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Pjlu
Tuesday, 22 December 2009 at 8:10pm
Monday, 29 January 2018 at 7:37pm
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Thread: Struggling with the supervisor-phantom academics!

posted
11-Jan-10, 12:41
edited about 17 seconds later
by Pjlu
Avatar for Pjlu
posted about 9 years ago
Sneaks, i need to make one more clarification in response to the comment about full-time work and part-time study. This particular Master's course is marketed towards educational professionals as a part-time route to further doctoral studies-I get what you are saying about the nature of research-I understand it is messy-as is all creative work.

I have followed the rules of the course and all of the guidance advice down to the letter-however, I take your point about the nature of present work-in that having an overload of work responsibilities means that I am not always able to take up an issue immediately with the university-due to being very busy myself and having to work around my leave and study leave breaks. So yes, I get that-I can't have it all ways. Honestly, I'm going to do something else now and allow myself some room to think about the whole thing. Take care folks-and have fun. I'll get back in a few weeks, if I have some reasonable feedback.

Thread: Struggling with the supervisor-phantom academics!

posted
11-Jan-10, 12:18
edited about 29 seconds later
by Pjlu
Avatar for Pjlu
posted about 9 years ago
Sneaks, thanks very much for your reply. However, I do need to clarify that my ethics application was ready by due date on my part. The supervisor can't manage time and either lost it or lost sight of it and does not reply to email or phone for weeks on end. I assumed it was going through the committee and only found out it had not been submitted until very late (months after I gave it to her) when I began ringing and pestering all of the ethics boards and they began checking for me.
When she does reply she is helpful and sweet and usually overwhelmed with whatever is happening in the academic world at her end of things. I also understand the pressures she is under-however, for this particular moment in time-this is my baby- I have worked and saved hard for years to do this and received exceptional grades, submitting all things on time. (Yes I know- all of you are also fantastic students-however, you have to get where I am at with this at this point in time- I am not depressed- I am justifiably angry).

I work in education as well and understand deadlines, extensions, student greivance processes and other things very well. One of the reasons why i am so careful and pedantic. I am absolutely ropeable so while I appreciate your commonsense advice-its no solace. Applying for an extension, which I could do, would mean that I would have to put her (and myself) under scrutiny. It is no thing to do lightly to anyone!

I can still take the risk- on my part- I know I am capable of this, but I can't guarantee that participants won't flake out on me or my supervisor might disappear from phone, email and any other contact as well and go back into the netherworld of overworked and worn-out academics for weeks at a time.

However, now I've vented and cooled down- I take your point about changing research methods- given data issues. Actually I could do this- I can concentrate much more on the policy angle if needs be to supplement participant data if it is meagre- my lit review is extensive and much of the primary policy data would fit. Look thanks Sneaks, sorry about the irritation but this thesis is a dream that has a few more underlying issues than just meet the eye or that I want to go into with anyone.

I'll think about what you've said...

Thread: Struggling with the supervisor-phantom academics!

posted
11-Jan-10, 03:54
by Pjlu
Avatar for Pjlu
posted about 9 years ago
Okay, here's the thing...Ive posted before in answer to other PG students and mentioned my supervision issues but also what I've done to resolve them and some positive outcomes as well.

However, today I came face to face with student admin, supervisor issues and what my options are. I have to do a Masters with some coursework and a thesis attached to go further to doctoral studies-no other options. And in anycase, I missed out on my honours year for family and financial reasons-not to do with ability or grades at all-so for me this Masters is significant.

it is not the only thing going in my life but it is an important and long term goal and so far Ive done really well in it-while working fulltime and dealing with the usual family-expartner and life issues that everyone has in one form or another.

The problem is my supervisor has delayed some crucial aspects of my thesis-mainly to do with ethics and while I have ethics approval now-as student admin advisor informed me today-Ive really been set back six months. I now have five months to begin data collection and write up results, analyse and write up discussion and conclusion and make adjustments to methods and any ongoing ones to Chapter's one and two. I also commence fulltime work in couple of weeks to a promotional position that carries a heavy load of responsibility and lots of new learning.

I contacted student admin PG support officer to see what happened if one needed to extend deadlines-one I'm thinking that data collection and participants may have a few hiccups (as seems to be normal)- two I'm thinking, even if I really go under the pump and just push myself in the next five months to complete- I can't guarantee that supervisor will read drafts in time and get feedback promptly and she won't submit my thesis if she thinks I need to make changes.

