Have posted on here previously (usually a similar theme) but am panicking an awful lot... Am I going to fail and get kicked off the course? It feels as if I'm in a bit of a rut and struggling to get out of it.
I was extremely lucky last year to be awarded a 1 + 3 ESRC award from my institution (London based). Extremely lucky as I know how competitive these are. I was teaching part time in another uni (in the city - 8 hours a week which was way too much - but that's been cut down to 2). I'm obviously doing the MRes stage of my award at present and have to get a 25,000 dissertation in by mid-September. This is in tandem with having to get two more MRes modules (focusing on Quals and Quants) done by the end of April and assessed (i.e. % graded) coursework.
So as I sit here now I've got about 7 months to do 31,000 words. The MRes is going to hopefully lead into the PhD. However, @ the mo I've not done much. It feels as if I've stood still. My supervisors feel happy enough with my progress (I've asked them directly) but it feels as if my legs are stuck in mud... Thus far I've got 3,000 bad literature review words done thus far and struggled to build up any momentum.
The research stage of the lit review has to be completed in April/May and worried I'm not going to get the Lit Review done in time, along with the methodology/questionnaire design done... All in all a big :-(.
Just wondered if anyone's got any advice as to whether I'm too far behind, and what to do to get out of the rut. It seems to be most people I speak to about this have gone through this at least twice in any research degree but...
Thanks in advance... Be gentle...
31,000 words in 7 months is very doable. you need a plan of what you want to write. Once you have that, you can break it down to manageable portions. You can then focus on getting the portions ticked off the list.
I'm not too up on mres things, but that's where I'd start!
Yep, 31,000 words in 7 months is absolutely achievable, even with course work. Are you writing? Or having trouble and procrastinating? Have you read Joan Bolkers book, 'How to do Your Diss in 15 Minutes a Day?" If not, read it. She talks about freewriting - just sit and write, in short chunks. Do 5 minutes, write anything you can think of on your topic, then do another 5 minutes, then 15, then keep going, it builds up. And as Sneaks says, you need to have a plan, so you have goals to work towards, little steps, things you can achieve each day, week and month.
Don't think about it as 31,000 words, think about the lit review you need to write, concentrate on each section, and only that. Don't freak yourself out. Little by little, you'll get it done!
I find that using word counts as a measure of progress doesn't work for me. Some days it will take me all day to write a page, if the material is hard, and that's not many words. I found that I was not reaching my daily word count target, so now am task-focused. 2000 words in a day is a lot I think - well, it is for me - and by setting this target, if you don't reach it you'll just feel worse. Would it help instead to break down the tasks? So tomorrow for eg, read articles on x topic, take some notes, read some more, take some more notes until you've read all the relevant articles. Then when you have that done - and try and realistically plan how long this will take - then plan the lit review. Then write each section, one bit at a time. This will take a while! But also aim to have it done by a set date. As Bolker notes, give yourself generous deadlines, so you don't set yourself up to fail.
And read Joan Bolker - just chapter 3 will get you on your way. Good luck!
I don't find word counts very helpful either. Too often I'd come in under my target, and would get thoroughly dejected!
Personally I find the better thing is to set a certain target for writing time, even if in my case it's just an hour or so every few days (I'm part-time, and very seriously ill, so only able to work for very short periods). Even at that pace, if I can keep it up regularly enough, I can make progress, albeit slow.
Slow and steady gets me there, rather than a sprint. And I submitted 10 days ago :p
I also found the task of going from Masters-level writing to PhD-level writing very intimidating, purely because of the sheer scale of words that were required in the latter.
The only way I could cope was to break the writing task down, into smaller chunks, and focus on more immediate goals that way. I also used a lot of brainstorming techniques like mind maps.
Oh and when I was writing the main chunk of my thesis I found it easier to work on 2 chapters simultaneously, so if I got stuck with one I could switch to the other, and vice versa, making progress that way.
I would echo previous correspondents remarks about 31,000 words being perfectly do-able in seven months. It's the feeling of panic at the moment, that makes if feel that it is not.
I got a PhD over 4 years ago (social sciences ESRC funded / (very) mature student) and found myself in a not dissimilar situation where I was given a deadline (it felt more like a DEATH warrant) to complete in five months or that was the end of my registration. I did, however, have a very detailed plan at the time - chapters, sections, sub sections - but calculated that I needed to write 40,000 words (I only had 45,000 done).
I set myself the task of producing 2,000 words per week which translated into 400 words per day (Monday to Friday - 8 hours each day) and then five hours Sat and Sunday for final corrections. I reasoned that this would be equivalent to writing a 2,000 word essay each week - which sounded simple enough / less frightening. So, to sum up, I went for a particular number of hours each day and a certain number of words per hour - 50, which is about a sentence every twenty minutes. Of course, sometimes I managed more, other times less - but that was what I was aiming for.
I might also add that I was living on my own at the time and so my days consisted of writing for an hour or two (I recorded the time very precisely), lying down for an hour or two's rest / recovery, and then back to the computer. It was like living down a claustrophobic tunnel, especially so if you are a serial procrastinator, as I was. I've never felt so physically exhausted in all my life. But... I did produce 40,000 words on time (well, one day late actually. I obciously did not want to let APP (The Association of Professional Procrastinators) completely down) and got my PhD.
You just need a plan that will work for you - it can be done. The very best of luck.
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