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Anyone else submitted and waiting?

Hi all,

I was just wondering if anyone else has submitted or is about to submit? Feel like I've lost track of where people are at since Lara's recent viva triumph!

I submitted on 1st september and still don't have a viva date. It's REALLY doing my head in. I have to say after 3 years of looking forward to submission it's been quite an anti-climax - just feel a bit lost and aimless now!

That Friday Feeling!

I LOVE rubbish jokes. Here's my contribution:

Did you hear about the scarecrow that won a nobel prize?
He was out standing in his field!
(hmm, in light of Obama's recent win just to emphasise that is not some kind of veiled racism :-) )

Did you hear about the magic tractor?
It went down to road and turned into a field...
(ok, I got both of those from Farmers Weekly)

Did you hear about the lorry full of tortoises that crashed into a van-load of terrapins?
It was a turtle disaster!

And finally, my best terrible joke:
Why did the koala fall out of the tree?
Because it was dead.
Why did the second koala fall out of the tree?
Because it was in the first koala's pouch.
Why did the third koala fall out of the tree?
Peer pressure!

I did it!!!! yipeeeeee (My Phd Viva story)

Congratulations Lara and thanks for posting such a detailed description of what the viva was like - I'm waiting for mine at the moment and it is reassuring to hear about such a 'normal' experience. Best of luck for the future!

'bad reputation' in academia

Hi Max,

I don't think you need to worry. In our dept, the progress of masters and phd students is discussed at staff meetings to which everyone (i.e. including secretaries, RAs,) is invited- so basically everybody knows which students are doing what and how well. It's only a problem when unprofessional people (like the person who made that comment to you) enjoy stirring things up. I know how you feel because my supervisor is incredibly unprofessional and goes around spreading gossip about who is having difficulties (including personal things like illness). But everyone knows he is a gossip and a lot of people avoid him.

As you say, you got in, so you ARE good enough - you don't need to justify yourself to anybody. Good luck with your phd!

dealing with loneliness...

Hi algaequeen,
Sorry too to hear you're feeling down. I live apart from my husband too, because of work, and it sucks big time. I moved universities between my bachelors and masters and really struggled to meet new friends as a postgrad just because there's none of the living in halls/subject parties etc like there was as an undergrad. I know how rubbish it can be to drag yourself along to a load of classes/socials etc just to have a 5 minute conversation about the weather. All I can suggest is:
- make the most of the friends you've got. Rely on phone calls if you can't see them face to face. I have a couple of friends who I speak to on a set day each week - gives me something to look forward to.
- tell people how lonely you are (i.e. friends, not random strangers :-) ) - I think as a phd student sometimes one can project an image of confidence and capability and people don't realise how difficult it can be. A friend of mine texted me recently asking if i felt like a chat and, in a trough of self-pity I texted back "yes please, I'm feeling really lonely and bored!" - he actually had no idea, and has made an effort to keep in touch since then which means a lot to me.
- stick at the socialising with people in the department. Maybe you could organise something like meeting for lunch one day a week? Even just sandwiches in the canteen. I've found that I've got used to being less sociable than I used to be, so long as I know there will be at least *some* contact with humankind during the day!

Don't know if any of this helps but you really have my sympathy!

Very annoyed!

Hi Delta,

Sorry you're having a bad time at the moment. Is it possible to enlist someone else in the Department as an extra supervisor for these last few months? e.g. a progression panel member? It's possible to do it in a light hearted way, saying that you would value the extra input, rather than you feel the need to overrule your rubbish supervisors! I've had an extra member of staff in my supervision meetings recently because one of my sups failed to read anything I had sent to him for months.

Regarding the fees for 4th year students, they've jsut raised them at my uni too, but there is a cheaper option if you are writing up only (as opposed to doing lab work/fieldwork) and it is a significant reduction. Perhaps, now that your supervisors are acknowledging their rubbishness, you could get them to sign you off as writing up and avoid the big fees?


I've got something similar in my methods chapter. I've put "Altheide and Johnson (2006) suggest the following criteria, which I have used to inform the discussion in this chapter: x, y, z..." (if that makes sense!) - but it was basically that I used some of their headings to structure my chapter. I did actually wonder if it was necessary as they are pretty generic things (access, researcher role, rapport etc) that you find in any methods textbook but I thought it better to reference than not.

peer review feedback samples

Hi Bug,

I don't know of anything like that for social sciences, but I've got a few comments that I've received on journal article submissions if that would be any help? (some of them nicer than others!) - I could email them to you.

Have you been asked to review something...?

10 months to go, what keeps 'you' going in the last year?

For me it was thinking that if I didn't finish and submit then all my long hours of fieldwork and all the time given by my interviewees would be wasted, as the data would never get used. At the moment I have 41 days til submission so I just think "in 41 days it will all be over"! Also I went shopping for a viva outfit...not strictly necessary ;-) but it did make it feel a bit more real.

Good luck - plough on, and the time does pass, I promise!

