Overview of PerceptuaLenna

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Would it be mad to study an MA after completing PhD?

I recently completed my PhD (perceptual psychology) and am really interested in doing some work in music perception in the future...struggling to gain any kind of experience or 'way in' to this field, but there is an MA course I've seen that has a lot of perfect content (Except for research methodsy content which is rather old-hand for me now).
Any advice?

Has anyone worked with "Brilliant Club" school visits?

Hi all,

I put in an application with "Brilliant Club" and have got to the assessment centre stage. Just wondered if anyone here has done this previously as a phd/postdoc and has any experiences or advice to share?

Cheers :)

all my mistake or a shared responsibility?

It might be an area of contention. As a student (and as a tutor who hates to spoonfeed), I'd say that if you run through your plans/results with a supervisor, and something important is missing or incorrect, the supervisor should be picking up on that. It should at least be brought up and discussed.

Final year support thread

Hi everyone...newbie to this thread, here.

I've just started my 4th year (has to be my final year due to finance and the fact that I couldn't cope with a 5th!)

I have to finish some analysis (been awaiting (substantive) supervisor input for months) and then all the writing up! Had huge anxiety issues over the summer which are still continuing and I keep feeling like I'm losing time.

Disorganised Teaching

Yep. It's disgusting, really. I still have no idea what modules I will be teaching on - no idea re timetabling or content. I actually can't believe people expect us to do a good job with such little organisation and often very little prep time. Woe betide anyone who ends up with a Monday morning slot, too, because often the module leaders will not send out the material to cover until super last minute. (Last year I had 9am Monday every week for 12 weeks, and never ever got the stuff before 5pm on the preceding Friday; once in fact, the email dropped at 9.57am on the Monday. If I hadn't done a version of the same module the previous year, I would have had no content to teach in the class.)

Postgraduates who teach - how many hours?

I agree it does get easier with practice - marking especially. The first (2000 word) paper I marked took me about three hours. And it took a while to speed up because I was totally off-kilter with the criteria, and the comment-style to use, and the number boundaries for each grade etc. Two years in, I spend an hour or two getting used to the rubrics etc and then each paper takes maybe 30-45 mins.

I have been constantly told since starting that I "shouldn't be" spending more than 20 minutes per student. Well...if I didn't, they wouldn't get done.

Postgraduates who teach - how many hours?

During the semester, I typically have 6 hours of teaching (and on top of that maybe spend 1-2 hours on prep) per week, and then I'd get the associated marking, which is typically a report and an exam for each student I teach, and mostly falls within a month of the last week or two of a semester (yes that means over christmas, too).

First thing to be careful of is that often your teaching will be described in terms of contact-time, so it is easy to overload yourself by thinking that the contact-time is the whole amount of time you'll actually spend - often your prep/marking time will be outside of that amount.

If you can, I'd recommend getting more than one class/group on the same module/seminar - then you're more effective i.e. 1 hour of prep to do the same seminar three times vs 3 hours of prep to do three different seminars? Unfortunately my department doesn't let us do this, and the ineffectiveness of it baffles me (and it also means that people teach on modules that they find absolutely boring, which makes it a hard job to engage students)

Any app/software to store (and importantly, tag) copies of notes and papers?

Can anyone recommend any apps or software to store/organise all my journal articles, photocopies and scanned in copies of notebook pages which are currently stored in a very hideous-manner!

Ideally I want something where I can add tags to a document when I add it, so that, for example, I can search keywords and come up with all the relevant papers and notes when writing later.

Distressed PhD

Quote From MissyL:
Sorry for another long moan and post on this topic.

Please help

I have had similar supervisory problems - my 'training' was a gracious invitation to join the MSc students' two hours session in the lab (essentially a rather vague tour, not a teaching/training session at all). There are two PhDs (including myself) and no postdocs. I can only say that if I was the first PhD, I would have quit because I do not have the skills/knowledge that the other guy has - he's taught me half of what I know, the rest I've learnt by accident. And it sucks. It's now reached the point that I'm unofficially expected to teach MScs despite having no more training than they have.

When I was coming up to my upgrade I was almost certain I'd fail it because my work felt like guesswork. My supervisor's other PhD student's advice to me was "just make sure you have some good points because then at least you have some good points".

In the end, I passed the upgrade. Presumably for the same reason my supervisor never gets fired: Nobody else knows enough to know that it's BS.

I also have the issue of being unable to get my supervisors to discuss any ideas for future experiments - the response is always 'finish this one first' which wouldn't be so bad if I hadn't been failing to finish the analysis for several months now!! Equally, they wouldn't sit and discuss (or even comment on a written) timeline - EVEN when the upgrade REQUIRED a time plan....the only potential comfort I can give is that perhaps, like mine, your upgrade will accept anything that looks like a timeline even if it's nothing like realistic!

It's a small comfort if the upgrade goes well, because as you say, the uncertainty is perpetual!

Second-year slump or something more serious?

