Signup date: 14 Sep 2008 at 3:23pm
Last login: 06 Oct 2012 at 7:33pm
Post count: 178
I'm just at the end of a part-time PhD and I am full-time academic. I won't lie to you, it was very tough and I don't have children. However, it is possible. The main thing that I would do differently in hindsight is to make my supervisors help me. My supervisory team gave me the impression that you shouldn't ask for help as a PhD is a solitary piece of work. I presumed that asking for help would be viewed negatively but I now see that I should have made them help me. You need to be proactive. Obviously do as much as possible yourself but if you are stuck, ask them and don't let them fob you off. Their job is to supervise you so make sure they do. My supervisors were too busy making money to bother much with me and although I almost have my PhD it took me 11 years when it could have taken 6 years.
It might also be helpful to find a few complete theses in your area and have a look at them. It was only toward the end of my PhD that it occurred to me to do this and it really did help, particularly since my undergrad degree was in a different area.
My final piece of advice is to keep using these forums. Everyone here is really helpful and it's so good to know that you're not alone. I'm a member of academic staff at my institution so I don't mix with the full-time PhDs - not because I don't want to but just because it's not practical in terms of time. So this forum has been a great source of advice and kept me sane :p
Good luck (up)
I am now plastering my face with anti-aging, anti-wrinkle, age reversing, skin brightening gunk containing petides, retinol, hydrochloric acid, frog spit and lots of other things that I don't even recognise just to make me look vaguely like a human. Instead of a PhD, what I really need now is a face lift. When they hand over the PhD certificate at your graduation, they should also hand you a discount voucher for the nearest plastic surgeon.
Why don't they ever tell you that a PhD is like the One Ring and by the end you'll like Gollum on a bad hair day?
Yep, sounds familiar. My PhD is based on the development of an economic model and half way through my supervisor told me that I should focus on the housing market and not the labour market as he had originally suggested because the labour market had been "done". I'd been having difficulties finding a gap in the literature but as I am not a trained economist I just assumed I was being dumb. I could have cheerfully finished him off at that point.
Problem is we're in no position to do anything about it so we just have to smile sweetly and say 'whatever you think is best'. ;-)
I know some of us appear miserable but I'm sure that in real life we are a happy and well-adjusted bunch :p Sometimes bad supervisors happen to good people ;-)
Although my PhD has been a nightmare I still love research and am just about to embark on a new project which is very exciting. So academic life is not all bad (up)
I'm not a biologist but I have do have an undergraduate degree in mathematics. Are the techniques that you will cover in the MSc applicable to your research area? The problem is that if it's not directly applicable to biology, the MSc would be almost worthless to you. There are a vast number of topics that could be covered in a masters degree and I suspect there are only a limited number that would be of use in biology. I am in the process of completing a PhD in economic modelling and I have used only a small fraction of the knowledge gained in my undergraduate degree. I also know that whilst the mathematics used in economics is quite complex, the range of techniques used are relatively limited.
I'm sure a biologist would give you a better insight but I suspect that if you could get a post within a research department that specialises in the type of research you are interested in, you would probably be able to learn everything you need from your colleagues.
Sneaks it sounds like you and I had a similar experience. I had 3 sups and you wouldn't have got a decent one had you combined them all! One of them tried to get my boss to terminate my contract because he didn't like me. The one who claimed to be an expert in the modelling technique that was the main point of my thesis, wasn't actually an expert in anything and then left to work in the private sector. My director of studies (the one who was supposed to be managing my other two supervisors) read one draft of my thesis 6 weeks before I submitted, told me that my writing was facile and my punctuation was atrocious and then said that he never bothered checking up on my work before because he thought I'd given up! He also told me that they shouldn't have accepted me as a PhD candidate because the research group didn't actually have the necessary expertise to supervise me!
The only positive point is that I know how not to supervise a PhD!
Given what you've said about the fuss between your supervisors and the external since your viva, can you get any evidence about what has happened just in case you need it? What have your supervisors advised you to do? It certainly sounds like your examiner is biased so getting some evidence to that effect might be useful if the worst happens. The other thing I was wondering is whether you cite any research by the examiner from hell? To be honest I've done it with my examiners as I figured that a bit of ego stroking doesn't hurt.
I was told by a guy I work with that the examiners can only fail you after a resubmit if you haven't done what they asked. He also suggested that you should write a document to go with your thesis that explains exactly how you have addressed the examiners comments complete with page numbers. He seemed to think that this makes it more difficult for examiners to fail you and he is a fairly experienced supervisor so I followed his advice and it worked out well for me. In the second viva they primarily examined me on the document I'd written rather than the full thesis and it was much quicker - about an hour in total. It's definitely worth a try.
Are you really sure you're going to lose your job? Have you spoken to your employers? I have a friend who is an academic whose contract depended upon completion of his PhD. He didn't finish in the time scale the university had indicated on his contract but they gave him another 12 months to submit. He didn't submit in the time but even then the university didn't terminate his contract. He found another job in the end and still hasn't submitted 2 years later.
You're one step on from my friend because you've already submitted so I'm wondering whether you've satisfied the requirements of your contract? I can understand that you're contract would be in jeopardy if you'd failed but you haven't. I think you really need to speak to your employers and it may not be as bad as you think.
Good for you, it's time to fight back (up) You shouldn't be penalised for the problems between you supervisors and the examiners.
It's about time that the PhD process in the UK was overhauled. There seems to be so many people who end up having a bad experience with their PhD. I know that not everyone will pass but so much of it depends upon academic politics that it can't be right. Now I'll get off my soap box ;-)
As a resubmission veteran I would suggest that you take a break from your PhD and look at it again in a month. I was given 12 months to resubmit with another viva and due to work commitments (I should mention I'm a part-timer and have a full-time job) I was forced to take 2 months away from the PhD. I didn't look at it or think about it and it really gave me some perspective. When I had the first viva I was upset, felt like a failure and couldn't face spending another 12 months on it. But after taking the break I looked at my thesis and could see what the problems were and to be honest, although my examiners have been a bit pedantic (IMHO), overall they didn't ask me to do anything that I thought was unreasonable.
After the second viva I was given a pass with minor corrections so it's worked out okay.
Take a break and it will make you feel better.
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