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Post doc uncertainty

So here I am, I've just accepted my 3rd Post-Doc job. Still waiting for the examiners decision after submitting my thesis corrections 10weeks ago and Im feeling completely deflated.
In my last 2 posts I'd moved up the payscale as per the annual pay progression. Now they are putting me back those 4 points as a higher rate hasn't been costed in the project grant. Same level job, same title, same department, less pay. I've felt pressured to accept and I've turned down other interviews because I was offered this post which was advertised at a grade rather than a spinal point, I assumed I would be payed at my current point within the grade to reflect my skills/progression.
I've also enquired about a permanent contract as I've now been on fixed term contracts for 5 years. Apparently I'm not eligible as the posts are from external funding (even though I've gone straight from 1 post to another in my university so the work and funding is clearly there).
As a single mum of 3, money is tight and I'm starting to worry if ill always be on fixed term contracts, job insecurity, and if my pay is going to go back down every time I start a new post, even if its a like for like job.
Due to family, full time work and finishing a thesis I havent been able to knock out publications, and I'm not very competitive by nature. I'm social sciences, so I can't even think how I could use my skills in a similar paid role outside of academia.
I think I've been unrealistic in thinking my PhD was the biggest hurdle to jump.
Im also expecting to hear from the examiners om the 18th December, and its feeling like the longest 10 days of my life. Sorry for the negativity but I'm feeling a bit sorry for myself and needed to whinge!

4 weeks left! Is it enough?

Quote From castle85:
I just wanted to say thank you so much for posting this, and congratulations!! I'm in a very similar position - was actually supposed to submit today but am nowhere near ready, so I have another week. I am so over the whole thing that I can't even bring myself to open the document. I'm just hoping and praying that I can get it to the minimum word count and submit SOMETHING. But I know I'm not happy with how it's turned out and wish I could just scrap the whole thing and quit right now. The thought of going through the viva and continuing to work through corrections makes me physically sick. But your post really gives me hope that it might not be as painful or insurmountable as I'm convinced it's going to be. I had read your earlier post and was so glad to see this update. I'm so happy for you and can't imagine how pleased you are!! All the best.

Thankyou! Its lovely to know that someone has read my post, and especially that it might have helped. I am now on with revisions, and it is horrible. I understand how you feel about finding it hard to open the document. I'm the same, even though I am over the worst of it, it still fills me with anxiety! I keep re-reading my post just to remember how desperate I was, the relief I felt at passing the viva and trying to get back some of that motivation to finish. My goal is to finish corrections by the end of this month so that I can graduate in September, but I'm not making much progress to be honest.

I hope you managed to submit in the end? it sounds like we've been through a similar experience, it would be lovely to know the outcome, I have my fingers crossed for you xx

4 weeks left! Is it enough?

Hi procrastinaX
Guess what - I did it! I passed my Viva, I have corrections to do, but really nothing that bad. I had actually come on the forum to try and find some motivation for the corrections when I noticed your reply.

After my original post, when I was on the verge of quitting, I decided that to submit something would be better to submit nothing at all.

I hadn't left myself enough time to finish and perfect a thesis, but I did what I could. Some of it was rushed, and really
really shoddy. It had not been proof read so was full of spelling mistakes, the discussion was half finished and kind of trailed off towards the end. What I presented as a literature review was barely that at all. I think those few weeks were the most stressful weeks of my entire life (and there's been lots the last few years). The night before the submission, I had spent so long at my laptop that I went temporarily blind - I literally couldn't see barely at all with blurry/flashing vision, and had to stop working. I submitted about an hour before the deadline, knowing that it wasn't properly finished off. I was so embarrassed that I could barely bring myself to submit it, and once I had done, I was hoping it would get lost and no one would ever read it.

My Viva was a few months later and I had tried not to think about my thesis at all in the time in between. I only prepared the day before the Viva, not out of laziness, but because I really couldn't bring myself to read or think about what I had written. I can't describe the immense sense of embarrassment and shame I felt at having to confront the examiners, whose time I felt was being wasted by the whole ordeal. I felt physically sick. To make matters worse there had been some confusion, as the usual admin for my department had left, and so no one had invited a chair to the viva, and no one had invited my supervisor either. Despite this, the examiners were lovely, they seemed enthused about my work, and said I had made a very original contribution to my field. I couldn't believe it. I had expected to fail outright, or a resit/ rewrite at the very least.
They did acknowledge that my work needed 'polishing' and the discussion expanding, and they gave me 6 months for 'major' corrections, but on receiving the report, the corrections themselves were not even that extensive.

If you feel you are in a similar position to where I was, please DO NOT GIVE UP!!!
Not submitting is an automatic fail, but submitting something, even if you feel its something subpar that will never pass, may just give you a chance. It seems obvious in hindsight but there really is no point in worrying about what you can't do. Just do what you can do, submit whatever that is, and if you are lucky like me, it might not be as bad as you think. Good luck!!

