude and pushy when I do it though.

Right, back to the result. Or to start the results I should say!


Righto - yet more questions!

I've sent my chapters off to my supervisor so now I'm at the stage of compiling everything together in one document for the last lot of corrections.

Firstly, does anybody use LyX? And if so would you be able to point me in the direction of a good thesis template or layout? I have one at the moment but I've been struggling with it. It's aimed more at computer science and the conventions and sections involved there. It's not too far off psychology, or how I've been doing it in word so far, but I would love a better fit.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, intention to submit?:-( I think I have gotten very confused over this term. I always though intention to submit referred mainly to the forms you filled out just before you submitted. Basically detailing what you had done, that you were finished now and that soon you'd be having a Viva. Whilst I was reading the graduate school website for info on the university's preference for margins (I have fun filled Saturday nights) I noticed that the intention to submit was tied to a three month notice period, to allow for the gathering of examiners apparently.

Uh? What? If I've read it right I have to give the University three months notice, before I submit my thesis, never mind the Viva? This doesn't seem right to me. Not only because I'm certain other students haven't waited so long, but because it seems stupid.

Am I getting this very wrong here? Am I being the stupid one (very possible)? By submit here do they mean submit the thesis and have the viva? Which sounds more reasonable to me. I can understand potentially needing 3 months to arrange the external, viva related paperwork etc and get yourself finished. Or do they mean just submit the thesis itself?

Any help, tips etc, especially from those who have submitted (or have let the University know) would be appreciated. It's gotten me very confused, and concerned. I feel bad for not knowing this already but in my defence, the handbook I have doesn't mention it, the website is far from clear and my supervisor hasn't mentioned it at all.

My thesis, I think, is potentially a week (of me working on it, more if my supervisor is slow with feedback) away from being ready. I don't want to have to wait 3 months to just hand it in. That'd take me to January before I could say to potential employers that yes, I have indeed submitted.


Congrats on almost being there - that's great news! I think the 3 months notice you are supposed to give to arrange your viva is just a guideline so they can check you are eligible and all that so don't worry about it too much. At least that was what I was told by our research office when I enquired about it - the person said it was just a guideline which is obviously better for you if you hand in your form then but you can hand it in later e.g. a month before submission and some people even hand it in with their thesis although this isn't recommended as it slows everything down!

I think what you have said in point 2 is a valid point and your supervisor should understand.

That's tough about the jobs - especially to get so close and then not get it is heart breaking! I'm told that it's a tough job market at the moment even tougher than usual and to just hang in there and have patience. I know this is meant to be well meaning advice but I worry about not getting a job especially given the current economic climate and the number of applicants for jobs. How long does one have to wait as I can't wait forever as I'd like to get a career going.

The thing I have found out is that you are often up against people who have already postdocs so you don't have enough experience as them. But how are you supposed to get the experience and compete if you have only just finished and looking for your 1st postdoc? This remains also a mystery to me so can't help you there I'm afraid. I'd love some tips on that area too.



I am in the same position as you and am doing my final corrections on my final draft, which I received back from my supervisors with the green light to submit last week. I also started a new teaching job and postdoc last week so to say that I am on edge is an understatement. So... The three month thing at my university is a formal requirement. You have to submit an examination entry form to the exams office so that they can put in place your examiners. You can take more than three months to submit if you need to, but you cannot submit sooner than three months so you should ask your supervisors about this if it is the same at your uni. I can tell you that I thought I had finished three months ago, but having had that time to re-read, re-think, consult with others etc, I am still amending now, and I intend to submit at the end of October, so if you do have to wait the whole three months I am sure they will come in handy.

How do you know if it is ready? I have no idea. I have lost all sense of perspective with this now so I am just going to hit and hope. My supervisors said it was ready, so I am just going to trust them. If I carry on any longer, I may well implode. If anyone else knows how you know it is ready then I hope they enlighten us because I have no idea.

jobs... well... Like I said I have just started mine and I was applying for RA posts where a PhD was not an essential requirement so that meant that the level of experience of research they expected to have was less. I also say yes to everything; teaching, conferences, writing research bids, book reviews etc etc in the hope that by always being seen to be keen I get myself known and people will offer me things as well as giving me the chance to gain experience (I was able to draw on experience of organising and writing research bids, for instance, a lot in my last interview and I got the job, I would not have had that experience had I not agreed to work 12 hours a day for two months doing them).

