Writing a submission from the "outside"


I am a mature student seeking a PhD - I have come to the conclusion I am probably too mature (early 50s) to capture a scholarship - many applications and no interviews, my supervisor for my BSc has helped with my applications etc and cannot see why I never get interviews. So...... I am looking to self fund and write a submission myself, however I am no longer registered as a student anywhere. I cannot get access to the journals databases as an alumni - how does one follow latest published research from "outside" so to speak. Stuff available on the internet is dated.

Anyone acheived this??


Hi Diane,

I have a couple of ideas that might help. If you do a google scholar search with date filters you can at least identify relevant recent articles as you'll be able to access the abstracts if nothing else. Google scholar also displays any freely available copies of the article and in my field, I've noticed that some overseas universities seem to have made their scanned study resources for their students open access, so you might be lucky. Also if you've identified an author, look on their uni website - more and more universities are making e-prints of their staff's publications available free or there will be a link to a working or conference paper that's similar to the finished article. It does take a while but can help. Also check the professional associations running conferences in your field - in mine at least they have a free database of papers given at their annual conferences.
Are you close to a university library - it might be worth seeing how much membership costs and what services it allows you to access. If that's not feasible, certainly my local library will interlibrary loan copies of journal articles from the British library. I don't know how much they charge though.


I forgot - have you checked whether your access through your ex-university has actually expired? My one from my PhD days still works several years on so it might be worth a try!


It think most unis offer some form of library membership for alumni, or supporters. It's usually a nominal fee. Have you asked about this? At my uni, it's possible to pay for access to online resources per month, or annually.


Many thanks for these! I have tried my local Uni where I am also an alumni and you can only access the journal databases as a registered student - they levy a small charge if you wish to borrow resources (books etc) and can use anything in the library free except the very thing I need!

My ex-tutor who I still get bits of work from has offered to send me copies of any article I identify, as has a friend who works for a large pharma company but it is the searches I cannot reasonably ask them to do!!

I will try to see how far I can get with Google Scholar etc,

Thanks again


You could also try going direct to the publisher's and database websites and register with them for Table of contents alerts. You might have to be a little 'loose' with the truth as to where you are registered. I get ToC alerts for SAGE and Taylor and Francis journals very regularly. Also don't forget to use the advanced search option with Google Scholar as you can filter your results and also set up email alerts.


DianeH I was in very much the same situation as you in looking to pursue a PhD later in my career (late 40's). I had very little difficulty in finding supervisors or a validating institution once I had decided to self fund.

Not exactly what you asked. however, if your undergraduate degree is recent you may like to talk to your supervisor about possible research questions and to see if they would be interested in supervising your PhD study.

I have ended up with two main supervisors from different institutions and being validated by a third one. This is because the supervisors and I got on very well and they have skills to compliment different parts of my project and the institution is the one most local to me.

Very happy to chat if you want to send me a personal message.