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Chasing viva date

Hi Pam,

I feel your pain - I had a long wait between submission and viva date myself. I wouldn't worry yourself unduly about possible problems with your thesis - I bet you it's because your submission fell slap bang in the middle of the summer. Everything seems to run so much slower if you submit from May to August - examiners go on research leave/holiday, administration slows down, etc.; alternatively your examiners may simply be having difficulties finding a mutually agreeable date. However, at this stage, I think you've got every right to approach university administration and/or your supervisor/internal; they must know that you're anxious to find out, and if they aren't allowed to disclose anything in particular, then they would simply let you know that too. Best of luck - both in finding out and for the viva itself!

Job in External's department: to ask or not to ask?

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Dear all,

First time question! I work in the humanities; I had my PhD viva a few months ago, and far from being the horrendous experience I'd psyched myself up for, by the end I was quite enjoying getting to talk to people who appeared vaguely interested in my research. I passed with minor corrections, and have since graduated. I'd met my external beforehand, and got on very well with her, subsequently suggesting her to my supervisor as a possible examiner; in the event, she was reasonably (though not effusively) positive about my thesis, etc. and gave some helpful advice on publication, suggesting I submit to a journal for which she is part of the editorial board.

Anyway... cut forward to the present. A lecturer position has recently opened in my external's department. While I have taught fairly extensively, I looked at the current staff profile, and frankly I don't think I have that much hope of getting the job - though I am currently working on a couple of papers (with one nearly ready to send out), I don't have any publications as yet. Their current research assistants/teaching fellows have at least one published paper each. Eeep. Anyway, despite my decidedly lacklustre publication profile, I think I'd feel regretful if I didn't at least try for the job. However, I'm in two minds about whether or not I should contact my external to let her know I'm thinking of applying. Does anyone out there have any suggestions? She did say I was welcome to contact her about future career moves - however, will I sound like a suck-up/cheat/complete idiot over-estimating her own abilities by approaching her about a job in her own department? On the other hand, would it seem odd for my application to appear, and for me *not* to have let her know I was applying?

If anyone has any advice, or personal experience of this kind of situation, I'd be most grateful to hear from you!

Penalty charge for going over 3 years, common?

Crumbs... £500 seems a bit steep. At my university they begin charging at the end of the three years, as long as your supervisor has said you're eligible to enter write-up status; if not, you get hit with full fees. However, I later discovered that if you hand in before the write up 'year' is complete, they do offer some reimbursement; the process for getting your money back is long and circuitous though, and not very well advertised.

In your situation, Uncutlateralus, have you tried challenging them over this? Surely the period of suspended studies should be taken into account. At the very least, complaints might make them rethink the situation (one hopes!).

thesis length: humanities?

It's always interesting to hear about the length of other people's theses! At my university, the word limit for humanities theses is 80,000. When I hit it, I asked a member of department whether I should consider applying for an extension - I needed an extra 3,500 or so words. Her reply was 'lie - that's what we all did'. I have to say, no one noticed. I was a bit worried about having to submit an electronic version on that count, but our limit doesn't include citations, footnotes, bibliography or appendices - since I have a 20,000 word appendix (transcribed interview), it disguises the discrepancy a bit. I hope.

An interesting thing though is the role that font choice can play in thesis length. A friend of mine in the same department recently submitted her thesis, which came in at around 70,000 words. However, her main text came out at around the same number of pages as my 83,000-odd one; despite both using a size 12 font, she did hers in Arial, while mine was in Times New Roman.

Ladies: What length hair did you have when doing your PhD?

I started with pretty long hair, and now, having submitted my thesis a month ago, I have *really* long hair - about waist length. I also wash it every day (my mum's from a tropical country where you just have to, and it's rubbed off - my hair looks and feels dreadful if it isn't washed every day as well, as it's completely straight and the grease seems to run straight down). :p

I don't think there's any reason why you should cut it. I wasn't funded during my (technically full-time) PhD, so at one point I was teaching in a school four days a week, as well as doing my thesis, but I still washed my stupidly long hair every day; also did so with one arm in plaster! There's no reason why you can't allow yourself the time to sort out your hair - you might think about your research 24-7, but that doesn't mean you necessarily have to spend every waking moment practically engaged in it.

Before I finish, a related anecdote - a friend of mine, with very long, naturally curly hair which she straightened once or twice a week, became pregnant. Practically everyone around her told her that she'd have to cut her hair, as she'd have no time at all on her hands. She told them that the baby's father could surely look after him for an hour or so a week. Just think of it that way - in the greater scheme of things, it's not that big a chunk of time, surely, and frankly I think it's good for us to get a break from the never-ending slog sometimes!

to number or not to number

Does your institution give any guidelines? I'm in the humanities, and whilst my supervisor said she didn't think it was necessary, the official university thesis presentation guidelines did, so I used the numbers. One problem I found, though, was that because numbering was supposed to begin at '1' with the Introduction, what I had referred to throughout the text as 'chapter one' ending up being number 2. To clarify things, i stuck a big 'CHAPTER ONE' over it, and hope it does the trick...

Full Time PhD student and working part time

It's interesting to see people's responses! I think in part it depends on subject area, as some PhDs are easier to juggle with paid employment. Personally, being a full-time PhD and unfunded, there were times where I was working four or more full days a week on my multiple paid jobs - no fun when it comes to doing your tax return, I can tell you. However, I am on course to hand in at the end of this month, with any luck, which will be around the three and a half year mark - so insane workloads can be handled!