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Help! First months of study and really confused

Hi Erm,

Although it sounds like a lot, I don't think your supervisors have been unreasonable to ask for 10k words. From my experience, the process of writing your thesis begins from the very first day because writing is an effective way to understand what's out there and organise it all in your head. I did an Arts-based PhD and I was constantly writing, re-writing, editing and writing again. It's possible that your supervisors feel the same. Don't forget that what you write now will have almost nothing to do with what you actually publish, I read back what I wrote in my first year and it's really bad and mostly irrelevant, but that's the point! It's a process - not an outcome.

The main question I'd be asking yourself is will your commitments outside your PhD hinder your ability to complete the thesis, and what can you do now to ensure you have enough time to do everything. Three years goes by very quickly and a leave of absence might not be such a bad idea, as it effectively pauses your studies and pushes out your submission date. You may thank yourself later.

I hope that helps.

to quit or not to quit? And then what?

Drwubs, it's concerning that you find Rewt and Nead's feedback condescending and irrelevant because they are not. They have taken time out of their day to provide advice on how they would proceed under your circumstances. Asking them to no longer respond on a public forum where you sought advice is plainly rude.

Having said that, I have been through something similar to yourself. Have you asked your supervisor to provide a list of names of students at the Uni who are doing working similar to yours and emailing them directly to try and make a group of your own. Maybe rather than waiting for a uni to create a group for you, you could create your own. That's what I did and it worked great.

I seem to be rubbish at critical thinking...

My supervisor once told me something about critical thinking that I found helpful.

She said to imagine an issue/topic/belief like a blob of jelly. As a critical thinker, your job is to poke that blob, pick it up and put it down again, roll it over and see what's on the other side, test it, feel it's consistency, play with it and look at it from all angles. In short, interrogate everything about that blob until you have such a good idea of how it will behave under different scenarios, that you know that blob like the back of your hand.

I always found that way of thinking helpful. I hope you do too.

A lawyer with experience in university policy

Major Changes is still a pass though, at least in most cases. I would seek advice from your Student Union.

A lawyer with experience in university policy

We are being asked by the student to provide feedback on their rights and to comment on possible legal action. I don't think its unreasonable to ask/question/evaluate what the reviewers said in order to provide advice. It is our 'place' because the student has asked us to 'place' us in her/his shoes and to provide advice on what they should do.

Yes, it's terrible and entirely unprofessional that the student was mocked, laughed at and inappropriate things were said about their country, but it's not illegal to be a douche bag, in fact, many academics are douche bags! I think the student has every right to be annoyed and upset, but 'being annoyed' is entirely different from taking legal action and it's important that this student understands the implications/ramifications of taking legal action. My advice is to do the changes and get it over and done with.

A lawyer with experience in university policy


I read your original post and I'm confused as to why you're upset. It does not sound like the reviewers did anything wrong apart from leaving the camera on. Granted, you mentioned the reviewers said something that could be considered 'racist' but you did not say what they said so it's hard to evaluate. Apart from that, what exactly are you upset about? Major Changes is a Pass. You've passed your PhD! Now get on and make the changes asap. If you genuinely don't believe the changes are achievable simply ask for more time. You should be 100% focused on doing the changes, not thinking about taking legal action.


Third year in, contemplating the idea of quitting

Hi Iichan

Your post resonated with me so I thought I would chime in. I was also in my 3rd year when I almost quit. I was told by an experienced academic that my data collection method was wrong and my research question was wrong too. The scary thing was was that I agreed. It just felt 'wrong' and I ended up crying in my supervisors office and having a not-insignificant mental breakdown.

I eventually got back to it and restarted the whole analysis stage. It turns out my research question was good and so was my data collection, but it was my analysis that was shot. I was trying to fit a round peg into a square hole. And this sounds like your situation as well.

What I found helpful was to stand back from my thesis and look at it objectivity. What was the data telling me compared to the story I was trying to tell? Essentially, a PhD is a story, and it sounds like you're telling someone else's story (i.e., your supervisors).

If I were you I would sit down with my supervisor and ask him/her to justify, with evidence, why they think this 'idea' is the correct path for you. I would then do the same with your reviewers, possibly even getting everyone into the same room. Listen to what they have to say and make a decision based on what you 'feel' is the write choice. Then go for it.

Good luck, keep me updated.

Yet Another Writing Up Diary (YAWUD) - inspired by Jojo and Lara

Hi Lara,

Did you submit your PhD in the end?


Managing work and PhD advise


I am seeking some advice. As background, my supervisors have signed off on 5 of my thesis chapters (Intro, 3 lit review and 1 methodology). I have a solid draft version of 3 x findings chapters my supervisors have commented on and said I am 'very close' but there is still a lot of work to do to make their suggested changes. I have not started the final chapter.

My question is that I have recently started work full time ( I have previously been part-time and working on the PhD 3 days a week) so I am unsure how to manage full-time employment AND the PhD. I was wondering how others manage it? I am planning on working Saturdays on the PhD and perhaps 2 or 3 very early mornings before work before my brain fades too much. I'm also expecting a new baby in late June.

I would love to know how others manage full-time employment and a PhD. What works for you and do you have any recommendations?

Many thanks

PhD Advice


I need some advice. Let me briefly explain my situation. I am four years into my research qual PhD and I am almost finished with only my findings to write up. A few years ago my secondary supervisor suggested that I use an external university approved editor to look over my drafts before I submitted it to both my supervisors to review. I was happy with this approach and it worked well for about 2 years. However, I recently received a phone call from the editor telling me that she was unable to continue working with me because she believed that my methodology was inappropriate to respond to my research question and she thought that I should start the PhD again. Obviously I was extremely upset. I approached my principle supervisor (my secondary supervisors is away for 6 months) who said I was doing fine and was one of his best students. He also said that all drafts he had seen were good. I asked him to read all 150 pages of my thesis and inform me if a) I should forge ahead with the current research question, or b) I should change the research question and re-write everything. I awn currently waiting for his response but it might take some time. So, am I doing the write thing? And are any feelings of anger and confusion understandable? I feel lost and I am currently walking around the city and not doing much until I hear from him. Any advise would be appreciated.