It is really hard work but it is the academic cross we bear! Keep ploughing on and speak to your supervisor ASAP about submission, You will feel better once it is all cleared up.


My university has a similar 3 months time-scale for intention to submit forms. They are intended to be submitted about 3 months before you submit the thesis. This allows time for examiners and the viva to be arranged. If the form is handed in later than that it could delay the viva, but that's not a huge thing to worry about. So don't worry about that.

My intention to submit form was submitted in early January 2010. I submitted on February 10th. My viva was on 31st March. We'd worked out my external examiner quickly, but there was a bit of a delay while an internal was appointed, then it was changed, and a new one found etc.

Good luck!


Thanks Doodles, Queerface and Bilbo! I'd give you all, and Sneaks too, stars again if I could.

You've all eased my worries considerably. My understanding of it was closer to your explanation really that the intention to submit gave time for paperwork to be pushed through but that it wouldn't be set in stone. I know various Uni departments can be terrible at getting paperwork done (the delay in my last two studentship payments being testament to that!) but 3 months did seem a bit much, especially when so much of what is required seems to happen in department.

We've sorted out an examiner for a mock viva, and we've discussed names for externals. My thesis sort of straddles two area's so I can pick from either pool really. The problem is the examiner might be oblivious to the other side of my thesis. So we've narrowed down the list. Got about four and the only issue with them is how busy they'll be. That was where I was anticipating delays.
As for internals there are about three names.

Which may be why I was so surprised by the three month notice. Despite talking about the viva and my expected submission it never came up. And hasn't over the past three years!

Congrats Queerface, on the jobs and being so close! I've found that I've thought I've been finished and then found stuff to do, tweak and change. Originally, back in summer, I was aiming for submission in August, then August came round and it seemed like September instead, and now it's October.

I defiantly feel close to submitting though as while I'm not sure whether the thesis is ready as a finished article I do know that I have very little to do but write. I'm at my Dads, which is part of a nice peaceful farmhouse in the hills! So I can write, look at cows or chop firewood! Whenever I've had feedback on my work I've been on top of it straight away and made quick progress with it. All the content is there, and I'm almost sure chapters 3 -7 are good to go, it's just the style and clarity that I wonder about. And for that I really need my supervisors feedback. It's a lot like you said, losing all sense of perspective and being ready to implode! I read and written, re-read and rewritten so much that I can't honestly say whether my work is clear enough to be submitted.

I do need to speak to my supervisor really. Especially about the intention to submit. My plan at the moment is, when he confirms receiving my last batch of documents, to ask when he thinks I'll be submitting as I have jobs apps to apply for and I need to put it down to give them an idea. Hopefully that'll get him moving. I just don't want to become the end of thesis monster student who's forever badgering their supervisor!

Doodles - Being told you're a runner up is crazy making. Especially when it's followed up with feedback saying they were impressed but the candidate they went with had slightly more relevant experience. Because then there's nothing in the feedback you can really use to improve for next time! It's nice to know you're good enough to get the job, but frustrating when you know there's little you can do.

My plan with combating the competition and other post docs etc has been to emphasise skills and more general experience on the C.V. and then really expand on it in the interview. Interviews are fantastic I think for getting over that problem because they've give you a chance to shine, and make an impression that you can't get across on paper. So I've mentioned general teaching and presentation experience, research training, numbers of participants I've tested, programs I can use, and links with other Uni's/academics on the C.V. rather than focusing too much on the actual research area. I try to convey the idea that I have the skills, just not the direct experience.
I wouldn't listen too closely to me though as I've only had 3 interviews this


thanks you're a star too. ;-)

It sounds like you're nearly there - just need to touch up your chapters once you get some feedback and then it's all systems go!

