Tag Archives: PhD

Everything is crossed for a bit longer

I’m meant to be working, but have a few things to get out of my system first!

HD thought his interview went OK, but they are also interviewing someone else next week so we won’t know till then whether he was successful or not. So the usual scriptural prayers that the other person is rubbish (yes of course that’s how it works!) are now ongoing.

I finished the online tests, they are being looked at today by the staff tutors and providing they’re acceptable the interview next week will be confirmed. I can’t think that they wouldn’t be acceptable, but still it would be nice to know. They should get back to me later today, hopefully.

Am currently very cross with the housing benefit people. It is looking likely that, because 7 years ago I did something financially sensible HD may not be eligible for council tax benefit. But if we do what technically we could (cash in a savings plan early, which is the issue – because it’s technically possible to do this that might affect his eligibility) instead of being financially sensible that would be financially very very stupid indeed, and the only way we could recoup from the financial stupidity of it all would be for HD to be unemployed and claim benefit for at least a year and a half. Which is really daft, but I’m discovering that the housing benefit office specialises in daft (with an impressive sideline in muppetry), so I don’t know why I’m surprised. Grrrr.

Found out yesterday that my request for a PhD extension is a bit complicated, so there is no definite “yes”. There is a provisional “yes”, but nothing more can be clarified until the next relevant committee meeting, which is 2 weeks before submission date! My supervisors are saying that I shouldn’t rush to complete by then but stick to my proposed writing-up schedule (which, if I get a full-time job and have to do my thesis revisions in my spare time, would see me aiming to submit just after Easter next year. If I get part-time work (only realistic really if HD gets work) then I’d shave a few months off that. So it’s not like I’m going over the deadline by miles, particularly in comparison with other students who sometimes go years over). I’m feeling reasonably calm about it (believe it or not) but we are having to come up with some more reasons why an extension is justified (basically as far as I can tell they’re not against the extension per se, just not happy with the reasons my department has given so far for me to need one).

That’s it for now. I’d better get back to work (sigh).

Thanks to Auntie Doris, who has just been on the receiving end of an enormous whingeing screed of streams of consciousness from me, the rest of you don’t need to read me whining and moaning. She does have her uses, you know!

What else to tell you? The temperature in my office got up to 30° today, so I gave up and went to the gym instead – I thought if I’m getting sweaty and bad-tempered I may as well be sweaty and bad-tempered whilst actually achieving something, as I’m not convinced my brain ever got out of 1st gear. While I was there I watched the final set of the Williams-Dementieva Wimbledon semi-final (hooray for machines with TV), what a fantastic match that was. I’m glad I’d finished by the second semi though (Williams-Safina) which sounded from the scoreline like it was so one-sided as to be utterly uncompetitive. I predict a Williams winner 😉

I’m having another thesis-related existential crisis (it seems to happen every chapter), though having managed to draw a couple of spider diagrams today I have (for now) decided I know what my thesis is about. This is today though, tomorrow is an entirely different day and I may well have forgotten the point of it by then. I’m getting quite frustrated with it – the stuff I’m writing for journals etc feels like it’s so much better than the stuff I’m writing for the thesis. It’ll be good when it’s all over! By the way, if anyone is in a praying/good vibes/candle-lighting/etc mood, next week a decision will be made about whether or not I can have an extension. I’m working on the assumption that it shouldn’t be a problem (according to my department) but until I hear for sure I will remain a bit anxious about it. If I don’t get it I am, to put it mildly, screwed. If I do get it, then I will feel much less stressed about taking time out to apply for jobs (I’ve got a few applications which need to be in in the next week or so).