So I asked about the extension and to check about academic penalties, etc to find that the Masters that I'm on has really quite inflexible submission requirements and an extension of more than one or two weeks would require special consideration and application and no doubt be really a time-consuming and not pleasant process for anyone. Can't argue that I am ill or anything so would have to go on claiming incompetency. I actually like supervisor who can be nice and helpful but is a total disaster with time management.

Only thing I can do is apply for six months intermission and collect data during this time and then resume relationships with uni as formal student come late July-submitting in October. I can apply for intermission on work considerations.

What really irks me-is this is really not my fault or responsibility-I've done every thing by the book from my end- I tend to be a bit anal with deadlines and responsibilities anyway. But I'm going to have to do this. I can't risk something coming up either at work or with participants and causing any significant delay or stress. It's [email protected]@@@ though!

Thread: After the PhD: where are the jobs?

posted
09-Jan-10, 20:29
edited about 27 seconds later
by Pjlu
Avatar for Pjlu
posted about 9 years ago
No ideas about Middle East. Australia is not experiencing aftershocks from GFC on the same scale as Britain, and seems to be out of recession at present. We are also going through the baby boomer retirement thingo...however, the problems you have with Australia are:

one- we would have many local highly talented Phd students applying for the positions here as well, most likely in similar proportions to other countries, though I'm no statistian- just going on what seems to be out there from observation. So the competition will still be high.

two- we no longer suffer from the old cultural cringe that beset us earlier, that once had us employing people from outside Australia almost assuming that they would be of higher quality than our own graduates. So nowadays the same sorts of employer preferences come into play as have been mentioned on those (somewhat depressing) threads discussing job prospects-re: contacts, work experiences other than post grad study and seminar supervision, etc. And no doubt local supervisors will 'root' (pretty crass term really- I mean support!) for their own students anyway.

three- cities like Sydney and Perth are almost becoming unaffordable regarding housing-though the other major cities are not too bad-generally Australia seems notorious for very high housing costs. Sydney is just a really expensive city to live in period-( but a beautiful one-I'm not bagging it ppls!)

So Australia is always something you want to check out very carefully-personally being Australian, I love it and would not want to live permanently anywhere else-but it isn't always just an easy land of opportunity by any means. (And I'm really lucky in that I have no plans to seek academia as a permanent main employer-I like my present work and just want to extend knowledge and level of expertise-possibly look at some consultancy later on.

Cheers- or not (now I must really get back to serious work before all leave/holidays are over and the thesis has to compete with full-on paid work as well)-good luck though(mince)

Thread: Help needed!

posted
09-Jan-10, 12:19
by Pjlu
Avatar for Pjlu
posted about 9 years ago
No worries Jinio,

was indeed not much help I am afraid but perhaps someone else will have some specific literature to advise. These tutors and their holidays! Huh ;)

Thread: Help needed!

posted
09-Jan-10, 07:44
by Pjlu
Avatar for Pjlu
posted about 9 years ago
Hi Jinio,

I'm a bit confused by your question-so just disregard this if completely irrelevant. The National Ethics Forum and my University's ethics committee would not allow any releasing of names in any form of qualitative research-semi-structured interviews or surveys-whatever. I don't just think this applies to highly sensitive areas or not- anything to do with human research methods and data has stringent privacy codes (here in Australia anyway). Just asking a couple of questions can take copious applications that go through rigorous appraisals through academic and industry committees.

Secondly, if you are using a basic qualitative research method and collecting data through interviews, obs, etc- don't you need to be careful about privileging information from particular sources. Just because the data has come from 'key people'-still would mean that you as researcher must be neutral about analysing this? If you did any more than indicate that this info came from person X who held anonymous position in Institution Y-wouldn't you be introducing a bias or making assumptions before you look at the rich data so to speak? Basically by infering that the data from person X (key person) is more significant or authoritative than the data from person Y.

However, as said before-I could just be misinterpreting what you are asking and someone well may have some info for you. Usually when I am looking for things that I really don't know much about, I go on google and search engine trawls using brainstormed search terms. Means I read stuff that doesn't go into my Lit Review or thesis very often but often this form of blind search actually teaches me what the terms are so I find what it is I am looking for-takes time though.

Thread: Supervisor Dilemma

posted
07-Jan-10, 04:59
edited about 5 seconds later
by Pjlu
Avatar for Pjlu
posted about 9 years ago
Hi Shamishank-

I'll preface this with the 'I'm currently doing Master's thesis not Phd yet' tag that I keep using- but mainly to let you know that there are some differences between the two, I'm aware after reading countless posts. However, that being said, there are some similarities as well- ethical committees, funding, re-writing and supervisor issues being some of them.