Thanks to all for advice on getting experience and selling yourself which I am not very good at doing. I seem to have the opposite problem of sounding better on paper as I'm not very confident so then get very stressed about interviews and networking which I find very hard to do! I don't think I come across very well as a normal person as my mind goes on holiday during such occasions - any cures would be greatly appreciated.

As for writing proposals - has anyone got any tips on these? How do you go about doing it and can you have a few going on at the same time with different people so you don't put all your eggs in one basket? Or is it better to go with one person and try as many different sources as possible as I'm sure only one will get funded if extremely lucky!

Any thoughts would be great thanks :-)


You've got a kindred spirit here when it comes to networking. I'm not very good at it and I resent the idea of it being such a supposedly integral part of career development.
I like talking to people, I get on well with people, and the last conference I went to I ended up at dinner with a bunch of people I've never met before in various different areas. But that happened because I was getting on with them, not because I was cataloging names and contacts for the future. I understand a network of contacts, social and professional is useful, but I just feel so mercenary when it comes down to doing it for it's own sake. Maybe it's something that'll change a bit when the leap is made from student to academic.

I'm stuck on proposals too. I was looking at the ERSC early career fellowship funding and you need a mentor and the approval of the HoD. But I'm not sure how to go about approaching them. I have a Uni and some people in mind. In fact I've met them both briefly before, but do I just email them and say 'I have this proposal, if it's not too forward of me would you be interested?'. Or is that rude and unprofessional to send an unsolicited proposal like that, essentially to someone I barely know?

Likewise I've found a website that hosts job ads for the very specific area I'm in. I've missed out on some great places but the job information, and contact info, is still up for them all going back a couple of years (Only a few jobs get advertised a year it seems). Would it be wise for me to send a C.V to them along the lines of, 'I know the position has likely been filled but I'm very interested in the area and would be in any future related openings. Please find attached my C.V.....etc'? Or something like that.

Sorry I'm not much help Doodles, we're in the same boat!

Whilst I work that out (or likewise wait for words of wisdom here :D ) I'm going to put together some generic research proposals. Partly for practice and partly so I have something ready if an opportunity arises.


I spoke to my supervisor today.

All is not well in peljam's phd world :( I asked about what sort of time frame I should put down on job applications and there was an issue. I didn't say anything as I'm hoping it will resolve itself fairly soon but...We have vastly different estimates on when I'll be submitting. Admittedly theirs was a very conservative one that they said might very well become sooner, but the gap was still shocking.

My estimate? Sometime this month
Supes'? December

Currently I'm taking solace in the fact that I'm pretty sure they've not read a great deal of my latest chapters. So their admission that it could well be sooner is one that could be very true. I think it may be November now as maybe I have a little more work than I realised (can't think where though) and a little less than they think.



That's a disappointment but it's not so bad though I do understand that you want to get rid of it ASAP.  It's better to have the extra time if you need it than to be rushing around changing things at the last minute. As your supervisor pointed out it's a conservative estimate and it's likely that they are just playing safe so you'll be finished before then.  You're lucky that your supervisor is still interested in your project and willing to read it and give their opinion as mine has decided that they've had enough and is missing in action. Whereabouts currently unknown ....

It's good to be able to give it to your supervisor and then have a break while they read it and you can do fiddly things like tidy your diagrams which take me forever especially when I notice a small mistake and then I have to realign everything!  Then you can go back to it with a fresh mind instead of being sick at the sight of it!

As for the job thing I do the old trick of putting .... I am currently writing up my thesis which is nearing submission ... which covers a magnitude of timeframes. They'll never know how close you are and if they want to know just give them your best estimate at the time. 

