PhD in the times of coronavirus, worth it?

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threeportdrift
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(Original post by 2cool4$kool)
Another one on the 'go for it' team!

That is true I suppose.

Unless I find a something productive to do in this year, it would be quite pointless to postpone. And as PhoenixFortune previously pointed, I can use the time to start working on publishing some papers! This idea really stuck in my mind when they mentioned it.

Would you say that the benefits of finishing off the PhD earlier outweigh whatever physical interactions I would be sacrificing?

What if for example I choose to spend the year learning a new language which is also an asset for a researcher, would your stance still hold the same?
My University's Language Centre has just moved to online teaching. (Sorry, missed the post where you seemed to know yours was closed)
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Plantagenet Crown
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(Original post by 2cool4$kool)
artful_lounger harrysbar mnot _gcx Reality Check you guys have commented enough and in quite reasonable ways on PhD and other postgraduate questions in this forum. Any views of your own?

Feel free to tag other members if you want. I am liking how lively and enlightening this discussion has been so far with threeportdrift and PhoenixFortune.
As someone who’s recently got a PhD I’d agree with whoever said about it getting it over and done with sooner rather than later so as to be able to move onto “real” employment and the next stage of your life. While my PhD was a real job in terms of the hours, it inevitably felt like somewhat of a limbo; you’re not quite a student but not quite in a true job either with promotion prospects, pay rises etc.

As a humanities PhD you’re lucky in not needing a lab and presumably being able to access most or all of your resources online. Yeah, it sucks not having face to face content in terms of supervisions, guidance and conferences as nothing can truly compare to that. However, most of those can be done easily enough by conference call, Skype, FaceTime, Microsoft Teams and so on, and I would presume your institution and supervisors will arrange those.

At the minute we really don’t know how long this pandemic will last and so putting it off could be risky because what if next year things are still bad? You’ve actually got a PhD offer, what if you reject it and next year don’t get one? It will be even more competitive as more will be applying that chose not to this year because of covid.

My advice would be to take it and crack on. The earlier stages and assessments of your PhD shouldn’t be that badly affected and this whole nightmare should almost certainly be over by the time of your submission and viva.
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username5263178
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(Original post by mnot)
I wouldn't worry about the online meetings, I was worried at first, but they seem more normal then you would expect, I think you likely will be finding your feet with the supervisor the first 3/4 meetings anyway, its not as good as meeting face to face for forming a rapport but this is much more minor then you would think.

The Online conferences, Ive just been getting email invitations, I don't think anyone is policing attendance but the invites aren't necessarily advertised so only if someone informs you via email but my research group has hosted some and then they've shared invitations from a couple other groups. (i assume other research groups have similar systems but i have no idea). But before Corona my faculty research group always did an excellent job informing me of local events and relevant conferences already, I don't know how this compares, as this is the only group ive ever worked with in academia,

Yes the earlier I finish the better, without compromising quality. I view this as a job, and the faster I complete this the quicker I progress to the next rung of the ladder.

I have no idea how humanities post-docs work or if they were even a thing, I just kind of assumed they were but that might have been a very wrong assumption, in STEM we seem to have quite a few post-docs, its almost a stepping stone for those who want to go into academia.
Thank you for shedding light on the conference processes that are going around at the moment. Nothing compares to a bit of insider information!

I'm seriously starting to reconsider my previous stance due to your contribution and those of others.

I hope you know how valuable your input is. I'm highly appreciative of your time.
(Original post by threeportdrift)
My University's Language Centre has just moved to online teaching. (Sorry, missed the post where you seemed to know yours was closed)
Looks like universities are really working hard on trying to deliver as much as possible and to keep down the deviations from the norm.

I'll have to ask mine about what they're doing. Thanks, three!
(Original post by Plantagenet Crown)
As someone who’s recently got a PhD I’d agree with whoever said about it getting it over and done with sooner rather than later so as to be able to move onto “real” employment and the next stage of your life. While my PhD was a real job in terms of the hours, it inevitably felt like somewhat of a limbo; you’re not quite a student but not quite in a true job either with promotion prospects, pay rises etc.

As a humanities PhD you’re lucky in not needing a lab and presumably being able to access most or all of your resources online. Yeah, it sucks not having face to face content in terms of supervisions, guidance and conferences as nothing can truly compare to that. However, most of those can be done easily enough by conference call, Skype, FaceTime, Microsoft Teams and so on, and I would presume your institution and supervisors will arrange those.

At the minute we really don’t know how long this pandemic will last and so putting it off could be risky because what if next year things are still bad? You’ve actually got a PhD offer, what if you reject it and next year don’t get one? It will be even more competitive as more will be applying that chose not to this year because of covid.

My advice would be to take it and crack on. The earlier stages and assessments of your PhD shouldn’t be that badly affected and this whole nightmare should almost certainly be over by the time of your submission and viva.
Yet another one saying that!! It's crazy to have so much of the same input from people who are actually doing a PhD!!

You're all absolutely right. The faster I get this out of the way, the faster I move onto the next stage in my life. I'd hate to waste another year. I was actually so adamant on postponing to the point of stubbornness but that much insight has played a huge role in my point of view. Though it's kind of depressing to entertain the possibility that this could well last until my final year.

