2 weeks from PhD thesis hand in…

Viewing 29 posts - 81 through 109 (of 109 total)
  • 2 weeks from PhD thesis hand in…
  • thecaptain
    Member

    I did it cos I wanted to stay in research and wasn’t ready for a real job (had a job offer, which was in research, but of course relatively directed rather than curiousity-driven). So when the phd offer came up – which it only did at the last minute when another candidate pulled out – I jumped at it.

    I did and do make a lot of use of it, not precisely – once a problem is solved, you do something else! – but generically in terms of skills. Got up to about 60k equivalent salary (abroad) in research before walking out. Colleagues in the UK were mostly working harder for less money but those that made it did end up with a better career path (and pension). No regrets but I would plan things differently if I had my time again. Most importantly – get in with a high-profile supervisor who will get you an early paper in a top journal and a post-doc with a high-profile pal. Doing it myself with no leg-up or mentoring whatsoever has been a continual struggle and as a result I never quite “made it”.

    devash
    Member

    I’m two months away from submitting mine and stuck in editing hell. I have to cut a hell of a lot to reduce the word count from its current 140,000 to around 80,000 to 90,000.

    Its an absolutely demoralising experience because there’s very few research and teaching positions in my field (media theory) so there won’t be an immediate job to walk into. I sometimes wonder just why I put myself through the experience when I could have just carried on working and made some money / career progression instead, but it has been a long term goal to pursue a teaching career in academia so I had to go for it when the funding came up.

    I too have had the all-too common experiences lack of supervision, supervisors leaving, disinterested main supervisor etc. I also had to get a six month extension due to a period of poor health back in 2013 so its taken far longer than the 3 to 4 years I had anticipated.

    I feel like I have only carried on with this for the past year because it would have been difficult to explain to a future employer why I dropped out at such a late stage of the process. I’m looking forward to getting it out of the way and getting back into working but I’m finding that unless you are pursing academic jobs (of which there are none in my field) the PhD experience actually counts against you as employers consider you overqualified. 40 job applications in the past 3 months and not a single interview, and that is with the university careers advisory service checking my cv and application forms before applying. Tough times.

    To cut a long story short, think long and hard before undertaking a PhD. Having “Dr” as your title sounds good but does it pay in the long run?

    darrell
    Member

    i managed to keep my thesis down to less than 100 pages

    of sh1te to be fair

    but i passed with almost no corrections and i dont even have a copy of it

    just a means to an end. The hardest part of it all was motivation. But it was worth it….eventually…. when i left academia and got a well paying job in industry

    dragon
    Member

    I got a stipend from a research council of approx. ยฃ13k pa for 3 years.

    Same here although mine was a bit less at ยฃ10.5 back in 2001.

    Just reminded me of best bit of my viva, I’d already starting working with the Research Councils by the viva time, the exam started with the usual pleasantries including what you doing now, so I told him, to which he said ‘can you see my grant applications?’ so I said ‘yes’ and I’m sure from that point I’d passed ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Having “Dr” as your title sounds good

    I rarely use mine, I’ve not got it on anything, except possibly my business cards.

    DanW
    Member

    Well done OP for getting it done and good luck to everyone else who is approaching the end.

    I buggered the end of mine up by taking on full time teaching, starting a Post-Doc (don’t know how I got away with that), getting married and doing some extra work on the side… all in my final year. I started my final 2 Chapters (the important ones) at the start of December and had it handed in before Christmas by doing 8am-4am days. Sure it wasn’t ideal but a month of intense work is very do-able short term when you get in to it. It’ll be fine ๐Ÿ˜€ Just get started!

    I would also not worry about the Viva. The problem in the UK is there are few guidelines as to what to expect so students brick it worrying about every permutation. Be respectful of the examiners but if you can explain clearly why you believe x, y and z then don’t be afraid to challenge their opinion or recommended corrections. You should know your stuff better than anyone and the fewer corrections the better obviously so don’t be afraid to fight a little to get the list reduced!

    If you think your supervisors aren’t interested or supportive then this needs to be flagged up as soon as possible with the University as it is a major problem. It is very rare for the PhD to get to a hand in stage and fail- the Supervisors should have been on top of it well in advance of hand in. A good bit of advice I got was that the only Theses that fail are ones where the Supervisor should be failed.

