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How does your relationship with your supervisor work?

I work from home, and I visit the university around every 1-2 weeks for a meeting. At the moment, when I am not in paid employment or with my children/wife, my time is divided inbetween computer programming and thesis writing. The programming is something my supervisor has made it very clear that she isn't interested in, but she does answer my questions when I ask her, although she does not put a lot of thought into it sometimes. Sometimes I suggest something, and she just says "ok", I spend a week doing it, then it turns out that there were flaws in the idea that should have been foreseen before I started. My supervisor agrees with my critical analysis of the flaws, and I am left thinking... why didn't you think of this from the outset?

With the thesis writing... she is somewhat obsessed with it. I send her 4 pages, and she replies with dozens and dozens of corrections. Typically, most paragraphs will have more than one correction. Sometimes its really significant things like "you need to explain more about this". However, most of the corrections are just different ways to phrase what I am writing. To be honest ,I never know whether I am being over-sensitive. I sometimes wonder whether she is actually right, and it all needs changing, or if its just her style is different to mine.

The other thing is.. university is in a city centre and I live 37 miles away. It take me 90 minutes to get from my house to the university. My supervisor prints off EVERYTHING that I send her and she annotates them in pen. When I suggest that it might not be necessary to have a meeting one week, she then says that she will have to scan in the pages and email the images to me. However, she makes it very clear she isn't happy doing this. If there is very little dialogue, and its mostly her just explaining her corrections and comments, I am tempted to ask why she doesn't just post it to me. But I don't want to be seen as awkward so I go to the meetings. Am I being too fussy here?

My supervisor keeps trying to arrange meetings with me which are the week after the previous meeting. I keep telling her that we should be allowing around 2 weeks between meetings since I normally can't do enough in 10 days (or less) to require a meeting.

Many of you in 4th or later year?

I am doing my PhD in computer science, I started in October 2007. Funding has recently run out so I do a (awful) job for 3 days a week. I have a wife and two young children to support, and my wife only works part-time. Along the way I have developed major mental health problems, as has my wife, and we have learned that my son is autistic.

My subject is artificial intelligence/computer-aided design. It is necessary for me to construct a specialist CAD tool in order to do my experiments, and I reckon I am about 90% of the way to constructing the tool. Its been a LOT of programming.

Along the way I have also presented my work at 2 conferences, and I have one journal publication. I am also well into writing one of the early chapters in the thesis.

All this is encouraging but then sometimes I remember that.. I've not even started the real experiments yet that will give me the results I need. All I have is some theory and a nearly completed (And very sophisticated) tool.

Uni has given me an extension until October 2011. However, I definitely won't have it done by then, I reckon it will be some time in 2012 (and not necessarily early in the year either!).

We have two people in our department who are still doing a PhD (as far as I know) and have been there for 6 years. The uni is clamping down on this now, though.

Is there anyone else who is taking over the 3 years to submit??

could some guys give some tips for a PhD interview?

Show that you understand the topic of the research. Read some papers/journal articles on it that are recent and/or important to the field, and come prepared to comment on them.

advice sought from "final year" students

Don't bother to look after your personal hygiene :-)

Anyone else have trouble with industrial partners?

======= Date Modified 24 Oct 2008 17:40:09 =======
I have to develop a software system for my sponsor, my supervisor thinks it can be done in 6 months. However, I think it is more like 12 months work. And, there is very low innovative content to this, its just like a CAD system. But, I need to do it to collect my data and actually start the science!

They are sooo unresponsive and unhelpful. I need access to their experts and they just keep saying that they are too busy. I need to be developing a system that does what their staff do manually, and they have worked there for years, but they have the cheek to say that I can learn their jobs from reading books!

PhD Transfer Report

At our university we are initially registered for no degree, then the report at the end of the first year decides whether you are registered for an MPhil or PhD (or whether I have to go back to being a database administrator (down)).

We have to cover:
• a statement of the problem, or aims/objectives
• literature review, with its relevance to your research
• what work you have done so far: theoretical ideas generated, software produced, experiments completed etc etc
• how you propose to complete the research, including timescales and milestones

I would definately include information about conference presentations since it is an achievement. In my case, I have prepared two papers, one is accepted but not presented yet and the other has just had the abstract accepted. My approach was to include them by using them as references.

I was told to stick to 3000 words but my new colleague has been given a limit of 20000 words.

My viva is on 3rd of November, please wish me luck.


Well I have just got my first year report out of the way :-).

My supervisor says that.. towards the end of my PhD, she could apply for funding to create a post-doc position for me at my current university. Does anyone have any experience of this?

I have a wife/children/mortgage, and I don't really want to move, so this sounds good to me.

Also, does anyone know whether universities let post-doc people work from home? My university is 35 miles from me and in the middle of a congested/busy city, I work from home whenever I can at the moment.


I am glad other people find LyX helpful and you are right Alice, maybe I was a little harsh sorry :-).

I understand many journals etc insist on you using LaTeX.


