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French student looking for General information about PhD in the US
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Yeah, coursework sounds grim to me. The US system has some advantages and I think you come out with more experience at the expense of being a lab slave.

In the UK it is all about getting funding. Usually there are two options; a funded pre-selected PhD project or apply with your own research proposal via a research council (EPRSC for physics) , university or another funding body. The pre-selected PhD topic option is where the supervisor has already got funding for their research idea and is usually easier. Or if you are committed to your own idea you can apply through various schemes but it is generally more competitive. I would look at pre-selected PhD topics as you might find something you like. I wasn't planning on doing a PhD but saw a PhD project randomly and thought "woaw that is what I want to do" even though I never thought about it before. Also, the UK has no mandatory coursework and you start research from day one.

Registering for a part-time PhD but completing in 3 years?
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Quote From H94:
But then again, why would they say that the minimum period is 36 months if they don't in fact allow it? I wonder what they would say if I just told them my intention to do it part-time but with the hope of finishing within 4 years?


I think the early submission is for "exceptional" cases. I have heard some faculty have got fast tracked through or if the student has extensive publications. It is there just encase but it is not expected to be used regularly.

Quote From H94:
To make matters more complicated, I'm planning to apply to AHRC next year (I missed the deadline this year due to illness) and I'm concerned that being part-time would look worse because of the higher incompletion rate.


Don't quote me on this but other people on this forum have said before that it is more difficult to get funding once you have started your PhD. Mainly because you have shown that you can already self finance and that they budget X number of PhDs for 3 years, so someone doing two years wastes part of their budget. I would look into it more.

Quote From wing92518:
Another uncertainty is whether the faculty/department wants to accept part-time PhD students. The department usually wants full-time students because the department usually wants PhD student to perform teaching duty(grading students' exam papers, conducting tutorial and invigilating exam) and research duty (doing literature review/collecting data to publish papers).
I was a student ambassador in MPhil/PhD information for more than five times. In my country, the faculty members clearly reject part-time students.


Hi wing92518, in the UK most universities accept nearly any self funded student as long as they can pay the fees. It is quite cynical but the universities make a profit of self funded PhD students.

Registering for a part-time PhD but completing in 3 years?
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Hi H94,

The biggest issues I can see is limitations on access and supervisory time. Part-time is cheaper because they expect you to use facilities and academics time less and if someone notices that you are effectively full-time they could put limits on you. I actually quite like your idea but you would have to be careful not to make it obvious.

Also, does your university have any regulations about early submission? I know my university makes it awkward to submit early, which might make it difficult to finish after exactly 36 months.

French student looking for General information about PhD in the US
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Hi Clementdufuor,

I am in the UK and have no direct experience of the US system. However, I have heard that some american universities will consider equivalence between your Masters degree modules and their coursework modules. If you email the admissions departments you might find that they will waive a lot of of the coursework modules but I am not sure if you can get out of all of them. Also, there is nothing wrong emailing the professors and asking directly.

Have you considered the UK?

Ignored by Supervisor
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Hi VenessaChoi,

I am sorry I didn't reply earlier.

The PhD student- supervisor relationship is critical to all PhD students and differs depending on circumstances. As your supervisor is a senior professor he will inherently have less time for you but the upside is they should have more grants and a bigger network. I can't speak from experience as my supervisor was a junior lecturer when I started and had plenty of time to help me but has zero grants and a negligible network. I know that doesn't help you right now but I am pointing out there are advantages to having a senior prof as a supervisor and you can potentially maximize them in the long term.

If you are having trouble arranging meetings a trick is to be explicit in what the meeting is about. Bringing a project plan, results or a conference abstract can sometimes make them take the meeting more seriously. Other than getting a second supervisor would be a massive benefit. At my university all the professors are expected to have second supervisors for their PhD students for the same reasons you have mentioned. You can either mention it to your supervisor or the head of department. Although it might be easier if you approach someone else in the department yourself for some support and then ask if they would be one of your supervisors. Junior faculty especially might have time to help you with simpler matters that the Prof would find superfluous, and they might want to get a PhD completion for their stats. You can also ask postdocs or research fellows to help you but their are rules about them being full second supervisors.

Passed with minor corrections in PhD and now exhausted
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Quote From wing92518:
Right after my thesis defence, my supervisor emphasised the importance of staying in the university to pass the work to another experienced research assistant and correct the papers until the papers are fully published.
I am finding it hard to assign the time to look for jobs. I guess I need to look for jobs right now.


LOL. I have never heard a supervisor explicitly say that. If you are not being paid he can't force you to do anything unless you need a glowing reference. Even then are you sure you need his reference? I had a friend who refused to do any work to publish her work after her PhD ended, much to her main supervisor's chagrin. Instead she got her second supervisor to write her a reference because she had enough of her toxic supervisor and didn't want to stay in academia. Your supervisor should have got you train someone beforehand instead of expecting you to sacrifice job opportunities for his mistake. So I would consider cutting the ties and move on if you can.

Loss of motivation & stress procrastination
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Quote From jw5:

Thanks rewt,

It means so much to me to know what I’m not alone. I’ve also experienced depression from last year and took a few months break to refresh myself. I recognise I should take a different approach to cope with this journey (not putting 100% of my life on study because of anxiety and guilty, but build my life outside it). However it’s not easy to try a new approach but not going back to my old way. Having someone to remind me that is so helpful to me at this stage. Thank you.


It is no problem. COVID has isolated too many PhD students from their peers and is causing severe issues. I come on this forum to simply ground myself and realise I am not alone with my issues.

Didn't get Masters offer - what to do now?
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I wouldn't overthink this. Master's applications have been extra competitive this year and so they can be extra picky. If you reapply for January and get a masters, no-one will ever care you got rejected once before.

