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another awkward question on 'distinction'

Hi Leaf,

For my masters, in order to get a distinction, your overall mark in your dissertation had to be at least 70%, and your average mark from your taught modules (exams and assignments etc) had to be 70% at least. They didn't work out an average of the two. If your taught module part was 69% but your disseration was way over 70% you'd still only get a merit. That was how it was calculated at my uni.

How do I choose my thesis supervisor?

======= Date Modified 15 Dec 2009 14:30:49 =======

I think it's perfectly acceptable to ask a supervisor what 'kind' of supervisor they are, and I'm sure most will give you back an honest answer, i.e. whether they are hands on or not. If I was doing it all again, applying for PhDs etc and going for interviews with potential supervisors, I would treat it like an interview both ways, so that while they interview you and find out about your motivation and knowledge, you also interview your potential supervisor to try and gage whether or not they are the right supervisor for you. In fact, I remember having one interview where the supervisor actually told me how she operated as a supervisor, that she was very hands on, wanted updates every few days etc etc. You're going to have to spend at least 3 very long years with these people so it's just as important that you get the right person to supervise you as well as finding the right project!

When does it get better?

Hey Jessebel,

I think the general consensus is that you have a lot of down days when you're doing a PhD, regardless of what year you're in. I'm only in the first year myself and can completely relate to the loneliness you're feeling, and I'm part of a huge research group, although it's mainly post-docs rather than other PhD students, and I find it rather intimidating to talk to them properly!
I also often wonder whether I'm doing the right project, and whether I'm really enjoying it that much to be able to stick it out for another two and a bit years but I really do want to stick at it, it's just going to take alot of determination on my part.
The only advice I can offer is to maybe try talking to the other PhD students around you, and join in the discussions etc as this will probably make you feel a whole lot better about everything. But just remember that you're not alone, everyone feels like this!
Good luck!

For anyone whose lives are disappearing under the PhD tsunami

======= Date Modified 27 Oct 2009 15:07:49 =======
Wow, what a wonderful post. After reading all the recent posts about how peoples lives are literally taken over by a PhD and even after that as post-docs etc. i was beginning to feel rather depressed and wondering why the hell am I putting myself (and family, friends etc) through this? My life certainly hasn't been over-taken by my PhD, once I've left uni and head home of an evening, that's it, I try and switch off, making food, watching tv etc. And it's the same at wkend, once I've finished work on a Friday I generally don't do anything until I'm back in on Monday. I know that throughout the next few years there'll be times when I do need to spend all my time on it, and I don't mind that, but if that was going to be the norm for the rest of my life, I'd definitely get out. I agree with JinKim in that sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture. I definitely think doing a PhD and having a life as a researcher can be done without having to dedicate your entire life to it, I really do. The people I've met who are researchers certainly all do have lives, families etc and still are able to carry out their research well. I think there will always be people who dedicate their lives to a job or whatever, and then those that don't but still do well. And I'm hoping to be one of the latter!

Thanks JinKim for making me slightly less depressed about the god-forsaken world of PhDs!!!!!

First year report

I'm currently trying to write my first year report (I'm meant to be submitting it in a couple of weeks and have hardly done anything at all!). In the postgrad handbook, it says the first yr report/upgrade should be similar to an MSc thesis with regards to structure, length etc. I think it's this that is putting me off so much! My MSc thesis was huge, I put a massive amount of time and effort into it and was extremely pleased with it in the end. I literally don't have the time to put that amount of effort into my upgrade report, but more importantly, have no-where near the amount of data that I had for my MSc (which is strange considering i spent about 6 months doing my MSc project, and I've spent about 9 months here!!!)
So I just wanted to get some info on everyone else's upgrade report. Did you have loads of data and analysis for it? Roughly how long was it? Did you put masses of effort into it?
My supervisor seems totally un-bothered by it, he's just left me to it, doesn't even want to read it before I submit it!!!!
Any advice/comments would be great!
Thanks x

finding a job

Hi Yellow,
Congratulations on almost finishing your PhD! In the sciences, average post-doc positions are around £30k (give or take 1 or 2k) from what I've seen advertised. With regards to the scientific writing post, wow, i think this sounds great. I'm hoping that when (or if!) i finish my PhD I'd like to go into this field and become a medical writer, as i enjoy the writing side of my work far more than the lab side. I certainly don't think taking this job would do you any harm in securing a post-doc position in the future though.
Good luck! x

Just started a PhD and now really worried I've done the wrong thing

Quote From stresshead:

I'm kinda being pathetic with missing friends and my partner, seeing as we're both in the same country and can visit at weekends. From that aspect it's more the feeling that seeing as I've made this daunting commitment and moved away, I should be feeling like it's the best thing in the world.... Which I don't, it's something I find fairly interesting, but it's not like I'm working with an organism I really love. Although to be honest I couldn't specifically say what would be a better choice. Initially I just wanted to know if people do continue with and grow to enjoy their PhD's even if from the outset they can't shake off the feeling they could have made a better decision?

Absolutely! I constantly think a 9-5 stress-free job would be way better and easier than this. (Funnily enough my friends think I'm the lucky one, working my own hours, setting my own timetable etc!)
I'm only 9 months and I'm continuing (at the moment!!!!) despite constant major reservations in my mind about doing this. I recon people on here in their 2nd and 3rd years, and even those writing up still have huge doubts.
It's probably all just a confidence thing. You've been chosen for your project for a specific reason, your supervisor saw potential.

