PhD plans

So I guess some things have changed, but everything remains the same. Difficult to not fall into a real lull between assessments. They’ll hit me like a ton of bricks if I am not careful. The internship is still going at snail pace (the research internship is a module where you work with someone for approx. 80 hours, helping with their study and writing something useful for them e.g. a Methods section) but I feel like I’ve tried my hardest to get it going. Still, it’s 20 credits that I don’t want to do badly on, but I feel least motivated with that module, shame.

Me and my boyfriend just hit one year! Big landmark for me, never got this far in a relationship before. It’s been weird learning about compromise and trying to stitch up your life with someone else’s. Especially as he’s three and a half hours away! Applying to the University of Reading was a tough one for us. He doesn’t want me somewhere else that’s not Bournemouth for three plus years, and I can’t blame him. But we’ve been looking at the various options and we’re happy to both be flexible! So I am having one more shot at funding for that. The final push. So I’ll be applying to the Parkinson’s Society and seeing how we get with it. 🙂

(http://wp.me/p8abcF-2j for my previous PhD mention.)

Didn’t quite meet expectations, did it?

As part of the course, we all need to complete a module called Professional Skills which has multiple elements to it (that are all then submitted together as a portfolio). One of the elements is signing up to some of the courses put on by the Graduate School. In theory, these shouldn’t take longer than 2 days max., and most are half days. The one that I am working on at the moment is called Introduction to SPSS. Now, don’t get me wrong, I did plenty of stats at undergraduate and I loved it. And I made the terrible assumption that more stats would just be a compulsory part of this course. However, it isn’t, and I am somehow two thirds through with no idea what a t-test is. Because I finished my first degree in 2014 and probably haven’t done anything statistical since the end of 2013 in all honestly. My memory did not hold onto much, I tell you! So now I am desperately trying to get my stats skills up to scratch via extra-curricular mini courses, because if I finish this Masters with no idea how to analyse data, then the whole world will take me for a fool.

 

(Also, part of the Professional Skills module is to demonstrate reflexivity regarding this “extra” learning. Think this might be more of an outburst than reflexive post…)

Meeting with my project supervisor

It’s Doris Day today. I prayed this morning that the storm would get so bad that I wouldn’t need to go in and meet with my supervisor because of my fundamental lack of ideas. Although I had one, it was someone else’s. Anyway, the time came and I got in my car and the journey was fine. By the time I was on campus, the wind had picked up and my once sturdy and dependable (and very pretty) umbrella is now in a bin.

If it wasn’t clear, I was kind of dreading this meeting. He wasn’t in a swell mood, either, as his lab has been flooded. But we did um and ahh and we’re going to see what we can do with my stolen idea. I am just glad he isn’t scary like my internship supervisor. The idea is looking at temperature asymmetry in limbs/hands, to see if this changes body perception and pain, based on what we know about complex regional pain syndrome. I’ve got a week to crack on with the research to build a solid hypothesis!

But back to my presentation for now.

Getting into the swing of things.

Hi there. Long time, no speak.

 

After the initial disappointment (which I oft described as ‘bummed out’) of not getting the funding for my dream PhD research had passed, I realised that whilst it was a shame and that the system is against me etc. etc., I actually had had a wonderful opportunity to go after something that I wanted which is rare for me. I like the easy routes, the guarantees of feeling good about myself. I had also got to the interview stage and, according to my potential supervisor (PS), that was impressive based on the level of competition. I have since applied for some ‘lesser’ funding and have heard nothing back since. As my PS is on maternity leave, I doubt I’ll be at the front of her mind anyway, so I am going to let that one drift for now.

 

As for my assessments, well. Never have I ever been so stressed. I was genuine when I told my tutor how concerned I was about my grades. It felt like a trainwreck to me. But it seems I am that person that whines about how terrible she is only to get very good grades. Yeah, I hate me, too. I am happy with them, and outstandingly shocked with glee over one of them (thankfully worth the most credits so far, as well, kerching!). This has probably given me the confidence to look at the rest of my Masters with much more enthusiasm. It’ll be over quickly I know, and I don’t want to think I spent the whole time acting like someone forced me to do it.