    It also helps if you can find an external examiner with a plane to catch in the afternoon (Irish examiner if in England for example works well) or get a US examiner where the Viva is a formality and not examined and the tend to go a bit easy on you ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜€

    To cut a long story short, think long and hard before undertaking a PhD. Having “Dr” as your title sounds good but does it pay in the long run?

    A PhD is a journey IMO (to sound all cliched). I agree with others that there is no real logical reason to do one but knowing you’ve over come one of the toughest things you are likely to do in your career and gaining a ton of skills, experiences, travels, friends and everything else that goes with it is worth more than you might appreciate at the time.

    It is also more than just a means to a teaching in academia end. I now pimp out my skills and knowledge gained and I much prefer it to academia or “normal” employment. There are many directions to go after a PhD and at the very least it is something that no-one can take away from you ๐Ÿ˜€

    johnx2
    Member

    is also more than just a means to a teaching in academia end.

    …absolutely. It’s a good generalisable qualification to have in your back pocket (I’ve found).

    Only thing is that for people coming straight from a first degree and especially in lab type sciences, it can put you in a totally academic mind-set, so that to move on from an academic career path becomes seen as failure, bailing, or a step down. So you get people rattling between short term contracts who are never going to make it as an academic, but lack the perspective to spot opportunities elsewhere.

    Pigface
    Member

    What is Media theory????? I feel sorry for the poor sods who have to read these thesis’s My niece just got a PhD in French Literature, what is she going to do with that?

    nerd
    Member

    Which department

    TBH I’m surprised you were even allowed to submit, or at least warned, if it was likely to fail.

    I’m not saying which department. I’m still planning on handing in, I just have a lot to do in the next month!
    I wasn’t expected to fail. That’s half the problem with PhDs / DPhils, you spend 4 years of your life (8 in my case as I fit it around several postdocs / research positions) working on something and, in the end, it comes down to whether 2 people think it has merit.

    chewkw
    Member

    Anyone with Chemistry as first degree?

    What can a degree in Chemistry do as I might have to push my nephew for a PhD in Chemistry related fields … where is the money in Chemistry? ๐Ÿ˜€

    He is very good in Chemistry by the way …

    SaxonRider – Member
    My PhD is in the humanities, and it would appear I earn more than your mates.

    Oh dear I think I better not tell them as I think they will get even more depressed. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

    asdfhjkl – Member
    In my field, a PhD can start you off around 30-35k, which is similar to what an undergraduate would earn; but having the PhD opens doors which allow you to earn more as your career progresses (but those jobs are very competitive).

    Ouch! I think that hurts if PhD earns as much as undergraduate … ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

    Pigface – Member

    What is Media theory????? I feel sorry for the poor sods who have to read these thesis’s My niece just got a PhD in French Literature, what is she going to do with that?

    Good question I want to know too … Teacher? Lecturer in French Lit?

    thecaptain
    Member

    Basic problem is that each succesful academic probably trains ~10-20 phds over their career (very ballpark guess) but only one of them can get the supervisor’s job. In some fields there are at least some industry jobs to give the other 19 a chance. Media theory (WTF?) and French Lit, not so much…

    DanW
    Member

    ^ Very few people I know with a PhD have any desire to stay in Academia (even those who get lectureships and long term contracts!). A PhD is more about acquired skills, knowledge, connections and all those other normal things that dictate getting a job, so it is no different to any other kind of “training”. I guess most people get so worn down by the end of the PhD that, as Johnx2 says, they don’t seem to realise the opportunities elsewhere and feel stuck in that academic world with little opportunity and little desire to do anything different.

    Premier Icon I_did_dab
    Subscriber

    Who needs cloud based storage as back-up when the whole thing fits on a 3.5″ floppy

    ah yes, back in the day cloud back up meant posting a floppy to your Mum once a week.

    Basic problem is that each succesful academic probably trains ~10-20 phds over their career

    I’m at 30 co-supervised and counting, all gainfully employed ๐Ÿ™‚

    devash
    Member

    @DanW – some good advice there mate. Thanks for posting.

    What is media theory? I’ll try to explain without resorting to academic language. ๐Ÿ˜†

    It basically involves theorising (questioning something with an aim of developing a deeper understanding) the impact of mass media (and now digital media) technologies on society.

    Basically its an amalgamation of political theory / philosophy, social sciences and engineering / technology studies and a bit of archive work / history.

