Transfer Thesis Panic


I'm currently 21 months into my PhD and in the process of writing up my transfer thesis to switch from the MPhil programme to PhD. I'm funded by research council and university, and have received good support from both supervisors who say that I'm currently doing fine, and that the work I've done and my writing to date (after 1st year dissertation) is also fine.

The problem is though, that I find it so hard to believe them.

My PhD was very slow to get going (significant work on simulation and results took a year to start up, but that was a year spent deep in the literature and approaching the problem) and so a lot of my thesis/argument is looking qualitative rather than quantitative at this stage. I'm writing up my transfer thesis, and I can't help but panic and stress when I start to think about my results, as all I can do is pick holes in them, realise things I did wrong or haven't done yet, and I have a massive mental block on what the results mean.

In terms of quantity, my thesis is over half-written as the introductions, literature survey and methodology are all written up okay, but I can't seem to write anything good about results.

Presenting the results is hard enough as I worry that the results I'm publishing are not not good enough and will be picked apart by an examiner, but I also have a massive mental block on the analysis and discussing what the results _mean_ - The main problem being, I don't know what they mean.

So I can't write analysis or conclusion because I'm not sure what my results are indicating, and what conclusions can be drawn from them. It's pretty much the first time I've written up my results, and the fear/worry that they're rubbish/wrong/not good enough is making me panic attack at work and uber-stress the rest of the time.

How much of an argument do I need to present for the transfer thesis? Does it matter if the results I have so far aren't great? Will I still meet the criteria?




For my transfer event my external examiner was not an expert in my subject and did not ask me any questions regarding the details of my work only how I went about my work and if I had any problems. However all of my group were present when I did my one hour transfer presentation, and they made sure they asked a lot of hard questions about my work. As it happens I was confident that I had enough new and original work to be transfered onto the full PhD, I was just worried that I would make an arse of myself in the presentation, therefore I practiced and practiced until I knew the presentation of by heart and thankfully it all came together for the presentation, the external examiner even said it was a very professional presentation. Therefore, my advice is to practice and practice what your going to say and go over any questions that you think may be asked especially about what future work you hope to achieve, do all of this then I am sure that you will not have a problem passing your transfer event.
Anyway Good luck


Thanks. I don't think the upgrade viva itself will be a problem, but I intend to use it as practice for the real thing and so am expecting the worst!

The main issue I'm having is that I'm so utterly unconvinced that my work so far, and the results I've achieved, are of the right standard to get a PhD. This train of thought has come after 22 months of faltering progress and not having a clear vision of what's required between now and final submission in 12-18 months.

I can understand that I'm not expected to be PhD quite yet (otherwise I could submit my thesis straight away!), but look at my work and results and am not convinced I can get to the place I need to be in time for the end of the PhD.

How were other people's experiences of the transfer/upgrade?

Did anyone else feel disappointed at the point transfer/upgrade but get through the PhD okay?

Avatar for Batfink27

I would suggest that you're overthinking this, and should allow yourself to relax a little. I'm at a very similar stage to you timewise, but at my university we transfer from MPhil to PhD at the end of our first year (out of three), so I've already been through a similar process (clearly not exactly the same though). I know it's different in different universities, but objectively speaking, the transfer is not that huge a leap. You're not expected to have anything close to finished PhD standard work at this point. It's more about exploring the approach being taken, and whether various aspects have been thought through properly, and suggesting where future areas of focus might be, rather than looking for reasons to trip someone up.

Think about how much you've learnt and how much your ideas have evolved since you started - if you factor in the 'exit velocity' we're likely to get which means that as we focus and pull things together to finish it will all tighten and improve even further, there is still huge opportunity for work to improve in the time left. Being aware of how much there is to do is daunting, but I think it's just a sign that we're developing an understanding of the task we have ahead of us - and it's daunting only because we haven't done it yet and seen how our ideas can stretch to meet the challenge.

It sounds like you have the confidence of your supervisors. Trust that for now - it's not easy to do that when we're so used to trying to think critically, but at this particular stage, they probably have a clearer idea of where we're at than we do ourselves.

Good luck with it!


Yeah, I have a pretty good relationship with my supervisors - They're both very experienced and ones I knew from my undergrad days, and they certainly know what's required of a PhD student and have plenty to compare with me and my current level of work.

They're both very supportive and say that what I have so far is fine, but I'm just a little concerned that, because I've broached the subject of stress and worry about progress levels before, they're just saying "everything's fine" to limit damage and stop me worrying so much - They're almost _too_ nice about it and _too_ reassuring that I think they must be bending the truth for me to aid my mental state. It's a weird state of thinking I know, but I've always been cynical of things like this and getting over it is tough!


Okay, slight update - I have my transfer viva in around an hour or so. Nervous! =S


Good luck Zinar7! I'm sure you'll be absolutely fine and surprise yourself at how well your thesis is coming along!


Good luck! Try not to let yourself get unnecessarily stressed by over-analysing your supervisors' reassurances. Focus on the task in hand and you'll be fine. :)


Good luck!!


Good luck, Zinar7 (up)


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Being anxious or panicking will not help you..just pray that everything you do will happen as you expect them to be..and commit to the lord everything you do..and He will do the rest..

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