My experience with my own supervisor may be of help with regard to perspective. My supervisor was pretty much appointed by the University in question ( I am in Australia btw), as the most suitable person so I really did not get much say in it and was actually hoping for someone else-whose personality and approach mirrored my own a little more. For almost the first 8 months (doing it part-time) I agonised over whether I should 'sack' her because she just took so long to get back to me and her personality and research style was SOOOO different to mine. I'm a pretty flexible person who can adjust to many things (work/career means I have to be) but I found her indefinite style and methods just incredibly difficult to adjust to. Indefinite until it came to my drafts-then she was pretty definite and quite precise and micromanaging- strangely enough. And I was sooo disappointed-after all I had planned this for years- applied for the leave at the end of the year, waited until kids were really grown, yada, yada, yada.

Anyway, we have journeyed together through countless frustrations and colleagues, friends and kids have heard me vent-only to forgive her after some contact or some real breakthrough. Right now, although, the way she approaches time still gives me grief, I have to say, I have learned enormously from her. Somehow, between us, we have constructed some space where I 'get' research and have made a real life switch as to how I view all of this-including my study. Which from being some Masters project that would get me through possibly to the Phd, or at least let me graduate with a Masters and refocus back on work-has evolved into something I can actually see generating a substantial and interesting study which is personally, vocationally and academically of interest. Go figure...how we achieved this chemestry or alchemy I'll never know but today after making a real connection in a subsection, I realised that I was beginning to wonder how I would actually thank her...as opposed to sacking her- or wringing her neck or ...whatever you will.

So...you know, I think also, hang in there...I did not think that I would write this about my sup-but it is genuine-I have learned a lot and she has been a great mentor-if unexpected.

Cheers

Thread: Thoroughness

posted
04-Jan-10, 20:36
edited about 16 seconds later
by Pjlu
Avatar for Pjlu
posted about 9 years ago
Hi KC,

My supervisor suggested this style of skim research to me a few weeks ago, so it can't just be a student or post-grad method to save time-and the sleep reading through countless boring articles!. To put it in context, a lot of the main articles and literature that provide structure to my lit review have been read really thoroughly. Her suggestion was to keep reading but to cherry pick and read in a very focused manner just for material that applied to my topic and to skim or skip the rest.
It's for a Master's though-but I expect the idea is the same. If it helps, I often have to revise 'who' said 'what' with these types of readings. Again it tends to be only the really significant authors and material that I know thoroughly and whose names I remember-or the really creative and different ones.

Thread: Agony Aunt on Facebook

posted
03-Jan-10, 20:17
by Pjlu
Avatar for Pjlu
posted about 9 years ago
An interesting idea Agatha; though I think the one of the strengths of this forum is the whole "community of shared knowledge" thing- everyone can contribute, expertise is shared and learning and understanding are constructed amongst a large group all participants with different strengths-democratically so to speak.

Cheers ( and as today is 'T' day- it is back to the 'ole thesis'!

Thread: So bad I'm having thoughts of death!

posted
01-Jan-10, 09:17
by Pjlu
Avatar for Pjlu
posted about 9 years ago
All of those issues sound like you have had to face many difficulties on top of the challenge and difficulties of the doctorate. You obviously have many strengths to have got where you are right now. However, when you say things like I feel like a freak, etc...this isn't true but it would certainly feed into your anxieties and make them worse.

I bet there are people on this forum- (the UK people still might be on celebratory mode-given the time differences) who have been exactly where you are right now and I imagine that many of these people will have some specific supportive advice that they can offer that will really assist you with the 'end of thesis-unhappy with writing- what do I do after this-what next? sort of fears that are cropping up right now.

You say that you are a literature scholar. Imagine your phd is like being Parcival or one of Arthur's knights on a quest for the holy grail- the grail being the thesis- the significance of the grail being what it holds- or what the thesis signifies. For you this means perhaps self-worth, identity, validation, acceptance into a community of scholars- the knights at the table...probably many other things. However, like all of the knights on the quest, you have to face challenges, ogres at every corner- and even when you think you are at the final parts, still one or two frightening monsters or 'fears' to face and go through. THIS is part of the challenge of the thesis...and like many of the knights on the grail...they took longer, had respite...found it difficult- thought they had got there and had to face yet another challenge right at the end. This is part of a life journey-which may be why it is so significant to you and there is no shame in undergoing the trials on the way. All of the knights-all mythic and fairy tale characters are given mysterious aid and invisible supports to assist them to achieve their quest-for you just some support from an empathetic person like a counsellor might just be enough to break down those fears- (overcome the dreaded challenge).

