So I'm 8 months in, and I've read a fair amount of journal articles, moving into tech report.
I'm trying to get this literature written up - probably to produce 20-30 pages, but so far have about 5 sketched out. My trouble is where to start, and which way to present.
Trouble is I'm trying to prep up for a pilot study - which I've done some good work for already - and feel I'm juggling plates. Actually, finda feel like Grommit on the train track trying to lay track infront and behind me at the same time.
I hope by christmas to have an ok lit review written up - and a pilot study done. the two of which I could shove together to form a reasonable paper. It's a 4 year course - does this sound like I'm on track or behind?
Where were you after 6, 9, and 12 months?
I wouldn't worry a huge amount about your literature review structure, as I found it changed dramatically by the time I went to revise it for my thesis write up. This is because your knowledge increases vastly through time (during your first Lit. Review you don't really know what's important and what's not?), and you pick up the skills to 'join the dots'. I found I only really knew where I was heading in my third year.
I think if it covers the main areas, and starts to construct an argument pointing to your work then that will be OK?
Hope that's of some help.
I started in October and this sounds very familiar. I have read a reasonable amount and thought I would write it all down over summer. I have only written about 2,000 words so far! I am also mid-first study and my supervisors want this finished by Sep and do my 2nd and 3rd at the same time, completed by December. But I already know this will all be shoved up 2 months and quite scared about supervisor coming back from hols to find no writing!
I find writing little essays on each subject is better so I write 5,000 word reports/essays about the literature on a certain topic. They all stand alone but it will help, so I can go back and collate it all together. I have been told that once I have an overview of the subject i.e. in my 3rd year, I will want to change any lit review I write anyway, so this is the best way - I do see their point, as if I had written lit review 3 months ago it would now be completely different and would have been waste of time.
It sounds as if you are on track, maybe you should try to write something each day e.g. 200 words (something I am yet to actually do myself)
I started my biology phd 8 months ago, and it is also a 1+3. My supervisors were keen for my to start an experiment early on and to do field work, as I will only have 4 summers available to me. So the first 4 months were spent doing a lit review on possibles plants species, and experimental variables and instead of writing an essay on it, they said to produce an excel table so I would be able to document the key points of the paper and be able to easily compare findings. I did the same when looking for my fieldwork sites and species. Now I have to give a departmental talk in October about my work (eek!). Although I will prob not have any results from my experiments just yet as the sample preparation and analysis will take a few months, I will talk about the basis ideas behind my topic and my methodology and what I plan to do next. I find that the powerpoint slides are very useful in structuring my talk, and I will be using this structure for my first year lit review/ report, because they allow you to design your lit review as if you are explaining it to someone. You can see what are the main sections of your talk/ lit review and the important points that need to be put on the slides, and what are the extra explanations required to make the audience fully understand the topic and its importance. So what I am trying to say is - 1) do you need to give a presentation and if so maybe you could use this a the backbone of you first year lit review, 2) you have to juggle plates, otherwise you phd will be either all lit review, or all random expts with no background! 3) I think Christmas will be fine - thats what I planning for! :p
Hope this helps...
Hey...I'm now 10 months in, so I know this dilemma! I think there was a point where I kept thinking that I haven't done enough work ... I constantly felt like I wasn't working hard enough. But I think that once I started my lit review and had a good few pages down I felt that I had done some 'proper' work. I have also started doing some of the main body of work for my phd so feel like I'm getting somewhere now.
I think it is hard to learn how to juggle lots of different bits of work, i found that trying to complete one small section per week (maybe a page of writing) has really helped to build up my lit review. I think once you actually start it becomes easier! I think its sounds like you are definitely on course - you seem to be at a similar stage as I was about 2 months ago!! Don't forget though that everyone's PhD is different and will progress differently. Have you spoken to your supervisors about your progress?
By the way- how is a 4 year phd different from the normal 3 year one?
i think it totally depends on your subject and uni. After 3 months I had set up my major experiment, recruited all my field sites and read stacks but this was because i needed an experiment to run for three years (ecology - could have done with 10 years really!) by the end of the first year I had to write a mini thesis - cursed them for it at the time but loved them for it when writing up as it formed the basis of the real thing. This was a comprehensive lit review and the findings of my first year of experiments. Other people I know spent the whole of the first year just doing a lit review and formulating their theory/question/whatever. Its very unlikely that you havent done enough - if not your supervisor should have picked up on it (although they are likely to always push for more). Like everyone else you will end up doing way more than you need ( I had two experiments that i didnt even write up as they werent as good as subsequent ones). If in doubt read more and write a lit review - this is never wasted time as it may help you change your focus and you can copy and paste most of it for your thesis. if you are nearly at paper stage after your first year then it sounds like you have been working really hard and have done plenty!
I wish i had done silly things along the way like thinking properly about chapters and writing everything up in the final format as I went along - would have given me a head start later, so if you dont have anything concrete to do you could start to think about these things to help yourself later.
Apart from all this enjoy your first year - its the time to network , think about doing more outlandish things that you ll never get round to and form working relationships - year 2 and especially three will be much harder as options close off and the pressure starts so enjoy having a life while you can.
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