Ooh, good (ish) news – I have an interview in a couple of weeks for one of the Open Uni courses I applied to tutor on. As I understand it it’s pretty competitive, but it would be good experience if I could get it. I’ve also (at last) completed my nursing study hours (did I tell you that already, I can’t remember. Actually I think I probably did) so am just waiting for my friend to send the reference back and then I can see about getting some nursing work. Unfortunately I discovered the other day that the nurse bank for Greater Glasgow isn’t recruiting for community nurses at all, but just for certain acute specialities (that I don’t have any experience in, or any desire to work in), which got me a bit despondent, but I’m thinking instead about applying to NHS24 (the Scotland equivalent of NHS Direct south of the border – it’s a nurse-led phone service). Not that I’m desperate to do that either, but it could be something to keep me going for a while till something more suitable turns up.

Tomorrow we are treating ourselves, as what with poorly cars and writers’ block and no jobs etc we could do with a treat, and are going to the Dr Who exhibition at the Kelvingrove Museum. Can’t wait! (will take photos, unsurprisingly).

Noise pollution

At work the area outside my office building is being dug up (and has been for seemingly ages), and so for some time I have been working with a backdrop of drilling, which I have usually been able to zone out. Over the last week though, the workmen have multiplied, and as well as the ones on the ground more have appeared on the roof of my building. I’m on the top floor, so when they’re walking around with their hobnailed boots it sounds like a herd of wildebeest migrating overhead. Today they started drilling.

By lunchtime I was nearly crying I was so frustrated as it was absolutely impossible to work, or even think – it really sounded like they and their pneumatic drills were in the room with me. I thought I was being melodramatic, but I went for a coffee with a friend who has an office on the same floor as me, and she said the same thing. Unsurprisingly, we will both be working from home tomorrow.

In other news, I heard today that the article I wrote a few months ago (based on the paper I gave at Helsinki) has been accepted for publication by the reviewers and editors, subject to some revisions. This has been a really big boost to my confidence, particularly as the comments were pretty much what I expected and in line with my own evaluations of my work. They are also similar to the kinds of things my supervisors say about my thesis, so it at least also gives me some confidence in their advice as well. I need to do the revisions by the end of August, and providing that’s OK it looks like I shall have something published in an edited volume at some point next year. I’ve also had some positive comments about the draft article I finished last week, so all in all I’m feeling like I’m on the right track, more or less.

Of chapters and jobs

Yesterday evening around 10.30 I finally (finally!) finished chapter 5, which has been like pulling teeth (much like the other ones, in fairness – I guess this is just how I write, the first draft is always agonising and the redrafting process is much less painful). This was considerably later than I had hoped to get it done, as I also had a job application to be in today and still had to complete the form. By 10.30 though I was shattered. So I had a bath and went to bed, and set the alarm for 4.30 (a.m.!) so that I could do the form and get it sent off in time – I can’t do that every day, but once I’m tired at the end of the day I’m incapable of anything, whereas I can get up at stupid o’clock in the morning and have had enough rest to be able to use my brain.

The job is for tutoring with the Open University. They are actually really competitive – I know a number of people who haven’t got past the 1st interview, if they get called for interview at all. It has been suggested my experience as an OU student might be helpful though – we’ll see. Job applications are complicated by the fact that I have no idea where we’re going to be living due to HD’s crappy (lack of) job situation, which is why the OU would be ideal, but even then it’s complicated as they do things by region and you have to apply to regional centres. I’ve ended up applying to 4 (Scotland and 3 in southern England) with a note about why, and hope that it works out – not all regions have vacancies for the same courses.

It’s a bit scary thinking about proper jobs again – the OU is fairly flexible, but if I have a proper job with an office at some point and 9-5(ish) hours I wonder how I’ll manage it after all this time. I also have to submit a revised writing-up plan this week, as it is my end-of-year review next week. I had hoped to submit in September, but I really don’t think that is going to happen, so it looks like I shall be working and finishing writing up at the same time.

As if that’s not scary enough, I have also just booked a haircut appointment. Eek.

What’s up, Doc?

Discuss. (thanks to Sigrun for the link).

I have lots of thoughts, but they keep coming out all ranty and I might write something I regret. (It’s not necessarily that I disagree with everything in the article, I don’t, it’s as much that I have lots of “Yes, but what about x?” type comments, and also that there are politics I’m finding in academia (including my own university) which I’m still not entirely sure how to navigate).

