Signup date: 07 Jul 2014 at 10:30am
Last login: 14 Aug 2015 at 10:10am
Post count: 16
It's cool I'm getting over it now haha. And it sounds like you're doing well and nearing submission so I congratulate you on getting this far. I can understand perhaps not wanting to motivate yourself with future work yet. In that case, I suggest focusing simply on finishing, so send your PI a few polite emails emphasizing your enthusiasm for completing the project to a good quality and butter them up about needing their expertise if appropriate.
Remember that most don't end up getting even as far as we do, from my interactions with grad students over the years I can tell you that most who get the point of switching from PhD to Masters understandably can't be bothered and leave. Be proud you are still taking on the challenge of finishing the thesis when most wouldn't.
I understand how you feel, I too am writing up a masters after switching from the PhD program after 3 years (ouch) and it's still taken me that one extra year to get over the hump and finish off all my work to even be worth the masters. I agree the current STEM PhD system is very unfair - some people get handed an easy project with a nice PI who essentially does all their work for them and come away with a Doctorate while others can struggle for the better part of a decade, argue with a crappy supervisory team and leave with nothing. Then when you're done you enter an oversaturated market where everyone is a Doctor so no one cares about your PhD anyway and every postdoc job is on the other side of the world with 200 applicants. STEM does indeed suck.
As for helping you finish your thesis - what size/format does it need to be and how long do you have to complete it? I found the best thing for my self-esteem was securing a job for after I graduate. It gave me confidence that the skills I gained from my work in graduate school weren't useless so my time wasn't wasted after all. People saw all the teaching and computational science I did for the grad work and thought I was very employable regardless of degree!
You're very welcome and I wish you the best of luck! :)
I agree that the competitive, critical and harsh working environment of modern academia doesn't really suit me either. I could probably write a whole other thesis on how unfair this can be on women, minorities and those who suffer from mental and physical health problems
This reply is late as well, but it would be good to hear from the OP and find out how you are doing?
This is a gentle warning from someone who successfully appealed against an MPhil downgrade, but then got downgraded again anyway at the additional assessment. Sometimes even with the extra time a project just isn't suitable for PhD through no fault of the student. In your case it sounds like you have a very legitimate case for appeal and I would still advise you to do it, but be warned that if you've had other problems with your project they won't vanish after an appeal - especially given that you are in fragile state right now you need to be positive that you want to take the extra time to complete your project.
I don't want to discourage you at all, indeed I encourage you to keep trying if the PhD is what you want. On the other hand if you wish to just finish and pursue employment then that's fine and you can sell your research as experience and any teaching or tuition you've done as employment. Plus your supervisor kind of HAS to provide you with a reference, I know it can be awkward but they usually get into trouble from the university if they refuse :p
Sorry to hear about your mental health issues and I hope you are able to get some help for that in the future. But for now just be kind to yourself. As a fellow sufferer of mental health problems who had to downgrade to MPhil I assure you that you aren't alone!
The cliff notes version of the MPhil assessment is that is IS judged on a lower threshold than a PhD; it is considered to "address a hypothesis" or have "some originality" rather than making a significant contribution to research. In practice though this just means you produce two work/argument/experimental chapters rather than three and they are assessed a bit less rigorously. At my uni the maximum word limit for them is 60000, and mine will be about 45000.
This is a very doable size in a short time if you've already got the work and really apply yourself. All the best!
Edit: With regards to a viva, apparently it is up to the discretion of the external examiner to decide whether or not you have a viva. That's annoying I know...
I am in a similar situation to you albeit recently, and it was a tough graduate committee rather than my supervisors who decided they didn't like my project and booted me out with only a masters. In my case it was the combined disaster of a bad project, personal problems and a lack of competent disability support that led to my failure to complete the PhD. However regardless of the reason I can understand how victimised you feel; the PhD system is not particularly fair, some people seem to sail through in 3 years while other have to fight tooth and nail to finish in 8, and in the end it all comes down to an academic judgement that you have little say in.
Given this, it's important to limit how angry you feel with yourself. Circumstances just came against you, and of course it isn't fair at all. However allow yourself to be angry sometimes with the world, heck even be angry at other people who actively worked against you or just didn't support you - I too know the resentment of seeing other succeed where you have failed with no apparent difference in skill.
I am still at the start of my "screw the PhD system, I'm doing something else!" journey, but know you are not alone. There's a lot of blogs out there by people who quit or just couldn't manage graduate school and are moving on. Also if it's been 4 years now it sounds like you may also have ongoing issues with depression which should be talked about with a doctor.
Finally, even if you HAD completed the PhD there's a chance your job prospects would have been a nightmare (see the "disposable academic" article in an earlier thread). Perhaps you should think about it as a good thing that you left the arbitrary and exploitative world of graduate degrees and university research behind?
For what is is worth I am in exactly the same position as yourself - health, personal and funding problems all combined with a bad project to mean I will either leave with an MPhil or nothing. It's a rough position to be in but remember that so long as you aren't applying for academic jobs your time in the PhD won't truly be considered unemployment - dress it up in your CV with the work you've done. I've found the best way to build up confidence again is to start applying for jobs and attending careers events as soon as you can. In interviews just say the PhD was not for you and you';re enthusiastic about entering the world of work instead while retaining your experience. :)
My disability was finally accounted for when I appealed before. I was offered an additional year to compensate for it but couldn't get the funding to cover it and my committee still weren't convinced by my project anyway. :( Basically this whole extra attempt at upgrade was a waste of my time after all.
