Signup date: 27 Apr 2007 at 4:32pm
Last login: 15 Jun 2012 at 10:17am
Post count: 386
Thanks Juno! Before I started the PhD, I thought academics were the best thing since sliced bread until I found out there are some who does very little. And spend lots of time sussing out the next hiding place in the huge university.
I was told that the PhD research programme was characterised by independent work and slowly realised that it was a euphemistic term for DIY. I sourced help from other academics in and outside the university. Recently, I sent a chapter of my thesis to one of the big boys in my field for comments. He suggested moving parts of it elsewhere in the thesis, summarise some sections to make space for some areas that need more discussion etc. It was great to get such feedback as compared to feedback that I've been having, including "you've mentioned illness 5 times in this paragraph", "not layman but layperson" and the list goes on. How pathetic is that? I could have employed a monkey to do that.
Wrong again. I did not choose the supervisors. They chose me after an interview for a 3 year studentship. My current uni is one of the red bricks. Also, written work is of PhD standard as we (myself and the second set of supervisors) agreed on paper list. One paper written with co-sup from second team and awaiting submission to publisher. Conclusion regarding PhD work not made by supervisors (neither first nor second sets of sups) but by sub-dean who hardly knows my area of research; he's a physicist and I'm in social sciences.
Hang on there Pamplemousse, its a good job you are not some dean of some uni. You are making very sweeping statements indeed. Surely you are aware that there are lots of academics sunbathing and doing nothing? I've not considered "conspiracy" just poor management of students' grievances. Of the three supervisors from the second team, only the lead supervisor was a problem. I got on with the other two like a house on fire. Both of them are very sad to let me go but the sub-dean insisted that without the lead sup, the team dissolves. As for the first set of sups, I tolerated them for 3 and a half years before I filed a complaint of bullying and poor academic supervision. The entire PhD was based on informal help from academic within and without the university.
Contrary to your unfounded belief that I have the entire university against me, please check out the facts.
Thanks for your commiseration, Avalon. It was not about changing words etc. It was about doing an entirely different literature review! and changing all the research questions! I'm in social sciences. The starting premise of the research was investigating the management of a particular chronic disease. What emerged from the interviews was an emphasis on illness conceptualisation and the impact social structures and culture in illness management. The lead supervisor (from the second team) insisted that I remove the literature surrounding the chronic disease and replace it with literature on health beliefs! and then insert the word "health beliefs" into all the research questions. So far, it sounds doable. But the interview questions did not even addressed health beliefs! Furthermore, the interview schedule was approved by the regional ethics committee before the fieldwork started.
Nonetheless, it seems that reverse engineering appears a common phenomenon. The academic from another university is very baffled that the university turns a blind eye to such issues and blames the student for it.
You made it sound as if I didn't want to play ball! How can you expect a PhD student to agree to changing the focus of the thesis and research questions when all fieldwork is done? I think a line has to be drawn and sometimes, supervisors don't always know the right thing! Three out of five PhD students were deferred at their final viva because the supervisors led them up a different path! I've always been reminded " Its your PhD and you take the advice you deem fit" by the supervisors themselves. And when the chips are down, the student gets it in the neck and is labelled "difficult" or "uncooperative". The sub-dean needs a good kicking up his backside for being so spineless! And if they start to cry IPR issues, they are clearly very ill informed. And like you said, I doubt they would since he had recommended termination of the PhD.
One question: Why should I let the sub-dean know that another university is willing to accept me? In the past, they have knobbled a head of school from another department to reject me. I trust they do will it again. The bowels of academia stings to high heavens.
Thanks for the commiseration, guys and to Almostthere for being so understanding. I still think it is shocking that they have the gall to string students along to the final years of their PhD and then drop them like a hot cake. And I thought academics have enough brain cells to "Do the right thing". Well, it must be a case of same show and same monkeys all over the world and "benevolent Britain" is no exception. It was a good ole 'Pow wow' from you, Almostthere. Are you still going to finish what you started 10 years ago?
And Rick, how did the meeting of 24Nov went? Any resolutions.
Well, I have some good news to share. The academic from another university will discuss with his dean regarding finishing my thesis there. It'll be sometime in January before I can confirm transfer of university. Will keep all of you posted.
Thanks for sharing your experiences with me. And I thought I was the only one going through a PhD from Hell!
Think you've just jump the gun in many places. No supervisors with 2 grey cells will propose a change of focus of thesis when ALL the work has been done, especially in qualitative research. Of the three supervisors, only one insisted on a change and then became increasing uncommunicative when I asked her for help as to how to reverse-engineer the project.
