I set myself an ambitious task of completing my PhD in 2 and a half years (Sep 07 to Apr 10) and now I am flagging big time. I am too scared to tell my Prof but I really need the extra 6 months to complete in 3 years. My Prof is incredibly ambitious for me and I have gone along with it, always saying 'yes', always up to demands and challenges but I am burning out and the family is suffering. I can't even get my head around some of my SPSS at the moment. I want a quality PhD and at the rate I am going, it is just not going to be quality. I have my viva upgrade next month and I know I have done enough to stay on the PhD but what will they say about my change in timeplan?
Is 3 years average? Has anyone else set out to do it a short time and had to add on the extra time?
Hi, I could not honestly say that a three year degree (meaning a less than three years submission) is usual. Far from it. I write as someone who is bound (for reasons more than one) to get a 3 yr degree, and finance herself as overseas student, and build a great CV. Yes, scholarships have been coming in bits and pieces, and these all are great. But yes, the last 7 months have been spent in doing one great RA ship (ongoing), 3000 word essays for the thesis every fortnight (total that up...), three conferences in the pipeline, a paper emerging, a report emerging from work on a consultancy project, some talks, one guest teaching for the MSc people. Oh, and fieldwork which began as a pilot but ended up being rich and extensive.
And, NOTHING except all of this. This is fine uptil now, and if this is maintained, yes, probably a 3 yr finsh is possible. I can only say that because I write a LOT, my supervisor reads a LOT, is extremely prompt, I do almost NOTHING except my PhD work and CV related stuff.
But, as i said, if something goes wrong, health fails, something else fails, we'll have to add time. In my case, it is not possible to add time for a number of reasons. But it's like a ball of string. You want so many things, and you have so much time. it is upto you how to balance stuff, and only you can figure out how best to do it (gosh, am beginning to sound like my sup!). But for sure, I know people who did it within three years, field greats, field not-so-greats, a peer who is about to submit, but yes, they didn't quite build brilliant CVs alongside, only thesis...
whether BOTH thesis and rich CV can work out in 3 yrs is a mystery to me, I shall answer you better in 2011 (hopefully!). In your case, it depends, is it just the thesis? Or are you set to put publicatons, presentations, teaching, good RAships etc, funding etc on your CV? If it is only the thesis, give yourslef some more time, plan it out, and it is doable I think...
Not impossible, but unusual...the 3 yr thing...
I do know somebody (one of my supervisors) who submitted in 2.5 years. BUT, he only did it in this time because he had to due to being an overseas student and having to go and do national service in his own country. He was (and he is quite open about this) referred at his viva and he openly admits that his thesis wasn't great. Luckily, he has done great stuff since, made Professor before he was 40 and is now a leader in his field.
I don't know if it's really possible to finish in much less than three years and produce a really good thesis. I know people who have submitted on the dot of three years and have produced really good stuff, but this is the exception rather than the rule around here. Most people seem to take between 3 and 4 years, and I don't really know why anyone would want/expect you to do it in any less.
As a way out it might be worth checking your department/uni regulations. At my Uni we're not allowed to submit before 2 years 9 months (if you do finish before this it has to sit on the shelf until the appropriate submission date comes around).
Good luck saying no.
p.s I suspect they will pull you up on your timetable in your upgrade.
I started in novemember 2005 and I'll have my viva in a month... that makes like 3 years and a half I think. In the UK I think it is common to submit after the third year and before the fourth. From the people that started with me, I am the second one having a VIVA (the other guy finished in 2 years and 10 months). I do know a couple of cases of people that finished in less than 3 years, but none in 2 years and 9 months. Though, it is doable, and I hope you can achieve it!
So, a small advice on saying always "yes": Your supervisor is as interested in your progress as he is in his own name appearing in your papers. Your PhD is your own, and you are in charge. If you want to finish it fast, make it your priority number one, and do only what is requiered for your PhD. Other taks are definitely interesting, challenging, rewarding, but if they lead you to a diffrent road, are they worth pursuing?
All the best!
Thanks everyone. I think it is evident just by these few replies that to finish in 2.5 years is crazy. I am giving it my best shot but especially, with what Athos said, I am going to have to pull back. My Prof. plans for 6 publications out of my data and continue into a post-doc. My study is huge, I have 205 participants completed, 2 hours testing each plus a sub study of 30 participants through an MRI scanner, which I am busy analyzing right now. I have another 95 participants to test and the end analysis is going to be huge with 174 variables per participant and I have to master SEM. This, on top of looking after my family of one husband and wait for it....7 children (all my own ;)) plus tutoring for the Open University. I am self-funded and I have to tutor. I am burning out and my Prof did mention once that if I ever can quite make the aimed for deadline, he would put in for a good excuse as one one child broke his spine last year and another got hit by a car (she is ok now), so I have had my fair share. I am definitely going to put in for the added 6 months to extend to the full 3 years and look up when to sort out the timeplan and viva plans etc. Thanks again for sharing, it does encourage me to think that 2.5 years is not the norm and is only achieved by 100% committment 100% all of the time, which I naturally can not do, although I work jolly hard all the time!
It's usually the funding body that is strictest about deadlines so I don't see where the pressure is coming from exactly - is it something to do with postdoc funding? Otherwise there's just no reason for hime to push you like this. You are in an area similar to mine from the sound of it. That certainly is going to be a very hefty analysis. I'm submitting on Wed (got the bound copies) and that will be at 3.5 years. In order to do that I decided not to do the SEM analysis (no-one in my dept actually knows how to do it so if you have help you will probably be OK but I had some sofware gremlins that I could see stretching on and on) and apart from a review published early on I've left all the paper writing until submission. And I only have one child :p
I'm also aiming to submit in 2.5 years, but I'm doing qualitative research with no pesky statistics to worry about. I'm certainly not under any pressure from the uni to submit in that time, but my supervisors are happy for me to do so if I'm ready. I've collected all my data and I'm about half way through my analysis, so I've got six months to finish analysis and writing up. But, if I don't feel ready it's not a big drama to keep going for the full three years. The timeline is my own. Good luck PN!
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