Just started a PhD and now really worried I've done the wrong thing

Im in my first year, 9 months in!
Having moved away from your partner/friends/family AND starting what's probably going to be a stressful, if not extremely fulfilling 3-4 years, obviously you're going to wonder if you're doing the right thing. You wouldn't be normal if you didn't! But give it a chance at least.
You might hate it and quit but at least you know you tried. If you quit now, before you've even started, will you always wonder what if?
I struggle with confidence as well, always doubting myself, constantly thinking I'll fail and mess everything up. I don't think I'll EVER not feel like that, I really don't. But you just get on with things, things do work (occasionally!) and you do get decent results (again, occasionally!) and your self confidence rockets. But then things go wrong and don't work quite alot, but those few highs are worth the frequent lows, absolutely.

Just started a PhD and now really worried I've done the wrong thing

Hi Stesshead,

I wouldn't worry too much yet. I'm in a similar position as you, I loved my undergraduate degree and masters and applying for a PhD seemed like a natural progression. I applied for a ready set up funded project, so it wasn't a subject I was particularly passionate about already, but it was in a field that I was interested in. I still look at other projects that are available and wonder if that one would have suited me better or I would have enjoyed it more etc. It does sound like you have beginner nerves, but they're probably feelings that you may well have all the way through the PhD. I'm hoping that my sheer determination will be enough to see me through. I have wanted to do a PhD for so long, and i really don't want to quit. I want to show myself and everybody else that I can do it. As for you saying that you're not even sure you want a career in research anymore, same here! I can't see myself doing this forever, but again I don't think that matters either.
What I think I'm trying to say is that if you really want it you can do it. Maybe that's what's important, how much you actually want it. You might feel out of your depth at the moment, but once you get into it you won't any longer.
I would definately give it more time though. It does get better (although it does get worse at times too, but I suppose that's all part of the fun!)
Good luck with your decision.

MRes/PhD funded by BBSRC - already have MRes

A friend off my MSc course last year got accepted onto a 1+3 PhD scholarship, eventhough she already had a Masters. Her supervisors have just told her that she'll be funded for 4 years instead of the usual 3, so in effect, her write-up year will be paid (lucky devil)! Don't think this is legitimate though, and if her funding body found out........

good bioscience journal databases/searchengines?

======= Date Modified 15 Sep 2009 17:54:43 =======
Have you tried pubmed?

Just type it in google, its the top page that comes up (I think) and away you go. It definitely one of the most comprehensive databases for biosciences that I know of.

Hate coming to "work", aka my PhD


I don't really have any advice for you, other than to say that this is exactly how I feel! And as you say, when you talk to other people they say this is perfectly normal for a PhD. I was talking to my boyfriend the other night about how much I'm not enjoying my PhD and whether I should quit, but deep down, I really don't want to quit. 3 years is a long time, but in the grand scheme of life, 3 years isn't that bad really. I keep thinking if I do quit, I'll always regret it. I also think back to this time last year having just finishing my Masters, and desperately wanting to find a PhD because it was all I'd ever wanted to do.
What I'm basically trying to say (in a waffly kind of way) is to think about why you wanted to do it in the first place. What did you love about your subject area? I think it's perfectly normal to not enjoy it all the time (well probably most of the time actually).
Obviously PhDs aren't for everybody, and it certainly isn't worth making yourself desperately unhappy for.
But I do know how you feel, totally x

Returning to education after a few years

I was in the same situation two years ago after returning to uni to complete my Masters having spent two mind-numbingly boring years working in a bank, urgh! Once you start, you'll get into it. I realised that a lot of students on my course were there for the wrong reasons, i.e. just wanting to stay a student and not enter the world of work for as long as possible (who can blame them?!) and so in some cases they lacked enthusiasm and often just seem to have a 'can't be bothered' attitude. I, on the other-hand, felt lucky to be there, and wanted to enjoy every minute, regardless of how boring the lecture was or how annoying it was having to spend your weekend writing essays! So I'd say just keep that in mind, appreciate your time there, and as the other poster said, try and draw on your experiences from the world of work, as these can only be a good thing! It will all come flooding back to you, I suppose it's a bit like riding a bike!
Good luck, and enjoy it!!!!! x

help! what chance do i have with a 3rd class degree?

I'm really sorry to hear you didn't get the grade you wanted.
What subject area are you in?
Is there a reason/reasons why you came out with a third that you can think of? If there are, you may be able to talk to admissions tutors at Universities where you might like to study and explain the situation. If you can convince them that you can cope with the academic rigour of a demanding programme, and you can show your passion and enthusiasm for your subject, they may be able to over-look your disappointing result.
Were you near to a 2.2, i.e. did you just miss getting a 2.2? Most Universities take people on for MScs with 2.2s, so if you weren't that far off it, again, speaking to admissions and explaining your situation may help.
Don't worry too much, just keep doing what you are doing, seeking advice from admissions etc and see what comes of it. You can only try.
Hope that helps, and good luck x

I applied for a PhD got an MPhil offer letter

Yep, that's correct! Many universities in the UK enrol their PhD students on to an MPhil first, then at the end of your first year you can be upgraded to a PhD and head into your second year after successful completion of a first year report and viva.