Overview of joyce

Recent Posts

Family issues - I just don't know what to do any more.

I agree it could be any of the reasons suggested, but I would add that it is not something you can sort out. He may need someone outside the family to talk to about what is really the matter. Hitting people or animals is not on and needs to be nipped in the bud. You may need to take more drastic action, you and your parents. Get him to the GP to sort out some psychological help for him. Does he want to go backto uni? Does he know what he wants to do afterwards? being a fireman is not easy job to get into I know of people who have had to wait ages for an opening. Does he come back in a better mood if he has been gardening? Maybe he would be better off with a course in that field. He probably sees you getting on with things and is annoyed his life is, at the moment at least, not what he wants but on the other hand he might not know how to go about getting what he does want. Maybe he has a lot of pent up energy and no way of dissipating it. I hesitate to suggest this, not being in the least sporty myself unless it is something I can do in the privacy of my own home (Thank you wii) but maybe he needs to get out and do something sporty to get rid of the excess, it might help.

You need to look after yourself too. Working on a PhD is no joke if you have many other worries to contend with. Give yourself a bit of space. Don't take anything he says to heart, just imagine you are both small children again and treat it in the same way as you did then - thats not going off and saying mummeeee he's taken my toys again:-) - but remembering that he is exhibiting the same behaviour as then, and you coped, and can do so again. if he has been particularly bad, do something just for you that you like doing ( not too much choc though that is the nemesis of PhD students) to heal the pain a bit and then get on with whatever you have to do to reach your own goal. Remember you can never lead anyone else's life for them, you can help if they are willing to accept it, and if you offer it, it is up to them to decide if they will take it or not. This doesn't mean you give up on them, just that you are aware of your limitations in this area and accept that they are in charge of their own destiny and must make their own mistakes this should make it easier to cope with when you know they should be doing one thing but are doing another.

good luck and keep going, J :-)

Structure of Supervision

mine has gone:
start with two main supervisors, one to be director of studies and the other to just be there really
another person comes along who knows about my topic and asks if I would ask if they could be on the team, I say yes because they are probably top in the field, so think this is a good thing
the other - just to be there- supervisor stops attending any meetings (there were a couple up to this point) new supervisor is good at responding to e-mails and we have a couple of meetings. (I never bothered much about actual face to face meetings, e-mail suited me fine)
did not see director of studies at all after the initial meetings
new supervisor gets a new job... and stops sending replies to e-mails, but I carry on and send draft chapters etc for upgrade, get a few responses eventually but then no more.

eventually realise that supervision is rather less than satisfactory when I hear how supportive other supervisors are, and tell head of faculty I'm a bit miffed.
I then have one meeting with director of studies and the new supervisor after this when a) it is obvious that the director of studies has only read the first few pages of one of the chapters, and b) the comment at the end 'did I think I had my money's worth now' suggeted that this meeting only happened because they had been told to arrange one.
I get given someone else as supervisor who says they don't really want to do it as they know nothing about my area, fair enough no-one really does. They comment on chapters but suggest a completley different way of writing is necessary even though AWOL supervisor has always said it is good as it is.
director of studies asks for chapters ( he was supposed to have been reading and commenting as the process was progressing) I assumed he has been prompted to do something and he had lost originals so forwarded copies as annotated by supervisor. he sends them to person who is reading them for upgrade, with all the comments etc still there, that is, he never even read them. They respond querying the items as they don't appear 'finished' - well they weren't were they? Upgrade viva arranged, person e-mails 20 minutes before meeting is due to say they can't make it.
head of fauclty wants to come on board and kick off supervisor who is AWOL, I assume this will get things back on track and agree.
the new supervisor chosen by the head of faculty decides they don't want to do it after all.
head of faculty suggests a new team.
AWOL supervisor comes back on the scene so obviously has not been told to go away and appears eager to go, so I send him next chapter, and they comment on the first few pages...and then no more
head of faculty fails to turn up for a meeting, no message to say it had been cancelled. I spend half an hour looking for them, it appears they went home.
No sign of a new team. I am in limbo still. They eventually send an e-mail and request a telephone number to call so that we can arrange a new meeting. Send details but no reply as yet
I have told university I want a refund of fees for last year as they have in no way kept their side of the contract, and will withold payment for this year until they sort something out. No response to that one yet.
I'm keeping going with the chapters and hope eventually someone somewhere will take on the supervision (which will really only involve a few e-mails) and give some feedback, but I am not hopeful of anything happening anytime soon.