In my first year, I did what the sups wanted and it went so pear-shaped at the upgrade viva that I had to resubmit the report and was revivaed! The focus of the thesis was changed as suggested by the examiners and not the supervisors. Its a bit of a dejavu 3 years down the road. This new supervisor was only on board for 1 month and started making waves without engaging in what the research was about.
A member of staff from the Research Degree Office was part of the decision making process and I am now waiting for Post Grad Research Students' Audit Group to endorse the decision made by the sub-dean the a member of staff from the RDSO.
It'll be great to see egg on their faces if they are guilty of procedural abuse. They have been really nasty to me since I raised the issue of bullying and poor academic support. Given a choice, I would not touch them with a barge pole but since they S**% on my doorstep, I'll just have to give it back to them!
Very late in the day, indeed, to decide that the work is not up to PhD standard. Upgraded in 2005 and fieldwork completed in 2006. The PhD was funded by one of the schools within the university, hence a university funded project between 2003-2006. The bullying and lack of supervision which I tolerated since the start of the studentship became unbearable in 2007 and I requested for a change of supervisors. It took the university ONE YEAR to release me from the incompetent supervisors. I approached a number of academics and found 3 who were willing to take over the supervision. Unluckily for me, the leading supervisor wanted me to change the focus of my thesis and the research questions, so that it would fit the findings! I checked this out with the ethics committee and was told that this is unethical and illegal, since they approved the study based on what was submitted to the ethics committee. Communications broke down. I requested for a change of supervisors this year in May and it took them 6 months to come to the present conclusion.
Clearly, the university apparatus is designed to drag the students through the system and hope that they will go away and die quietly. I've been following procedures and this is what happens. They take the high ground, hide behind procedures and think they are a law unto themselves. I was just about to write to THE and the Guardian as such treatment of PhD students must be highlighted and hopefully the VCs will wake up to the needs of students. Presently, you can't even make an appointment to see him! How ridiculous.
I've asked my MP to speak to the Vice Chancellor on the appauling management of my grievance. Also, I will be speaking to a student advisor from the Students' Union. According to the sub-dean, his decision needs to be endorsed by the Post Grad Student Audit Group. I doubt they will overturn his decision. This sub-dean is a bit gungho in managing students' problems and really thinks he has the power to sack students.
I've been advised to get out of the "toxic" environment and to finish it elsewhere. I just want to touch base with issues regarding IPR, should it be applicable. The academic who is willing to help me is from another university and is not sure about IPR. It seems it depends on whether the current university has broad shoulders or petty little ones. I have emailed staff from the Freedom of Information Act and no one had come back to me as to whether I can submit the thesis in another university.
Sub-dean of faculty informed me that he had discussed with RDSO and recommended termination of my PhD candidature on the grounds of:
1. refusal to do what the supervisors want ie change the focus of my thesis and research questions in the write-up period!
2. written work not up to PhD standard.
What kind of an outfit was I in? and who monitors these academics?
I have a willing academic in another university who will help me with the write-up. However, I am unsure of the potential problems with Intellectual Property Rights over the thesis. Any supervisors/ academics out there who can shed light on this matter?
I think that its commendable that you want to finish what you started 10 years ago. Go for it! What you have done should not go down the pan. Action plan: Decide on where you want to take this completed work and send emails to academics whom you think will be interested. Since the work was done 10 years ago, additional work will be required. Draw up a proposal and speak to prospective supervisors about it.
Nothing is impossible. Go for it, matey! Good luck and keep us posted!(up)
Working backwards from your post:
The work that you do, ie the IP rights (Intellectual Property Rights) belongs to the university, not individuals. As long as your lab work is conducted in the university, the output belongs to them. I got this information from the IP people in my university when things went pear-shaped and my PGRT said that my supervisors have rights over my work.
Although in theory, your supervisors should have no influence over your final viva, in practise, some academics get knobbled by the other big boys. I got stitched up for my upgrade viva 'cos my supervisor told them I was a basket case before I met the examiners. However, they could not find fault with the resubmission and I was very confident in my re-viva and passed.
From experience, I can vouch that once there are cracks in the supervisory relation, it truly is a slippery slope. I wished I got off sooner. Nonetheless, I managed to get out and they can no longer decide who my examiners are for the final viva. The university has a duty of care towards all their students. Use the apparatus to your advantage and like the previous posters said, stay objective and shelf your feelings aside whilst you present your case. I know that few laywers would take on the university, certainly not the legal aid people. I would seek help from the MP and the students' union and also, write to your VC. If you have a solid case of bullying and poor academic support, someone out there will help. Keep us posted.
Might be worthwhile delaying submission of upgrade report if that is possible. You need a clear head for the upgrade viva and working your nuts off doesn't sound good. Also, Juno is right: the sums don't add up- Why do your sups agree to a paper for publication and then smash your confidence about your upgrade report? Something's not right.
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