I was quite cross with the first paragraph though, especially the 2nd powerpoint slide. What on earth are supervisors for? (at least in that regard I don’t have any complaints, my supervisors are very good at bringing up the kinds of issues that will emerge at the viva examination and preparing me so that I can be confident that my work is defensible and of the required quality). And as for “Now there’s a widespread perception that anyone can do one, whatever the subject.” Grrrr and double grrrr.

(By the way Kerensa, this is *that* article we discussed a couple of months ago)

Why is it ….

…. that I can have brilliant ideas in my head, and when I get into a writing groove can have brilliant ideas on paper, but that often the brilliant ideas in my head just don’t come out right on paper and read as really superficial? No wonder I’ve been putting this chapter off for so long.


Yesterday and today my department hosted a research forum, with various partners from UK and overseas universities – in effect an informal conference. I gave a paper yesterday, and it was a really positive experience. My paper was way too long, but as there were only two of us on the panel and we had an hour and a half, we could both talk for longer than the allotted 20 minutes, and still had plenty of time for a really good discussion (even though there were only a handful of people in the audience). It left me feeling like actually I’m not so bad at this, I have got things to say, and I know that people who were there told people who weren’t that it was really good. So I’m feeling happy about that. I’m hoping to expand the paper I gave into a journal article, and will take a couple of weeks to do that in a week or so’s time (once I’ve finished the chapter that needs to be in next week, we’ll see if that happens).

Unfortunately though for both days I’ve had the headache from hell, that the tablets aren’t touching. I sent HD out on a mercy mission earlier for something stronger, so hopefully that will knock it on the head (pardon the pun).

In other news, I’m really really looking forward to the Eurovision final tomorrow. I was watching the semi-final yesterday on my laptop, and HD was minding his own business reading, but once I uttered the immortal words “Oh my word they’ve got dancing polar bears!” he was sucked into the cheese-fest as well. Everyone’s saying Norway are the favourites, and I’ve no doubt they’ll be there or thereabouts, but my own personal favourites for tomorrow are Germany, Moldova and Turkey. I’m a bit disappointed Holland didn’t get through, but there’s plenty more to laugh at so I’m sure it will be a good evening. I’m kind of looking forward to seeing how Graham Norton gets on too as commentator – I know he can be a bit OTT, but I reckon he could be perfect for this. We’ll see.


My minor thesis-related existential crisis continued today, and was really starting to do my head in. Fortunately the weather the last couple of days has been great, so I packed up my stuff and headed back to the Botanic Gardens, where after a quick wander round the Kibble Palace glasshouse to take some pictures, I sat myself down on the grass (along with half of Glasgow, it seemed!) and started brainstorming with myself. Rather helpfully, as a result of this process my thesis suddenly makes sense to me, and I have a clue what I have to do. I’m definitely sitting out there more often!

Here’s some pictures from today:

IMGP6805 IMGP6808



In other news, thanks to the wonders of the internet I am watching the first Eurovision semi-final. I have to say, I don’t think Bulgaria will be making it. Some interesting acrobatics going on, to accompany the strangled cats.

Found and lost

I was really happy yesterday that I had found some magazines that I had bought in Romania a couple of years ago and thought I’d lost. They were in an it-seemed-logical-at-the-time place that turned out to be illogical-when-you-are-trying-to-remember-where-on-earth-you-could-have-put-them place. Finding them means that the talk I’m giving next week (and hopefully the journal article that will emerge from the talk) will be brilliant and ace and all-singing all-dancing rather than just merely wonderful.


I could do with the “finding that which was lost” vibe to extend into today though. At the bus stop on the way home I discovered that my bus pass was no longer in my bag. I obviously had it this morning as I got let on the bus without parting with cash, but whether I dropped it on the bus on the journey (most likely) in or at some other point during the day, who knows? I called into M&S (where I bought my lunch) and they hadn’t had it handed in, neither had the janitors who look after the building my office is in. Fortunately the bus company’s lost property place is just up the road from the Stately Pile, so I shall call in tomorrow and hope someone took pity on me and handed it in rather than kept it (there’s still a month left on the card, so I’ll be really really really cross with myself if it’s gone for good. Plus it had a half-decent photo of me on it, and that doesn’t happen very often! Bah). I had a good day today, work-wise, but this has disproportionately spoilt it.

