Sunday, 2 October 2011

Blog finishing

This was a blog for my PhD. New posts won't be about that PhD process, so I'll blog somewhere else. Shortly I'll put up the link for that new blog, the experience of post-doctorate - with or without the experience.

Of the four post-grads in the Open University Business School that started the full-time PhD in October 2007, three of us are successful. Here's what's happened:
  1. I'm through and finished
  2. Colleague who did the MRes with me has successfully passed her viva with corrections, and that means she is successful. Congratulations to her, despite her wanting no fuss :)
  3. Canadian colleague is valiantly writing up. He registered a month later so he doesn't have to submit yet. The rules are that you must submit your dissertation by midnight of the last day of the four years, or none of it counts. You'd have wasted the four years. However, if you go part-time, then you have some more years before you must submit. The problem is, going part-time requires an expensive registration fee, and it means there are visa issues for non-EU students and Canadian colleague doesn't want to do that if he can help it. So go you, Canadian colleague. Get it written.
  4. EU colleague cleared his desk - we've been told to clear our desks for the second year PhD students to move into. I don't know what he's doing, just that he's had problems.
In total, it's a comparatively successful year group in that half of us have submitted and got through, with the promise that 3/4 of us will be successful in the forseeable future. Several earlier year groups had students that didn't make it within the four years, perhaps because they got married, had a baby, went back to another country, went part-time, or returned years later to complete. So our year group is doing well. Why? Perhaps because:
  • we had good supervisors that directed our reading, gave rigorous and prompt feedback on our writing, encouraged our project management
  • we came with the new OU MRes, or with substantial research experience
  • the university supported us by providing relevant courses on research methods, academic reading and writing, presentation of work, networking.
  • we were lucky with data access
  • we worked 35 hours a week on our research
I know my colleagues will take issue with some of these suggestions. Over four years, you expect to have some bad luck and hurdles. In the year group that started the MRes with me, five years ago, some had to change supervisors, some had difficulty getting data access, some have been ill (I had cancer), one got married, another divorced, one had a baby, another's child was seriously ill. You can also have good luck, for example, like finding good access to data, choosing the right supervisor, living close enough to make the most of the experience, and enjoying academia. I had good luck.

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