I don't partticularly want a lot of help, just someone to look over the thing to check if the arguments are OK etc. but on the other hand,they offer a much better deal in theory than they do in reality- unless you do your part time study as a member of staff, in which case you appear to get all the help you need on tap. I have had everything ready for the upgrade since last july (2010) and they still haven't filled in the necessary paperwork or completed their tasks.

My advice would be to set

more problems!

As you may remember I've had a lot of problems with my supervisors during the last academic year, which I hoped had beens orted out and things were going to improve... thoughts are wonderful things I'm afraid. I was supposed to meet with my new director of studies on Monday, went in only to find that a) the whole department had moved out of their mobiles and into a new building and they never told me and b) they weren't there either. I spend half an hour looking for the person, only to be told that they were not answering their mobile and had probably gone home even though they confirmed that the meeting was in their diary!

I managed to catch the post grad secretary who was sympathetic and said he would send an email in the morning. No comment the next day, but the day after I got an emaill from the secretary of the faculty to say that the person was 'very sorry' and would be in touch - why they couldn't send that themselves I don't know, and I have heard nothing since.

To make matters more complicated I have had an e-mail form my wayward former supervisor who wants to be involved still, so the new person didn't send the e-mail telling them to 'back off'as they said they would. So now I don't know what to do. I have e-mailed back this former supervisor and told them that I have no idea what is going on and I would let them know where I am at and they replied and sounded quite keen.

No-one in the dept has much idea about my area - there has been no meaningful research in it at all. They are very likely to take umbrage in the fact that some of it will be suggesting that teachers do not know everything and some may be winging it quite a lot of the time but will not acknowledge that sometimes they need someone to tell them what to do and how to do it. On the other hand my former supervisor has a lot of knowldge of the theoretical areas which underpin my explanation of my findings. My instinct is to go with my former supervisor despite the problems of the last year, but that would mean going it alone as far as much personal contact goes. That isn't a problem really, except I suppose when they come to choose an internal examiner, but might alienate the head of faculty who never got on with them and who is supposed to be my new director of studies!

It appears to be a total mess. I said this to the post grad school secretary who agreed that they should have done something, but as I had been patient they had done nothing. Shows it pays to be a pain then doesn't it? Anyone got any ideas? (former supervisor is now at a different university by the way, which is partly why this problem has arisen I suppose)

Is it worth doing a second MA?

this isn't my area at all, but it seems you have a lot of options. The way forward, I think is to do a bit of sorting of those options. you need to write down the positives and negatives of each option first. then you need to think where your real passion lies. Courses can, of course be taken because you like the sound of them, but there comes a point where you need to decide what direction you want to take, and perhaps just as important where you want to end up. Once you have sorted these things out the choice should be easier to make.

fee time again

I have a new director of studeis, the other one has been -removed - because of lack of involvement that has been ongoing for a good while and more than just the last year, but politics sort of came into play there and they just pussyfooted around instead of getting them off the team. My supervisor went the same way really, other fish to fry so didn't exactly lose interest but had no time to fit this in with everything else ( I'm being generous here!) I think this new arrangement will work, although the new one knows nothing about my area really (better than someone who has some knowledge of some of the issues, but doesn't actually do anything at all, or never sends back any comments) and they are still trying to appoint another person to the team but I just want them to recognise the situation. The forms go via the secretary who is well aware of the situation as we have talked about it before, and he is involved in the change of supervisor team. I think he knows it is not good, and this might just make sure they realise that they need to get a grip on this situation for me and for others in the same position.

