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PhD peeps- motivation and the like

Discussion in 'education & employment' started by Kuso, Aug 19, 2012.

  1. AllEternalsHeck

    AllEternalsHeck Well-Known Member

    I'm going to end up with two masters degrees. Completed a standalone MSc, now have been accepted to a 1+3 PhD, where the first year is an MPH.

    The fact I'm being paid a livable stipend to do the 1+3 means I am very happy to do another masters. Can finally quit my part-time job yay. May actually get a chance to enjoy the student life as I'd envisaged it this time (sitting around drinking coffee and reading research papers). My first masters was just uni/placements/volunteering/paid work for a year with no downtime, so I'm very much looking forward to doing the MPH with no other responsibilities.
     
  2. mango5

    mango5 Endeavour era

    Nice one. I thought most funders wouldn't support a 3+1 for folk who already have a Master's degree. It's really handy for those not in the system to hear about this stuff. There's loads I wish I'd known about beforehand.
    Enjoy student life. At the end of my first PhD year my supervisor remarked 'you can't just spend your whole time reading interesting things' :D
     
  3. AllEternalsHeck

    AllEternalsHeck Well-Known Member

    It's because the research methods training in my MSc didn't meet the standards required by the funding body (the MRC). So they have actually made the MPH a requirement for going onto the PhD. Can't say I blame them as the methods training was definitely a bit woolly. I'd expected it to be a step up from undergrad but if anything it was more basic (went to a different uni, less rigorous overall was my impression).

    But yes, I was quite surprised since I'd assumed I'd be going straight into a 3 year PhD. The whole application process is full of twists and turns, it's a real challenge just applying tbh.

    Reading interesting things is definitely the most appealing part! I'm quite nervous because my project requires some intensive ethnographic fieldwork, which is certainly more out of my comfort zone than reading and writing. Very exciting challenges and adventures to come though!
     
  4. AllEternalsHeck

    AllEternalsHeck Well-Known Member

    One thing I found was that the support in applying for a PhD was pretty much non-existent from my university. No guidance in navigating what is a very complex and challenging process. I ended up getting a lot of support from a lecturer at my previous uni, about the different funding councils, helping me to refine a proposal etc. Without her help I wouldn't have known where to start.
     
  5. equationgirl

    equationgirl Respect my existence or expect my resistance

    Get a copy of 'how to get a PhD' by Phillips and pugh. It's really helpful.
     
  6. AllEternalsHeck

    AllEternalsHeck Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the recommendation, I'll check it out. It's funny that although I know what a PhD is about, I can't quite envisage what the day-to-day is going to look like. E.g. was surprised to discover I'm expected to actually work from the research unit office a couple of days per week.
     
  7. equationgirl

    equationgirl Respect my existence or expect my resistance

    You will also be expected to have regular meetings with your supervisor, perhaps once a week depending on your subject.

    Sometimes unis try and hotdesk students but your fees entitle you (for the most part) to a desk and chair in an office with other students, a computer, library access and lab time, equipment and consumables. Check with your funder what they expect you to have if you are not sure.

    Best of luck.
     
    AllEternalsHeck likes this.
  8. AllEternalsHeck

    AllEternalsHeck Well-Known Member

    Having my own desk in an office will be pretty cool. I did see the office when I went for my interview, it's a pretty big department, with a dedicated section of the office for the PhD students.
     
    Pickman's model likes this.
  9. chilango

    chilango *shrugs*

    Well, who'd have ever thought it? I'm actually thinking about doing a PhD!!!

    I haven't even finished my Masters yet, but suddenly it seems to have "clicked". I get it. I'm excited about stuff. I know (roughly) what I want research. It falls within the research interests of the Uni I'm studying with. there's staff who (hopefully) could supervise.

    I've a decent idea about what I need to do to going forward. It's early days. Much will depend upon how I find my Masters dissertation.

    My job is pretty fucked and will likely end in the next few months regardless. I'm struggling to find a new one. So nothing to lose on that side of things.

    But, yeah, any tips? any thoughts? Not looking at starting till Autumn 2019.
     
  10. nino_savatte

    nino_savatte No pasaran!

    Be prepared for a much harder slog. A Masters is easy compared to a PhD.

    You may also find yourself doubting everything. It's also easy to let one's perfectionism take over. The idea is not to get the thesis perfect, but to get it done.

    C'est tout.
     
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  11. Pickman's model

    Pickman's model Every man and every woman is a star

    start reading now
    keep your notes and research database electronic as much as possible
    learn how to use some referencing software e.g. endnote, mendeley
    look for a decent supervisor, who you will have to work with for a few years. check the research interests of the staff where you are - and also staff perhaps elsewhere
    think about funding. birkbeck offers 10% off fees if you're a member of a union
     
    chilango likes this.
  12. chilango

    chilango *shrugs*

    The Masters is proving "light relief" from my increasingly shitty job (and job prospects) so *thumbs*.
     
