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Present for Supervisor - When Submitting or After Viva?

Hi All,

I will be submitting before Xmas (in the last stages of write up now!) and I would like to give my supervisor a gift. He has done a lot of checking and been incredibly helpful over the last few months especially, despite being a very busy professor. It will of course be Xmas soon so I thought I would get him a gift that would be a thank you for all the support throughout the PhD and be a good Xmas present too.

My question is, do you think I should wait until after the viva to get a gift? The viva will probably be in January/February.

Hardly the most important question on the board I'm sure but still, any input would be grand.



New to this country

Hi Inhalt

Welcome to the UK!

Your question is equivalent to "How long is a piece of string" I'm sorry to say.

It depends on far more factors than you have given in the question.

What masters is it?
What job in particular?
What field?

A grad scheme at a company IS a job you realise?

If you supply some more info then maybe I can give better advice.

All the best

I still don't understand the difference between a Journal, proceedings, et al. : (

I'm surprised that no-one has explained this for you, though now I think of it I never had it explained to me!

Basically Journals are collections of academic papers published regularly each year (how often depends on the journal). This is the top level with journals such as "Nature" and "Science" topping the list in terms of "quality". "Quality" is assessed by impact factor. In general your supervisor will know the best ones in your field.

Conference papers are the same as proceedings as far as I am aware. After a conference the "Proceedings of the xx Conference 2012" or whatever will be published. The proceedings contain the papers of the work presented at the conference.

You then get into the murky world of reports by companies and whatever and that is a bit more complicated, basically just use conference papers and journal papers. You can look up journals' impact factors online using google or whatever (just search for it). Often the proceedings of a conference are hard to get online and/or a university will host a paper on its site that has been presented at a conference. In general you should be able to find out which conference it was presented at and this is what you should reference.

All the above is just how I think it is. I welcome corrections or whatever from other people.

How many times do you have off days?

Every weekend and bank holiday and every one of my 31 days off that I am allowed a year. I can't believe quite how much time off I get given, it works out as a total of 38 days, but I take all of it!

Days off are very important. Take up hobbies, see you family, live your life! Seriously, working every day, no matter how much you like work is so limiting. You end up with everything invested in one thing and so if stuff goes wrong in that one area of your life your whole life feels awful. By having other interests it helps spread the load. I might be having a hard time at work one day but maybe I'm in the best cricket form of my life! Or I may have been rejected from a journal but I have just mastered a complicated finger picking technique on my guitar. Or maybe my simulations crashed but meh, I'm going away for a long weekend with my wife. You get the picture.

(All just my opinion!)

Tell my supervisor or not?

Just my opinion - I think it is the right option to tell your supervisor so long as you feel that they will respond well to it. This will obviously depend on your supervisor. I would definitely tell them in person rather than via email so you can talk with one another about the issues that may result. I would either tell them in a quiet supervision meeting or in a separate meeting, again this depends on the personality of your supervisor. If they are very formal then organise a separate meeting.

It would be worthwhile getting it on the record in some way at the uni but I'm not sure what the best way would be.

Be very clear in what the limitations that your illness can impose are. Be clear about the the fact that it is not severely limiting all the time and that you still feel you would be capable of completing the PhD.

Hope that helps - it's just what I would do in your situation.

(VERY) Close to submitting - amount of work?

So far in my PhD (just over 2 years in) I have not once worked at home. I work 9-5 as if it's a "normal" job. It kind of is for me as I'm an RA doing a PhD at the same time (the work is valid for both though so there isn't much extra on top of the RA stuff). Alright I'm not writing up, but my PhD is on track, my prof is happy with my work and I'm not that stressed about it. Obviously this works for some people like me and clearly you too. Others find that they would hate to work in this manner.

In general I would guess that you and I are in the minority - most PhDers seem to work at weekends/in the evening - some have to with experiments and such. Overall, I wouldn't worry. You shouldn't really ever compare your PhD to others as they are all so different. So long as the works good it doesn't matter how long it takes you.

