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PhD volunteers needed: Procrastination in PhD students

Done - good luck!

Dealing with a break up

I'm sorry to hear that you've broken up with your girlfriend, but like Beth said she is probably not the one for you anyway. I don't want to sound harsh, but if she really wanted to be with you then she would have put up with being long distance for a while; for her to break up with you in the way that she did, with a clear decision, suggests that she intended to do that regardless and needed a 'bigger' reason for doing so. Please don't withdraw from or resent your work - this is a difficult period for sure but you'll get through it and meet someone else in your new city. Think of this as a fresh start and don't think you can't do a PhD and have a social life/girlfriend at the same time. Yes it's very engaging and important but it shouldn't stop you having time for anything else.

Minor corrections awarded following resubmission

Hi Pineapple, I'm not on here that often at the moment but still working away at my PhD; it hasn't been plain sailing but I've managed to get through my upgrade and I'm in the middle of analysing my data at the moment.

Despite not being around much I have been following your story and I am SO pleased for you - it's brilliant that you are graduating next week and that you have a post-doc job lined up. How will you fit in your retraining with the job, or is that on hold at the moment? You are such an inspiration with your dedication and your strength of character, and now it has all paid off. You more than deserve it and I hope your family come around and realise how proud of you they should be.

Enjoy your graduation next week and then you can finally say goodbye to your department - onwards and upwards!!

When to start applying for ethical approval?

Hi Ultimax, I think that you may as well start drafting it now, the better it is the more you will able to use for your methodology chapter as it will help you to organise your thoughts. I wrote my ethics form and my methodology chapter at the same time (moderately risky qualitative methodology although the sample was fine and accessible) so was able to cut and paste certain sections, which saved a lot of time. My ethics form ended up being quite long but I got through with no corrections, I still think of that as a major fluke but I can advise you not to worry about making it too long or too wordy if that helps you with the methodology chapter, the reviewers know what they are looking for and will not be too bothered about reading through extra content as long as the essentials are there. I submitted mine on the last day of the Autumn term and got it back on the 4th Jan, I was very lucky though!

Re: amendments, I haven't had to make any but I've heard from others they they are fairly easy to sort out, and I think the process of writing your ethics form will help you to iron out any of the issues that you may be predicting at the moment. I've made a few amendments during the research process but I haven't had to declare them to the ethics committee, it's only the major things that you need to notify them of.

Hope that helps!

Series of Guardian articles by self-funding PhD students

Looks interesting, thanks for sharing. I am a self-funded full-time PhD student, funding through inheritance. I'm doing lots of teaching as well in the hope that will make me more appealing to prospective employers. I have just upgraded and will probably go part-time soon so that I can earn a bit more money and start publishing some of my work. I used to feel a bit inferior as a self-funded student but I've largely got over that now; I am in the social sciences, in an area where funding is virtually non-existent, and I have come to realise that they didn't accept me just because I had money for them. There is still some prejudice shown to self-funded students though, let's hope articles like this give a bit more of an insight.

Can supervisor get rid of me for asking for time off due to ill health?

Sorry to hear that you've been having a tough time. Although we try not to let it happen, life does get in the way of our research sometimes.

I think that this depends on the structure of your PhD and how you are funded. It sounds like your research is a project that your supervisor has structured and that he is also working on it, therefore you are more obliged to work with him (and his deadlines, schedule etc.) than a PhD student who has developed their own project. It also sounds like you are fully funded, in which case you probably have to ask for time off in advance, like a job. Please correct me if I'm wrong though, but it would be useful to hear a little more about your situation so that I/we can give you some advice.

I do think that you are entitled to a break though, and as you say that you are in your second year and collecting data it doesn't sound like you're behind. Do you even have to ask him for time off?

How much time did you spend preparing for transfer Viva?

Hi Boo, it's difficult to compare your transfer experience with others because each university seems to have a different way of managing the process; I have to submit three chapters ten working days before the transfer meeting, whereas I've heard of PhD students at other universities who don't even have to attend their transfer meetings as their supervisors go instead. Have you had to submit any writing to the panel? If you are in the middle of fieldwork then the people on your panel should understand - this is a different stage of the PhD but a highly formative one and they would hopefully appreciate your dedication, as long as you can show that you are progressing and answering your research questions. I'd hope so anyway - I have my transfer at the beginning of June and I'm also in the middle of my fieldwork, and they expect me to show the beginning of some analysis!

