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Hit a new low with my PhD and I don't know how to continue - any advice welcome
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Quote From omt271:
Hey all,

@Pjlu - I haven't started collecting anything :( my work is depressingly all computer based so I don't even know what I am meant to be "collecting"! Hoping to clarify this more with my supervisor when he responds!

Sorry, I am assuming that you are doing an empirical or experimental study. Empirical being when you collect evidence to support a hypothesis or to answer a research question. Experimental being, I guess, when you have some form of scientific experiment that you will collect results from or similar. (Although it can also mean other things as well-methods change with disciplines I think).

Are you doing a theoretical study that proposes you develop some sort of model or program, which you then have to assess or evaluate? Did you have to present a research proposal when you were accepted onto your program-and was this based around a set of questions or some concern or issue? Often the types of questions you are asking, or the concern or issue you are investigating help to indicate the methods you might use.

E.g. With a hypothetical study or theoretical study, the methodology might be very different to what is used for an empirical study that asks ' how do...' type questions.

There are usually books, internet or journal articles in your discipline area that will systematically help you identify the type of problem, issue or theoretical proposal or model development you are looking at, and they will then provide examples of types of methods you can use to explore, examine or experiment with, to help conduct your study.

Hope this makes sense (somewhat at least...). The data and methods part of my study was probably my worst time...I felt like I was wandering around blindly in a dark and misty forest on some days. Hope all of the other things you are doing help you get through it as well.

Hit a new low with my PhD and I don't know how to continue - any advice welcome
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HI Omt271-

sorry I have just added a bit more because I notice you are talking about still not being sure of methods and I've been waffling on about writing. Have you started collecting data, experiments or whatever but are still waiting for results? My phd was in Education and used social science methods-so completely different to a science/lab type study. Given your questions/hypothesis-what other studies are there that seem to be on the same sort of topic/area and what methods do they use? With this concern you mentioned, can you email your supervisor with some practical questions around these areas, and then make a time to go in and get some specific support/advice with methods?

Hit a new low with my PhD and I don't know how to continue - any advice welcome
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Sorry to learn that you are having these issues. I'm just going to make a couple of observations to add to the good advice passed on by TQ and tru.

1 At this point in the PhD, I found motivation and interest weren't factors that helped me through the doldrums. More important were discipline and perseverance. Discipline in that I made 'doable lists' for different tasks or goals and then forced myself to do things and had little rewards and breaks when I had completed whatever it was. Even if it wasn't the best piece of writing or whatever...or it took me a while to write something or redo a finicky table, I rewarded myself with a break, coffee, walk or internet browse after completing something. Perseverance helped-because I just told myself that not-finishing wasn't an option.

2 I really get that working at home is isolating and the office is the 'pits'. Is there a decent student coffee shop on campus or near where you live, where you can park yourself and your laptop at times to work through your thoughts. When you do work at home, where do you work and what are your routines. Eg: do you have a sort of office space at home that is only for your work. Do you always have a nice coffee before sitting down and looking over that last draft or paragraph. With your office, do you have a special space and can you decorate that little space so that it feels like it is yours. Are there little memes or beautiful, funny or inspirational images that you can decorate your space with so you don't mind entering this 'space' to write and think.

3 Exercise is one of the most amazingly life enhancing things out there...do you walk, have a yoga or dance class, or something that you do regularly to help? Self care-looking after yourself and doing things just for you, while you complete (or really throughout life) can help when you go through these mundane, difficult and/or depressing parts of life. Finally though, if you think it might help, seek out the student support services and book yourself in to a student counsellor. Talking your concerns through with a professional support person, might help you clarify your options, work out the best solutions for you...what works for you...and means you have another support person on top of your partner/family. Best wishes-tough situation you have described.

Postgrad Forum Hall of Fame
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Quote From Jamie_Wizard:
My examiners approved my corrections yesterday, sent me very encouraging/congratulatory emails and have advised me to publish some of the new results :-) The degrees office has emailed today and I've uploaded the Thesis. It's a fantastic feeling!

Congratulations!!! Well done Dr Jamie Wizard! Have a great celebration :) and best wishes for the future!

Postgrad Forum Hall of Fame
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Quote From Jamie_Wizard:
Congratulations PJLU :-)

Thanks Jamie, it is finally, finally all done (including final admin, upload of thesis and grad details stuff) barring the actual graduation ceremony-in August-the next round of graduation ceremonies. Many best wishes to you and hope you hear regarding corrections very soon. :). It does feel surreal and I keep forgetting that I've got it!

Postgrad Forum Hall of Fame
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Hi, my corrections were approved and signed off today. Graduation process and uploading of thesis now awaits. Many best wishes to all on the forum.

Should I quite my high paying job for a full-time PhD
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Hi Bananas, what impact would quitting your current position and taking up the full time PhD have on your family? How does your partner feel about this and would having reduced your income (to a PhD stipend) mean that your child would be appropriately provided for? When you say 'very poor', does this indicate that housing, food and clothing, health, safety and wellbeing would be placed at risk in any way?