How many interviews do I need for qualitative PhD?

The fact its qualitative means its about quality not quantity! How many you need depends on whether you get enough info out of your data to answer your research question, only you (with advice from your supervisors) will be able to decide if the number of interviews you have is enough. I have around 24 interviews, all around an hour long. I'm hoping its enough as my submission is in 4 weeks! Those interviews have resulted in masses of rich data, which alongside my literature review/ theory are able to explain the causal patterns in the programme I am researching. Basically, I feel they answer my research question sufficiently (not completely, as there will always be further questions that arise from the data). The number is less important than how you justify your decision, eg. have you recruited 21 just because its hard getting anymore, or because you feel its enough for what you want to achieve? Try not to compare your research with other peoples, I know its tempting, but it isn't helpful and can make you lose confidence in your own work! Would it be possible to leave yourself time so you can secure more interviews at a later date if you feel your analysis is lacking? As for methods to recruit - that's really difficult to comment on without knowing the context eg. group you are recruiting and what for, and any changes to recruitment methods may need an amendment to your ethical approval. My discipline is health/ social care, so for that area I would recommend engaging with/ advertising in the relevant local groups. Hope some of that helps! Good luck!!

4 weeks left! Is it enough?

To cut a long story short, the first 2.5 years of my PhD went fairly well. I did the usual, planned the project, collected my data, passed the Mphil transfer, conferences, teaching. Then divorce, ill health and all kinds of things happened. I interrupted for 2 years whilst trying to get my life back on track and came back to studying with a year left (extension). Restarting coincided with the pandemic, my life was still chaotic (single mum of 3, several changes to jobs/house move), I suffered depression and a mini breakdown. Somehow I've managed to pick myself up, the first half of my thesis (40,000 words) is written up to a reasonable standard, but I've got little else. Now I have less than 5 weeks left (more extensions are not an option), I just don't know if I can actually pull it off. My data is less than half analysed, I have several interviews I haven't even transcribed which need incorporating. Then I will have my findings, discussion and conclusion to write. Because everything has been so last minute, my supervisors have seen very little of my work, and have no time to read/ comment, so I'm going it alone. They have said that from what I have seen, I am capable, my writing is a good standard, and my main supervisor has agreed I can send everything to her a couple of days before the submission, and she's hoping what I have is good enough to sign off (she has said she will not sign off anything that she thinks will fail). My Viva/ externals are already booked. Last week I was positive, thinking I can do this. My plan was a week to finish analysis, a week to write up analysis, a week to write up discussion, and a week to write conclusion and proof. I've booked 3 weeks leave off work, and could potentially get a 4th week of if necessary. This week I'm not so positive about it. My youngest is off school poorly, I got very little done yesterday and my brain is in a fog. I know that if I do manage to submit something it will need major corrections, but worst case scenario I think I would finish with an Mphil, which at least means the last 5 years wont be a complete waste of my life (I only have a BSc at present so I guess a Mphil is better than nothing). Today I'm feeling lost and unmotivated and have talked myself out of believing it is possible. I have managed to book a week away next week - which means no kids or dog to walk, just me and my laptop. But even so, is it going to be enough or am I being completely unrealistic? Should I go for it, or should I just quit now? I'm already in a post doc job which I love and I'm good at, If I cant pull this off, I won't have a career :(

Thinking of quitting two days before submission deadline

Thanks for posting this, its just what I needed to hear right now, that someone in a similar position to me did manage to submit!
I'm a single mum to 3 kids, and one nuisance dog that seems to need a walk/play or to be generally naughty every time I start writing. Working as a post-doc which I guess I can't keep if I don't submit. I have 4 weeks left, haven't even finished my analysis. so 4 weeks to finish the analysis, write up the findings discussion and conclusion and proof. I've taken 3 weeks off work, its not enough, but I'm hoping I can patch something readable together in that time. My supervisor has kept a day free 2 days before the submission date to read it through, first time she will have seen the full draft, she has said that I better be confident it will be good enough to sign off!! I'm not at all confident, and feeling the pressure. I've never had any feedback on what I've done so far, so god knows if its up to scratch. Last week I was about to quit, then I thought, hell no! lets just panic write and submit. My thinking is the (almost)worst that can happen is I end up with an Mphil instead of a PhD, and that's surely better than nothing? I started out thinking I was going to do brilliant research, write the best thesis ever written and change the world. Now I just cant wait to hand in something that I know will be substandard so that I can have my life back. I started this 6 years ago (2 year interruption in between) and it has cost me my marriage, my home, my sanity. All I have left is my career, and that's hanging by a thread. Strangely, I'm feeling optimistic about it all (perhaps about it ending one way or another).

Well done on submitting, I bet that was a huge weight off your shoulders, and good luck to anyone else in a similar position!