PhD Third years, a call to arms.


To my fellow third years, I have posted a call to arms, well not necessarily arms but shall we say keyboards? (I suppose our writing tools are our supposed swords no? Anyway, I digress.)

Im in third year and submitting in Sept. Im also highly stressed, (big shout out to my fellow highly stressed people) I thought being that Im an absolutely dreadful procrastinator and I have nine months left now is the time to bring us all together. You see Im woeful at the moment and I keep having to yank myself out of fear based stupors (you know staring at the computer with a confused look on your face, realising you have spent most of the day trying to work out what a certain button on your microsoft word actually does)

Im only aware of some lovely students in a different part of the faculty who pat me on the back and say 'dont worry you can write a thesis in 6 months' But to be honest I don't want to I'd like to produce something really really good, I know that can't be done haphazardly. I just feel at the minute the fear is getting in the way and I would like to actually get some communitas with other years, not just the uber relaxed in my department, or the ones who lie through their teeth. I know by this stage we are all meant to be very very busy and shouldnt be meandering around the internet but would anyone like to share how they are getting on, or any current bugs they are having.

General annoyances, procrastination attempts and motivational words are always welcome. Lets do this thing!


Hi Liminalp.

Yes, I'm kind of in the same boat at the moment... albeit part-time and in fourth year but hoping to finish around October time. I just brought myself overseas to write for 3 weeks... one week down and ... where's that writing? Lots of thinking but not a lot on paper. Most of this writing has been done, actually, and I'm really re-writing at this stage, updating the literature, the analytical framework and methods (I'm doing a theoretical thesis the bulk of which relates to a methodological framework), so these things take up half the word count. I've completed my fieldwork and done some analysis, even had a book chapter accepted out of it but can't get to writing that up in detail until I sort out this theoretical frame. So, yesterday, I set myself some targets... 12 days to go and 40,000 words to revise/complete. I want to have a first full draft of my thesis by end of April (not to submit - just to be complete). OMG - what a target!

Today I'm revising chapter 3 - the one with the most changes, maybe 3-4,000 words. Let's see how it goes! What are your plans for today? :p


The 40,000 words is only the first half of the thesis, of course. :-)


Oh God, I have my first (rough) draft due in ooooh 19 days. I have one half-written chapter left to go and then big scary meeting with big scary supervisor. He's not really big and scary but he's my second supervisor and if I annoy him there's no-one left to supervise me...
And straight after that I have an internal evaluation with the head of my research institute (who loves me, but has never actually seen my research)... why does the world hate me? I've just got to the point where right now and for the next couple of months I'm going to feel like a performing monkey rather than a PhD student.


Good luck with that, Sleepyhead... sounds like your on course! (up)

Know what you mean about the supervisor... well, except my supervisor is actually absolutely lovely and not at all threatening - it just feels that way when I feel like I don't know what I'm talking about. ;-)


I know Bakuvia. Sometimes I feel like I'm the geeky girl at school and my supervisor is the really cool boy that everyone likes - I'm so desperate to impress him, try to sound cool and like I know what I'm talking about but most often turn into a bumbling idiot.
Obviously, I would never tell him that I think like this, that would just be weird.


I accept this call to arms with a mixture of trepidation and courage.

I want this PhD to be over and done to a good standard between Sept and Dec. I have circa 30,000 words so far - and by the end of the month will have about 45,000 altogether. After that I will have another chapter of 15,000 words, then my lengthy intro/conclusion/ epilogue/ and scene setting section.

I want a job and I want to relocate - and I want to change my complicated personal life. Finishing my PhD will bring me sanity so I can start the next stage in my life. So no more slacking and wasting time procrastinating. I am finishing my marking today. Then tomorrow I will start my next Chapter in earnest. Every time I waste time I am consciously think about how time wasting just traps me in a pretty unhappy place. I am divided between trying to apply for post-docs and academic posts in the South East. Or just moving to London when I finish and applying for musuem jobs or other posts. Eitherway I would like this PhD to end.


I'm already in the twilight zone between corrections and submission, so am probably no help to anyone right now. I have no idea how I'm going to get everything done by next month, though presumably I will have something to hand in as I have to. I think it's likely that my standards will drop the nearer to the end through lack of time, though it's great that you want to submit as good a thesis as you can Liminal. The rate I'm going at the moment, I'm likely to just chop bits out if there's no time to chase up endless references or extra supporting evidence. I can't believe how long it takes to get this stuff done.

What on earth do other people do to motivate themselves so near the end??? This mental equivalent of gritting your teeth and getting on with it is horrendous. I've been doing it (or trying to) since the new year and just feel like I'm not getting anywhere - I cross off bits that are done, but there is so much left to do still and I have to go back to work this week. Today I just can't stop crying, it's like I'm stuck in a quagmire like the ones in the Hound of the Baskervilles that swallow you up in quicksand and it takes a superhuman effort to climb out, but today I am really floundering. I just don't know how the hell I'm going to get through this thing at the moment, I am having a seriously bad day. There is probably enough time left to get the worst chapters done by Wed, which is what I originally planned at the start of the xmas break, if I get my act together and stop crying.

