Another question: If you're good at managing complex projects, have a lot of discipline and have no obligation to obtain any credits or take part in any other uni courses, how realistic do you think is it to completely finish a PhD in 3 years? As a fresh graduate I'd never considered this possible, but with a few years of work experience and working on complex, long projects I do wonder whether it would be possible. What if you earn a bit of extra cash through tutorials and the likes? After all, this time comes off your research time.
What chickpea said.
Also the problem with a PhD is that it isn't just dependent on how hard and quickly you work. If supervisors don't give you prompt or proper feedback, then you'll just be waiting for ages, or have to keep submitting the same chapter over and over again (which takes time). Don't underestimate how important supervisors co-operation is for a finished thesis.
Plus sometimes it's not the student but the supervisor who insists on seeing things again and again. Sometimes the work is completely fine, but supervisors insist on checking revisions.
And with regard to undergraduate stuff, that's great in an ideal situation, but what if you're approaching a PhD following a break from education or changing subject area? You can't relearn three years worth of work over a summer, plus half of it won't be relevant anyway and I don't think any supervisors expect a student to know their u/g stuff backwards - supervisors don't know it all anyway, particularly when it's not in their subject area.
I submitted my PhD after 4 years, I did lots of teaching and published quite a few papers during this period. It definitely helped getting a job afterwards, so it's not a waste of time.
I would have finished earlier, if :
1. I had knowledge of a statistical software that would allow me to be more efficient with data management;
2. I was stronger in statistics, and knew from day 1 what's the best way to analyse data with complicated structure.
I would have taken longer if
1. My supervisor was not helpful in practical matters, (like I need this equipment NOW)
2. If I wasn't already quite comfortable with scientific writing
Agreed, teegs - there are many people who are just as hard-working and capable as anyone else, but who don't experience things in that linear 'work>result' way. I don't think anyone working through a PhD is a failure and I would like to see us give each other a break.
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