 

That being said, I have a sinking feeling in my gut which is a somatosensory response to presentations. I can’t help it, I wish I could. I have one next Tuesday which is preluded by having to contribute to games activities over the weekend. Double whammy of ‘Oh, heck, all eyes are on me.’. Classroom discusssions, or clowning around with people, and I get a kick out of being centre of attention. As soon as I am standing and it’s formal, then suddenly I want to run and/or puke. So the next few days are going to be excruciating and I guess that’s unavoidable.

 

In brighter news, I have discovered an interest in consultancy and looking into ways to help Psychology branch out a bit more into mainstream relevance. It’s exciting to discovere potential new passions.

Waiting

This week, so far, I’ve been waiting to hear back about a PhD application. I was told I’d probably hear by… yesterday. I know it’s pointless, but I keep thinking that the more time goes by from that point, the less likely it is that it’s me they’ve said yes to. Which is disappointing, but I can deal with that. I’m just not very patient, and I hate not knowing.

In the meantime, I’m trying to get myself back on track for the new semester which starts next week. Mondays are 9-5 and then we have Professional Skills workshops on Tuesdays (the only reason I started this blog, although I have not kept to the guidelines one bit). The rest is up to me.

I don’t want a repeat of the last two weeks. It was intensely stressful and I knew I could have produced better pieces of work. However, the whole PhD application thing was unexpected and uncertain. Difficult to plan for. Which meant other things (i.e. assessments!) got pushed to one side. I wrote a very poor essay in 24 hours. On the other hand, my exam went better than expected! Not all doom and gloom, ha. So, yeah, the aim is to read up, excruciating detailed plans, and kill any lesser priorities (basically, everything else). If anyone has any tips about time management, when you feel like you’ve literally tried everything? That would be grand.

Things they should tell you before doing a Masters

  • You need the mental strength of a buffalo. Wait, no, that’s physical strength. The mental strength of a guy walking across fire coals whilst wearing underwear made out of cacti. That might be more appropriate.
  • No matter how much you plan – NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU PLAN – you will submit your work a minute late with missing references.
  • Re above point, you will know you can do better and want to jump up and down like a two year old denied ice cream due to the frustration of not demonstrating your potential.
  • Imposter syndrome eats you up.
  • Panic paralysis pins you down.

Today, I am not recommending doing a Masters to anyone.

  • Oh what’s that, you ask, another deadline due in less than 24 hours? Oh goody.

Now is the worst time

Now is the worst time to be writing a reflexive piece about my course because I have a double-deadline tomorrow (assessment and PhD application) and I have gone into a state of panic. I should be using this precious, precious time to focus on my assessment to the point of completion and then try to get the PhD stuff done (but it is not the end of the world if that doesn’t happen). Instead, my essay is just words on a page with no meaning or flow and very little supporting evidence. I can’t get my mind to go any further than ‘GET ON WITH IT’. A quite ironic command. My head feels like it’s full with a sponge and the rest of me is slightly nauseous. Not very useful. I can’t remember how to get my brain to be useful. Oh yeah, breathe. I do not want to pull an all-nighter. No sir, not one bit.

Okay, so what to do. Breathing, yes. Cut off distractions – done. What else? Cup of tea duly brought in by mum!

So in regards to the assessment, I am definitely up to the word count so it’s a game of editing and finding references for points as quickly as possible. I also need to add more to the comparison part of the essay, but could do that as I go so the points in the first half are balanced in the second half. I have literally switched off my phone and tablet and I might clear everything from my desk so nothing visual distracts me, either. It might also be good to get rid of all form of ‘notes’, in the sense that I have a few word documents and OneNote open which make me think that there is something else I have missed or need to add. The final thing to do is chop things down into really small tasks. Or sprints as my man would say.

Step 1: Make sure the first and last lines of paras are clear and punchy, and flow on from/to the next para.
Edit Step 1a: Examine all remaining ‘notes’ then close these documents.
Step 2: Rearrange paras if the flow isn’t working.
Step 3: Remove anything “minor”.
Step 4: Read through from the top and delete unnecessary words.
Step 5: Add points to analysis section from Andrew’s recommendation.
Step 6: Read it aloud to check flow again.
Step 7: Check word count and re-edit if need be.
Step 8: Make sure each para has at least two references in it (LOL).
Step 9: Final word count check.
Step 10: Send to Andrew for feedback.
Edit Step 11: References.

Ah man, I hope this works…