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Need a kick!

Definitely second the list-making suggestion! When I was getting towards submission, I made a list of everything I still needed to do, then broke it down into small, manageable chunks. I found it very satisfying to be able to tick something off the list every day.

Good luck - you'll get there!

The strange post-PhD year (or more) - what did/will you do?

Hi MrDoctor - this is what I've been up to in my year (well, 18 months) since finishing.

I submitted my humanities PhD in January 2014. I had a straightforward minor corrections viva and graduated July 2014.

I started properly job-hunting just after submission - before then, I would only apply for something if it was really perfect. Academia was my ideal goal, but my field is even more tiny and competitive than other areas in the humanities (medieval literature!). So I applied for everything - postdocs where I could find them, teaching, and a lot of admin jobs, and signed up to a bunch of recruitment agencies.

Fast-forward 18 months from submission and still no job. I've sent off anywhere between 50 and 100 applications, including academic and non-academic jobs. I've had 4 or 5 academic interviews but even when the interview goes well, there always seems to be a more experienced candidate. The only job I've had has been a short-term entry-level admin contract, which is not really what I want to be doing but was the only thing I could get. Unfortunately, with full-time work and volunteering (I'm thinking of going into archiving as a career but need more experience and a qualification to be considered for jobs), I'm finding it very hard to keep up my publications and conference attendance.

My advice to you would be to apply for academic and non-academic jobs, because the truth is it might take you a while to find something. Building up your research profile (and passing the viva!) will both be very helpful. If you can find a part-time non-academic job, that pays enough to keep you going but leaves you enough time to keep working on your publications, that would probably be the ideal until you can get an academic job.

Hope this helps - keep trying! And definitely don't rule out non-academic jobs if you need money.

Would you do a second PhD?

Not unless my employer were paying me to do one, or I needed one to do a particular job and was guaranteed of that job on finishing. Neither is very likely to happen in my field so I'll stick with this one :)

Missing out on important updates

It's really frustrating to feel like you're missing out conferences, but as others have said, it's probably not something to worry about.

One thing you could do, though, is have a scan through of the programme and if there are any talks you're really interested in or relevant to your work, you could always consider emailing the speaker and asking if they would be willing to share their abstract/presentation/summary of key points? Approach with caution of course as people can be very protective of their work for obvious and understandable reasons, but if they're presenting at a conference, then by implication they are making some of that research available anyway. That way, you might not have to miss out on everything, and you could have the opportunity to impress an academic by showing them how interested you are in their research. Networking doesn't have to be done face-to-face...

How many published papers before the viva?

I had a single solitary book review when I had my viva - it didn't impact my passing the PhD but it is certainly putting a dampener on my job hunting. Loads of conference papers and teaching experience count for nothing it seems.

The one that got away

Thanks for all the responses, guys... it's a relief to see that most people are a lot more laid back about this than I am! After all the time I spent perfecting the formatting it's so annoying to find a tiny mistake still in there!

kelpie, my supervisor has suggested I Tipp-Ex it out which I may well do if I decide I can't bear to look at it. Picking it up tomorrow so I will decide then I suppose...

The one that got away

Hi everyone,

So I've just completed the final, corrected, post-viva, ready-to-submit-to-library version of my thesis and had my corrections approved by the internal examiner, and sent it to be hard-bound. Unfortunately, while scrolling through earlier (I'm developing one of my chapters into a conference paper), I discovered a tiny, but not insignificant error - basically I have a rogue footnote, less than one-line long, that I added as a 'note' to myself while correcting the thesis and intended to either remove or develop. Of course, I completely forgot about it, and now that the thesis is at the binders (it needs to be deposited on Thursday) I can't do anything about it. It's not catastrophic, but it looks really sloppy and won't leave a good impression on anyone reading the work. I'm kicking myself for not noticing, and I can't believe my internal didn't spot it either. My corrections were really very minor so I think she mostly just skim-read.

As I can't reprint and re-bind the thesis in time, what should I do? Should I inform the library of the mistake and include a 'errata' pull-out, 'black out' the line with a marker pen before I give it in (it'll look ugly but at least the mistake will be hidden) or just hand it in and hope that no-one notices, since who is going to be reading my thesis anyway, right?

Have emailed my supervisor for her thoughts as I can't find anything in the university regulations about such an eventuality - of course they assume that the final version is error-free! Any suggestions/comments/offers to slap me in the face with a wet fish for not checking carefully enough appreciated...

