I Did My PhD and I'm Still Alive

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Sharing my personal PhD experience.

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  • Some people work on an inspiration or deadline-driven basis, sometimes putting in long hours, then doing nothing for a few days. Others maintain a steady schedule, coming to the lab at a certain time in the morning and leaving a certain time in the evening. Neither is right or wrong or better or worse; it is a question of finding what works best for you.
  • I Did My PhD and I'm Still Alive

    1. 1. About Me• Malaysian, married, 2 kids.• Lecturer at a Public University in Malaysia• 1st degree in Management Information System• 2nd degree in Software Engineering (by coursework)• PhD candidate in Knowledge Engineering Systems Group, Cardiff School of Engineering, Cardiff University (started 2008). – Professor Rossi Setchi – Dr Yulia A Hicks
    2. 2. Outline• PhD Project – Starting a PhD – Making Progress – Weekly Meetings – Do’s and Don’ts• Thesis – Do’s and Don’ts• Viva – What? – Who? – Purpose of Viva – Your thesis is your best friend
    3. 3. PHDPROJECT
    4. 4. What is PhD?• PhD is not a destination, it is a JOURNEY.• Ability to research anything, and the expectation that you will understand it.• You should be more likely to ask why things are done a certain why, and how it could be made better – analytical thinking.• You can jump into a new area, pick it up quickly, and have something interesting to say about it.
    5. 5. Starting a PhD• How to start? i. Find a problem ii. Understand the background iii. Knows what already being done iv. Find the gaps v. Design solution vi. Evaluate & Validate vii. Write viii. Get agreement **• Plan your work - Get milestones - Stick to it• Break big task into micro tasks – focus on small pieces, one at a time.
    6. 6. Making Progress• Progress is measure by OUTPUT, not time. – Experiment results, publications.• There are no rules on how to allocate time for research. – If you don’t know whether you are making ‘enough’ progress, ask.• Do not waste your time & energy on problems – Focus on solutions.• Do not compare your progress with others – Every research is unique.
    7. 7. Weekly Meetings• What is our job? Nothing. – You are not reporting your job. You’re working for yourself.• Weekly meetings can be very helpful – It’s OK if you have nothing substantial to report, but don’t make it a habit.• Use this OPPORTUNITY to discuss issues and potentials.• Prepare for your meetings – Think about the best way to explain things – Provides the evidences/references• Start from the beginning – Checking up where your SV is according to your research, what your SV remember – Present in logical sequence, slowly.• A good exercise to explain about your research.
    8. 8. Managing your Supervisor• Considers the relationship as a LONG- TERM, PROFESSIONAL one.• Build trust – be honest• Build confidence• Build a good, working relationship• Keep promises• Share information• Clarify expectations
    9. 9. Managing your Supervisor• What they expect from you: – Show initiative, be proactive etc. basically be independent – these are key to doing PhD research in the social sciences – Be honest about how things are going – Produce quality written work that is not a first draft – Meet deadlines (or explain why not) – Meet regularly to discuss your progress – Be keen & enthusiastic – Listen to their advice. ** – Tell them what you are learning – Teach them something new
    10. 10. Managing you Supervisor• What you can expect from them: – Regular, constructive criticism on your written work – Guidance, suggestions and ideas for research direction/opportunities – Advice at each stage of the project – Support – Some (though probably not too much!) direction
    11. 11. Do’s and Don’ts• DON’T leave the responsibility for your project to others.• DON’T spend long hours in office/lab for the sake of it.• DON’T be alone. Talk to others about your problems.• DO get support from other PhD students.• DO give support to other PhD students.• DO take every opportunity to practice and learn.• DO get a life. Enjoy your ‘play time’.
    12. 12. THESIS
    13. 13. What?• MYTHS: – Being able to write well is a gift – Writing is just a question of getting down what you know, it will all come together the time comes. – Writing is what you do at the end, thats why it is called writing up‘.• Write early, write often.• NEVER underestimate how long it will take to write up.
    14. 14. Not good in English?• Use all opportunities to learn English• Get professional help – Remember, it isn’t your supervisor’s job to proof read what you write.• They only have a limited time available for you - try to use that time to most effect.• Get advice about your PhD, not your English.
    15. 15. VIVA
    16. 16. What?• Viva voce (Latin phrase) – oral examination (a thesis defence).• To enable examiners to assure themselves that the thesis is the candidate’s own work.• To give candidate the opportunity to defend the thesis & clarify any obscurities in it.• To assess whether the thesis is of high standard to merit the award.
    17. 17. Who?• 1 external examiner• 1 internal examiner• Chairperson - ensure that the examination is conducted in line with University regulations and he/she is not there to examine• Supervisor(s) - moral support
    18. 18. Purpose of Viva• Did you do the work yourself?• Have you done the reading?• Do you have a good knowledge of the field?• Did you write the thesis yourself?• Can you do research independently?• Can you teach the subject?• Can you talk about it professionally?• Have you contributed to knowledge?• Did you learn anything?
    19. 19. Your thesis is your best friend• Know your thesis very well• Re-read your thesis carefully• If you find any mistakes, don’t panic, but make a note of it• Identify the originality of your work• Identify the contribution to knowledge in your field study• Identify the strengths & weaknesses and make a note of them
    20. 20. The Presentation• Explain the significance of your work• Organise your presentation clearly and simply• Use body language effectively• Speak slowly and clearly• Maintain eye contact• Make effective conclusion• Summarize & close
    21. 21. You are not ALONE! www.phdcomics.com
    22. 22. “The only way to find out how to do a PhD is to do one. Therefore all advice is
    23. 23. References• Mihir Bellare http://cseweb.ucsd.edu/~mihir/phd.html• Richard Butterworth http://public.randomnotes.org/richard/PhDtalk.html• Alex Hope http://drsustainable.wordpress.com/2012/05/25/experiences-as-a- phd-student/• Matt Schonlau, How to finish a Ph.D. http://www.schonlau.net/finishphd.html• PhD Comics http://www.phdcomics.com

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