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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...

redwellybluewelly Sun 17-Feb-13 19:14:42

Hi Quodlibet im so sorry to read your news, I think we were on a thread together at some point.

I was going to post for some advice on managing data collection expectations with an increasingly tiring pg but pergaps another day. Again Quod im so sorry

twogirlsandamessyhouse Fri 22-Feb-13 22:59:19

This thread seems to be getting quieter... hoping that some of you will come back and update me/us on how you're all getting on. I think I need to know that us mums can and do finish PhD's! I've just found out that I'm pregnant and I am suffering with nausea when looking at a computer screen... and I'm meant to be writing at least 5000 words in the next 3 weeks. Honestly sometimes I don't know why I'm doing this, but I'm still determined.

Hope everyone is doing ok?

dotty2 Tue 26-Feb-13 09:55:50

Hi twogirls - congratulations! Looks like you might need a new name in a few months time.

I've been trying to stay off mumsnet as a tactic for getting more work done, tbh - it is a terrible time sink for me. But sorry for the radio silence.

I had a meeting with my supervisor last week in the middle of half term, which was a terribly bad plan - I kidded myself that I would have finished my paper for him by Friday, so that I could have a relaxing few days with the dcs before seeing him on Weds, but of course I was deadline surfing and had a horrible few days of trying to work in the evenings/early mornings and keep everyone happy the rest of the time and finished it at 9pm on Tuesday. Let that be a lesson to me.

On the plus side, the meeting went well and I am now starting to think about pulling it all together, and writing up. I have a few gaps to fill in here and there, but have basically finished my research now. I am starting to feel like it's all a bit flimsy, but I need to muster enough clarity and mental energy to pull the slender threads together and weave a good strong argument. I know it can be done, but I don't feel terribly confident about actually doing it.

5000 words in 3 weeks isn't that much, twogirls. Pick the time of day you feel best, and do an hour or two then - and take a break from the computer the rest of the time. Better to work hard in short bursts than amble along not really focusing for hours at a time. Now I need to go and practise what I preach!

How's everyone else doing.

dotty2 Tue 26-Feb-13 09:56:41

'?' even. Maybe I'm going to need someone to proofread my thesis for me.

ButteryJam Mon 04-Mar-13 18:42:41


I'm a PhD student expecting a baby, and planning for future childcare. DH works and I'm on a research council fund. I've also been offered 5 hours per week work at the university (ill be paid as a temp) from April on wards (if I take it of course)..

I'm trying to work out whether ill be eligible for any help/funds/benefits, especially to help with the childcare? DH earns around 40K, but our living costs are so high (the south!)

Anyone in a similar situation? It looks like the childcare grant is only for undergrads sadly and I'm not sure if we'd qualify for other benefits/help.


newyearnewattitude Tue 05-Mar-13 13:02:45

Hi Buttery, I had my DD halfway through my PhD and unfortunately there is no specific childcare help available... if you can work 16 hours a week on top of your PhD you may be able to get tax credits to help with 80% of the costs....

alternatively apply to your universities access to learning fund - they may be able to help you out.

Miffytastic Wed 20-Mar-13 12:47:32


Sorry, this thread got quiet and I go stressed and panicky -neither a good combination for posting.
I'm in FT year 3 now. Still analysing data as due to various hold ups I didn't finish collecting it til late November. Now got too much data and not enouh time to do it justice. My supervisor is encouraging me to keep focused on the RQs but it's hard... I kidn of hoped that with, compared to contract research, that I'd have all the time in the world... but sadly not, well not if I want to finish and not be totally skint (bursary runs out end of september)

Miffytastic Wed 20-Mar-13 12:49:12

Dotty just seen what you said about pulling together threads - have you seen there is a 2 day course for PhD students Durham university next month on writing up qualitative research?

YellowFishy Wed 20-Mar-13 12:54:38

Hi All,
I am due to start my PhD in September and have secured funding, I am planning on doing FT, juggling my 2 children (one 2.5 years and one due in June) and once my maternity leave runs out in May 2014 I will return to work on a consultancy contract varying my hours each week depending on need, availability, time and childcare! Luckily I have a lot of very supportive family and a wonderful, wonderful husband to help me out, but keep panicking now - have I gone utterly mad thinking that I can do this!!!

dotty2 Thu 21-Mar-13 10:12:03

Miffytastic - oh, that course looks like just what I need, but I can't do those days. What a shame.