I need a good basic sociology book on organisations

Hi Joyce,

Here's my twopenneth, although my own research is less about groups per se and more about organizational culture, but some ideas that crossed my mind:

Gareth Morgan - Images of Organization (various editions) is one of the 'standard texts' in organization theory - it basically sets out various metaphors for understanding organizations (organization as machine, as brain, as organism etc) - might be a good starting point for thinking about how your groups relate to one another.

I have actually read Payne and Cooper (eds) Groups At Work. 1981, Wiley. which seems more directly relevant to your problem, and while i was searching for it in the library catalogue I came across another book called Groups at Work by Marlene Turner (1999).

Another quite famous text is Deal and Kennedy's (2000) Corporate Cultures, which argues not so much for different groups as different 'types' of organization member - people who conform, people who are mavericks etc. Very readable book although it borders on 'popular' sociology rather than an academic text. (Probably why it's so readable!)

Alternatively there are lots of textbooks called 'Organization theory' which are a decent starting point - anything by Mary Hatch is good.

Post grad activities - what have you found useful??

Hi Moomin,
We've got a postgrad group here which meets once a month, it has evolved a bit over the years as initially we got speakers in (usually other staff members in the department) to talk about things like writing a thesis, applying for jobs etc. Gradually it has become more student-focused and one of us gives a presentation on our work, or practices a conference paper, each month. It's a nice get together because the distance and part-time students often come in for it.

I wish my supervisor would...

Ginga - I would have hoped you would read my post for the semi-serious moan it was intended as - I'm a few months away from submitting so I've had my time as an "independent investigator", thanks, and it would now be nice for my supervisor to help me get the thesis ready for submission rather than acting as an undermining, manipulative moron which he unfortunately is doing at present. People like this exist in every workplace and for you to imply that it is somehow my fault because I'm not doing enough off my own back is pretty presumptous and insulting.

But anyway, thanks everyone else, glad you share the pain of this and smilodon I hope you get some feedback soon! PhDbug I'm so jealous of your supervisor, I've read posts about him/her before and it sounds like you have an awesome relationship!

I wish my supervisor would...

Rant alert! My main supervisor is being an absolute..."idiot"...at the moment (for want of an appropriate expletive). It got me thinking about what the ideal supervisor would be like, so that I can try to be that person, if I ever get that far. But for now, I've got a wishlist of things that would improve my quality of life no end. Anyone want to join me in this?

I wish my supervisor would read my work. I know it's boring, because I read it myself, every day. But the difference is you get paid.

I wish my supervisor would turn up on time to meetings. I know you told me you don't have a watch. But you're 35. Buy one.

I wish my supervisor would write down a list of constructive comments, rather than picking random thoughts from the air and expecting me to put them into a coherent plan of action for the month ahead.

I wish my supervisor would stop doing random and alarming things like banging on the walls and putting up passive aggressive notices in the corridor.

I wish my supervisor would stop stroking his beard during conversations. Brrrrrrrr.

I wish my supervisor would stop recommending that I read books which later turn out to have no relevance to my work whatsoever. I have no time for 'interesting' books. In fact I don't have time for books.

I wish my supervisor would stop asking all the other postgrads if I'm ok behind my back. If you want to know, ask me!!!

Ok, think that's it for now :-)

question ref post docs

Found this on the British Academy website:

Anyone, of whatever nationality, who has obtained a doctorate from a UK university (within the terms of the eligible time period specified above), is eligible regardless of whether or not they are currently resident in the UK. Non-EEA nationals will be required to indicate on the application form if they expect to require a work permit in order to hold paid employment in the UK, but the need to hold such a permit is not a barrier to award.

EEA nationals who did not obtain a doctorate from a UK university are eligible.

And this on the ESRC postdoc fellowships FAQ:

The fellow will be employed directly by the host organisation rather than the ESRC so you will have to check with the employing organisation about their employment policies. However, the Postdoctoral Fellowship Scheme is open to qualified individuals from any country as long as they have the appropriate work permits and rights to residency as specified by the Home Office at the commencement of an award.

Hope this helps!

PhD interview


I don't know anything about your area but I would suggest that you could talk briefly about the context (i.e. the extent of the problem, cite some existing literature if there is any) to show that you have already done some exploratory reading in the area, and then highlight some interesting questions and issues that have emerged for you. I don't think you need to put forward a whole proposal about how you would go about researching the topic (unless they have implied this in the information pack) but be prepared with some ideas so that you can answer questions about it. Obviously, if everyone else in the research centre/department is qualitative or quantitative they are probably looking for someone with a similar methodological approach, unless they specified otherwise in the advertisement.

At my interview I had to give an "informal presentation" which totally baffled me but in the end I simply talked for a few minutes from notes and then discussed the ideas with the panel members. They asked me a lot of non-research related questions too, like why I wanted to do a PhD, whether I knew any other doctoral students and understood what was involved, and so on.

Hope this helps. Good luck!