Signup date: 17 Sep 2013 at 3:23pm
Last login: 08 Dec 2015 at 8:34am
Post count: 29
Wow, sounds like a heavy schedule. Well done.
Unfortunately I'm probably going to have to be forced to choose employment or PhD in the near future and with my PhD is so behind and makes me so unhappy that it will almost certainly be employment that wins that dispute.
I know there are a mix of current and former PhDs on here. Does anyone have any tales to tell or advice on having a job while writing up? I'm having to apply for stuff now as I'm still writing up and no longer receiving funding. Part-time or a couple of days a week would probably be ideal. Any recommendations on the types of work I should be keeping my eyes open for? I've not done bar work before but there are a lot in the city I live in so I could probably do that if I get desperate.
I'm with the others, try to get your supervisor to agree to giving you an extended break. Student support services can offer counselling services as well if you want to be able to talk to someone who knows what they're on about but won't judge you the way you might feel a supervisor will.
Too often it can feel like the system is imposing a 'can't be seen to break' mentality on students which will keep you doing all kinds of unhealthy things if you don't deal with them in good time.
Perhaps even during the break while not worrying about your research in the immediate you'll come up with a new direction with an open mind. Someone in my research group changed her research focus four times in the first 12-18 months because one didn't work out, then a supervisor tried to drive them in another direction and eventually she was able to come up with something that she really wanted to do on her own.
In my early 30s and among the youngest in my department. In my experience beyond maths and science students who seem to go straight through bachelors, masters and phd in one continuous push everyone I have known has had a period working or come from years outside of academia.
Generally the ones at the older end of the returnee group are the ones who are most dedicated and successful too.
I'm writing up and I still get a bit garbled when someone asks for the elevator pitch version of what I'm doing.
In general these days I avoid telling them the title because it requires an extra session of explanation than would bore the pants off anyone who didn't understand it the first time. I keep it vague. I'm looking at X because Y. That satisfies the curiosity of most people and anyone who wouldn't be bored by anymore follow up will probably ask for an extra detail or two that is normally easy enough to come up with an answer for.
I'm not sure what encouragement I can add but I can add solidarity.
My funding has already expired, I'm beyond my original deadline and paying a writing up fee to continue with my studies. I knew I wouldn't complete on time for long before I missed that first deadline so that wasn't so bad, I knew I had a successful extension in my backpocket, but writing has still been punishing.
All the experiences above are very familiar. The mantra of 'finished is better than perfect' is constantly thrown in the direction of the students in my department. I suppose this is meant as encouragement but somewhere between the graduate training people and our supervisors an expectation that finished is perfect creeps in. This sense has kept me from finishing my drafts. I would get locked in a 'its not good enough' mindset even with my drafts despite rationally knowing that they weren't meant to be great and that I need feedback on them I would avoid seeking it. No longer working in my office while enabling me to find quieter spaces in which to write (sharing with thirty is too many, open plan is hell) it did leave me isolated which is one thing I encourage everyone to avoid. Not the working in a quiet space but the self-imposed isolation, in my case it grew to the point where I felt guilty for doing anything away from my computer. That just leads to those draft chapters looking like an impenetrable blur that will never become clear.
Seeing friends who have completed all I can add, I think, is to keep contact with peers who you have known during your project and that you shouldn't be afraid of sending unfinished raggedy drafts to a supervisor and just saying "I need someone to look at this before I can do anymore", own up to writers block if you have it. I didn't and trying to power through without progress looked like I'd been skivving off and got me in trouble instead.
I can't offer much help but I can say that you're probably not alone. I'm stuck in the middle of writing up and have felt pretty detached for awhile now. I think it's partly the process more than the topic that's done it for me. What's expected and how it's delivered creating a situation where I'm doing things just to jump through the hoops and feeling wornout the entire time.
For me this led to falling behind and getting an extension but the extension means no time off because I can't be seen to be wasting my extra time so I'm more tired than ever.
I did my masters while working and self-funding and I have to applaud you for being able to get this far with a PhD and full time work.
Making sure that your supervisor is aware of your situation is a a very good idea. Hiding problems and trying to deal with them yourself can just make things worse.
My other recommendation - or its what I did anyway - was to have dedicated writing days and non-writing days. The temptation (guilty feeling) was to try and write everyday after work but there was no way I could keep that up personally. Instead when I had an assignment or dissertation chapter due I would try to keep work and rest separate to try to prevent the feeling of it taking over completely and you feeling unable to do anything else. I know its a lot harder with the increased workload of a PhD but I would recommend having allocated on and off time. Or at least discuss the idea with your supervisor and perhaps they'll be able to help come up with a timetable that gives you a realistic timescale and doesn't consume your entire life.
Does anyone know if there is much penalty in the medium-long term for late submissions of the thesis?
I currently have an extension to my initial three years but that extension expires early in the new year. I don't think I'm going to be able to finish a full draft between now and Christmas which will make timely submission virtually impossible. My university is very strict on submission - I had to go through a full end of year evaluation before being granted my current extension and once you reach the end of year five the handbook says they can fail you - but I think having qualified for a fourth year I will be able to continue either through a further minor extension or by paying up writing up fees to cover the rest of the academic year. But I was wondering beyond falling foul of my institutions increasingly fixed submission rules are there further consequences to finishing as a fourth rather than third year student? Will it affect my ability to bid on funding or in applying for post-doc work? Knowing that different universities have very different rules on submission will this be seen as a sign I'm a slacker who can't be trusted or just someone who needed a little longer to get the job done or will it not even raise an eyebrow at all?
Regardless of what corrections or whatever are recommended at viva having a PhD is having a PhD, right?
I'd say bring it up with your supervisor, if you're working on something that isn't totally what you'd like it to be then it could be a *long* process to live with for the rest of your PhD.
Someone in my research team came with the intention of writing one PhD, it evolved, his supervisor directed him in a path he wasn't happy with, he eventually said so and by the end of his first year he'd essentially started his PhD three times before settling on what he wanted.
Is it normal to get to a point where the writing matters more than the content?
By which I mean right now while I'm making sure I get good ideas down, my findings expressed and all of that I'm struggling to care about my work beyond just trying to get it done. I'm hoping my passion will return once I'm able to gain some more perspective but at the moment the fear is so all encompassing and ever present that the word count has become king and I struggle to think or talk about anything other than how the writing is going (or not as the case may be) rather than feel invested in believing in ideas that I know are my own and have been so interested in developing for the past three years.
Like some of the others say a PhD is a process and learning and adaptation. Your supervisors shouldn't expect you to know everything but you should know enough to ask the right questions of them - early on at least - and as the PhD progresses their questions should be more about your own work. My understanding is that an encyclopedic knowledge of the subject is not really necessary in most disciplines because there is a limit to the sorts of questions you'll need to be able to answer.
That said, I've very much felt like I've not been smart enough to manage over the years and yet I'm due to submit my thesis early next year and surely I can't have come this far if I wasn't able. I think its something a lot of students feel. When someone presents work that looks like a flawlessly smooth process, staff or student, know that the chances are they've struggled just as much as you feel you might have.
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