PhD Seminar 2009: finishing your PhD


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Presentation given to current LSE PhD students

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PhD Seminar 2009: finishing your PhD

  1. 1. Light at the end of the tunnel…..
  2. 2. Light at the end of the tunnel….. … ..or just an oncoming train
  3. 3. Light at the end of a tunnel or just an oncoming train? Finishing your PhD Katrina Pritchard Presentation to EROB PhD Students 17/2/2009
  4. 4. My PhD experience <ul><li>Study of social construction of professional knowledge which combined ethnographic and discourse analytic approaches </li></ul><ul><li>Research Questions: </li></ul><ul><li>How do HR professionals discursively construct knowledge and perform knowing? </li></ul><ul><li>What constructions of HR professional knowledge emerge? </li></ul><ul><li>In what ways are these constructions enacted? </li></ul>
  5. 5. My PhD experience <ul><li>2003/04: (part-time) research design, lit review </li></ul><ul><li>2004/05: field work, initial analysis </li></ul><ul><li>2005/06: data analysis, early drafts data chapters </li></ul><ul><li>2006/07: reworking analysis, a lot of writing! </li></ul><ul><li>Data: Transcribed 60 hours of recorded material, plus field notes and well over 100 documentary sources, used NVivo </li></ul><ul><li>Thesis: 93,000 words, submitted 8/10/07, viva 26/11/07 </li></ul>
  6. 6. What is involved in finishing a PhD? <ul><li>Planning </li></ul><ul><li>Writing </li></ul><ul><li>Submission and examination </li></ul><ul><li>All of these are about managing expectations: yours, your supervisors, and your examiners! </li></ul>
  7. 7. Planning <ul><li>Plan key dates and activities in detail for at least the last year of your PhD </li></ul><ul><li>Plan the structure of your thesis – and then don’t change it (too much) </li></ul><ul><li>Plan all the practical stuff: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Your holidays, your supervisors holidays </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Printing, Binding, submission forms, examiners, practice viva, etc etc. </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Planning <ul><li>Be realistic </li></ul><ul><li>Put some big red dates on your calendar and try to stick to them </li></ul><ul><li>BUT discuss and review the plan regularly with your supervisor and peers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t ignore issues or problems just because they might impact the plan! </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Writing <ul><li>Reading helps! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Up to a point but be wary of displacement activity </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Keep track of your progress – otherwise you might feel as though you are not making any: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Version charts, contents pages, put drafts chapters together in a binder – it makes it seem real! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Try and vary what you set yourself to write </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Different types of chapters present different challenges </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Set realistic goals </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not “I must finish this chapter before I have a coffee break” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some find a target of number of words per day is a useful goal – but it didn’t work for me! </li></ul></ul>
  10. 11. Writing <ul><li>Remember you are writing to convince the examiners: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Position your work with respect to their research </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Know the likely hot topics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Be aware of their positioning in the field (friends and enemies!!) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Read everything they have ever published!! </li></ul></ul>
  11. 12. Writing <ul><li>The order and structure of your thesis must work for your topic </li></ul><ul><ul><li>There is not an ideal order or perfect structure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Generally try and stick with a structure – it takes a huge amount of time to reorganise! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Don’t forget to read across the chapters – it needs to flow </li></ul><ul><li>Reflexivity is a good thing – don’t hide it or pretend that yours was a perfect PhD experience </li></ul><ul><li>You will notice mistakes after you’ve submitted – try not to panic! </li></ul>
  12. 13. My thesis: Knowledge at work: a study of HR professionals
  13. 14. Submission and examination <ul><li>Make sure you understand the process </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Forms, deadlines etc </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Think about examiners early in the PhD </li></ul><ul><li>Talk to others about their experiences but remember all examiners (and combinations of examiners) are different </li></ul><ul><li>Have a plan of what you want to happen between submitting and viva: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Do you want a practice viva? Do you want others to read your thesis and give you a list of questions? </li></ul></ul>
  14. 15. The Viva <ul><li>Expect the unexpected! </li></ul><ul><li>Keep it in perspective: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It is much less painful than childbirth </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Remember: your supervisor would not have let you submit your thesis if it was rubbish! </li></ul><ul><li>Smile, take time to consider and reflect on the questions, have confidence in your work and, if you can, enjoy the only conversation you are ever likely to have with two people who have actually read your whole thesis! </li></ul>
  15. 16. What issues might you encounter? <ul><li>Practical issues: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>e.g. IT related, illness </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Content related issues: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>e.g. new research is published in your area </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Emotional issues: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>e.g. are you ready to draw a line under the thesis and move on? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>e.g. disagreements with your supervisor (or others!!) </li></ul></ul>
  16. 17. How to emerge relatively unscathed <ul><li>Ask for help before you think you need it </li></ul><ul><li>Try not to get isolated – don’t shut yourself away </li></ul><ul><li>Its only a thesis…not your life's work </li></ul><ul><li>Make sure you celebrate in style </li></ul><ul><li>BUT do be prepared for a bit of a low after it is all over! </li></ul>