    So for my thesis, I’m looking at recent discussions regarding the empowering / disempowering nature of digital and social media i.e. is social media causing political revolutions? Are we now empowered consumers because we can order a Chinese on our smart phones? Has the Internet increased paedophilia etc?

    The question is not whether the technology is either empowering or disempowering (it is obviously both, depending on what you do with it), but rather, why, in Western society, are we so fixated with technological progress, and how does this influence (inform?) our day to day lives.

    Obviously I’m looking at specific case studies and using specific theorists to look at the issue but in terms of careers outside of academia, I’d be interested in working for a think tank, market research, tech firm etc.

    When people say “media studies is a Mickey Mouse subject,” the first thing I say is “Do you read a newspaper? do you watch TV? Do you own a smart phone? How many hours a day do you do these things for?” Media define our day to day lives, the question for media theory is in what way?

    Premier Icon Garry_Lager
    Subscriber

    chewkw – Member

    Anyone with Chemistry as first degree?

    What can a degree in Chemistry do as I might have to push my nephew for a PhD in Chemistry related fields … where is the money in Chemistry?

    He is very good in Chemistry by the way …Is your nephew receptive to your advice, chewkw? Seems unlikely – but anyhow, the opportunities depend on whereabouts he is – is it in the far east?
    Chinese chemistry, for example, has grown exponentionally in the past 15 years, phenomenal advance. But you wouldn’t see daylight working for a PhD in the leading groups over there – crazed work ethic to the point of being counterproductive. They let you out on Sunday afternoons to do your laundry. I’ve visited Shanghai institute of organic chemistry a couple of times, and it’s awe-inspiring, but there’s a lot of sad faces – you need to breathe chemistry to get a PhD at a place like that without burning out.

    Over here the job opportunities have taken a big knock as the pharma industry has contracted. There’s still good stuff out there, but it’s in line with what you’d expect from most physical sciences / engineering PhDs – we were in a privileged position before due to the chemicals sector being so strong, so have had a bit of a realignment. Previously you could be a bit average and still swan into an excellent job at GSK – no chance of that now.
    Bottom line is you have to be very good and choose the best possible research group for your PhD.

    What’s maybe not widely appreciated about the PhD is that if you really want to make money, like properly, then that usually means you’re an entrepreneur. And the freedom of a PhD is a superb training ground for developing that mindset and toughness, plus meeting other like-minded people from all over the world. It’s a business plan and start up in microcosm – If you can supplement this with a couple of years in industry somewhere good, then you’re in a strong position to start doing your own thing.

    chewkw
    Member

    Garry_Lager – Member
    Is your nephew receptive to your advice, chewkw? Seems unlikely – but anyhow, the opportunities depend on whereabouts he is – is it in the far east?

    Thanks for the input.

    I have to explain to him the rest will be up to him.

    Chinese chemistry, for example, has grown exponentionally in the past 15 years, phenomenal advance.

    No intention of advising him to do PhD in the far east …

    No, we/he rather not or not going to work for the Chinese as we know their ethical values and we don’t trust them even when we are the descendants. ๐Ÿ˜†

    He seems to be doing well with marks averaging 95% to 100% in his first year now. I think only one module is 80% as I was informed by my sister.

    What’s maybe not widely appreciated about the PhD is that if you really want to make money, like properly, then that usually means you’re an entrepreneur.

    That’s the long term aim as far as I am concerned … my advice is in that direction.

    poah
    Member

    TBH I’m surprised you were even allowed to submit, or at least warned, if it was likely to fail

    this is more common than you think. some “supervisors” just use their students as cheap labour and can’t be arsed with the other parts of their duty. I was very lucky in that my supervisor actually cared and I got lots of support from him. I’ve known a few submissions that havent even been through any sort of corrections.

    DanW
    Member

    submission when likely to fail is more not common than you think. Some All supervisors use their students as cheap labour and can’t be arsed with the other parts of their duty (including teaching, supervision, meetings, the lot!). I was very lucky in that my supervisor actually cared and I got lots of support from him. I’ve known a few submissions that haven’t even been through any sort of corrections (though usually the fault of the student leaving it to the very last minute and being generally AWOL at the end!).