  13. iamwithnail

    iamwithnail Well-Known Member

    In contrast, I'm in the last 5 weeks of my PhD. I'm in the throes of 'fuck it, write some stuff, hand it in' now. Final, non-negotiable deadline is 22nd December. So finished by the 18th-19th so I can get it printed, realistically. It's a pile of shite, I wish I'd never done it.
     
    aqua, Sunset Tree and Pickman's model like this.
  14. chilango

    chilango *shrugs*

    Yeah, "on it" on all of those (except the referencing software as I've been working in Google Docs thus far).
     
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  15. Pickman's model

    Pickman's model Every man and every woman is a star

    while you're about it you should be downloading articles you currently have access to, which may be useful in your preparation: and create a database of those (not access, but a list in excel so you can record what you have and where it is). think about how you're going to organise your files
     
  16. chilango

    chilango *shrugs*

    Good idea. ta.
     
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  17. Sunset Tree

    Sunset Tree Well-Known Member

    Tips: just focus on the application process for now. Try to come up with a really strong research proposal. My handy hint for this is to use google scholar to find papers relevant to your topic published within the past year. Get a feel for what the cutting edge research in your field is exploring, what questions they are asking. Then look at the 'limitations' section to see how further research could add the the field. Even if you have a good topic in mind it's useful to see perhaps which methods you could use to explore new angles.

    I told someone this method recently and they were loving it, so hopefully it helps you.
     
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  18. chilango

    chilango *shrugs*

    ...and I can test all this out with my dissertation too!
     
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  19. Pickman's model

    Pickman's model Every man and every woman is a star

    there is no one working in the field i'm interested in. for which i'm grateful.
     
  20. Sunset Tree

    Sunset Tree Well-Known Member

    Perfect for an original contribution to knowledge then!

    I found a whole load of research looking into the exact question I am asking. The most recent was published literally this month. And the limitations section sets it out perfectly: 'we've used cross-sectional quantitative, future research could use longitudinal qualitative', that sort of thing. Made it so easy to design a proposal and say how my research addresses gaps in the literature.
     
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  21. aqua

    aqua made of cheese and gin

    liked because this was me exactly this time last year - got a 12months review and resubmit and am seriously considering just quitting :( wish I'd never started too
     
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  22. iamwithnail

    iamwithnail Well-Known Member

    Tbh, I think at this point I'm hoping they say 'here's an MPhil, now piss off', but I'd expect major corrections. My fieldwork is incredibly weak
     
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  23. aqua

    aqua made of cheese and gin

    I'd take an mphil right this very second if they offered it. I asked my supervisor last week if I could ask for it and she told me to fuck off and get writing :D

    I have what seem like minor amends but really they're fucking massive :( just thinking about it makes me cry
     
  24. iamwithnail

    iamwithnail Well-Known Member

    Solidarity like.
     
  25. mango5

    mango5 Endeavour era

    Hey aqua let me know if you fancy a chat some time.
     
  26. equationgirl

    equationgirl Respect my existence or expect my resistance

    Sw
    Sweetheart :(

    You can do this, you're nearly there (you too iamwithnail). You will regret it if you don't finish.

    Don't think about the whole thing. Do one chapter or even one section of one chapter to start with. The hardest bit is getting started.
     
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  27. aqua

    aqua made of cheese and gin

    thanks all, tbh I don't want to talk about it atm - I've made another appt with my supervisor and I'll just go from there.
     
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  28. redsquirrel

    redsquirrel This Machine Kills Progressives

    PM's right make sure you get familiar with referencing software. Personally I'd also recommend that over the course of the PhD you become familiar with LaTeX, it'll be about a billion times easier to write your thesis using LaTeX rather than Word.

    Also I disagree with the suggestion of Google Scholar, use Scopus and/or Web of Knowledge.

    One thing to do is to get some info on how PhD supervision is done at the university you want to attend. For instance, can you have a single PhD supervisor or is it required to have at least two people on the supervision team (second is much preferred IMO).

    More generally I'd say a few issues that I've seen come up with most PhD students are
    - overambition: lots of students put forward proposals/research questions that have a huge scope, basically they want to change the world. Three years may seem a long time but it will go past really fast once it's starts. Ambition is good but you need to be realistic.
    - bad periods: be prepared to periods where you're un-motivated, or even feel like giving it up. It happens to pretty much everyone, and changes are you'll get through it.
     
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  29. chilango

    chilango *shrugs*

    My lofty aspirations have been noted by some of my fellow students after I was spotted in a seminar about doing a PhD :oops:

    I've also booked in to speak to someone about it.

    Cripes.
     
  30. nino_savatte

    nino_savatte No pasaran!

    I've just about finished my minor/major (sic) revisions and I'm on the cusp of resubmitting my thesis.
     

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