======= Date Modified 03 Oct 2008 12:36:50 =======
Well initially I used it because my supervisor said I had to. She said that many conferences insist on a LaTeX submission but so far I have done two and they have been happy with doc/rtf/pdf. I find the whole Microsoft-hating thing pretentious and arrogant. Also, in my opinion the time saved by some aspect of LaTeX is offset by the time spent having to learn and use codes to do things that you could do at the click of a button in Word.

For me, the biggest disadvantage is that LaTeX is not WYSIWYG. I tend to start off using a Word document as rough notes for my own purposes, to help me organise my thoughts on a topic. Then I add to it, and eventually it may becomes a publication, or an internal report for my supervisor. I don't like to make notes in a basic text editor because I like to use tables, etc, insert hyperlinks.

However, I have just handed in my end-of-year report, which I did using LyX (www.lyx.org). This is a very good freeware LaTeX editor. Sure, it is not perfect, you have to back it up regularly since occasionally it has a problem. I had a colleague who accused me of being lazy for not using a text editor, and I thought... get off your high horse ffs! I'd rather spend my time researching my subject than typesetting (yawn!).

The output of LaTex is VERY nice :-), to me this is its advantage. Also, it deals with equations better than Word (although the 2007 Word equation editor is improved).

Lit Review: Journals

I don't think of lit review as being a phase, rather a continuous process. I read journals, conference papers and things from the internet regularly, a little each day. I think doing it solidly would be very boring for me!

And, at the risk of being pedantic, I think it is more relevant to talk about an interdisciplinary PhD topics rather than interdisciplinary subjects. My topic is 'computer-aided knitwear design', my supervisor is a computer scientist, but as well as articles from computer science (case-based reasoning) I sometimes read ones in knitwear, engineering/design, and psychology. Many articles in computer science are completely irrelevant to me.

Why are you doing a PhD?

It was a carrot and stick thing for me.

Carrot: Its a real puzzle, I enjoy the intellectual challenge, this is the main reason. The project is interesting, I like to do application-oriented research. I get to read cutting-edge stuff, and I get to do tons of programming as well, which I like. I got a bit of extra funding from an industrial sponsor so it is about the same money as I got in my job, but unfortunately without the generous pension. I get lots of support from my supervisor. The university is not that far away from me, so I did not have to move: I own a house and have school age children.

Stick: My job was boring, I was working as a database administrator (really a sort of junior database developer). It had no real prospects for advancement, improvement or training. It was not particularly well paid, either. The I.T. department were not respected within the organisation and decisions were made without consulting those who know about the issues.

The 'Ideal' lecturer candidate

I am only a first year and not in social sciences,however...

In my subject/university, for post-doc by the most important thing is a few good publications. It does not matter much what knowledge or qualifications you have, it is your ability to apply that knowledge in producing good publications that counts. I know some PhD students do not have that, in which case then I suppose you would have to have a convincing application and it would help if your supervisor had a good reputation. Post-docs are only temporary and tend to move around so things like teaching skills are only relevant if you are applying for a lecturer, I think.

It does depend on the university: some universities are very focussed on teaching, so you would have to have good skills in this area, others are research-focussed.

Why should age matter?

I am approaching the edge of collapse...

I agree with everything Smrh has said.

And, you do not sound incoherent to me.. just upset.. and we all get upset sometimes.

If you really do feel suicidal and just need someone to talk to then there are some contacts here:

www.befrienders.org (international)
www.samaritans.org (uk)

Also, as Smrh says you are welcome to share your troubles on this forum.. I expect there will be someone else who is going through similar difficulties.

Take care

ARGH! Laptop nicked and insurers won't pay out

Every day I still suffer inconvenience from this. I still have not had my car back because Endsleigh are SO slow to authorise the repairs - all it needs is new locks/keys. We need the car for a family holiday so I have had to give the garage the go-ahead myself and hope that they agree to it.

The lessons I learned were:

• When the insurance renewal comes up, look around ... don't just go with Endsleigh.
• Do a daily backup which is kept in a different place to the laptop.
• Make sure everything is being backed up.
• Don't leave laptops in a car boot. This means I will have to drive into town, use the gym, drive back home again to collect the laptop, then drive back into town to catch the train to uni, what joy...
• You can't trust lockers in leisure centres.

ARGH! Laptop nicked and insurers won't pay out

I am with Endsleigh. Whilst I was at the gym I had my keys, mobile, wallet, and car stolen. The car was recovered but I lost everything else. The laptop that was in the boot was not recovered - this belonged to the university. Their insurance excess was £1000 so I was VERY lucky they replaced it (they have too much money at the moment!)

Fortunately, I back up my work every day to a memory stick; however this was stolen too! However, I did make a DVD backup a few days earlier and kept it at the university.

The biggest loss, though, was a database which resided on my C drive, I did not realise it was not being backed up. It had all my notes about the papers I have read, perhaps 85-100 of them.