Any PhD Students Fancy A Mutual Support Thread?

(188 Posts)
GentlyGentlyOhDear Mon 19-Nov-12 12:25:57

Is anyone else currently doing a PhD? I've just had my first baby and am trying to get back into the swing of things academically. Is there anyone else out there in a similar situation?

I'm currently on mat leave from my PhD until the new year, but I've been doing two days a week since baby was 4 months old as I desperately need to get finished! My registration ends in June next year, then I have 2 years to write-up (part-time), but I'm aiming to get finished within a year and a half.

Really should be working now...

HardlyEverHoovers Mon 19-Nov-12 20:42:05

Hi, I had a baby 2 years into my PhD and should be finishing in March next year, DS now 22months.
I've also been back 2 days a week since 4 months old. I'm fortunate that my DH works evenings so looks after DS while I study, and I normally study from home.
I've found it OK, but when I have to attend meetings and things I sometimes feel like I've just landed on an alien planet as domestic life tends to take up a lot of my mental energy these days!
Anyway, hope it all goes well for you and would be nice to keep in touch.
By the way, you said you were on maternity leave, if you don't mind me being nosey do you get maternity pay? As I had to take an unpaid leave of absence.

GentlyGentlyOhDear Mon 19-Nov-12 21:55:52

I'm lucky that my MIL is looking after DD for us for the two days I work and I've been managing to steal an hour or two on an evening when the baby decides to sleep (rarely!). Sadly my DH works long hours, so usually by the time I've sorted dinner and handed the baby over to DH at about 7pm, the last thing I want to do is start reading academic literature! I am enjoying giving the brain a good workout again, though.
You must be so excited (and relieved?!) that you are nearly done. I'm not looking forward to the final editing stage... how is that going for you?
Not nosey at all asking about funding - I'm AHRC funded so got 6 months paid leave and have taken 3 months unpaid leave too.

MsTitanium Mon 19-Nov-12 22:14:51

Hi. I am 18 months into a 3 year PhD. I had my DD halfway through my first year and took 6 months (paid) maternity leave (plus the time gets added onto the end). I also have two DSs and have recently separated from my husband- as if life wasn't difficult enough! It's going really well (touch wood!) and has been a brilliant distraction from the total mess of my personal life sad My supervisors have been very supportive and flexible, although there have been negative comments from one or two other students about this "special treatment" (they really have no idea what its like!) it is really hard but at least I am highly motivated (I am doing this to make my children proud of their mum) and i just try and get as much done as i can during the day and on the weekends when their father has the children.
We can do this!

HardlyEverHoovers Tue 20-Nov-12 08:55:30

MsTitanium, hats off to you, you sound like a mum to be proud of PhD or no PhD!
Gently, yes it is a relief to be nearly done, it's strange how the end creeps up on you. Now it feels like just a series of steps to follow which is quite nice compared to the 'being lost in a vast sea' feeling I had earlier on.
I'm not quite at final editing yet, should have drafts of major chapters in before xmas, then have a couple of months to do the editing etc.

droid400004 Tue 20-Nov-12 19:45:26

hellooo, can I join in? I started my phd in 2009 and two weeks later I found out I was pregnant with DS! I've been doing it full time (insane) and have a year of funding left. Feel the same as HardlyEverHoovers - don't belong in either camp (mothers/students) really.would not repeat the experience!

GentlyGentlyOhDear Tue 20-Nov-12 22:59:47

Hi droid and mrstitanium
It's nice to find others in the same boat, even if only for online support!

How have you found full-time studying droid? You are hardcore! I switched to part-time when I found out I was pregnant so that I would be entitled to maternity leave as otherwise I would have been 3 weeks into my writing-up year when the baby was born and not entitled to anything. (That makes me sound like I'm working the system!) I tried to stay working full-time until the baby was born, but lost focus once I got to about 7 months blush

mrstitanium how on earth are you managing with everything?! I agree that your children will definitely be proud of you regardless of the PhD.

What areas are we all working in, then? I'm in the field of modern languages.

droid400004 Wed 21-Nov-12 14:09:16

full time is mad! I'm an ecology student, so my fieldwork was more than full time - a day might be: breastfeed at 6am, in the field 7am-8pm, put baby to bed, collapse. I couldn't have done it without my husband, who left work for a year to take care of our son. Now I'm doing desk-based work, I work about 4 days a week. I did actually want to go part time, but my university won't let me! So I work as best I can. I don't like it, as I can never produce as much as my peers, but have to try and ignore them and focus on my own (slow) progress. It is not much fun!

Equimum Thu 22-Nov-12 08:05:35

Hello! Can I join you?

