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writing up: how fast is feasible?!

======= Date Modified 13 Aug 2009 02:42:36 =======

I don't really have heaps of advice but wanted to reply as in around 3 months I will be in the same situation. I had great intentions of writing as I went too but with a crazy busy fieldwork experience, working 10 hours a week for extra cash, and a bout of depression last year, combined with much procrastination and a few holidays I now only have around 15,000 written up too.

I am planning on writing a chapter a month for 6 months which would have me an (almost) complete draft then spend another 4 months or so revising and rewriting sections after feedback from supervisors.

How much time do you actually have?

I totally sympathise. I love my topic but I am very much keen to finish as soon as I can!

Transcribing is getting painful - just a rant

======= Date Modified 11 01 2009 00:01:51 =======
I've now transcribed 27 of 50 interviews and I am slowly losing the will. Going on holiday next week and I was planning on having them all finished by then but this now seems unlikely. It just takes so long and it's so mind numbing. I have express scribe etc so it's as fast as it could be without someone else doing it but I feel it is slowly driving me mad! Especially the mumblers that mean I have to rewind 20 times and play at different speeds to finally work out what they were actually saying. Grrr.

I know the only way it's going to end is getting it done but I just seem, unable to concentrate for more than 5 minutes at a time just now.

Sorry I realise this is a bit of a pointless post, I'm not looking for any advice really. I just needed to get it out!


Good things about doing a PhD

What I like most about doing my PhD is just having 3 years to self indulge in something that I am interested and think is important, instead of slaving away in some corporate firm doing something I have no passion for. I like the opportunities I get to meet people from so many different backgrounds and expand my own understandings of the world, and perceptions of the people in it. I like it that I get to go places to ask people questions that very few other people get to experience.

Just my 5 cents worth - a PhD is as much about the process as it is about the final thesis. I find it hard to understand how anyone could go through a PhD and have no problems. I think if anyone can do this, then they are really missing something. The highs are great and the lows are awful, but together they are what make the experience so valuable. I personally have no issues with people discussing the challenges of their journey here - in fact I value it highly.

Is it possible to finish writing and field work in 14 months

I think it will be pretty difficult. My field is social science and I have just finished my data collection and have 15 months so do the analysis and write up and I am stressing. But my work is qualitative so the analysis may take a while and I am quite behind on writing. I think sometimes it can be quicker with quant but I'm not really sure.

How much writing have you done so far? You could be ok if you have a few chapters written up already.

new, confused and alone = the PhD experience?

Hi there,

I wanted to respond to this because it was like reading something I would have written 20 months ago. I am from the UK and moved to NZ to do my PhD knowing not a single soul in the country before I left. I remember feeling a lot of what you are describing.

“I packed my suitcases and travelled to the other side of the world , got of the plane and started my new life. Little did I know about what to expect. I am expected to read and write in the first 4 months, till I hand in my proposal, but it feels like Im just walking in the dark”

I went through this too. My only advice is just get your head down and jump through the hoops as soon as you can. I arrived in mid November and had my proposal finalised by mid February. At the time it was frustrating (I cried a few times) but by the time I submitted the final version I was really well placed to start my PhD. Try to make the most of this time if you can. Although I can remember feeling very distracted, with other pressing tasks like making friends other than the much older students in the department. I can relate to feeling like ‘the baby’.

That leads me to my second tip – do whatever you can to make friends outside of school. I tried, and tried, and tried to make friends with the others in my department, organising drinks etc on Friday nights and so on. Every time only about 3 would turn up and it was always he same people. Now I realise I was wasting my time because the majority are work obsessed or have family commitments. It is great to have a lot of friends outside anyway in the ‘real’ world, that way you don’t end up living and breathing PhD every moment. Join a club even if you are not that into what the club is about. You will still meet people and they will have social stuff going on. Do whatever you can to have as many good, supportive people around you as possible.
“Im expected to do minimum 10 hours of this per day, and I am working on the side (only part time though)”

Who told you this? In my Uni to be considered full time we have to working a minimum of 30 hours per week. I also work part time and volunteer too. Realistically I only work about 25 hours a week on my PhD taking into account procrastination time and I am still reasonably on track (just). You really don’t need to be working 10 hours per day, whoever said that is silly and needs a reality check.

“A few weeks ago I thought Im gonna change the world and here I am all day sitting with my book and trying not to cry”

Haha – sorry to laugh but that was totally me when I arrived. Don’t worry; you really need to give it some time. I was the same. It will take you a few months to settle so just try not to worry too much and focus as much as you can. It’s super stressful moving away so far to do a PhD but it is a huge achievement too, and even though you won’t change the world entirely, hold on to that.