If so, then my belief is that you only have two viable options. No PhD and look for another job or another way forward that helps ignite your passion in your work again and/or take the risk of not completing the part time PhD and go for that option and commit to completing it, while working and still being there for your family, emotionally and with regard to the shared responsibility of being one of the providers for your child.

Have I failed my Ph.D??
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Quote From Dr_Crabby:
I am a fee waiver student so I don't have to pay fees but I don't receive any additional funding to live, etc which is why I need to work full time. Also I can't go part time without losing this fee waiver and having to pay it all back which is an option I have considered but it wouldn't be worth doing that.

I have also applied for suspension previously and they have said they will only grant it for extreme circumstances and I would need to have substantive evidence to support those circumstances. They won't grant a suspension of studies just to delay the submission date. I have basically had as much time off as they will allow under my circumstances and I absolutely have to submit on or before the deadline.

The papers are study chapters that will be edited for publication so although it is extra work to prepare them, they need to be written anyway. I was trying to use paper submission deadlines as motivation to get them written quick.

My supervisor just keeps telling me she has faith that I will get it done, I wish I had the same confidence!! I don't think she realises how behind I actually am, despite me making several attempts to drum it in.

Hang on to your supervisor's faith in your abilities...and just do what you can. You might surprise yourself. Even if the quality of the final product is not what you would like, provided the thesis, argument and writing shows that it is-or potentially will be-of doctoral standard, then you may well get through (if you are not awarded a 'no corrections' or a 'minor') with either a 'major' or 'R & R', and this will give you extra time to complete. (I'm not assuming that you will necessarily get a major or R & R, just noting that if you did there would be a silver lining in that either of these results would give you more time beyond your initial deadline).

But perhaps make sure during this very busy period that you take time to look after yourself physically and take up any offers of support or help you can, especially if you note that you are feeling a bit stressed or down.

Have I failed my Ph.D??
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Can you switch to part time and extend your submission deadline that way? You are effectively completing the PhD part-time at the moment anyway, as 2 days a week is not a full-time commitment.

Are you receiving an income for this study? I am assuming not because you are working full time. If that is the case, do you have to meet your submission deadline or do you have some flexibility around this date. I would think self funded study would be more flexible with submission deadlines, although perhaps this might not apply in your country or institution?

The other thought is that many people need more time to complete than the original submission deadlines due to supervisors needing to read and sign off on the thesis followed by (in general) lengthy examination and corrections processes.

Given all of these factors, deadlines can be a bit more flexible than they first appear (if this makes sense). I think Tenzin's comment about re-evaluating writing three papers during this time, and considering a suspension of studies is also very helpful.

Managing corrections -- working with sup. whilst working fulltime
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Hi there, the professor ,who is chair of my committee, sent a report which accepted and agreed with all of the changes. But, in having the committee scrutinise the thesis, they picked up on a internal citation that was not in alphabetical order and noted that my reference list is missing some electronic doi's, plus a figure needed a bit of an adjustment.

I've made these adjustments using this great program for finding electronic doi's called crossref, found the typo-and a few others that everyone, including myself, missed earlier-and have adjusted the figure and have submitted this directly back to the chair as per her request (none of these final adjustments need to go through the committee), so I am hoping shortly to have the chair's thumbs up.

It would be great if it were this week. Much closer now to the finish I think, and like a marathon (or half marathon), I am limping right up to the finish line. :)

how to deal with office mates when they talk about my deprived research topic?
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Ollie, what you are writing about can be pretty difficult to go through, even when people do not intend to upset you or cause you grief. The people doing it may be oblivious to how you feel and quite genuinely just discussing their study not knowing that for you their conversation triggers feelings of anxiety and perhaps shame?

However, I think from your post, that even though you have been taken off this project, you have been given another one that may be more suited to your present context? Is that the case?

I know it doesn't feel this way but actually people can have bad luck or difficult times for no reason at all-it isn't always personal, but can just reflect the circumstances or the people who are around at the time. I'm really glad you have a new project and supervisor. The advisor should not be insulting you for any reason and this behaviour is clearly unprofessional and a form of bullying. It is no wonder you feel sad about it and anxious.

I have 3 pieces of advice which might help...

If you can see a counsellor or trusted mentor who can talk through the issues and listen to you with empathy, then this might help you reframe this situation and move on. It might also help you manage the negative feelings that you currently experience and give you strategies to cope with any bullying.

You have a new project, supervisor and a fresh start. Try not to look back too much but focus on your new study and let that be your way out of this current situation.

People have short memories and are mainly focused on themselves and their own lives. Don't worry too much about what others think and please don't blame yourself. Look at what you have learned from the previous issue, and then take this fresh perspective to help you focus on your future and your new project. Be kind to yourself and make sure you don't neglect your health. Do things that you enjoy as well as work and study.

Moving all deadlines to a future date...
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Hi Tudor, I think it is important to have breaks and not to feel too guilty about them. Sometimes you just do need some time out and a sense of perspective. The trip sounds fantastic-lucky you and well deserved for all of your hard work in achieving this.

