PhD peeps- motivation and the like

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

  1. Sunset Tree

    Sunset Tree Well-Known Member

    Second year is my data collection year, I'll be doing fieldwork, interviews and stuff like that. I think that'll be the toughest year. Hopefully I can throw myself into what I'm doing and it'll be good.
     
    equationgirl likes this.
  2. iamwithnail

    iamwithnail Well-Known Member

    I had my first lie-in for about three months today. :cool:
     
  3. mango5

    mango5 Endeavour era

    :D
    This is the kind of thing you can never win, if you want to complete your PhD and retain good health and working relationships. Better to find friendly folk who are skilled navigators in academia and local institutional bureaucracy, and take their advice.
     
    Sunset Tree likes this.
  4. mango5

    mango5 Endeavour era

    Second year was my best year. Data collection good but transcription is an arse.
     
    Sunset Tree likes this.
  5. iamwithnail

    iamwithnail Well-Known Member

    Also, analysis is hard. Who knew?
     
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  6. Sunset Tree

    Sunset Tree Well-Known Member

    It was awkward because I didn't want to send my supervisor an email saying '[colleague] told me she's too busy for this, why are you still saying she'll supervise'? It all seems to have panned out that she will supervise now and nobody is mentioning her reservations about it any more.

    Just chatting to other students and having a laugh about these things helps. At the time it's totally stressful though.
     
  7. Sunset Tree

    Sunset Tree Well-Known Member

    I fondly remember taking an entire week to transcribe 8 interviews for my first masters. I had the bright idea of recording them on my phone, so the quality was awful. The office was next to a train track and every time a train went past it drowned out the recording.

    I can't even imagine how long it is going to take to transcribe the amount of data required for a PhD. I guess that's why you have a full year to analyse and write up! I won't be recording on my phone though, that's for sure.
     
  8. Sunset Tree

    Sunset Tree Well-Known Member

    The whole thing is going to be hard, isn't it? I spoke to another student in his final year, he said sometimes it feels like it's all coming together, sometimes it just makes no sense at all.
     
  9. Sunset Tree

    Sunset Tree Well-Known Member

    What type of subjects and research projects did you lot work on, if it's ok to ask? Mine kind of falls between public health and sociology/anthropology.
     
  10. iamwithnail

    iamwithnail Well-Known Member

    From my own, perhaps unhelpful, perspective, I didn't find it hard, just a slog (so, more an endurance thing than that intellectually hard.) I was doing a sociology/politics project looking at large scale public discourses around a topic.
     
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  11. equationgirl

    equationgirl Respect my existence or expect my resistance

    Mine was in applied mathematics, modelling what happens in normal and diabetic wounds, so that diabetic wound healing mechanisms could be better understood and more effective treatments developed.

    I get to use it at work sometimes, one of the engineers likes to think he's amazing at doing mathematical modelling yet when I review what he's done it's really flimsy.

    He hates getting my review comments back :D
     
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  12. Sunset Tree

    Sunset Tree Well-Known Member

    Sounds really interesting. There are people in my department doing modelling stuff for public health, agent-based modelling. I wouldn't have a clue, but find it all very impressive.
     
  13. equationgirl

    equationgirl Respect my existence or expect my resistance

    It's not real maths, just equations, and the answers were all real, whole, positive numbers (basically what primary school children first get taught), and the applied maths people were generally looked down on by the pure maths people for using actual numbers. So it sounds good but in maths terms it really isn't that fancy.
     
    Sunset Tree likes this.
  14. Sunset Tree

    Sunset Tree Well-Known Member

    I'm a social science guy, anything maths is like black magic to me. Your project sounds interesting and very useful, I hope it helped improve the lives of many diabetic people.

    Hope everyone on the thread is having a good christmas, and those still studying are enjoying a bit of time off. I am enjoying it but also nagging guilt that there's work I need to do by January.
     
  15. equationgirl

    equationgirl Respect my existence or expect my resistance

    Not as many as hoped, the medics don't like non-medical people trying to do medical things. However, the results of my work were reviewed by two US companies in relation to their products, which was nice.
     
    Sunset Tree likes this.
  16. mango5

    mango5 Endeavour era

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  17. equationgirl

    equationgirl Respect my existence or expect my resistance

    Not the first tale of having funding yanked I have heard (and completely unethical of the university not to offer her at least a fees-only scholarship to my mind, however, the university she mentioned has a less than stellar reputation in certain areas and that's fairly well known locally) but fair play to her for keeping going no matter what and getting her PhD completed.

    Thanks for the link mango 5.
     
    Sunset Tree likes this.
  18. Sunset Tree

    Sunset Tree Well-Known Member

    That was a good read. I'm a fan of Dr Jennifer Jones' writing, I follow her on twitter. I did an MSc at her uni a couple of years ago, coincidentally.

    What gets me is the sheer length of the journey. I started further education later than most, but I was still a bright-eyed enthusiastic 24-years old when I did my access course. I will complete my PhD when I'm 36. Everything is different after all that time.

    Getting funding withdrawn is my biggest fear, I think. I worry about it fairly frequently even though I'm funded by a research council so it's pretty secure.

    I went to UWS for a taught masters and would never study there again. I was quite happy to go there, reputation isn't everything and they market themselves positively as a modern, vocational-focused institution: links with industry, employability etc. However, my course in many ways was an absolute nightmare. Very badly organised, some very unprofessional and demotivated lecturing staff.