So I had my meeting today and tried to raise some of the issues. My overarching feeling is that a lot of the issues were simply pinned on me - no acknowledgement that things in the situation/project could be contributing.

I was interrupted mid-sentence with the suggestion that I should go on holiday. I think the worst time to go is when stuck - just increases the chance of not wanting to come back, and prolongs actually making any smidge of progress.

Second-year slump or something more serious?

the general attitude is: whatever they throw at you, you have to suck it up and if you don't, then the rationale goes that you're not cut out for it, or that you want 'holding hands', when all you want is adequate supervision. this whole british obsession with class doesn't help.

undergrad's complaints are taken much more seriously as ug views are reflected in the national student survey which is included in the calculation of rankings of unis. pg views are not included in that survey which is why their complaints can be ignored.

but i didn't mean to distract from perceptualenna's very real concerns....
my advice would be, as above, do that meeting, and if things don't improve very quickly, change supervisor. take all the help you can get in the way of counselling and so on...

I've asked for a meeting next week so I'll see how that goes!

I think you're right with regards to having to deal with whatever is thrown at you. I completely feel that if I make a fuss, or if things go wrong, it would be very much pinned on me as "the student who wasn't up to it" rather than taking into consideration the environment as a whole.

My department also very much puts emphasis on undergrads' complaints...and undergrads in general - is it because there are more of them?! There are rules about turnaround times on feedback for their written work (which we have to stick to when marking) which is supposed to apply to us too...but supervisors don't stick to that. They use marking undergrad stuff as an excuse to cancel meetings as well. Like as if you can't mark papers at any time of the day!

Second-year slump or something more serious?

i would suggest to change supervisor if the meeting doesn't lead to anything

I've thought about this a couple of times too.I'm not sure if there is anyone who could replace them.

But I do know that another student who had my second supervisor switched to someone else (but didn't tell me why).

I certainly wouldn't be able to switch both of them so it's a question of who is being most problematic...and yet still there's nobody who I could reasonably suggest as a replacement. :/

Second-year slump or something more serious?

Quote From TreeofLife:
Ok, first of all, what you are describing is pretty normal, not acceptable, but just a common experience.

It's common to have issues with supervisors like you mentioned and it's common not to have many results yet. Rationale can always be found from the literature later...

I don't think you need to think about quitting just yet - first of all, you need to rectify the situation, and you have two options:

1. Arrange a formal meeting with your supervisors, tell them what support you need and state how you want them to give it. Make sure everything is written down and mutually agreed. Give them a chance to follow through with their agreed actions. Tell them you are considering quitting if you want - the honesty may help.

2. Speak to your head of year/pastoral carer and see what they advise.

Personally I recommend you take the supervisor route first, because they may not take kindly to 'interference' from other academics.

Thanks for your reply :)

In regards to it being common, in a way I'm glad it's not just me, but also I'm sad and mad that people have to deal with this kind of rubbish.

I have thought about speaking to the postgrad tutor (though struggling with how exactly to phrase what I want to talk about without it coming across as a massive whinge!). Actually in general I'm struggling to specify even to myself what are some tangible things that I could verbalise and try to resolve/improve. I don't know how to express why I have completely lost tolerance for things that sound like a minor annoyance (e.g. meeting lateness etc) The lateness in particular I had actually planned to point out to the person involved directly this week...but then of course that meeting was cancelled!

I seem to have just dissolved into a pattern of doing nothing because I'm a bit lost as to what exactly I should do :/

Loneliness and Isolation during your PhD

Yes. (That's the short answer).

It's a bit different for me as I'm often in the office (big office, so I see the other students fairly often) but it's strange because a lot of the time, although you're together, you're all working on different things so you don't always have things that you can talk about. I find it isolating that I can't just ask for an opinion on an idea for example (even with my supervisor) because generally nobody has the time/desire to listen to the preamble of explanation needed for the basis of the actual question.

Second-year slump or something more serious?

Part 3 (last part I think)
I wrote a short chapter draft based on my first study (months ago) and was told to send it to a journal (at this stage it was certainly not a paper - e.g. it had no introduction of the concepts because I'd written it as a 'middle' chapter) and I'm still waiting for actual comments on it.

Weeks ago, I sent a progress report and an email questioning my own reasoning and rationale and received no comments on that either - despite spelling out that I feel that the methods are not really valid.

I feel as though there isn't much in the way of a way forward from where I am.

Equally, I've lost a lot in the process: in thinking this through today, I have no friends/family that I can call to talk it through. Doing this has taken relationships, time, health, money, everything.

If I quit, I lose my mental health support worker, I lose friends/colleagues from the PhD cohort, I lose face, I lose money, I lose my flat. My CV/general reputation will be hindered if I quit: I won't get to start again elsewhere with a new project because as much as I feel I've tried here, not completing is going to be seen as a failure on my part. I don't have the experience needed to get a non-academic non-research kind of job. And I don't have the finances to survive without my stipend.

If I stay, and fail, I'll be in the same kind of position just a year or two older.