    Fixed some bits ๐Ÿ˜€ As a PhD student half the skill is in managing your supervisor. There is no way you should get to submission in a position to fail. If a supervisor is heading you in that direction then the University should have policies to deal with it and you have to take some responsibility to look after yourself too (easier said than done perhaps)

    Kit
    Member

    So, after I handed in I managed to get ill (not drink related!) and missed my own handing in celebrations, then spent the next day in bed. Only now just feeling right again!

    Anyway, some interesting thoughts here. In my experience, within the department I work in there are some 200 PhD’s, with around 40 new candidates each year. I can only think of 2 that have quit within the time I’ve been there, and no one has failed their Viva. One person got given the maximum period of corrections (2 years!), but that’s highly unusual. I’m sure more dropped out, but barely enough to register. Maybe it’s a highly successful (and unusual) department, I’ve no idea!

    On word counts, I think mine is around 60,000 (90,000 including all tables, captions, references, etc.) but there are folk I’ve known who hand in 40,000 or less and still pass with flying colours; these are often students who are doing modelling work.

    I would definitely not recommend doing a PhD simply to get a better wage. It’s a huge gamble. A PhD is many things – training, enlightenment, knowledge acquisition – but a route to money it isn’t. But that’s not why most people do them.

    chewkw
    Member

    Kit – Member
    I can only think of 2 that have quit within the time I’ve been there, and no one has failed their Viva.

    You CANNOT fail a viva unless that is not your work.

    Or it is impossible to fail a viva unless you have no supervision even without supervision if you get to viva you will pass.

    edit: as I was informed by my mates the Profs …

    poah
    Member

    You CANNOT fail a viva unless that is not your work.

    yes you can, I know a few people that have failed on the viva even though their thesis was ok.

    IA
    Member

    You CANNOT fail a viva unless that is not your work.

    No, you can fail. Or get major corrections which amount to nearly the same thing, basically “whatever you do to the document won’t be enough, go away and do more work”.

    And technically (depending on the uni) you can pass the viva and yet not be awarded the degree – for example at Edinburgh the senate have to approve the recommendation from the viva, but they don’t have to…

    chewkw
    Member

    poah – Member

    You CANNOT fail a viva unless that is not your work.

    yes you can, I know a few people that have failed on the viva even though their thesis was ok. [/quote]
    Crikey that’s unlucky …

    IA – Member
    No, you can fail. Or get major corrections which amount to nearly the same thing, basically “whatever you do to the document won’t be enough, go away and do more work”.

    I see … guess me mates did not tell me there is such thing. Very sneaky to fail someone that way.

    IA
    Member

    Well it’s not a fail per se, you get to resubmit…in a year or two.

    TiRed
    Member

    Nerd – Member
    I failed mine! I’ve got to resubmit the 2nd week of January, I’ve got lots to do and I can’t be bothered.

    Sorry to hear that. The viva is to confirm three things:
    1) Is there enough novel work to justify the award of a degree (enough for one single-author academic paper)?

    2) is it novel?

    3) Did the candidate actually do it, and can they expound on the work and its implications?

    Your supervisor should have weighed the first and second of these with you. Where candidates have failed, it is normally a breakdown in communication. I’ve not failed anyone in the past, but a close friend had to because of 1 and 2.

    Good luck.

    PS hope it’s not my old department ๐Ÿ˜•

    DanW
    Member

    Well it’s not a fail per se, you get to resubmit…in a year or two.

    A proper fail is incredibly rare. As mentioned before, I would have in mind that you are unlikely to fail so use the Viva to limit corrections (and possibly enjoy the last time someone takes proper interest in your work! ๐Ÿ˜€ ).

    To expand a little on the earlier thoughts, something to have in mind for anyone nearing the end is that the people examining you know what they know very well but there’s a very good chance the specifics of your work is outside their direct expertise/ experience. In a similar way, you also have to remember the examiners often have incredibly busy lives and will have had only a fraction of time looking at your work as you did preparing it. I can’t explain this well, but you should know your work better than anyone and the examiners opinions are very often exactly that- there is room for discussion around those opinions and nothing is set in stone. Just because they come in to your Viva with a list of corrections doesn’t mean you need to leave with all of them ๐Ÿ˜€

    If you imagine the writing stage and taking the Thesis to 2 or 3 supervisors- all will give slightly different opinions of how it should be structured/ what is most interesting/ how to present results/ etc. The Viva is no different. It is a PITA to have to move huge sections of text and sections around just because another person prefers it that way or redo every single Figure to fit with someone else’s preferences. Usually most examiners can see past corrections like that and put it down to personal preference but those are the most annoying corrections to have if you do have somebody strong willed. With things like that I would try to justify your choice, explain the benefits and limitations and have in mind to keep the corrections as minimal as possible!