PhD studentship, First contact with supervisor - how not to mess up a great opportunity?

Option 1 looks good to me. I think that perhaps because there is so much riding on it for you, you are over thinking the process. So long as you don't call them Mr instead of Doctor I'm sure you won't offend them.

Mention the PhD you are applying for nice and early (and in the subject of the email) so they know what you are on about. Give them your reasons why you want to do it and ask any questions you may have (try to keep it to one or two questions). You could perhaps ask if they would be free in the future to discuss it in person (email is a horrible way to communicate!). Sign it off with a typical "all the best" or maybe a "I look forward to hearing from you".

I doubt your getting the position or not will hinge on this email to be honest - so long as you don't say "hey Mr Prof lolz, I is well up 4 doin a PHD innit" which I am sure you won't.

Do you use any software to manage your work? e.g. Gnatt Chart?

I use Microsoft Project. The key with Gannt charts though is not the software, but actually knowing what you are doing in terms of project management. See if there is a good project management course at your uni for free (there was here) and then actually apply it! The software is just a tool. For PhDs with usually just one person working on the project Microsoft Project is slightly over kill, but I know how to use it and it keeps me used to it for the future (jobs after PhD etc).

The other software I use is FreeMind for Mind Maps.

I also have a large A2 pad for if I need space to work stuff out and I make use of a white board in my office for the same reason.

I used to put tasks on a note on my desktop (windows 7) but I don't do that now.

My tomatoes is good when I need a kick up the arse to get going.

self-conscious about applying for a phd?! current phds-help please

======= Date Modified 26 Oct 2012 08:47:24 =======
Hi Anna,

In the words of the Baz Lurman Song (originally an article by Mary Schmich) "If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now..."

Number 1: You do not need to be a "genius" to do a PhD. If you have a masters degree and a good first degree then you are probably smart enough so don't worry about that.
Numero dos: You should try and do a PhD in something you are really interested in - that helps. If however you end up doing a PhD in something you are not so interested in that's not the end of the world.
Nummer drei: AND MOST IMPORTANT - THOUGH ALSO JUST MY OPINION - It is better to regret something you did than something you didn't do. Let's say you go for a PhD abroad. Let's imagine that it doesn't work out and you drop out after say a year and a half. You've still learnt a lot and you know what the outcome of your decision is. It's not the end of the world, you just have to get a new job. You may have made friends/changed other aspects of your life for the better or worse - this is true no matter what you do. The alternative is that you never do it and you will never know. If things don't work out so well that way tehn you will spend a lot of time thinking "what if I'd gone for a PhD?!". Far worse than knowing the answer - even if the answer is not the one you want.
numéro quatre: numbers in foreign languages are fun... <-- this is irrelevant

I don't regret taking on my PhD even though it's not in quite the "right" topic and even though I have to live somewhere that I wouldn't have chosen otherwise. I don't love my topic area, but I am accruing skills I require for the future and with those skills and experience I can progress to the job I want in the future.

In terms of ensuring that the team/PhD are a good fit for you - visit and talk to them as much as possible and try to make sure there isn't a clash of personalities. Speak to current PhDers "off the record" if you can at the institution you are thinking of applying to. The thing is though, you will not know for certain, it's always a gamble, but then so is the option of getting a job somewhere. What if you don't like a boss in a job?

As for getting "stuck" somewhere, you are never stuck there. You can quit at any time you want.

Don't fear the unknown, embrace it if you can! It can be exciting. I'm not saying definitely do a PhD, that is your decision alone - all I'm saying is don't not take it on because you have a fear of the unknown.

** All information in this post is anecdotal and from my head - it is not definitive!!! **

What does it mean by not enough for a PhD work/Qualification?

Quote From tt_dan:

Hello Natassia and KB,

Enough data, as in how much? How do you know you've reached the required (quantity?quality?analysis? etc) data?
Well, that's the thing; I don't know the meaning of 'not up to the standard of the PhD level'.

What is the 'standard' of an MPhil?