Am having a bad day today. I am still trying to crack my thesis structure after my supervisor pulled apart version 1 last week. I thought I was there with version 2 this week, but his response was discouraging - he said 'shouldn't it be more like this?'. And I don't really agree - it's a question of the balance between contemporary issues and a historical approach in the profession I'm writing about and he is pushing me more towards the contemporary. I am going to be assertive about what it is I think I have to say.

Yellowfishy - welcome. I'm sure you can do it, but speaking personally I would say do as little paid work as you can manage. I have done freelance consultancy through my phd and though it's been good for keeping a foot in the door workwise, it has definitely hampered by phd progress - and keeps clashing with things I want to do like the course Miffytastic mentioned above. And now I'm getting towards the end I'm finding it's not just hours in the day, but also space in the brain that work takes up - and I want it back. I'm sure you'll make it work somehow though - good luck, and enjoy your maternity leave in the meantime.

Miffytastic Thu 21-Mar-13 14:19:32

Ah that's a a shame Dotty If I get a place on it I'll then I'll share my learning from it if I can.
I'm impressed that you're at structuring stage. I am still wading through data analysis sad

I agree on the brainspace thing I have definitely cut down on stuff in the last year, and not taken up offers of work ,parly through choice and partly lack of offers but that's OK (for now!)

Miffytastic Thu 21-Mar-13 14:21:10

oops should have said - stick to your guns Dotty and hope you can convey your argument how you want to

dotty2 Mon 25-Mar-13 09:35:00

Well, I stuck to my guns - thank you for the encouragement. My supervisor conceded version 2 was what I should do, and I feel more confident as a result of having been challenged and defended my approach. So now I am officially Writing Up. And crippled by anxiety. Going to use the Pomodoro technique and take it babysteps at a time.

93pjb Sun 14-Apr-13 22:48:28

Hello, I have been lurking on this thread for a while, trying to decide if a phd was for me or not. I decided to go for it and have just found out that I've been accepted for a 1+3 programme starting in September. I have not got my head around it yet at all. I have 2 dcs, dd5 and ds2. Have been working full time for 15 years (with time out for 2 lots of ml) and although my dh is an academic so i know what it is all about, I am slightly horror struck at the thought of how much life (or at least my professional identity) is going to change.

dotty2 Sat 20-Apr-13 08:47:49

Congratulations 93pjb. My DCs were a similar age to yours when I started. In fact I remember thinking 'DD1 will be 8 when I finish' and thinking that seemed unimaginably old and far away. I am in my third year now, she is 8 next month and I'm sure it won't surprise you to hear that it's all gone very quickly.

I know what you mean about status/identity. I think this was particularly the case for me as my phd is related to my area of work, and I knew some of the academics in my department as professional colleagues before, so that's been a slightly odd dynamic. I do sometimes have a sense of 'I used to be a somebody...'. And it's been odd moving from a feeling of competence to one of (sometimes utter) incompetence, though I'm sure in the end that will be good for me. Good luck.

How's everyone else doing?

ManateeEquineOhara Sun 21-Apr-13 21:41:29

Hi all, can I join please?! I am in my first year of my ft PhD in human geography :D I also work pt and my DCs are 8 and 11.

So far it has worked out okay, I work a lot in the evening as I have done this through undergrad and masters too, and although I would rather only having the PhD to do, financially I can't really do that. I'm fully funded but I struggled so much through my masters and can't bear to go back to being so poor that I have no money whatsoever.

I'm due to upgrade next month though which is quite scary. Every other discipline seems to upgrade in the second year but we are upgrading only 8 months in ;-/ Might do a thread on that actually!

dotty2 Mon 22-Apr-13 13:57:59

Hello Manatee - welcome. I did my upgrade at about the same point, I think - in June having started in October. It was fine, actually - probably a good point to get some alternative input into how it's going and what you're working on - and presumably expectations of how far you'll have got are commensurately lower than if the review happens later. They vary a lot from department to department, even in my university, so other people's experience might not be all that enlightening. But I found mine pretty helpful (and the same's true of my year 2 review which had a similar format). One of my fellow students who started at the same time as me was actually referred and had to try again 6 months in. I think language issues had somewhat held her up, plus the strain of a long-distance relocation with a child as a single mum. But I think even she would now say that it was a positive experience in the end - better to find out then if things were going badly wrong than further in. Good luck with yours.

