Signup date: 01 Mar 2014 at 8:09am
Last login: 31 Jul 2017 at 7:14am
Post count: 92
I know what you mean marasp. I didn't do as well as (my supervisor and others) expected and there are certain people I don't especially want to discuss it with although I've told everyone who I know won't judge me (and I'm lucky to have quite a few of those in my life). Well done for being open about it!
I don't think it will count against you, especially if you and your supervisor are on good terms and he/she will write you a decent reference.
No thesis is perfect and a lot depends on the examiners - so anyone who does judge you isn't worth knowing. My view is that it's good to be given a chance to improve your thesis. It will stand you in good stead for future academic work.
I agree with those who say it’s an opportunity, although it might not seem like it right now. I’d suggest spending some time looking at the publication lists and research profiles of potential supervisors to see if anyone would be a good match. They don’t need to be perfect but should have interest or knowledge in some area of what you're doing.
I’m more concerned that you’re being given extra jobs to do. Who by? Why? Is it paid? Helping out now and then is one thing but it's not what you are there to do and presumably your studentship isn't supposed to pay for your time doing admin.
This sounds completely normal I'm afraid! All of the things you describe - setbacks, feeling lost, inability to concentrate, feeling like you’re not making enough progress, being hard on yourself and the constant presence of the thesis in your mind - are, for me at least, part and parcel of the PhD experience and some of the biggest challenges of getting through it.
It’s difficult not to compare your progress with those around you but it’s really not helpful and that way madness lies. It could be you’re used to thinking that way from your undergraduate days but really, try to stop it. Some people do get through it without hitches but the majority seem to hit challenges somewhere along the way.
It could be that the other students are giving an impression of smooth progress that might not reflect reality. It has been known! Either way, do what you can to focus on your own work.
Agree with Boo and would add that the process you've been through is very common, even although it might not have been shared by the students around you. You’ve worked hard and have found your focus so be pleased about that.
Don’t get into the mindset of not deserving a break - there's still a long way to go so enjoy your breaks guilt-free when you can get them, otherwise there's a danger of burning out.
Wow, what a difficult decision to make and what a rough time you’ve had. A PhD is 90% perseverance, and without interest in your topic it would be a long and unhappy journey that may eventually lead you into a line of work that also isn’t “you”.
I take it you’ve checked whether there’s any chance of switching topic and/or supervisor at this stage?
I know a couple of people who withdrew - one completely, to do a 9-5 job, and the other to do a PhD at a different institution in a different topic a couple of years later. Neither of them regrets leaving something that wasn’t right for them - perhaps only that they didn’t do so sooner.
Whatever happens, go easy on yourself and try to take a holiday if you have the time. Your own welfare is paramount and if walking away from the PhD feels like the right thing to do then it’s not the end of the world. If you do get bored in your job there’s nothing to stop you doing more reading in your field or starting a blog to document your interests. You could always do another PhD in the future if the right project comes your way: this experience doesn’t have to be the be all and end all.
I worked full time while finishing writing up and found it tough. Like Barramack, it was the job I resented rather than the PhD, which I enjoy(ed). It was hard to devote so much time and energy to a job I’m not really interested in when I just wanted to focus on finishing my thesis. I had no time on weekday evenings (I work long hours) so spent weekends on the thesis, which meant no social life and never having a break - and at a time when friends and family were already starting to get impatient. I don’t think this is sustainable in the long term so I took annual leave, worked really hard and submitted a few months after starting work, which was probably a mistake but I just wanted it over with. Escaped with minor corrections but feel a bit disappointed in my thesis overall and feel it’s weaker than it should be after all the care and thought I invested earlier on. Basically, without the job I feel it would have been completed more quickly and to a higher standard.
I’m now completely out of steam, not sure when I’ll get the corrections done, certainly have no time to write papers, and am getting pretty grumpy as a result. On top of that, everyone says I should be grateful to have a job (which of course I am, although it's far from my dream one) so don't expect much sympathy for your months of graft. I'm normally a pretty positive person but this has pushed me to my limits. But for me there was no choice financially.
I'm in awe of Barramack who did it for four years!
On a positive note the experience has taught me to make more efficient use of the time available, and also that having enforced breaks from the thesis can give perspective on it.
It is doable but try to do what you can before you start work.
Try here for trained proofreaders with experience in your subject area: http://www.sfep.org.uk/directory/directory.asp. It's a skilled profession and if you want it done properly it can be expensive. You will find plenty of people willing to do it cheaply but I would be wary of skimping on a job where quality is key.
If you manage to get a publisher, they will provide a copy-editor and a proofreader. As far as I'm aware theses that are published usually need to be rewritten to a large extent - the style and format required to pass a PhD is not usually the same style that will sell lots of copies to a wider audience.
Have you approached any publishers? Without wishing to dampen your ambition, is your thesis on a very popular topic that is likely to attract attention and make the publisher lots of money with minimal risk? Bear in mind that publishing also usually takes a long time.
Finishing within 3 years is unusual and I know it’s difficult not to but comparing yourself to these students really isn’t going to help. I'm amazed at how quickly some students seem to work but everyone is different and every thesis is different.
Your progress sounds pretty normal to me, especially the feelings of panic about still having so much to do. Two almost-complete results chapters is a good starting point going into your last few months - I would suggest focusing on finishing them and the feeling of making progress will motivate you to finish the rest. Revising the literature review might not take as long as you think and the conclusions will be quicker to write when you have three complete results chapters.
Can I ask why you think you’ll crash and burn in the viva? Do you have worries about the quality of the work? What does your supervisor think?
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