Recently @indecisionpersonified asked me a question in the Thesis Whisperer feedback forum: “… I have just moved continents and been accepted into a PhD program and have six free months before I start. I was wondering whether you had any advice to give people like me on how best to use the time before starting […]
Jerry Booth is a sociologist who was a Head and Faculty Director in departments of art, design and media until joining a medical school. He is particularly interested in the organisation of learning through practice, and is writing a PhD on how learning outcomes are translated through the curriculum into clinical placements. The title of […]
Last month one of my dearest friends had a fatal heart attack while sitting at her computer at home. She was only 54. Flick (whom I never once called by her actual name, Felicity Jones) was 12 years older than me and, although I never thought about it this way when she was alive, she […]
There is no post this week because I’ve been at the UK council for graduate education’s international conference on developments in doctoral education and Training, filling up my sporran with all kinds of new ideas. I’m running two student workshops while I’m here, at the University of Edinburgh and at Herriot Watt University. Hope to […]
I have a friend, let’s call her Jenny.
Jenny is about six months into her degree and just beginning to discover the true extent of the literature which might be relevant to her topic. By which I mean – she’s completely and utterly freaking out.
At the start of her journey Jenny read a few things her supervisor suggested and then went off exploring. She did all the right things. Her journey started with a meeting with the subject librarian who taught her how the databases in her area worked and how to use Google Scholar properly (not everything is in there, just so you know). She learned how keywords work and, most importantly in my view, how to do citation searches. Jenny trawled through the databases and discovered a vast amount of stuff which, although it was interesting, seemed only peripherally related to her topic.
She read the literature she found, discussed ideas with her supervisors and some of her peers, wrote a bit, then read some more. Her ideas about her thesis changed; becoming more sophisticated and thoughtful. As she read on she started to recognise the same names started appearing in the bibliographies. She started to see how people were linked together in skeins of thought. Being a social type of person she did a bit of academic networking and started to know, socially, some of the people who wrote those papers. This made her feel more confident. Comfortable even. Part of the community.
Until she downloaded THAT paper.
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
Many research students in Australia will be planning to submit their thesis next month. Let’s fast forward to that sweet moment you find out your examiners reports are back, or completed your Viva and been told you have passed. Congratulations! Time to ring up the bank and the passport office to get that long awaited […]
Two of my favourite people in the academic world are my friends Rachael Pitt (aka @thefellowette) and Nigel Palmer. Whenever we have a catch up, which is sadly rare, we have a fine old time talking shop over beer and chips (well lemonade in my case, but you get the picture). Some time ago ago […]
For most students, the problems will be temporary and relatively easily dealt with. Taking up a complaint with the person concerned is the usual, and usually successful, first step. Most complaints never get lodged under formal complaint policies, however this is not always the case as some disputes and concerns cannot be resolved so simply… read on to find out how to complain – and be heard.
It’s the end of the month. Holidays are over and the kids are back at school. It’s not all bad though – at least the January Thesis Whisperer newsletter is out…