Should I pursue another PhD
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Hi JoshR,

It is very unusual to do a second PhD and I doubt you would be allowed to do one. Saying that a posdoc could solve a lot of your problems. It is common that PhD students don't get any publications during their PhD but go on to publish frequently during a post doc. It is great that you already have a research fellowship job and you could possibly use that to get a postdoc in the USA/Europe.

Passed with minor corrections in PhD and now exhausted
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hi Dr wing92518,

A massive congratulations on passing with minors!!!! That is a major achievement I am happy for you.

Your supervisor sounds toxic. You have passed and he was wrong. I haven't submitted my PhD myself so can't talk from experience and I hope someone else can give you solid advice. Though what do you want to do?

Loss of motivation & stress procrastination
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Hi jw5,

I am sorry to hear about your issues and can completely sympathise with you. I am a master procrastinator and have suffered at least 2 major bouts of depression during my PhD, as well as having major issues with anxiety and impostor syndrome. The simplest advice I can give you is try to learn to forgive yourself. We all have bad days, bad weeks and bad months. We all have lost motivation at one point and suffered issues during our PhDs. Don't think you are alone and what you are experiencing is incredibly common but most PhD students never admit it to one another.

This might sound counter productive but take a week break. Take a week to sort yourself out mentally and physically. Try to get enough sleep, eat healthy, exercise outside, was regularly, meet friends and follow your hobbies. Take a week to sort yourself out and not have to worry because anxiety is a killer. When you think you are ready, start small and celebrate the little things. When having motivation issues at the end of the day I write down every little thing I did and that sometimes including just going for a walk. As it is easy to focus on the big goals when really it is just a lot of small accomplishments bundled together. I also make to-do lists filled with 5-10 minute jobs as I find I get a small dopamine rush checking things off. Big goals mean less things I have completed and therefore less dopamine. I also know some people who try to do their least favourite objective at the start of the day to get it out of the way. Finding little tricks to motivate yourself can help long term. There is a lot more advice on the internet but just remember you are not alone.

Also, I wouldn't worry about catching up. If everyone worked at their top pace all the time you could probably do a PhD in 18 months. Seriously, I think every PhD timeline includes several months of procrastination. So don't feel you have to catch up as the last month is gone, you can't get it back. That is completely outside your control and it is better to focus on what you can control. If you are worried about finishing, make a list of everything you want to do and prioritise. Everyone is overambitious at the start when in reality you probably only need to do half the things you wanted to in order to form solid conclusions. So just focus on one week at a time and things will start snowball.

Can somebody dumb down predictable chronic mild stress for me?
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Hi chrisplaza,

Congratulations on getting accepted to your PhD! Am I correct to say you haven't started yet and if so I wouldn't worry too much. Enjoy your freedom before your PhD starts and don't stress yourself. A PhD is a long slog and you will wish you enjoyed your summer soon enough. Once you start you will have access to more resources to help you develop these necessary skills.

The paper you are looking at is in a prestigious journal and looks to be very ambitious in nature( and it is nature ...). If this is the first paper you are trying to replicate, I would not worry about not understanding everything at once as they are not written for the lay audience. When trying to dissect something like this I would read through it and make a list of every; concept, method, abbreviation and terminology you don't understand. Then investigate everything you don't know so you have a good basis. Other papers will explain different concepts in more detail and will give you the extra knowledge you need. If you desperately need to write something, I would focus on learning each step of the methodology and try to understand both what they are doing and why.

I hope that helps,
rewt

Found a Huge Methodology Flaw
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Hi Nead,

Thankyou so much for your advice. I was spiraling on Monday and over reacted. It was nice to get some positive words then. I ended up having an informal meeting with the project lead about it and he was pretty chill. We then had another meeting with the other group members and I was surprised everyone took it as a matter of fact. We now have a plan to see what we can salvage.

The samples are liquids and I froze them after analysis. I actually have the other detector and started reanalyzing them with the other detector on Monday when I saw zero reading after zero reading. We are trying to avoid redoing too many experiments and just reanalyzing everything in my freezer.

Publications featured in the general public press
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Hi apiontec,

Congratulations on having your work enter the mainstream media. I think it would be very reaffirming that your work was significant enough to get wider attention. Although I don't think you can directly mention the media coverage unless you actively did something about it. A friend's research got into a BBC article and he mentioned the coverage as part of his outreach work in his cover letter. If you did any sort of public outreach work or increasing awareness, mentioning the media is a great way to reinforce the point. Saying that, I am still a PhD student so don't know too much.

Found a Huge Methodology Flaw
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Hi everyone,

I have been working on large project with several collaborating groups for the last 7 months. My part was the second stage in a 4 part process and involved me doing a methodology I have been using for the last 2 years but with a different starting material (feedstock). The results were never great because of the feedstock was not was promised to us but everything was going fine. That was until group in the next stage tried replicating my work and they found a flaw in my methodology. Simply, the detector I used was measuring an interfering particle instead of the target compound. The other method registers absolutely zero and in this scenario should be more accurate. The method I used is in maybe 20% of literature and has better signal to noise ratios than the other method but can't measure other compounds of interest. I validated method several times before using both detectors (with different feedstocks) and it worked but for some reason at the start of this project I didn't check it. I have now realised that my last 7 months worth of work is useless as I have been measuring a completely unknown compound instead. The other group using the more sensitive (and more noisy) detector cannot find of the target compound and keeps asking me methodology questions.

So does anyone have any advice after making such a big mistake? My supervisor is trying to delay admitting to it and hope the next group fixes it for us. Though we have a big meeting coming up and I don't feel I can defend my work. I just want to come out and be honest but this means my entire my contribution to the project is nil other than it doesn't work. I am stuck here trying to work out what to do and any advice or support would be welcome.