Not sure if I'm making progress

posted
03-Jan-20, 21:24
by drwubs
Avatar for drwubs
posted about 2 weeks ago
Hi,
So I'm struggling at the moment because I'm not sure if I'm making any progress
in my PhD. I'm 3 months in and so far:
I've written two different paper drafts, one is at 2600 words, the other is at 1600 words but needs some
major revisions.

I've also started writing my lit review which is at 1200 words so far and I have a basic outline written
to help me stay clear on where I need to fill in certain bits and so on and I'm sure it will be revised and expanded as I go along.

My PhD is in music so I've also got one new composition sketched out fully with a recording.

My lit review is a bit of a hot mess because I had basically made additions/revisions to my project proposal and got it published in a conference about 6-7 months before I officially started my PhD so I've been told by my supervisor that I can't use that paper in my thesis. The problem is that it's basically my project proposal
and also contains a good chunk of what I'd use for my thesis including a portion of the lit review.

My lit review so far is about three chapters at varying levels of progress. I know my supervisor fairly well at this point and know he's going to probably be quite negative about my progress on the lit review draft.

I've got 28 citations/references across the three papers and have probably read more like 40-50 papers/book chapters but I haven't gotten them fully cited and added to the writing yet. If I included the reading I did for my conference paper/project proposal I'd have another 50-60 I think (can't remember the exact number).

I've also been tracking my reading with notes and a reference manager. I use evernote and zotero.

Does this sound like adequate progress at 3 months?
posted
03-Jan-20, 21:25
by drwubs
Avatar for drwubs
posted about 2 weeks ago
I should add that I've also attended some basic training modules on researching/writing. My confirmation or upgrade exam is in roughly 9 months so I'm mildly worried.
posted
04-Jan-20, 16:47
edited about 1 minute later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 2 weeks ago
The only person whose opinion matters, as regards your progress, is your supervisors.
Actually you need to be forming your own opinions on this as well. To do this, look at how many pages and references a typical thesis in your field contains. Now divide that down to see the average "per 3 months" amounts. Then compare with what you currently have and understand that you will need to re-write some of it and will gradually improve your speed and quality of output as you go. It's not an exact science but it will give you a feel for where you are. I would use that as evidence if your supervisor starts to be negative.

I have to say though that 5400 words is around half of a typical 12 month Masters thesis. I'd say you were well ahead of schedule. Your supervisor is wrong about being able to use your literature review in your thesis. You can't just simply invent another literature review. The problem here might be the ridiculous and time-wasting issue of "self-plagiarisation" but you get around that by simply re-wording it. That is what I did when I wrote up my papers into my thesis. I'm afraid that in academia you'll find yourself dealing with this sort of infuriating stupidity all the time. Prepare yourself for an onslaught of breathtaking idiocy which includes endless nonsense about the "importance" of "university league tables", "poster prizes", "journal impact factors" and "prestige". So glad that I am out of that system now :-D
posted
14-Jan-20, 14:57
by drwubs
Avatar for drwubs
posted about 6 days ago
Thanks for the insight on the lit review! I'm definitely going to try and reword or cite as much of it as I can. What is it you do now that you're out of academia, if I may ask?
posted
15-Jan-20, 18:10
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 5 days ago
After my PhD I jumped in to help run our 10 year old family business which we subsequently closed down as we wanted to try something different. I then setup another business, designed the website and an accounting system, bought stock and got everything online. Because I did everything myself this took a while. Once it was all up and running I handed it over to my daughters to run.

When I finished my PhD I had a ridiculously ambitious idea for a technical based business but I have some gaping maths and programming holes in my knowledge. I am therefore in the process of actively filling those holes before having a go at this new idea. Financially this is not an easy period but none of the alternatives such as academia, employment or freelancing appeal to me at all. I'll just keep plugging away until I can secure some income. No man's land is probably the best way to describe my situation but I am much happier despite the hopefully temporary lack of income.
posted
17-Jan-20, 18:26
edited about 29 seconds later
by drwubs
Avatar for drwubs
posted about 3 days ago
That's really cool! So you had the technical business idea while you were still in your PhD? Were there any skills you foresaw needing before graduating? I've been contemplating doing some entrepreneurial game dev as a possible career after my PhD because there are no jobs (sad facts of life). I'm thinking the freedom I have in my PhD is the ideal time to work on that as a side project. Do you have any experience with trying to take that approach? What advice would you give? I hope it all works out for you!
posted
18-Jan-20, 10:42
edited about 1 minute later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 2 days ago
No, I came up with the idea just after I finished.

I have been running my own businesses (a few different types) for many years now so the main skills I am lacking are all technical based.

Unless you have money behind you I would definitely recommend learning one core entrepeneurial topic at a time at the weekends during your PhD if you can find the time and energy.

Advice? Avoid business books and courses. People make business sound really difficult when actually it's the easiest principle in the world. Here's what I would do with your idea if I was in your position.

1) Develop your technical skills ASAP - coding, graphical design etc.
2) Create a growing range of applications now and start listing them on GITHUB. Make them free to download.
3) Start marketing yourself and your games. Find a compelling story linked to your prospective business and start posting videos, blogs, pictures all over social media linking back to your company or your GITHUB resource.
4) Build an audience using 3).
5) Sell to that audience only once you've created that audience, Otherwise you may as well shout at the clouds.
6) Try and do everything yourself. This saves money and is incredibly rewarding and empowering. The PhD should be teaching you how to be fully independent so use that learning.
7) Don't spend any money unless you need to. Ruthlessly protect your reserves.
8) Never EVER go to Dragons Den or anything like that unless you absolutely must. They are leeches.

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