fee time again

I have just received my 'bill' for next year. After the trouble I have had this year, with nobody checking that either of my supervisors were doing their job, and being unable to complete the next stage because of it, although this is finally being pushed ahead now. I am thinking of writing to the secretary and suggesting that I need some kind of reassurance that I will get better value for money than last year, probably phrased as a greater degree of support to be more diplomatic. I think that it worked out at about £450 per hour of supervision last year and that is probably an understimate of the cost. As a part-timer I don't think you can expect a high degree of involvement, but to have no real supervision for a whole year is something they should have done something about if they are monitoring the supervisors as they are supposed to do regularly to make sure they are doing their job. i don't think it was my job to chase the supervisor, but there comes a point when giving them time because you know they have lots of irons in the fire means you are not getting what you are paying for. Thought I might ask my new supervisor/director of studies before I do it, but my guess is that I will get some support from that area.

would you apply for this post doc?

I would go for it. By the time it gets to inteview you will probably have submitted, so you have moved on. Is there any way of telling if the person has left, or if they have a second vacancy in the same project? You have nothing to lose, just say you are really interested in the project, which you will have demonstrated by re-applying!

Interesting article

should add that I'm having a really boring time getting some of my data into an enormous table, so that is why I'm on here and not getting on:-)

Interesting article

I've had a quick look, but i think there are several flaws in this argument ( not that I have the same standing as him of course, so my view wouldn't count) not least of which is it would make it far more difficult to locate something if it were randomly in the public domain. for example if I wanted to look up something in my field I have a fair idea where it would be, when I have to look at government websites I can spend ages getting just the right phrase to get the article I need, and then it is often more because I know it is there somewhere rather than coming across something I didn't know existed. Also, let's face it, unless you are really interested in a particular subject are you likely to go looking through the mass of material to discover something anyway? In theory I suppose it should all be available for anyone, but in order to do this it would have to be catalogued, and arranged in say....a journal relating to that subject, which could be located in....a university library...people with the same interest would then submit articles to be included in that journal so anyone who had a particular interest could look up the material...of course this would mean people would have to be paid to vet the material , even if it is 'free' at the moment, it wouldn't be if it became a government run thing would it?... and printers would be needed etc ...so wouldn't we be back to square one? I love the way he distinguishes between 'academics' and the 'laity' - we can't just be one big group then. If articles were just published on the internet there would be the same problem, and what about the times when results are maybe not quite what they seem, so that someonne looking up 'the role of the carp in the satisfaction of an angling trip' (no, that isn't my subject!:$) might find a conclusion stating that size is everything, whereas in fact further research might conclude that it has more to do with the flavour of crisps the angler is eating, it might take another researcher in the same field to fish :$ that one out, and he would probably found the original article in the related journal 'fish for us' except of course that wouldn't exist. so some poor angler would go fishing with completly the wrong idea of what they needed.

Faking my way through...

this is a difficult one, but there is a way forward, for one thing you have done loads of reading so know your way round your topic. I would get hold of a copy of Clough and Nutbrown's book on methodology. This is not because of the methodology bit, although that is well worth a read anyway, but because it has loads of exercises along the way which might just sort out where you need to be going. It won't take too long to read through, although you must do the exercises to make it work. 'Doing A literature Review' by Hart may also help you as it describes what I can only call the thinking behind the process of sorting. It too has diagrams and things which you can adapt. Once you have had a go at the exercises you should have an idea of where you are going. Get yourself some large sheets of paper and write down everything you can think of that needs to go into your topic, from that sort out the bits that go together, do your outline plan with this in mind

Also, get writing, doesn't matter if you scrap it all it is the initial doing that counts it will help a lot in sorting out where you are heading.