I'm just about to start maternity leave (1st Dec) and planning to take my paid six months off, but start doing some reading etc once I've got the hang of being a mum! I'm two months into my second year of f/t study, but am lucky and have collected all my data and just about finished transcribing all my interviews.

When I start back, I'll have 22 months of funding to do the analysis and write-up. I'm planning to stay registered as a full-time student and will have three days childcare (mix of mum and nursery) then attempt to keep up with stolen time when DH gets home and at the weekend. I'm very lucky in that although DH works long hours, he's more than willing to cook and clean etc, so that gives me a few hours when he's doing that and looking after the baby (yes, he can multi-task). We may, however, consider changing to P/T if it all becomes too much.

GentlyGentlyOhDear Sat 24-Nov-12 11:58:02

Hi ladies,
And welcome Equimum Sounds like you've got a good plan in place for after maternity leave and having the option to switch to part-time is handy too. Not long until mat leave now!

I am not lookin forward to having to get back into meetings, training sessions, work-in-progress sessions at all - I hate that aspect of the PhD. I just want to quietly lock myself away and read and research! I imagine it is even more of a pain when you're out of kilter, personally, with peers.
droid you must be shattered and why on earth wouldn't your uni let you go part-time!? That's terrible!

I'm off to campus next week to return a few books, take a few more out and do a bit of copying and printing. I haven't been in since I briefly took DD down to meet a couple of friends and my supervisor in the summer. I'm quite nervous about it and also nervous about bumping into people. I don't know why, but it feels like going back to school after the six weeks holiday and not knowing which class you're going back into etc! I can't believe I will be officially back in 5 weeks and my maternity leave is nearly over. Even though I've been doing work, it still feels different and I'm sad that my baby is growing up so quickly!

dotty2 Wed 28-Nov-12 12:29:09

Hello everyone - can I join you. I am in an arts/humanities subject area and 2 months into my final year. I am at the stage of looking at everything I've done so far and feeling like it doesn't add up to enough to make a phd and am feeling a bit downhearted, tbh. My DDs are 5 and 7 so they have both been at school for the last year and a bit. In lots of ways it's been great - chance to think again, flexible enough to work round school plays/assemblies etc. And I've had AHRC funding, for which I am very grateful. But I too feel like I'm not a proper student - I commute in, so am never around for drinks etc in the evenings, and it's been a bit lonely in lots of ways. (Probably feeling more downhearted than usual today as I've had 2 trips - one for research, one for the library - cancelled this week because of the floods.)

GentlyGentlyOhDear Thu 29-Nov-12 20:52:53

Hi dotty,
How annoying about the floods scuppering your plans. Have your supervisors been understanding about you situation as a parent and the commuting? I commute a fair way too and have done since halfway through my second year as I relocated when DH got a new job. I definitely feel 'out of the loop' because I'm not in the department every day.
Do you have a plan for the writing-up stage? I seem to spend most of my time planning --as it is a good method of procrastination-

GentlyGentlyOhDear Thu 29-Nov-12 20:53:16

strikethrough fail blush

rocketeer Thu 29-Nov-12 21:03:29

Can I join in as a 'from the other side' perspective?! I finished mine in August after a hard 5 years, I started when my youngest was 2 and it was bloody hard work but so rewarding! I also had an understanding husband and a great nursery/ childminder. Just keep going, it's worth it!

amillionyears Thu 29-Nov-12 21:08:04

Is it alright if I ask a question here on behalf of my son please, if that is all right?
I have posted in legal but got no replies.

My son is about to start a PhD.
He has been given a letter by the University to sign and get witnessed called intelectual property.
Am I right in thinking he has no choice but to sign it?
And does everyone in every University have to sign one?
Thanks, and good luck everyone with your PhDs and well done for managing to do them with all your other responsibilites.

GentlyGentlyOhDear Fri 30-Nov-12 10:04:35

Is it to say that his work is property of the university?Or is it to do with plagiarism? I've had to sign several things about plagiarism and my work being mine only. I can't remember specifically signing anything about intellectual property rights, but I am sure it is in the terms and conditions when you register. He will probably have to sign it.

rocketeer Congratulations! Does it feel weird now you don't have any reading or writing to do? Or are you in the process of corrections/waiting for viva/graduation?

amillionyears Fri 30-Nov-12 10:41:19

Thanks for that response GentlyGentlyOhDear.