ManateeEquineOhara Wed 24-Apr-13 20:50:07

Thanks dotty, it is good to here positive things about the upgrade, everyone I know in the department has said theirs went well too, but I suppose it is just that it could go wrong- somehow. Also worried about the seminar component of it as I haven't presented for a year. I had got over being nervous about presenting as I did it often in the masters. I am not actually nervous, but nervous that I might become nervous! That sounds like I am massively over-thinking it! smile

twogirlsandamessyhouse Fri 26-Apr-13 16:55:43

Hi all, sorry I haven't been around in awhile. Things have been incredibly busy- first we had 2 rounds of chickenpox, then I had lots of work to do, then our childcare went crazy, then there was more work, then I was ill, then... Oh it's not worth repeating it all! It's coming up to our annual progress reviews and I've been working between 7-11 hours a day on various writing assignments... I thought that being pregnant wasn't going to get in the way until today, when I was so utterly exhausted from this schedule that I had to spend the afternoon sleeping. Hoping I have more energy to get everything done next week. shock Glad to see the thread active again!

carybaz Fri 26-Apr-13 17:10:47

I'm in my 2nd year of PhD research but unlike everyone else in this thread (I think - haven't read every singe one!) I am a grandmother - and the subjects of my research are my twin DGS and DGD. More on my Mumsnet-registered blog

RunningBear78 Wed 22-May-13 18:49:13

Hi all, can I join?
I'm in my second year of a part-time PhD and I work part time too, but somehow still find myself being totally unproductive at both as I work and study from home and there are too many distractions. I'm now preggers and due in September so desperately trying to write up my lit review, methodology and some background context before i take a break.
I think I need a kick up the bum to get my life organised, but my brain isn't working properly, I can't concentrate and doing methodical bits of work that should take a few hours seem to day days. I'm feeling totally useless at work and study, and to be honest not quite sure if things aren't just going to get worse as September approaches.
I'm totally in awe of people who manage to work full time and study, I honestly can't get my head around how you manage it - and with kids!? envy

SpooMoo Tue 04-Jun-13 17:21:08

Hello all - I'm just reading this thread as it may give me some insight, I'm thinking of applying for a PhD - just posted my question in chat! Would be grateful for anyone's advice.

mollymalone1 Mon 01-Jul-13 18:33:55

This thread is such a relief! May I join you all? I'm coming to the end of my second year of research (English Lit but with a strong element of the Social Sciences) and have recently discovered I'm pregnant. Partner unfortunately not in the picture. I'm not AHRC funded (I have funding from a EU body) and I've no idea if I'm eligible for maternity pay/leave. I know that if I'm not I won't be able to take any time off (I think I'm right in saying that as I haven't paid any tax or NI contributions in the last two years, I won't be eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay or the Maternity Grant?). I'm worried about whether I'll be able to juggle the final year's writing up with bringing up a baby (my first, just to make it easier!).

Miffytastic Thu 04-Jul-13 15:22:48

Welcome Molly and congratulations, hope your pregnancy goes well.
I think you are still eligible for a different type of basic maternity pay regardless of NI contributions, though it's been a while since I did so as my two are older. Can your student union advise?

I am struggling at the moment. Real imposter syndrome, stress, and a mountain of work that seems way too big to ever climb oh and money is now dwindling. Got supervision on Monday and I've not done what I said/wanted to do for it. I also just feel like crying and hiding under the duvet. Serious motivation and confidence issues sad

How's everyone else doing?

dotty2 Mon 15-Jul-13 10:55:13

hello everyone - and welcome to people I haven't chatted to before. I haven't been on here for ages. Only partly because I've been working hard. wink

Miffytastic - sorry to hear that it's not going well for you at the moment. How was your supervision? Did you manage to get something positive out of it? I hope you are feeling a bit more motivated or a bit more confident, or perhaps both. I also have been meaning to come on here and ask whether you got a place on the course we chatted about a while ago? Would love to hear about it if so.

Molly - did you find out about maternity benefits? All the best, and happy to chat more about juggling small babies and work if it would help, though I didn't start my phd until my youngest was 3 so I was past that stage by then.

So in the last few months I sorted my chapter structure and wrote a middle chapter for my supervisor - which he was very critical about in both helpful and utterly unhelpful ways (could he not have told me before month 32 out of 36 that he thought I should use a different referencing style?). I then had a crisis of confidence and didn't do much work for a bit. But I have recently written another chapter - actually chapter 1, which went much better. And I am feeling more on top of things and now trying to write chapter 2 - which will be harder than ch.1 as it's more substantive. But I feel somewhat encouraged. Wishing you all productive weeks...

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