How to Get Distinction in English Lit MA

Hi Dolly,

My PhD studentship was at a Russell Group uni in southern England. I was very lucky - the scholarship was part of a funded project (so the basis for my project was thought up by the PI and her team; I just had to convince them I was the right person for the job), which I was able to apply for while I was still doing my Masters so by the time I knew I hadn't got a distinction, I'd already started the PhD. So unfortunately I can't offer too much first-hand experience in terms of writing proposals and sending them off to research funding bodies for PhD funding. What I will say, though, is this:

- Make sure you know when the deadlines are for funding applications from e.g. the AHRC well in advance. The deadline for applying for funding is quite early in the calendar year, so if you want to start as soon as you finish your Masters, you may need to be prepared to submit a proposal not long after you start the MA.
- It goes without saying, but get as much support from supervisors during your MA as possible - if any of them are willing to help you develop your proposal or look at your CV, great!
- If you don't have a 'pet project' in mind that you're absolutely desperate to do for a PhD, I'd really recommend going for funded studentships on funded projects if you find something that fits your skills and experience. Although it might not be your dream topic, projects often come with funding already in place for conferences and resources you might not have access to otherwise - and if you're at all interested in continuing with research, showing that you have experience of working as part of a research team looks great on CVs. I absolutely loved my PhD, even though it wasn't what I originally wanted to do, and have found the team project aspect has helped with job applications.

Hope this helps!

Studentship Interview

Quote From sundogs:
Just a little update- I've been offered the studentship!
The interview was mainly about my current studies and about the details of my proposal. There was also a little on how I can contribute to postgraduate life in the department too.
So happy and very excited to be making this big move. I got a 2.1 for my undergraduate degree and thought/ was told that I had no chance securing PhD funding especially in the humanities.

Thanks to everybody who offered advice on this forum. :)

Brilliant, congratulations!

PhD number two - an experiment of merry madness!

Oh my goodness! Congratulations and good luck - you're a braver person than me! Although I often speak wistfully of my PhD these days and do sometimes consider alternative topics I could have done/could do in the future, I don't think I'd ever really consider doing a second doctorate as friends and family would be quick to remind me of all those times I said 'I wish I'd never done this! I hate this! aaaarrrgh!' etc. ;)

As for your questions, I think only you yourself will be able to answer them - although I expect going into a second PhD having already done one brings with it some advantages in terms of familiarity and experience. And the fact that your research will actually benefit rather than hinder your professional work is a big, big plus. All the best! :)

Any suggestions on writing up in my final year, please?

Quote From AislingB:
I would also be interested in how long people have taken to do revisions after completing the first draft. I guess it depends on how good the first draft is. My absolute final deadline is September 2015. I would like to submit earlier than that though but when I told friends that I was aiming to get my first draft finished by the end of December this year, they said I should try to get it done earlier than that to allow enough time for all the revisions etc.

9 months sounds like plenty of time to me, unless you have a bunch of other commitments in the first few months of next year. I finished my first full draft in September last year and had the whole thing up to standard by mid-January. It was pretty intense, but do-able, although I guess as you say it depends on how good the first draft is. Being a perfectionist pays off in this respect, but it does mean you take bloody ages to get it done in the first place because you can't get it 'just right'...

A Dr PhD yet jobless

I really feel for you. I handed in my PhD at the end of January and had the viva two months ago, and haven't been able to get a job since. I still want to make it as an academic or at least do a couple of postdocs, so I've been applying for both postdocs/teaching fellowships to start next academic year and non-academic jobs to start immediately. I've only had two postdoc interviews so far and I messed both of them up. I feel fed up, worthless and really struggling to shake the feeling of 'what's the point? I'll never even get an interview' when writing job applications, and it's only been a few months, so it must feel awful after three years. I am very fortunate in that I have family who are supporting me, but their money won't last very long so I need to find a job, any job, soon.

I am this morning working on a research proposal for what might be my last chance to secure an academic position for the coming year - if that doesn't work out, it'll be time to start going into shops and cafés with the least daunting version of my CV that I can conjure up...

Job interviews via Skype

I had a Skype interview a few weeks ago. It was for a postdoc based at an institution which is somewhat out of the way for the majority of people so at the time I thought that the reason for the Skype interview was that it would save them having to pay expenses for candidates, since chances were most candidates would have had to travel to get there.

In your case, journey, I wonder if marasp has a point: if they had to interview some candidates via Skype, perhaps they have a 'fairness' policy which means they have to interview all candidates the same way regardless of location?

Who will hire all the PhDs? Not Canada’s universities

I'm in the UK, not in Canada, but I was really struck by the similarity between those two pieces and this one about the UK academic jobs market:


How to Get Distinction in English Lit MA

I did an MA in Medieval Studies, which isn't the same as English Lit although it did have a literature component. I didn't get a distinction but I was only 2 percentage points off (grrr!). Fortunately for me it didn't impact my getting a PhD scholarship, but it's certainly wise to aim for a distinction if you have hopes of doing a PhD - you are right that it is very competitive out there.

I'd second what has been said about putting the hours in - especially important for an arts course where you will probably have a lot of non-contact time, which you need to spend reading up in order to get the most out of the course. So self-motivation is key. Also, I should point out that 75% of the mark for my course came from the dissertation - I'm not sure if that will be the same with your course, but it does seem to be a standard feature of UK masters that they're very heavily-weighted towards the dissertation. So if that's also true for your course, you will need to really focus on that. Make sure you put in lots of effort and time getting that right, and follow the guidance of your supervisor on everything. And try not to get distracted by life - MA courses are very, very intensive but as they are short, you need to really focus on it if you want to do well as you only have a limited amount of time to get it right. Good luck!