Hi Dan, I think the trouble is that your asking a questions for which the answer will vary not just by subject/discipline, but by individual PhD. I think "enough work" is subjective. There are (Very) rare cases of PhDs that are less than 10 pages in disciplines such as physics. To get those 10 pages obviously was a lot of work and I'm no physicist so I don't know how they judged it to be up to some standard or whatever.

The point is that in something like English, I doubt very much that you would ever see a ten page thesis! These things vary, not just the length of the work, but how "high standard" or "enough work" is judged.

I always see a good guide as being "could you feasibly get 3 papers out of this?". One for each chapter of new and novel work. This may not be relevant in other fields however, plus you don't need to actually publish the papers necessarily (though you may as well) it's just a question of whether 3 papers COULD be taken from the thesis.

Research Assistant workload

Yeah, I think it depends on the supervisor really. I work as an RA now (I'm doing my PhD at the same time) and I just work 9-5 Monday to Friday. I don't work outside of this and I am on track to complete my PhD on time (at the moment) and have not been pressured to do more work or anything.

Sometimes I work longer hours, but this tends to be because I faffed around during the day on the internet or something and so I feel I'm making the time up. This doesn't happen very often though. I have NEVER worked a weekend and I take ALL of my 31 days off (plus bank holidays!) each year.

If you know the supervisor involved then that may give you some clue as to what they expect.

Presenting a poster

My tip would be to remember that you will be there next to the poster, so you don't need to go into too much detail on the poster itself. People can then ask you about the detail if they are interested. Just make the poster eye-catching (plenty of pictures if you can) and try to avoid small font sizes and/or "wall of text". This is easier in some subjects than others. I always have a large "washed out" picture behind the content of the poster to act as a background. If you can find a cool relevant photo then that's great - not too colourful and use some editing software to drain the colour down a bit, it is a background after all.

Also remember to put your project sponsors' logos on the poster as well as your name and the title - all easier to forget then you might imagine.

Is your salary commensurate with your degree?

No it's not. I was working as an engineer. I took a pay cut to do what I do now which is work as a research assistant. Once I finish my PhD I will be automatically upgraded to a Research Associate and my pay will go up. Unfortunately my pay will probably go up to just a little bit more than I was on before I started my PhD. If I had stayed in industry it would have been around 6-10k higher at this stage.

Having said this, I plan on going back into industry and should come out no/not much worse off than if I'd stayed in industry, just earning less for the 3 or so years of the PhD. On top of this, when I consider the median wage in the UK in 08-09 was 18.5k before tax I don't feel that bad about my wage at all...

I agree with your comment about money not being the most important thing though. I have taken on my PhD to change slightly the field in which I work, hopefully leaving me with a more fulfilling career in the long term.

About to start my first postdoc

I work as a Research Assistant whilst doing my PhD and I am salaried, as are the post docs who I work with. I would assume this will be the case for you. At my university post docs start at band 7 which is £29 249 per annum (pre tax) up to £35 938 per annum (pre tax). I would expect you to probably get around 30 grand basically. If you go to http://listentotaxman.com/ you can work out how much you will get after tax etc. University pension schemes are pretty much always worth it, they typically take 7% pre tax and the uni adds the same again. Assuming 7% pension scheme and no UK student loan you will get £1,771 a month on a £30 000 wage. This is £21,252 a year. Without pension it is £1,911 per month and £22,932 per year on a £30,000 wage.

Generally tax is done via the Pay as You Earn (PAYE) system, so the money will be directly transfered to your account each month with all the tax done for you. Make sure they get the tax code right on your pay slip. It should be 810L assuming nothing odd. If they put you on BR (basic rate) then go shout at HR and then claim money back from the tax office. They put people on BR when they can't work out what they should be on. Usually they are just missing a bit of paperwork such as a P60 or P45.

Hope that helps.

The Airing of Grievances…

Just the volume of spam. I try to highlight it when I see it with the abuse button, but there is often quite a lot of spam. I have no idea how you might sort this though...