I like your idea of doing a general proposal to keep handy if the opportunity occurs - think I'll look into it as well as getting tips on how to network and present myself as I agree that it sucks that networking is such a big thing.  It seems that it's an important part to getting anywhere and if you come across well at interviews they will give you the job and train you if they know and like you even if you don't have the skills. They should teach that sort of stuff too!  It's no good if just your research skills are good which should be the main thing. I am a sociable person so it's not as if I haven't got any inter-personal skills - I also find networking for the sake of it cringe worthy especially when trying to bag a job! :$ But I suppose it's part of the learning curve which we may find easier as we become academics as you suggested! (up) Learning how to work the system is a key skill! ;-)

Good luck and look on the bright side - you've got a bit of breathing space and the more you do now the less you've have to do after your viva.


Quote From Doodles:

You're lucky that your supervisor is still interested in your project and willing to read it and give their opinion as mine has decided that they've had enough and is missing in action. Whereabouts currently unknown ....

Have you tried hunting down your supervisor (literally if need be!). Dropping in, phone calls etc. I rang my supervisor yesterday and it's kick started things again. Would your second supervisor be any good in the interim, either for help or for finding your main supervisor?

Have an apt comic!

Quote From Doodles:

They should teach that sort of stuff too!  It's no good if just your research skills are good which should be the main thing. I am a sociable person so it's not as if I haven't got any inter-personal skills - I also find networking for the sake of it cringe worthy especially when trying to bag a job! :$  But I suppose it's part of the learning curve which we may find easier as we become academics as you suggested! (up)  Learning how to work the system is a key skill! ;-)

On the networking front I had a bit of a belated brain wave. There are lots of societies and research networks that can be joined. I'd been holding off on joining them until I'd finished the phd but with the delay I thought I'd get on it. Useful for networking and they look nice on the CV. So yesterday I expressed an interest in two invitation only based networks and associations and now I've been invited! :D Two organisations full of people either in the same area as me, people who I've cited and hero worshipped for years or people who are in areas that I'd like to expand to. I'll be getting newsletters, updates etc on related workshops and conferences as well so I'll be able to network more effectively!

There's another paid membership one linked to a couple of journals, so I'm just waiting for my years membership to kick in. And then that'll have the same benefits as the others AND I'll get access to some more journals. So all in all, feeling pretty good about that.

Hmmm, what else. Oh! Mendeley! Awesome free program for organising files and papers, but it also has an online research profile component, and online research groups for sharing information and papers. So that could be useful as well.

Quote From Doodles: can do fiddly things like tidy your diagrams which take me forever especially when I notice a small mistake and then I have to realign everything!

On the realigning tables and what not front I'd recommend using LyX, least for you final thesis. It's a bit awkward to use at first but it allows you to simply set the layout and format for the entire document and you can just get with writing. Saves fiddling with the fonts and margins for every chapter and section. It even fills the table of contents, list of figures, tables etc in for you! At the risk of sounding like a salesperson for them since I've started using it the actual construction of the thesis as a whole has been a breeze.

Quote From Doodles:

As for the job thing I do the old trick of putting .... I am currently writing up my thesis which is nearing submission ... which covers a magnitude of timeframes. They'll never know how close you are and if they want to know just give them your best estimate at the time.

It's a good idea. I did that originally until I thought I had a more definite date. But...I might have something a little better to add now :D The call yesterday must have jogged things along. Since then I've had a potential external examiner approached by my supervisor, they've accepted in principle and I've been told I should hand in my intention to submit! 8-) What a difference a day makes. Now when I apply I can say in my covering letter that I have handed in my notice to submit and an extern


Hi Peljam, thanks for your advice and tips. Congrats on getting your supervisor to agree to submitting the intention to submit form. Sorry for the delayed reply - I have been buried under a pile of paper, print outs and a dodgy computer in the last month so it hasn't left me with much room for procrastination :-s But I'm glad to say that it's all done now! Phew I can breathe again and enjoy (gift)(robin)(snowman)(tree)(turkey)this year!!!!


No worries Doodles :D Glad to hear you've managed to get things out the way so you'll be able to enjoy the holidays. Any luck hunting down your supervisor?

Since the last post I've gotten some feedback on a chapter. But I think my supervisor is working fairly hard at checking things over because I'm on an even tighter deadline than before. I've got a lecturing post to go to in the new year so I can't be messing about with making huge changes or rewrites now!