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The nocturnal workers' thread

Anyone up for the nocturnal working tonight?

If everything goes well in my Viva (fingers crossed, I'm extremely nervous), this will be the last "PhD night" for me. There is one important task I really want to finish tonight. So my plan is to go to McDonalds to get a QuarterPounder with Cheese Meal with Barbecue Sauce (with Coke, large please) and then start working in about one hour, as long as it takes.

Despite the completely irrelevant information I provided above, who else is out there working tonight?

Number of chapters in thesis

Quote From trillian_astra_uk:

The general rule for science PhDs (the thing that everyone seems to aim for) is introduction, methods, 3 results chapters, and discussion. That makes 6.

Apologies for my ignorance, but how do science PhDs demonstrate their knowledge of the field of study? Is there no lit review element?

Number of chapters in thesis

Quote From thecoastman:

I have 10, and people seem to express shock and horror at this!

Me too. Same reaction. From sheer shock to pure horror. But why? Is it like having 13 people sitting on a table, some sort of superstition? Or what would be a rational argument for an odd number? Does it make any difference at all?

Was promised teaching but nothing has materialized!

This may sound a bit weird, but I truly think you can consider yourself lucky. I've been buried under 14 hours of teaching in my first and second year and hardly ever had time for my PhD.

I understand you are concerned about the lack of experience with regard to lecturer positions in the future but I don't think that will be a problem as the PhD is still considered the "license to teach" and other factors such as publications may have more weight in the job application process.

In the short term the PhD should have priority, so at least you have enough time to focus on that and to get rid of it through completion. Teaching eats up a lot of time, is not always relevant for the PhD and doesn't always facilitate journal publications...

Viva Fear

Dear All, I start this thread as I cannot talk about this with anyone. I submitted my thesis after three years and recently been informed about a viva date very soon.

Since then, I was unable to sleep and unable to prepare for it. It's like a mental blockage. I cannot seem to sit down to prepare and I don't know how. I read all the standard viva preparation books but they don't give any useful advice. All seems to depend on the mood and attitude of the examiners. So how can one prepare for something which is totally based on luck? I am beginning to hate the process and I think I've never hit such a low in my entire PhD.

I read the other thread with the horror stories of MPhil with corrections and I know I couldn't cope with such a situation. I would start shouting at the examiners, which certainly wouldn't help. Also, I am not the most patient type of person, so I could imagine me starting an argument with the examiners if I sense arrogance, which wouldn't help either.

After all this hard work over the years I just feel like I've hit the bottom and can't motivate to go any further. It's ridiculous but I hate the fact that I have to depend on the generosity of some random examiners I've never met in my life.

3 yr PhD: A Myth (or not) ?

It took me three years to submit, from my first day as PhD students to the the day I handed it in, exactly the same date three years later. During this time I was also working in an unrelated area. It was tough and took a lot of self-discipline and many long nights, especially during the write-up period in Year 3.

However, I hate to say this, but the student has not as much influence on the completion time as one might think. This is because of reliance on other people (supervisor!!) to read your drafts, to comment on it. On top of that, administrators and bureaucracy might delay the submission. So although it is possible in general, it is also dependent on external, random factors and luck, In my opinion. And that makes me feel quite bitter about the UK PhD System. Hard work is simply not always rewarded. And you need good luck to have a supporting supervisor, which I luckily had. If your supervisor is a lazy arse (some people only find out in Year 2 or later), then you are basically lost. And that's why the system has to change.

PhD dilemma - suggestions/insights please

Instead of writing a lenghty essay on this so-called "problem", I think you should stop wasting your time and complete your PhD at the institution you are at. If you are so concerned about your future academic career, try to produce some more-than-above-average publications first, before you wonder whether that will be enough.

Overall, in a nutshell: Shut up and get on with your work.

Any future career cannot be planned to the detail, in any way, as it is dependent on too many variables. Brand recognition and university prestige is just one of maybe a 100!

URGENT: Last Tipps before submission?

I am going to print, bind and submit my thesis tomorrow. I've re-read it a million times. As everybody knows, the more you read it, the more doubts you get. The more I read, the more I think it's rubbish. My supervision team has given me the green light. I checked all page numbers, headlines, Appendices in the right order, reference format and everything. Is there anything else I should check.

Thanks for any help.

How many publications you need to go through a PhD

Although one or two publication might may facilitate the Viva examination, they are not related to the examination. The thesis is subject to examination, not your publication record. You got some conference papers, so just mention them if the examiners ask you and say that these were "peer-reviewed" conference acceptances.

It is your decision to submit the PhD, if you feel it's ready just submit. If BOTH your supervisors disagree, ask them how to improve the thesis, not your publication record. Try to get a second opinion from a professor who is perhaps not directly related to your research but knows the process very well.

Bottom line: the answer to your original question is definitely "ZERO", no matter what anybody wants to tell you. It doesn't harm to have publications prior to submission, though. But it's not required. I know at least 8 successful PhD students ("minor corrections"), who did not have any publications.

Best software for managing References


No need to know about pro's and con's. It's the most often used reference software and therefore it is easiest to find a specialist in your university who can retrieve data if they got lost. Plus, it's free.

dress to impress for teaching success?

I'd say, look at the dean and execs of your university school and decide to dress in a similar way. In my place, you will find everything, the 50year old lecturer in jeans and t-shirt, the smartasses with suit and tie, the bohemians, the tweedjackets, the Golfplayer-stylez, the scruffy, the stylish and so on. Still, you will see that only those are in high positions or get promoted who dress like the management of the institution. I would say, for your career it doesn't matter what the students think anyway.

I hate the fact that we have to adhere to some unwritten rules to become rulesplayers. Everyone should be allowed to wear what they want, as long as it's not inappropriate (like naked or mini skirt and topless).

I heard of a female young lecturer who got sacked because she insisted on wearing a small nose piercing, I find that quite shocking, actually. Personally.

which supervisors advice do I take

This is VERY GOOD advice from Lara. Listen to her or you'll transform your life into misery. Whatever your sups say, never let them make you believe that you should write papers first.

Besides, Lara, my supervisor would hang you up the next tree for calling the thing "dissertation", according to him it is a "thesis" and only Masters or Undergrad are dissertations.. ;-) As if the world has no other problems.

Backing up data

My advice is similar. Choose one convenient weekday (for example Sunday evenings), save your work on at least two USB sticks and an external hard drive. Once you've completed a whole draft chapter, print it out and store it in a different place (for example your parent's/relatives' house.

As long as you establish the routine things will be fine. During the week, though, it seems a bit of a hassle to back up every second day. You might find it difficult to follow that rigid regime.

The most important lesson is: ALWAYS BACK UP.

I even bought myself two firesecure (company is called SENTRY SAFES safes, each one containing one USB stick, one in my study, one in my oven (naturally I take it out before I push the pizza in ;)

Quality of today's PhDs: article in Times Higher

I hardly ever agree with Commonsense, but in this case I do. BadHairCut, have they brainwashed you? Since it's going well and your the number two in your lab, you seem to completely have transformed into one of the academic monkeys? Or is it the money they paid you?


This might be OT, but does anybody know anything about pesticides. The reason I'm asking, I observed council workers the other day spreading pesticide fluid generously on a public path and then discharging the canisters in the nearby lake. Surely, this will then somehow enter the drinking water, or am I wrong?

Should councils even use pesticides in the year 2008? Or am I being paranoid?