MsTitanium Sun 02-Dec-12 21:32:49

Hi. Pretty sure all IP belongs to the university for my project too. Not that there is likely to be anything of value! Is your son's project realistically likely to generate IP of monetary value? If so it might be worth querying the exact terms.
I'm full time technically (4 days a week actually as I have supportive supervisors!) and am in biological sciences so largely lab based with desk based data analysis. I worked in labs for many (many!) years prior to starting so am very capable technically (and modest!) which gives me a big advantage over other students hence the ability to work 4 days/week with similar outputs! So far so good!grin

amillionyears Mon 03-Dec-12 08:17:27

My DS would be roughly the same as MsTitanium as far as I know.
So I wouldnt have thought his project is likely to generate IP of monetary value, again as far as I know.

But if anyone thinks he should hold fire about signing it, please post asap.

2plus1 Mon 03-Dec-12 08:18:36

Hi all, it is great to see a thread like this for support in what is quite an isolated mode of study. I studied part-time over 5.5yrs, completing my PhD last year and had three under 3yrs old when I finished. I was also a distance from my uni so didn't see many from my department so really felt quite isolated. Fortunately both of my supervisors were great and approachable. I also sought support from the postgrad forum when it felt really tough. Sadly, outsiders didn't really understand the full implication of my PhD studies, especially once I had babies. There were many assumptions made that I should quit with three babies. So to those of you embarking on this journey, it will be a rollercoaster ride but the rewards will make you immensely proud.

dotty2 Mon 03-Dec-12 15:48:37

Hello everyone.

And to answer your questions, gently - my supervisor has been understanding in a totally hands off, I'm going to trust you to get on with this, just get in touch when you need me, kind of way. Which has given me lots of space but I am now starting to feel like I could have done with a bit more structured support and criticism a bit sooner. I had my annual review recently, which involved writing a report to submit to a panel. One of the panel was pretty picky - although in a helpful way - and I was both cross and embarassed that she picked up errors my supervisor had never mentioned when he had read ut prior to submission. So I asked him to look at my latest piece in more detail than he usually does. And to be fair he really did go through it with a fine toothcomb and make all sorts of criticisms. Painful, but ultimately helpful - but it would have been good to have had some of that sooner.

I do have a plan for writing up, but - perhaps like you - I am better at planning than doing.

Right now I am procrastinating picking up the phone to arrange a time for a formal phone interview with someone whose work is important to my research and who has agreed to be interviewed but who is seriously ill and who has suggested I should get on and do it sooner rather than later. Horrible.

amillionyears Mon 03-Dec-12 16:51:45

Not sure if I am allowed to join in here, or if I am welcome.
So please tell me to go away if you want to.
As regards the form, he has signed it rightly or wrongly.
My DH, who also knows nothing like me,agreed with MsTitanioum, in that he could not see that our son would be generating monetary value. However, if anyone thinks he has signed it wrongly, I would still very much like to be told please.

dotty2, was it the seriously ill man who told you to phone him sooner rather than later, or your supervisor?

dotty2 Mon 03-Dec-12 17:35:23

No, no - the interviewee himself. Discovered I didn't have his phone no, so there's an excuse to put it off another day. Good luck to your son, amillionyears - am sure what he had to sign was completely standard, and nothing to stress about. But if you're still worried, we need the actual text before we can really comment, I think. (I have to get my interviewees to sign an ethics form, and it is very interesting to see who reads it thoroughly before signing. Some people sign it without reading it at all, and one interviewee inserted subclauses before agreeing to sign!)

GentlyGentlyOhDear Fri 07-Dec-12 21:22:26

Hi everyone,
Dotty - how is the interview-planning going? Have you done the interview yet? What a difficult situation to be in with the interviewee being so ill.

Hi 2plus1 - congratulations on getting finished - especially with 3 little ones! I'm thinking of getting most of the thesis written up before planning for baby no. 2. I suppose it is a good motivator for me to get on with the blardy thesis!

I've had a very slow and disjointed week due to other commitments infringing upon my work time, but I'm so looking forward to the xmas period as DH has two full weeks off and I can make some real progress maybe

Hope everyone else is well.

dotty2 Fri 14-Dec-12 12:27:08

Hi gently - I haven't managed to get that interview arranged yet, and am very reluctant to push him. I'm basically interviewing people about their professional lives, and although most people really want to talk, and have enjoyed the opportunity, I am aware of the need to tread carefully in any case. People have so much invested in their working lives, especially in my subject area, and it can be quite sensitive - even more so when someone is ill and near the end of their life.

Not had a great couple of weeks, to be honest. I've been focusing on another unfinished aspect of my research because of slow progress with the interviews, but have had some frustrations there. And I'm pretty much writing off the Xmas period. But the DCs are still at school next week and it looks like it's calming down a bit with pre-Christmas activities mostly out of the way, so still hoping to finish 2012 on a high. Maybe.

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