    My MSc supervisor told me she'd get me funding to do a PhD. She was really casual about it, like, 'we'll sit down in August, sort out some funding, and get you started in September'. Then in August it turned out there was no funding available. She told me it's because in management there is still a teaching-college attitude from before it converted to a uni. Was a huge disappointment at the time.
     
  19. mango5

    mango5 Endeavour era

    I started my PhD age 41, about 15 years after doing my masters while working full time. I had ESRC funding and my supervisors have managed to string me out beyond the funding period and slightly stitched me up so I am self funding in this final year. They never offered any paid work. And have suggested that any work I do now may be subject to ESRC restrictions :mad: It's a good thing I love what I do.

    One thing I've learned about academia is it is rife with false promises/hopes and carrots being dangled in front of people who are expected to arrange their lives on the hope of research funding or employment.
     
    equationgirl likes this.
  20. Sunset Tree

    Sunset Tree Well-Known Member

    I always wonder about the paid work aspect. In the US it seems like paid teaching is integral to a PhD. Even here, when I was doing my undergrad, most of the seminars were taught by PhD students. Nobody has mentioned teaching to me yet.

    That sucks mango5. You no longer receive ESRC funding but are still subject to ESRC restriction? Is that the restriction on how many hours you can work elsewhere (6-hours per week for me)?
     
  21. mango5

    mango5 Endeavour era

    As far as I am concerned I am not subject to any restrictions aside from the need to pay my bills and submit asap (7 months I guess). I don't think my supervisors have a clue on the details (although one is responsible for lots of institutional ESRC grants) they just want to be cautious in the face of their big funder.
     
  22. equationgirl

    equationgirl Respect my existence or expect my resistance

    When I finished my PhD I was 32, and took the view that I had two choices - try for a postdoc and tenure track positions over the next 5-10 years, hoping that I managed to land a permanent role at the end of that time, or look for work in industry.

    I made the latter choice as it was increasingly obvious I didn't have the temperament for academia in my subject area plus my supervisor wouldn't support me for any positions at nearby universities including my own.

    He then didn't support me for other postdoc positions at other universities, and I basically felt it was pointless to try to continue in academia if he wasn't going to help. He'd already blown my chances of a medical engineering traineeship by including details of my medical condition in the reference, meaning the interview panel made a big deal of it and made it clear I wasn't going to be successful. Which was nice.

    In my opinion and experience, whilst much is done to get PhD students in, with the huge amounts of carrot dangling (usually there us no actual carrot), many do not get the appropriate support during their time at uni. There has also not been the attendant growth in postdocs and lectureships.
     
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  23. Sunset Tree

    Sunset Tree Well-Known Member

    That is sobering information but I guess it is good for me to manage expectations. Mind you, a PhD student in my department just finished their PhD and went straight into a research associate post in the department. Gives me hope that opportunities are there. In research at least. I've heard lecturing positions are very difficult to get.

    Sorry about that shit experience equationgirl, your supervisor sounds terrible.
     
  24. equationgirl

    equationgirl Respect my existence or expect my resistance

    Ach, I didn't fit the traditional PhD student mould - he was only a few years older than me - so I don't think he knew what to do with me, to be honest.

    He was better than my first supervisor, who to this day I have no idea why he agreed to take me on because he was a notorious misogynist and xenophobic person. Anyway, he made my life hell for three years and refused to let me submit for a PhD only an MPhil. I wanted to make a complaint but was persuaded not to 'rock the boat' by the student advisor, who I later found out didn't want any problems because he was in line to be head of department.

    Which was why I went back and did it for a second time, because I knew I could do it. And like Jennifer Jones says, the title of Dr is forever, indelible and it's non-gender which suits my feminist principles.

    You get a PhD for not giving up. Ever.

    I'm sure you'll be great, you have your eyes open and this thread to help support you.
     
  25. aqua

    aqua made of cheese and gin

    *looks in thread, cherry picks some motivational bits, gets back to corrections*

    Fuck me this journey is shit :D
     
  26. mango5

    mango5 Endeavour era

    Yeah there's been a fair amount of "and the like" in recent posts. Correct away babe! My writing buddy is in a similar position. Was told to write a whole new chapter and reformat the whole thing according to a different discipline :rolleyes:
     
  27. equationgirl

    equationgirl Respect my existence or expect my resistance

    A friend of mine had to do the same because he got a computer scientist as his external rather than a mechanical engineer. Caused him no end of grief but he did it and got the PhD.

    Externals have far too much opportunity to insert their own personal preferences into the process.
     
  28. aqua

    aqua made of cheese and gin

    I simply could not agree with this more. I have to put something in that I don't think is relevant and I recently saw a new book from my external with pretty much word for word what she put on my summary report. Fucking pet subjects :mad:
     
    equationgirl likes this.
  29. equationgirl

    equationgirl Respect my existence or expect my resistance

    I think some external examiners lose sight of where their research ends and the candidate's begins. If the thesis meets the required standard, then the PhD should be awarded. The candidate's work is not there to reproduce the views of the external, especially if they are irrelevant.
     
  30. Zorra

    Zorra muppet hugger

    This. I'm submitting on Friday and I'm torn between being delighted and thinking that my whole thesis is a pile of shit. Ah well. Crack on!
     

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