In other news, hooray and thanks to Chris, we have whizzy stats back on our blogs! That has cheered me up.

Pecking orders

One of the funny things this week about attending all these nursing lectures was seeing and reflecting on academic and professional hierarchies. Nursing in many Russell Group universities (like the one I attend, for example) is very much the poor relation – it was made a degree subject only in the 1990s (prior to that nurse education was done through the health service rather than university), and so there wasn’t an established cadre of nurse educators with degrees and doctorates and academic track records. So even now you’ll find that many of the educators on degree courses have a degree but of those with postgrad qualifications, probably the majority have a masters degree rather than a PhD. Now, I’m not arguing for or against that, just saying that’s the situation. Arguably the most helpful qualification is a healthy dose of common sense and ability to communicate, rather than have an ever-expanding list of letters after your name.

Recently a large nursing school, part of a large well-established (not Russell Group, but not a post-1992) university, closed down. I see this as a worrying trend – large universities attract a lot of funding by undertaking and publishing research, and whilst nursing has a part to play in this, of course the bulk of the focus is on vocational training, and so nursing and similar departments are seen as poor relations and I’m sure there are many nursing departments facing tough situations – it wouldn’t surprise me if in a few years all nurse education is done by the red-brick, post-1992 more teaching-intensive universities. I think this is sad – speaking as someone with a foot in both vocational and academic camps, I think that the discipline of nursing has a huge amount to offer academia, especially in terms of qualitative research. I can think of at least two of my colleagues in my current department, not nurses at all, who have drawn on stuff in the Journal of Advanced Nursing when writing up their research methods, and both said how the nursing literature has a lot of really useful, good quality and practical articles which are helpful for researchers in other fields too.

I started thinking about all this after the first session of the week, when the lecturer introduced me to the class as a PhD student and health visitor who would be sitting in on the week’s lectures. He then said something a bit later about academic and work hierarchies (I forget in which context) and I smiled as I recognised what he meant, thinking to myself about how I am a *mere* PhD student in a department of professors, senior lecturers etc etc. He saw me smiling and said something along the lines of “Yes, exactly – a PhD here, so top of the tree, I’ve just got a Masters”, and it gave me a real “cognitive dissonance” moment – I am used to seeing myself as near the bottom of the academic pile, and here I was being presented as at the top. That was a bit odd, especially as in that particular context I would regard him as much more senior and “up there” than me – he has an academic lecturing post, and has published extensively, something to which I’m still just aspiring.

It also got me thinking about even among PhD students there is a hierarchy. My first couple of years I felt clueless and like I would never reach the heady heights that my more experienced colleagues had reached. That changed when I did my fieldwork – having my own data that I could discuss, rather than just talk about other people’s work, marked a definite move up the ladder. I’ve noticed that the PhD students in my department who have only started in the last academic year or two treat me differently to how they treat each other – I have reached the dizzy heights of post-fieldwork PhD student.

The same thing happened in the nursing dept this week – the PhD thing wasn’t such a big “wow” thing for them (though a number came up to me and asked about what I was researching), but a couple of the students asked me for career advice (hahahahaha, stop laughing at the back). One really wanted to be a health visitor (hooray!) and was worried that by doing adult nursing she was not going the right way about getting into health visiting, so she was very relieved to hear about my own journey to health visiting. The other one though was asking my advice on choosing her final year placement options, despite the fact that I have no experience in the possible areas she was interested in pursuing. Just the fact that I was qualified placed me “up there” as someone credible to give that sort of advice. That was quite sobering.

And yet despite all this, despite all the experience of moving (or being seen to be) up the hierarchy and pecking order a bit, I have to be honest. I still feel like a total blagger.