“I havent given up getting another scholarship (only my tuition fees are paid now), but Im struggling socially, financially and emotionally”

I was in a similar situation although I do get a small stipend on top of my fees. I was not successful in winning a bigger scholarship as I had hoped but I have managed to get good part time jobs as the time has gone on and it has actually been ok. That said do not give up on getting more funding. Apply for every little bit of funding you are eligible for. I still apply for stuff and I am half way through. I have picked up little grants along the way that don’t sound like much but have been a major help.

I know it is hard but try to let go of what you have left behind and settle into life where you are. I can know how hard it is but just remember what an amazing opportunity this is, especially so young. If you still aren’t happy at all 6 months to a year down the track then maybe it’s not for you, but I think it’s still way to early days now. Good luck and I hope things improve for you soon.

How much do other people's opinions matter to you?

I totally relate to this feeling. I did a seminar for my school a few months ago and had an interesting experience. My field is social science related and my research is based on qualitative methodology. There was a Prof there who specialises in quant methods and he made a really snide comment about my methodology suggesting that I should have an even sample by age, ethnicity etc. My research is with a very, very hard to reach population group so it really isn't possible to be picky, and because he doesn't do research with hard to reach populations using qualitative methods, he just didn't understand. Since he is a Prof I felt uncomfortable challenging his comments and just mumbled 'thanks for the suggestion, i'll have a think about that' (this was my first ever presentation so I was pretty nervous), but 3 other senior academics in the audience jumped in and took him apart basically telling him he was wrong! It was a great moment, although I wish I had just said it myself because I knew what he was suggesting was wrong.

I think really don't worry too much about what others say if they are from a completely different discipline. Sometimes they just don't understand. I think people who are genuine in wanting to help you will firstly ask you about why YOU think this approach works, and then question it appropriately if they don't agree instead of just condemning it as wrong. Anyone who says your project is a waste of time and pointless sounds bitter and unprofessional in my opinion.

Good luck!

internet forum research causing a riot!

I think she is definitely making this up. I am a Social Science PhD and I am pretty much 100% sure a project like this would be laughed out before it even made it to the ethics committee. Doing research about online behaviour is legitimate research, but actively deceiving people and then exposing them to that is just not acceptable. Given that a priority is to minimise harm to participants, this sort of thing would be absolutely out of the question. I am not sure what is wrong with this girl, but I think the whole thing is a fantasy to be honest with you. If you google her name she doesn't come up as having any credentials at all. Unless she actually is doing a "PhD" from one of those online schools where you basically buy it and it means nothing. Overall it is pretty amusing, but embarrassing given that most people have a pretty dim view of PhD studies already.

A PhD isn't a real job though is it? Grrrrrrr.....

Haha - I completely relate to this. A friend of mine is obsessed with me seemingly being a 'student' who just gets to lounge around all day. She forgets that when she was doing her Masters I was working a 'real' job, but didn't make digs at her. Everything to her is linked to me being a student. If I go on holiday she remarks about 'students' like me being able to afford more holidays than her. If I go to the gym she remarks 'those were the days' i.e. when she had time to do these things. So one day when she did the 'student' comment for the 1000th time I said, 'You have a bit of a thing about me being a student don't you, maybe you should think about doing a PhD, I think you would be really well prepared after your work experience'. She responded with a clumsy statement about not really knowing what she would want to research. She no longer does the 'student' comments these days!

Looking back at previous writing and cringing

======= Date Modified 09 May 2009 00:37:12 =======
Thanks! It's good to know that others have been there. I just got an email from my supervisors yesterday saying that they have been really impressed by my writing and I have progressed a huge amount so I am definitely taking it as a positive now. Hopefully I will continue to progress because I still feel like a real amateur most of the time. I actually can't imagine having a PhD, feels quite surreal but hopefully it will happen!

Thanks for the replies.

Looking back at previous writing and cringing

Hi everyone,

I joined this forum today because I finally had enough of doing those 'am I actually going crazy' PhD moments alone. Glad to find this forum to share experiences and have a much needed vent!

I am now halfway through my PhD. Everything I write I initially think yep its fine, I worked super hard on it and it's actually semi ok, ready to submit to supervisors. Then I look back on it even a month later and think how awful and embarrassingly bad it is! Seriously, some of the stuff I wrote just 6 months ago makes me cringe it's so bad. It makes me wonder if my writing will ever be good enough. I read other people's thesis in the library and wonder if I will ever sound so eloquent and academic. Seriously sometimes I wonder why I was ever funded in the first place! Anyone else experience this?