    Another bit of advice leading on from that would be the importance of writing clearly and concisely. You don’t want to p1ss off the examiners before they even meet you getting them tangled up in wordy nonsense ๐Ÿ˜€ That was my speciality ๐Ÿ˜ณ

    poah
    Member

    a proper fail does happen more than you think. The examiner can fail the thesis, the viva or both. If you fail the viva thats kinda it I’m pretty sure as you’ve shown you can’t defend the work. The thesis on the other hand can have no corrections, minior corrections or major corrections/rewrite. The last one consitutes a fail on the thesis which if the candidate passes the viva can be given the option of resubmitting (happened to me). The examiners in my case said another viva wasn’t required but they can suggest one or the candidate can if they wish (**** that lol).

    dragon
    Member

    I’m not sure it does, I can only think of 2 ‘fails’ during my time and in both cases the student had been advised not to submit, but proceeded to anyway for various personal reasons.

    Premier Icon theotherjonv
    Subscriber

    Interesting discussion. I did a first degree in Chemistry (Durham) and then had a place for a PhD but turned it down late on because I was going into it for the wrong reasons. I have however stayed in Chemistry. So let me give you some perspective from the other side of that fence.

    The other thing to remember is that if you want to stay in your area and progress beyond a certain level you often need a PhD. Certainly in most academic sciences. My job now I couldn’t do without the qualification.

    True – but is it really? I think there are certain times, like where you become the leading researcher into a field that you know most about because it’s an extension essentially of your PhD, but in the majority of cases it’s just having PhD after your name; and that’s where……

    Chemistry is one of the areas where for a lot of work the PhD is table stakes.

    Absolutely. After 25 years experience there are still jobs people won’t look at me for because I’m not a Dr. And that’s not necessarily highly scientific jobs like big Pharma either. Not all Chemistry is breaking new boundaries, I worked for a company that formulated existing raw materials together to make soaps and detergents and the like so hardly the pinnacle of science yet was glass ceilinged because I wasn’t a Dr. Some companies (big German ones for example) almost visibly shrink in meetings when you don’t have Dr. on your business card. It hasn’t necessarily meant I can’t have a decent career (and I’ll be honest, I’m Director level and earn well above what a PhD qualified ‘technical’ person does) – but you need to find the right companies that value capability above having those letters.

    Only thing is that for people coming straight from a first degree and especially in lab type sciences, it can put you in a totally academic mind-set

    So true – particularly in early days. There were times in my early career when folks would come in at about the same age as me and a PhD but with no real world experience vs my 4 years, and flounder. Like going out to chemical plants to run a scale up trial and trying to persuade some proper roughneck operators to delay a shift change / work break to enable the trial to proceed. I’d swap 4 years of having worked with them and eaten with them for a bit of paper any day then. It does eventually level out, and as above 25 years experience vs 21 and a PhD is one I rarely get the better of, and sometime the worse. But it also depends on personality in that case as much as experience.

    However, the one thing I’ve always thought about chemists, is no-one wants to be a chemist. Don’t know anyone that started a chemist and still is, just takes some longer than others to realise…

    Interesting. I went on a school visit at about the age of 16/17 to a chemical factory (actually one that used chemicals rather than made them) and was so enthused by the experience and also the enthusiasm of the bloke who showed us round that I wanted to be a chemist from then on. Sometimes I curse him (he’s probably long dead now) but in general it’s been fun.

    What can a degree in Chemistry do as I might have to push my nephew for a PhD in Chemistry related fields … where is the money in Chemistry?

    It’s a decent springboard for many careers. Most of my Chemistry peer group at University didn’t stay in it – there are lawyers and accountants and marketing folks and….. That said, I’ve also done time in Supply Chain, and Marketing and Sales as well as technical so within Chemistry there’s a lot more that the degree and knowledge of ‘Chemistry’ enables you to do, it’s not all white coats and fume cupboards.

Viewing 29 posts - 81 through 109 (of 109 total)

The topic ‘2 weeks from PhD thesis hand in…’ is closed to new replies.