I'm still concerned about any future attempt at a PhD though; I'll have a big fat MPhil in my history and at best average references from my supervisors. Surely no supervisor or funding body would take me on with that?
Thanks very much for the advice everyone, it's made me feel a bit better during a tough time. :)
Yes I am indeed taking a long holiday before returning to my work. My current plan is after the MPhil to enter more regular employment for 3 years or so and then attempt to re-enter postgraduate study. However would anyone even let me in with an MPhil in my history?
I do take some responsibility for the project not working out. I didn't pursue good angles of research in my first year, and I neglected to tell my supervisors about my personal problems for quite some time before my leave. I also wasn't very discerning and picked a vague project to begin with. I have learned my lessons now of course but I doubt that would matter to any future attempts at a PhD application. I'd probably just look like a student with a failed PhD already.
I'm not sure about the later upgrade option - I've been given quite specific instructions to only produce 2 rather than 3 publishable chapters so even if it is good quality I doubt that'd be suitable for upgrade. Either way I'll have some papers under my name though...
I was not surprised by this outcome given how FUBAR it's all been, but I am still completely devastated. My future life plans depended on this PhD since I wanted a career in research and now I have to completely reconsider all of this. It doesn't help that, as you can tell from above, pretty much everything that could have gone wrong from my funding to my supervisors to my project to my personal life did go wrong.
What can I do with this MPhil? I am ultimately only doing it so I don't have a 3-year gap in my CV. I also don't know how to start writing it (or rather changing my PhD thesis into it) when I'm so completely depressed about all this. My PhD experience has pretty much completely destroyed any self-esteem I had to begin with.
I've had an awful PhD and am now stuck on submitting an MPhil.
1. It all started off so well, the work seemed promising as part of a larger project and I had good feedback but the experiments in my first year didn't give us much to go on so we had to drastically change the thesis angle at 18 months.
2. I applied for additional funding for academic support due to a disability that I'd disclosed at the start of my PhD. Negotiating this was a complete mess and I didn't receive disability support for 2 years.
3. After my first failed attempt at upgrade due to the aforementioned lack of good results/theory I had to take an extended period of leave to care for a seriously unwell family member. On return my supes pretty much lost interest/faith in my project - one didn't have the time of day for me, the other did but was irrevocably convinced by my pre-leave efforts that I wasn't smart or critical enough for the project. I was basically treated as a nuisance/idiot.
4. I failed the second attempt at upgrade which came as something of a shock but appealed the decision, which was easily upheld by all the aforementioned funding, disability and personal problems. However my committee made it clear at subsequent meetings that they still didn't think I could pass my third attempt at upgrade. This, along with disinterest from my supervisors of course lead to me being completely demoralized.
5. I worked my butt off and produced as much as I could (though still not as much as the committee wanted) in 3 months and threw out all the stops in my third upgrade viva I'd gained from appeal. My upgrade committee were nice enough on the surface, but from the assessment they gave me they were clearly laughing me out of the room. I apparently improved but still not at the rate they wanted, and the said the thesis was still lacking in justification and originality.
Thanks very much Fled :)
Yes I need to produce my lit review and a work chapter in about 3 months, plus any additional work I have done on another following chapter. While this is doable (the first work chapter is on it's way to being finished) it's a tight schedule and I struggle with tight schedules!
I DID believe in the quality of my proposal, as did my supervisors, but then my viva committee said they didn't so honestly I'm getting conflicting messages. The problem is of course that, although they may be a jackass, the person who said they may fail me IS one of the people who ultimately decides whether to pass me or not. It's doesn't really help when you suspect that your examiner already has a biased opinion.
I'm in need of advice on how to cope in the run up to my transfer viva (transferring from MPhil to PhD). It's a long story but I'll keep it short.
1. I was originally supposed to transfer to PhD in 2013, but this was ultimately decided against since due to personal problems I took a suspension for a year.
2. I attempted transfer 6 months ago and failed, was told to finish with MPhil.
3. I appealed this on the basis of my retroactive suspension and funding problems that have plagued my project since the beginning. This was upheld.
4. I am now being told by a member of my appeal committee what it is I have to do to transfer this year, but she basically said "I don't think you'll manage it". Wow, thanks for the vote of confidence!
I feel like I've been quite thoroughly messed with. I've jumped through endless hoops and changes in my project and endured the stress coming back from suspension, attempting to transfer once and appealing only to be told it was all essentially for naught anyway! How am I supposed to motivate myself to do enough work to qualify for transfer if my own viva committee have essentially said "eh, we'll probably fail you anyway"?
I'm feeling quite depressed, and could use some advice on how to motivate myself to try and pass despite this negative feedback.
I should probably mention that I'm a student with complex disabilities as well, and these aggressive emails from my tutor are pressuring me into some severe anxiety attacks, any advice on how I can ask this person to not be so cold and unconstructively critical?
I want to maintain a good relationship with all the academics I need to work with, and I understand in the past I was not a great student, but I don't think this justifies the way my tutor is treating me now. They are very high ranking and not neglectful so I don't think I can request a change to another tutor. What should I do about this unpleasant tutor who seams determined to be so unkind?
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