I think Bewildered's advice about not completely losing touch with whatever part of the write up, or the chapter you are currently doing, is really helpful as well. Once you factor in your trip of 6 weeks and add this to your break of 3 and a half weeks prior to going, that can be quite a long time overall. Keeping in touch with the chapter in some way will mean that when you do get back you can get back into things quite quickly.

The other thing is perhaps that you seem to already have factored in that you will take an extra year in write up and will self fund, and while it is nice to know you have this up your sleeve if needed, you may not actually need it. You may not need to set your deadlines back as much as this-perhaps just wait and see how your conversation pans out with your supervisor and where you are once you have come back from your study trip.

Managing corrections -- working with sup. whilst working fulltime
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[quote]Quote From Jamie_Wizard:
Hi T_Q and PjLu,

PJLU, yes. I had a meeting with my supervisor about the corrections shortly after the viva. Thanks for shedding light on the process at your institution. All of my interactions have been solely through my single supervisor. I guess I should ask if another faculty member, such as my advisor, should also read my thesis before it's submitted to the internal examiner. I believe such a process could have caught the issues before the viva exam.

Jamie, I think you just need to follow the process for your institution and try not to worry too much. I shared (in tedious detail) my process, because I just wanted to show that in my institution, if the process is a pass with corrections and not an R & R, the supervisor input is both limited and structured. There is an expectation that you do the corrections as pretty much an independent scholar, with your supervisors providing a little bit of guidance on the process at the start and a form of brief proof checking at the end. I also don't think that having another person read your thesis before the viva would necessarily pick up things so that you receive a 'no corrections' or a 'minor' rather than a 'major' corrections. Things just happen and people can have very different perspectives and expectations.

You are doing so well and have what appears to be really good work at the moment and that is something to be grateful for, as so many others do not have this or the advantages of any form of tertiary education or even secondary.

Once you have submitted the corrections, you then, like myself, have to go through the whole waiting process again and that can be a bit wearying as well. Although my supervisor has checked where my corrections are in the process, and has let me know that I should hear fairly soon, so I am hoping I can soon post I am ready to graduate.

Part of my work involves supporting secondary students and their families (at school) My role as an Assistant and often an Acting Head is in the leadership, teaching and pastoral and academic care of a secondary school. Some of the students who do not achieve at school and who have wellbeing or other issues, including behavioural, have such sad and difficult background circumstances. Unbelievable hardship...it provides me with a different perspective when I am finding things personally tough.

Masters of Clinical Psychology (Australia)
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Hi there, I've read your post but because it really is in a different area to mine, I haven't felt it appropriate to respond. However, given the lack of other responses, I hope you don't mind if I do-even if it isn't directly in your area.

I would think it would be pretty unlikely to get much credit for a research thesis in psych for a clinical Masters as they are fairly different qualifications and the clinical Masters (in Australia at least) is explicitly used to qualify a practitioner. I would think perhaps the only credit you might get is for specific research units or if the clinical included a research project, that might be part of the clinical masters suite of professional units/courses. I think this would be true of U Syd, ANU, Melb, UWA, Monash and most of the big 8. I'm surprised that UQ is different and I could be wrong.

I've just about finalised my own PhD in Education and have been told that I can use some of my qualifications at Masters level to gain advanced credit (of around a year) for a 2 year Masters in Counselling at Monash, but this is not a psychology qualification, this would be an additional qualification as a counsellor working within school and educational areas. And the advanced credit would be based on work experience and my previous Masters, not so much the PhD.

Psychology is a really fascinating and worthwhile discipline and, within Australia at least, clinical qualifications are rigorous and not terribly flexible with regard to entry points (possibly a good thing though, even if a bit disappointing at times). Good luck with it all. Hope some further responses or other information comes to light.

Managing corrections -- working with sup. whilst working fulltime
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Hi there Jamey and Tudor, my understanding and experience of the corrections process is that once results are available, a meeting is arranged between candidate and supervisors. This meeting involves agreeing on which corrections will be made, which will not be made and why, and then how to present the evidence of change along with the corrected thesis.

The candidate then makes the changes on both the thesis doc (using tracked changes) and includes a record of all changes on a table or document. The corrected thesis and table are emailed to both supervisors for a final check, which might result in a couple of adjustments regarding presentation or clarification or not, and if these are required, the candidate makes these adjustments then the file is then is passed back to both supervisors for a final check.

The primary supervisor then sends the file with thesis and table to the internal chair to review and (hopefully) approve the changes.

So, in this process, contact with supervisor occurred around 4 times or so.

1 A phone call to discuss results and the corrections process (I did not have a viva after submission as our oral presentations are made and defended with faculty before submission of thesis at my uni) Thus, results come to supervisors and candidates via an email report not at the end of a viva.
2 Then the initial meeting after results to decide on corrections and presentation.
3 Then on a form of quality checking or proofing of the completed corrections before the supervisor submits the corrected thesis to the internal chair on behalf of the candidate.
4 Finally, when the primary sup emails the candidate to indicate both sups have signed off on corrections and the primary has submitted the thesis and table to the internal panel chair or review committee.

I was invited to email or phone my primary sup if I had any questions during this process but not to submit any of my corrections for reading other than at point 3 which occurred once I had made the corrections (outlined above).