In a panic about finding participants

I think Mulrine is absolutely right - discuss a plan B and possibly a plan C with your supervisors before you start recruiting, you will probably have to write about this in your ethics application as well. When you mentioned the groups, did you mean that you need 70 participants from each group, totalling 140 participants? What is your methodology?

With 'hard to reach' groups, snowball sampling can be an option, maybe look into this? I am in the field and recruiting at the moment and although some people have been very forthcoming, I want some variation in my sample and so I am taking advantage of participants being recommended to me. I only need about 15 participants though, so it sounds as if you have a different sort of problem - some more info about your project might be useful :)

Minor corrections awarded following resubmission

I've been following this all the way through as well and I am SO pleased to see this. You have done so well under a remarkable amount of pressure, and at last you have a fantastic result.

Big virtual (((hugs))) and a magnum of champagne!

Natassia xxx

Maintaining relationships whilst doing ethnographic fieldwork??

As others have said, it's great that you have met someone that you really like, but it appears that you only met him a few months ago, so are you sure that it's really that serious?

I am not doing ethnographic work but friends/colleagues have and they have also had to really immerse themselves in the area where they are studying. A colleague plans to go abroad for a few months next year to do her ethnographic fieldwork and she is in a long-term relationship, so it is possible. I don't want to sound patronising, but please don't let the honeymoon period of a relationship affect your PhD, this is your only chance to do whatever you want, before you settle down and have a family etc.

Basically - put your PhD first and if he's worth it he'll be waiting for you when you get back from wherever you're going. If he isn't and you still go, then you won't have any regrets.

My supervisor has been ignoring me for months

Do you have a second supervisor who you can contact, or the director of postgraduate studies (or similar)? Yes you might be hassling him a bit, but he should have responded to you in the first place.

Hyper-critical supervisor - reality check needed!

Hi, I'm sorry you're going through a difficult time. One of my supervisors is similar actually, so to an extent I can understand what you are going through. After speaking to him, I have realised that he will only make a comment on my work if it is negative, in other words if he thinks that a paragraph or whatever is 'fine' then he will leave it rather than indicating that he thinks it doesn't require any more work. Could your supervisor be doing this at all?

I've also found that my supervisors tend to get a bit more fractious at certain times of the academic year, namely when they are really busy with undergraduates. This probably shouldn't have an effect on your supervision but it might be inevitable. Similarly, you are at a rather intense stage of your PhD with the biggest deadline looming, so your supervisor might just be feeling stressed about that, and maybe concerned that you aren't as stressed as she is, although I'm sure you're very motivated to finish and submit.

I really think that you need to speak to someone other than your supervisors about this, if you think you have real concerns about your supervisor's conduct. Is there a director of postgraduate research or similar who you could talk to? It might also be helpful for you to have a bit more presence on your campus, as talking to the other research students can be really reassuring; I live 60 miles from my campus but i make the effort to go there at least twice a week, and I'm doing some teaching as well. I think that seeing more of your supervisor, even informally, could also help your relationship with her.

Sorry if this message is a bit rushed, I have to get a train in a minute, but I hope that helps.

Waiting for examiners verdict (post viva)

I have been checking this regularly Pineapple and just wanted to send a virtual ((hug)), you have been so strong and you really deserve some good news at the beginning of 2013, and an apology from whoever has been dragging their feet. I think you are doing the right thing in being patient and not hassling anyone, but they haven't treated you very well at all.

Try to take some time to relax over Christmas - a spa day, a weekend away - whatever you fancy. And try to think positive.

Take care, Natassia x

Bad science

I'm in psychology as well so understand were you are coming from - there appears to be no end of useless research and mis-represented research out there. I'm sure your friend's blog isn't the only one to commit such crimes! I don't think that I would do anything unless she irritated me for some other reason; if I was in an especially catty mood I'd probably make an anonymous comment, ensuring that it is provocative enough to get a response! I have done this before when an irritating wannabe journalist friend wrote a terribly snobbish article on the Guardian comment network on CCTV in taxis in Oxford - unfortunately it seemed that a lot of people were also annoyed with her so my comment didn't really stand out! Has nobody else ever commented on her 'bad science'?

calling supervisor at home

To be honest I think that would be a bit weird and intrusive, but then I only ever contact my supervisors by email or office phone in an emergency (have done that once when all my trains were cancelled/delayed and I was running late for a supervision). But then if your supervisor has given you his home number then surely you have permission to use it. I would only use it if he has given it to you personally, as opposed to if you have found it on a university database or something. But I think you should email first if that is how you usually communicate and only call him if it is actually urgent.