Are you on the same page as your supervisor?

This post is by Cassily Charles from Charles Sturt University – a fellow thesis Whisperer. Cassily is the academic writing coordinator for Higher Degree Research Students in the CSU Academic Support Unit. Cassily discusses misunderstandings about writing style and how they can lead to conflict between students and supervisors. This post is enlightening to me as an educator – I hope you will be enlightened too.

This is a story about a doctoral student named Laura (a real person, but not her real name) and how she came to pull her hair out (well a few hairs anyway).

Laura began her PhD this year and really hit the ground running – within a few weeks, she was giving her supervisors many many pages about the literature on her topic. Laura’s supervisors are conscientious, organised and well-intentioned. They gave her masses of feedback on her drafts, with many helpful comments about content, style and structure, including comments such as: ‘good observation – now relate this to an over-all argument’ and ‘engage critically with these definitions’.

This is where things went wrong and Laura pulled some hairs out…

5 time management ideas… from part time PhD students

Last week @lanceb147 contacted me on Twitter looking for advice on doing a PhD part time. @lanceb147 is not alone. There’s a surprising number of students doing their PhD part time. At RMIT where I used to work 50% of research students were enrolled part time and this institutional profile is not unusual in Australia. Some are self funded students from the beginning; others have been forced to take up part time study after their scholarship rans out.

Many academics have the impression that part time students are troublesome and take ages to finish, but a study by Pearson et al (see reference below) showed that students who study part time for their whole degree finish sooner and have better results than full time students. Clearly they are doing something right!

I did my research masters over three years part time and worked for 2 days a week for all but 6 months of my PhD. So I know a lot about managing study part time – for me. If there’s anything I have learned about PhD study in all my years of whisperering it’s that everyone is different. So I asked on Twitter if part time students would share their time management secrets with me – and what a rich treasure trove of information they gave me!

I reckon part time students could teach full time students a thing or two about how to manage a long term research project. I have enough from my Twitter conversations for about ten posts, but I will confine myself here to five

Money makes the world go around

PhD students in Australia are under a lot of pressure to finish their degree ‘on time’ – but why?

Mary-Helen Ward has just completed a PhD on the PhD in Australia at the University of Sydney. I read a draft of her impressive thesis and learned a lot myself about the system. I asked Mary-Helen if she would do a post to explain the dark arts of research student funding and this post is the result. I hope it makes the situation a bit clearer, for those in Australia at least.