All is not lost, good luck :-)

Thanks Guys

course they do! But I think it is partly because they are mostly full time and therefore on campus and easy to grab for this kind of thing:-)

Apologies but need to vent

I think this is quite common. I have spent the last year waiting for supervisors to do their bit, which is very difficult when you can't just go and see them at any old time they might have available and it was only by getting to some student meetings attended by some of the supervisors that I at last managed to get what I hope will be a 'proper' supervisor and some tangible progress on the 'official paperwork' side of things. I don't think many outside the PhD enclave know much of the reality of doing a PhD, and even less about doing it part time. I work full time, but in a school - not a teacher I might add - so in theory I have the holidays, but it doesn't really work out like that as school impinges on that time too, plus the usual family life gets in the way and when there I find myself doing stuff despite having loads of research work to do (this does however provide thinking time which is useful).

I suppose part of the 'part time' problem is that isolation comes as part of that status, here you don't get even a bit of a desk in the postgrad building, you don't get any parking in that area either and have to make do with the undergrad area which is full to bursting, and even if you manage to get a space, there is no guarantee you will be able to get out as they park anywhere they like and forget cars need to turn out and can't be picked up like toys and moved. Also you tend not to meet other students as you are not there when they are (we also can't get into the building out of hours although full timers have a swipe card).

You need to train your supervisors, don't be fobbed off with no replies - this is so easy to do, you wait a week, and then think they will reply in the next week for sure, and the next and so on until you find months have gone by, this is what I found last year when one supervisor moved and the other...well we won't say anthing about that one! nip this in the bud by asking specific questions - too long, too short, do I need to read about the opinion of anybody special? etc. If none is forthcoming within what you consider a suitable time, take it further, they are paid to help you after all, so should do it. for the other one, take a list of things you want to get out of the session, you could e-mail this in advance, suggest it is so that you don't waste their time - even if the reverse is true!

If you have just started there will be loads of reading to do I expect, but also make sure you get something written, get a plan sorted, and have a go at the abstract. It might seem early for this, but it does help, and you can track changes as you progress. Have a look at Clough and Nutbrown's 'methodology' not only for the methodology itself, but for the exercises, it helps focus things. Also look at Dunleavy ' Authoring a PhD' it is well worth a read.

good luck!

Starting Over...NEED ADVICE

Whatever you do, don't criticise your present advisor in your present dept or to your new prospective advisors. Word gets around. Try to leave on a positive note, something like ' I have appreciated the experience of working with you ( they can take that any way they like, and so can you!) but I can see that your heavy workload leaves you little time to give me the help I am sure you would like to give me, I've found x who will take over this aspect of my work. Thank you so much for all your help ( that is, what little there was of it!) and hope we can keep in touch and I can call on you for advice when I need it' As for approaching others, you could suggest that their knowledge more closely fits your area, or you have read something by them which you found really illuminating. They are bound to ask why you want to move so make sure you have a positive reason. Try for a transfer rather than leaving as it will be easier to defend if you want to continue in the same field, in a different area I don't suppose it is so critical. Above all tread carefully and make sure you keep others' egos intact even if your instict is to tell them how it is, if you work in a niche area you are bound to come across the same people many times, especially later on post PhD, so don't affect your future for a few moments of telling the truth now.

Duplicate research topic

without knowing your area it is difficult to know exactly how the land lies, but others are right I think about the fact that you started and then the others came along. The fact that they got better results might be something you can use to your advantage, maybe it shows that the results are more difficult to duplicate without their vast resources ( again this may depend upon your area of course) could you try out any methods they used to see if you get the same results? Can you find out why yours are not the same - remember different does not mean superior, it could even mean more work could be done in this area. I remember being told at school, so thats quite a while ago :$, that there were serious problems encountered when they tried to scale up the bessemer process, so larger is not necessarily better, conversely what they have produced in a better equipped or financed environment may not work so well in on a smaller, less well funded scale which could well be a finding that is just as important

chapter titles

I've been thorugh the imaginative title bit, and have now reverted to the conventional. I suppose it may depend on your area to some extent, although there is nothing wrong that I can see in just stating the obvious. If you intend on getting an international audience (!) then they might not understand something less commonplace. This was brought home to me recently when I used the phrase 'anyone for tennis?' rephrased as 'anyone for science?' in something and when one of my fellow students read it through, they didn't get it at all and the point I was making was lost. :-( I thought it was quite good too!!!!