When you look at this in these terms- it seems sort of strange- but it makes sense as to why some of this strikes so deeply with post graduate students. Does this form of reframing help you feel less 'stupid' about your struggle?

Thread: So bad I'm having thoughts of death!

posted
01-Jan-10, 08:20
by Pjlu
Avatar for Pjlu
posted about 9 years ago
Hello Helen,

I know this might sound really trite-but I truly don't mean it this way. You probably do need to seek some form of counselling or health care support-if the anxiety is really this bad. You have said though that you can't talk to anyone about it. I am guessing that the anonymity of this forum means that you are able to speak to others online but have not really discussed this with your supervisor? Is this a part-time doctorate or have you been enrolled full time and received a stipend/phd scholarship? By this, I mean are the anxieties partly due to having to submit and possibly failing and then having no income or are you okay financially (as doctorate is part-time and not your income stream) but instead really anxious purely about the thesis side of things?

Stop the drinking right now...it is simply masking all of the deeper issues. Don't beat yourself up about this just stop the temptation to drink to manage your stress and anxiety levels and find some thing to else to do so that you are distracted from the temptation to drown your anxieties in alcohol. Even if it is a lesser indulgence such as loads of tea, good icecream,hot baths, pacing the room and then really stupid dvd's to help you sleep-there may well be other methods-just giving you some of mine in the past.
Make an appointment to see someone asap...

You know a Phd is not the only thing in the world-even if you failed. All this says about you is that at this moment in time, you had some problems and were unable to obtain your Phd on present work. That's it. And you may not fail and there are
other options...you may be able to convert your thesis into a very satisfactory MRes degree if you choose and after a bit of reshaping exit uni life this way with a respectable qualification that most professional employers value fairly highly. (Even if it wasn't in the main area where you work).

You may be able to request an extension and using the support from your supervisor (or other uni personnel -such as student mentor, counsellors or advisor staff-if supervisor is not helpful), work out some way to finish this at a slower pace with some marked out steps and some respite to help you deal with anxiety issues. If this is not an option due to having had a few in the past-then discuss this with your supervisor and ask what your options are-take in a supportive person or student rep if you find it really difficult to have this conversation-just to help you through the process.

You could go to the doctor and request a leave of absence (sick leave-anxiety issues and disorders count for these sorts of purposes) to give yourself some time to work out how you will deal and cope with this crisis in your thesis.

None of these issues involve the personal judgement of whether you 'deserve' a phd or not. You were accepted into graduate research- fact. You deserve your place there-fact. You are having difficulties now-fact. None of this implies a judgement on your character or your actual intelligence or ability to research. However, it does sound very much like you really need some support to assist you at this really difficult time in your life and support to help you strengthen your coping mechanisms so that you can get through this part of your life.

I imagine others on this forum may have some insight and understanding to offer so this post is more to let you know- it is okay to ask for help, it is okay to be struggling at this stage, it does not mean that you are a bad person, a failure or ineffective-it simply means right now you are having difficulties and getting some constructive support is fine. Get that support- anxiety disorders can be hell!!! But from personal experience they can also be managed so that you can get back into some form of control over your life-and you can move on.

Best wishes Helen

Thread: Are MRES (New route PhD) compulsory

posted
30-Dec-09, 22:00
edited about 21 seconds later
by Pjlu
Avatar for Pjlu
posted about 10 years ago
Hi Anne,

My thoughts....
(without being a current Phd student but one who presently has to do a Masters with Research methods and substantial thesis. I am currently on the second part of the thesis-due for submission June 2010).

The new route Phd's are not about raising further fees (or solely this anyway- to some extent all things are influenced by commerce) but are a response to the criticism of current university Phd's- where attrition rate and failure of otherwise gifted students, has raised many questions. These questions come not only from the tertiary education sector but from governments and industry. Having to focus on the research methodology before being stranded so to speak on Dissertation Island, with only a computer and supervisor/s of differing qualities to help, means that many candidates will be given a better foundation. And very possibly for those candidates who after a year or so...are really unhappy in the Phd program; well these ones can opt to leave a little earlier still with a qualification and formal recognition of their hard work and contributions.

My own studies have shown me just how different the Phd-can be from everything I have done before. I am speaking as someone who has always regarded herself as a competent student. However, the thesis in this Masters, with its supervision woes, Ethical committee delays and constant rewriting of material, have really given me an insight into how it would be in the Phd-so I for one am glad to go this route. Never thought I would say this either...I was all (some years ago) for getting straight into it and no delays-as I had to obtain work to fund myself, this slowed me down and forced me to take this route. I am glad I have. (Sorry if this seems a bit "meish"-just thought the experience might help).

