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Getting Academics to Reply!

Apologies if you've already done this, but have you checked the websites of the various universities you're interested in, for info on potential PhD study, how to go about it within specific universities (they may do things in a certain way) or for FAQs? Some have open days where you can informally speak to possible supervisors in person, whereas others may require a written proposal of your topic of interest first, in keeping with guidance notes available for download from their websites. Or there might be other events happening at the university you could visit so you can speak to people (students/supervisors/staff) about what you want to know.

The reason I say this is because, as Sneaks said, it's the end of the academic year and it's a really busy time for everyone. I think Adam's suggestion is very good as well, to speak to student admissions staff who know both the official procedures and the way particular staff work, including their propensity for replying to non-urgent emails. There was a flurry of PhD studentships advertised in different subject areas recently, so it may just be that your timing is slightly out - staff may be busy processing applications already received for the coming autumn. I know they are at my university. It would be a pity if you gave up though, if it's what you really want to do!

Ravensbourne Broadcast Futures

Hello, I do some teaching there... it would be a really good idea for you to go to one of the post-grad open days - the info is on their website, I think they are coming up in the next week or so. It would be interesting for you to have a look around and talk to some current students and staff and have a look at the facilities for your course, which are very impressive. The college has a good record of students getting jobs afterwards, presumably due to it being well regarded in the industry and staff having very good connections. I think the building is amazing and I really like the students and staff I've worked with there and also like the fact that it is a small college, it seems friendlier somehow. Sorry I can't answer your question about that specific course, but hope this helps a little.

When to follow-up??

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Hi Kirstyvale, if it's getting into the third week I think it would be ok to ring up the department that's dealing with the studentship and ask about it. Sometimes there are unforseen delays to the original timetable for processing these things, eg huge numbers of applications, staff illness etc. In my uni the research department deals with the PhD funding rather than HR, and we've had hopeful students ringing up to see what the timeline is for making decisions on funded places and what's happened to their applications. There's nothing weird about doing that as you need to know whether you might have to make yourself available for an interview. Hope you get the news you want!

who's on panel: to ask or not to ask

Good luck with the interview when it happens! (up)


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Hi Blueberry,

I don't know much about e-portfolios, though I believe it has been mentioned by my uni at some point (though I haven't heard anything since!). I was wondering how these would be any different to giving students a general overview of how they might use the web, having their own websites, blogs etc, plus the technical background about how to do this, which is what we had? I wondered whether it was basically the same thing, but without the label (e-portfolio) and not tied to a particular product.

financial emergencies

Hi Cornflower,

I haven't been on here for ages, but am really sorry to read about your situation. I'd agree with Bewildered about being really upfront about your situation now with your supervisor and head of graduate studies (or similar person responsible for PhD students). It sounds like you would be putting yourself at risk in terms of health and safety by not having the right equipment and clothing, so your department should theoretically be liable to some extent for anything that happens to you while you're away if they know about your situation beforehand, but still let you go inadequately equipped. No university would want to be responsible for any sort of dodgy negligence for students. They are very concerned about risk assessment in doctoral studies these days at mine.

Also, I'd be surprised if there was absolutely no money that your department could tap into to help you, even if it means advancing any internal funding allocated for you for the next academic year and bringing it forward.

Good luck anyway in sorting something out.

End Note vs One Note

Does anyone know how does Mandeley, Jabref etc compare to Zotero? I remember reading a lot about that on here a while back. I did my thesis without using proper referencing software and am trying (really hard!) to get into better habits for my current writing, be organised, less of a messy slob etc, though my heart sinks slightly each time someone mentions a different bit of software. Any extra advice would be welcome! :-)

weird supervisor?

Maybe check out how she behaves with other students? It might make you feel better if she's like it with everyone and you knew she wasn't just picking you out for touchy-feely supervision. If it is just you, then it could get a bit creepy or awkward in the future if it makes you feel uncomfortable. Of course, it might just be the way she is, and as DanB says, some supervisors are a bit weird!

Advice for a friend

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Phds can be pretty heavy going. I know that my own family and friends who hadn't done PhDs were very sympathetic and tried to help with the best will in the world and more patience than I probably deserved:$, but what I found most useful was hearing it from people who had been in the same situation. Anonymous help is very useful, especially on here - I would have struggled a hell of a lot more without knowing other people have the same problems on this forum. Perhaps even lurking would help him, even if he didn't want to post anything himself? You can always edit your original post if you've put anything that might identify you/him and don't want to. He could always try a student counsellor at his uni as well, I would imagine they've heard similar stories before.

I hope he finds someone (virtual or otherwise) to help though. Good luck. :-)

Viva day tommorow!

Ooh excellent - congratulations! (up) Welcome to the post doc world! :-)

Depression-A hazard!!

Josephajain, having an anonymous website about depression with nothing about the site owner or any medical credentials doesn't really inspire confidence. Why not just cut to the chase and list the various commercial sites for depression and stress busting author's books it seems designed to sell, all sneakily listed at the bottom of every page of that site in 'resources'? It would be more honest....

Viva in 2 weeks

Liminalplace, first congrats on submitting, that is a big thing! (up)

I do know what you mean about the interdisciplinary thing, I too got really anxious about that and felt I knew nothing and was probably an utter fraud and would be unmasked as a pretender during the viva. But how can you be an expert in several disciplines after a PhD when some people spend their whole academic careers being an expert in just one? It's just not possible. I tried to focus on why it was interdisciplinary, what did each discipline offer and why did I need that to answer my research question? Just in a few sentences, that's enough. Why did sticking within one discipline not do the job for that question, what did each one lack that made me pick the route I took? Maybe that would help you too...?

The thing about key influences - who do you cite a lot or whose work do draw on significantly, even if it's miles short of what you're writing about? It might be a couple of books where you build on their work and take it in another direction, or plug a gap in their thinking by taking it in another direction.

Don't try to memorise every single refence you've used, but think about the bigger picture, step back from it. I worried about that issue as well, but my supervisors said the overall argument was more important than memorising every obscure citation I'd made. If they ask about one reference you can always look it up.

I got really anxious about my mock and my hair started falling out and I had nightmares as well. After the mock I felt loads better and spent the week after that just reading my thesis as much as possible and resting, as instructed by my sups. It'll be over before you know it! :-)

Does anybody have this book? Material Memories

I've got it!! What bit do you need checking?

Corrections - how long did you wait?

Nearly 3 months, because the official paperwork got lost, then left in people's in-trays. I didn't chase it up at first as was feeling unusually considerate of the administrator's workload, though I ended up wishing I had as the whole business got dragged out for months. You could ask the staff responsible for getting yours sent out, to see what official stuff needs to happen before you get the paperwork. It's Easter soon and people go away on holiday and departments close for a while, so that's a good enough reason to ask!

Possible to submit one's thesis to another University?

Hi again 404, your setup sounds a bit like mine - the Head of Research should have a remit for all research in the college, staff and students, but maybe you have another person responsible for PhD students too? We've got Heads of Research, but also Deans of Schools that have a remit for their broad subject area - maybe you have a Dean or Art, or Graphics or wherever your subject fits into the university structure? From my limited experience of Graduate Schools is that the staff seem to be responsible for postgraduate study from Masters to PhDs, so more of a student focussed remit. Do you have an up-to-date research handbook with relevant contacts in, maybe also on their website, or a research student rep who can help point you in the right direction?

Can you talk to your supervisor about the money thing? It's really in their interests for you to submit, so maybe he/she can dredge up some funding from some departmental budget that no-one knows about, people can be surprisingly creative like that when needed.... Good luck with it! (up)