Apologies for absence of motivational words btw.


Hi Chrisolinski,

Looks like we're at a very similar stage with similar goals... good on you for taking up the baton - will watch with interest to see how we go. I'm also teaching at the moment (if not yet marking)... but I kind of welcome that as a break from the thesis at the moment. 1,000 words down and a restructure in place since my post this morning... so think I may just have earned this momentary procrastination and lunch-break. :p


Hi Sleepyhead

I know what you mean about the supervisor thing. ;-) I think it has to do with respect and admiration. I've managed to get over the awestruck element since the upgrade at least and it's much easier now that I'm driving the thesis myself. LOL I might not say so in so many words, but he knows I think he's cool and that he's a good supervisor.


Hi Ruby

Well, I wish I was where you're at... even if it means gritting my teeth! LOL Last time I had a crying fit over my thesis was when I was first confronted with the methodology chapter and hadn't a clue how to go about it (mind you, that was a long time ago already). I think as you near the end you seem to hit some kind of apathy field... that said, having decided to get down and get on with it today, I'm finding that if you just sit and write and rewrite and force yourself to keep going (yes, through gritted teeth)... eventually you end up kind of enjoying the path you're on. Good luck with getting your motivation going again.(up)


liminalplace and Rubyw, I feel your pain!!  I am also in the twilight zone but I'm between re-submit and second viva. The good news is that I am a procrastinator too (Majong Titans anyone?) and I still managed to get the thing in on time (just).  It is painful, and Rubyw I was in the same state as you - I seriously didn't know how I'd get it done. You end up having to be realistic about what you can and can't achieve in the time and what really is important.  I dithered about over sentence structure, punctuation, general grammar etc etc and yet the first time I opened it after it was printed and bound, I found that all the pages after page 192 were still numbered 192! I checked the damn thing so carefully and yet still managed to miss it. But hey ho, that's life.

You will get it done because you have to and you will make sacrifices in terms of what you might like to submit, but as I have been told, the PhD is not the end, it's the beginning and we all start somewhere. Good luck


lol thank you all for taking up the challenge, irony of ironies I currently am in bed sick and am as useless as udders on a bull atm. Ruby I feel your pain and goodness me everyone else you have tons done. I feel like that kid at the back of the class that never admits to how much they have done cos everyone else has done more and instead tries to find fellow slackers! lol.

Urgh just having one of those days where I hate the whole thing. I also wonder what possessed me to be quite honest.


Thanks everyone, I feel better today. :-)

I had a good cry yesterday, dyed my hair then started on a shorter, easier chapter just so I could cross another one off my 'to do' list. There are SO many ups and downs in this process, I never believed it when others told me the reality of finishing a PhD for them, but ho hum, the arrogant naivety of the new starter - I never thought it would apply to me, lol!!

Bakuvia, it was my methodology chapter that got me down yesterday too. It seemed to have expanded so much and I felt really out of my depth with it, as I had a really long list of book suggestions in case I 'wanted to engage with them' from my sup. Anyway, maybe today it will seem clearer, if not I'll send it off for feedback anyway.

Sarah, you are so right. You get it done in some form or other because you have to. I totally understand the dithering over all the details then finding a glaring error though, I had some seriously strange illustration numbering in my draft before xmas and that was just a draft - you wonder how how you could miss them but it happens. Good luck with your work, you have needed more staying power than most for your situation. Hope it's going well.

Liminal, hope you feel better today, it seems worse being ill when you've got the PhD hanging over you. Not that being ill could be considered a lovely experience at the best of times.

Thanks again everyone. (up)


Hi Ruby

Glad you're feeling better today. Yeah, methodologies are soemtimes such a %$£%"$ - funnily enough, the first version I wrote was good enough to get me through my upgrade but I'm quite a bit wiser now and realise I'd thrown everything and the kitchen sink in there. Happily, my new revised methodology will be a lot more focused. I did the same as you and switched to an easier chapter as the first one I was trying to revise was getting me bogged down. Pleased to say things are going much better today - am now around the 3,000 word mark for this chapter... so should finish it by tonight and, as you say, it'll be nice to have ticked something off on my list! Yay! Ups and downs abound, yes, and there are times when I ask myself - why are you shifting your perspective this late in the day... *grin* but then I just own up and say, well, because the darned thesis needs it! ;-)

I'm just glad I'm on holiday from work for the next two weeks which gives me a good opportunity to really concentrate and try to find some flow in all of this.

Liminal - hope you feel better soon.(up)