The other thing is, over the last few days while cruising these posts, I have read posts by people who have actually completed and failed! So hard, devastating and seemingly undeserved. If the New Route Phd prevents this from occurring; it is a good thing.

Cheers

Thread: Unsupportive Family

posted
28-Dec-09, 21:27
by Pjlu
Avatar for Pjlu
posted about 10 years ago
Hi Paige,

You mention that your family have neither worked nor studied? Am I right here...or did you mean study and just work/study combination? However, whatever the situation, whether they have held jobs or not...certainly from what you have said they have not studied and would have no 'real' concept of what studying entails...much less the comprehension of just what a Phd really means and demands. Part of their difficulties may be with some residual anxiety and even perhaps some mild envy about your study and how this takes you into a completely different world to your family. I know that you won't abandon them and they may have been reassured about this by yourself on many times when you have been saying 'no' and setting your boundaries with them.

However, underneath, make no bones about it, your completion of this will mean that while you may always love your family and spend time with them doing family things in the future- you will be a different person at the end of this process and you will not really be part of your families "world" anymore. It will be like you visit it...

However, this has just got to be...you cannot stop yourself from developing and growing as a person, intellectually, emotionally or in any other way, just to keep your family comfortable. And the bottom line is, if you did, they wouldn't thank you for it or appreciate it anyway...they would just take it for granted, in the way that families tend to and you would always feel regret.

You just have to tough it out and keep setting those boundaries. Think about your own feelings here though and not those of your families. What would make you feel better while you are going making this journey and feeling those family ties of guilt and obligation and love create tension between you. Maybe make an effort to remember birthdays, send little thinking of you cards, make an effort to have a regular visit (even a very brief one) for coffee-or if you need to see them less (for a variety of reasons) make a 6 month special meal together or something...anything-just a gesture that lets them know you care but are not going to stop your own plans no matter what they do. Then leave it up to them to see how they respond...they may respond well...chances are they won't though...and if that happens you just have to be resigned and be the bigger person. (This has happened with my own family -not children-but siblings, etc).

I would also agree with one of the posts below (sorry op-can't access your name here on reply board), if things are too much for you, you might be able to go one of your full-time things (job or Phd) part-time to give yourself more time and space...NOT though for your family. Cheers- I think the other posters have all given good advice btw...so hopefully this will all go to show you that you are not alone or selfish.

Thread: Australia: No honours degree...?

posted
25-Dec-09, 21:18
by Pjlu
Avatar for Pjlu
posted about 10 years ago
From my experience SC, you have to do some form of research pathway-even if this takes the form of a major project in a coursework Masters, or an M "Qual" (Masters Qualifiyer) or a study based in your workplace.

I too did not have the 'honours year' required in Australian Universities, to go straight into a research Masters or PHD, and having completed undergrad 10 years ago, missed the 10 years cut off- to go back and do honours while working. So I searched extensively to see if somehow, I could just go straight into a research degree. However, all of the Universities with the degrees and supports that I wanted, pretty much said the same thing...you need to have some form of tangible research experience and I did not think that my workplace projects, which were shared things, really counted as this. So I bit the bullet and enrolled in Masters by Coursework course but one that offered an extensive part of this degree as a research thesis- provided you achieve distinction or higher in two course work subjects. I did and am now finishing the thesis-well am just over half way mark. The thesis will qualify me for full research degrees in future-either at Masters or Phd level depending on my grades.

It was really frustrating at first as in my undergrad years I was a top student, winning prizes and earmarked for honours and Phd, straight away, but my life was a little complicated back then and I just could not continue with studies and the extra honours year to go down this path. So I share your frustration-I was so annoyed a couple of years ago when I began the Masters (coursework part) but now I am almost finished- really happy with the progress my thesis is making and do not regret this decision or course at all. I have learned masses from it, both from the course work units, which sharpened and honed my academic skills again and certainly also learned from the thesis part. I know that my own independence (something they go on and on about in the generic skills listed) as a thinker and writer really have been developed tremendously from this course. But it seemed so expensive and such a 'come down' from the success that I had experienced earlier. However, once my pride was in check and I stopped counting the years and claimed tuition on tax as much as possible-then it all seemed much better.

Thread: mature student- full time job

posted
25-Dec-09, 20:40
by Pjlu
Avatar for Pjlu
posted about 10 years ago
Also Merry Christmas, it is actually Boxing Day here in Australia and I am the only one up in the household right at the minute-my system seemed to have burned through the food and alcohol around 2 to three hours ago. Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas-I know I did.
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