My PhD won't be a job per se but more of an education since I'm paying for it (am I crazy for doing that? some people certainly make me feel like I am :lol:)... And I have four PhD offers (I got accepted everywhere I applied) which are all self-funded so I feel pretty secure in terms of getting an offer in the future. Nonetheless, I'm thinking I just have to compromise and let go of any idealistic scenarios that I might've had in mind. It's the new normal and we should all be adapting to it. No one actually knows how long this pandemic is going to last and I'd be absolutely gutted to find out later that my postponement is of no meaningful consequence.



P.S. I would've loved for someone to argue for the other point of view, it would've been interesting to also know what they'd have to say. But it's also comforting to get such a uniform set of opinions
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Cedg25
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My post here is a little bit late but I was actually trying to find how other PhD students are getting along and found this! An update would be good also if you are getting on ok! I see a lot of the users on here are, I guess ill give the other end of the experience (the bad end, uh oh!).

So I started in March and have never been at my university due to coronavirus. I have had a rough experience (considering dropping out and doing a masters), I was lucky that I got the offer (2 offers from different universities so even luckier!) but if I knew the experience would be the way it is I definitely would not have taken it up - but then again there was no way to know what my experience would be like if I hadn't accepted it - so go for it as I seem to be an outlier.

Downsides I have found - Isolation, mental health issues reoccurring that I haven't had in years (Work related I am always happy when im out with friends or family, 2 meter distancing of course), lack of motivation and drive, I generally find it extremely difficult to even want to work at home which is a personal problem of mines of course but some people may fall in the same bracket. Online meetings have generally been fine, However! I have now had my supervisor miss 7 meetings since coronavirus hit - not including ones he has been late to - but again this is a personal experience for me.

Just a little bit of my negative experience but they are mostly personal issues which have deterred me from wanting to continue, I think ill take a step back to masters and tackle the PhD sometime in the future - but good luck to you!
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mnot
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(Original post by Cedg25)
My post here is a little bit late but I was actually trying to find how other PhD students are getting along and found this! An update would be good also if you are getting on ok! I see a lot of the users on here are, I guess ill give the other end of the experience (the bad end, uh oh!).

So I started in March and have never been at my university due to coronavirus. I have had a rough experience (considering dropping out and doing a masters), I was lucky that I got the offer (2 offers from different universities so even luckier!) but if I knew the experience would be the way it is I definitely would not have taken it up - but then again there was no way to know what my experience would be like if I hadn't accepted it - so go for it as I seem to be an outlier.

Downsides I have found - Isolation, mental health issues reoccurring that I haven't had in years (Work related I am always happy when im out with friends or family, 2 meter distancing of course), lack of motivation and drive, I generally find it extremely difficult to even want to work at home which is a personal problem of mines of course but some people may fall in the same bracket. Online meetings have generally been fine, However! I have now had my supervisor miss 7 meetings since coronavirus hit - not including ones he has been late to - but again this is a personal experience for me.

Just a little bit of my negative experience but they are mostly personal issues which have deterred me from wanting to continue, I think ill take a step back to masters and tackle the PhD sometime in the future - but good luck to you!
If you officially started in March, then this really is rough. Have you basically just been reading then?

Because my first few months of my PhD were fairly slow (even tho it was in person). Id imagine during this period your supervisor just wants you to read as much as possible and get a feel for what your going to be doing as the project unfolds.

Perhaps it’s worth seeing how you feel at the 6 month mark, or your first few weeks once you can get into the office although I think it could be some time before normality returns.
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PhoenixFortune
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(Original post by Cedg25)
My post here is a little bit late but I was actually trying to find how other PhD students are getting along and found this! An update would be good also if you are getting on ok! I see a lot of the users on here are, I guess ill give the other end of the experience (the bad end, uh oh!).

So I started in March and have never been at my university due to coronavirus. I have had a rough experience (considering dropping out and doing a masters), I was lucky that I got the offer (2 offers from different universities so even luckier!) but if I knew the experience would be the way it is I definitely would not have taken it up - but then again there was no way to know what my experience would be like if I hadn't accepted it - so go for it as I seem to be an outlier.

Downsides I have found - Isolation, mental health issues reoccurring that I haven't had in years (Work related I am always happy when im out with friends or family, 2 meter distancing of course), lack of motivation and drive, I generally find it extremely difficult to even want to work at home which is a personal problem of mines of course but some people may fall in the same bracket. Online meetings have generally been fine, However! I have now had my supervisor miss 7 meetings since coronavirus hit - not including ones he has been late to - but again this is a personal experience for me.

Just a little bit of my negative experience but they are mostly personal issues which have deterred me from wanting to continue, I think ill take a step back to masters and tackle the PhD sometime in the future - but good luck to you!
What reasons has your supervisor given for missing so many meetings? That's not on really, even considering the disruption of working from home.

Would it be possible for you to suspend your studies until you have sorted your personal problems and mental health? If you think you might want to come back to it (i.e. if your passion is there but your mental health is the barrier to that), then maybe look into suspending/interrupting. Like mnot says, it's early days, so it won't always be such a slog. If you feel that your supervisor isn't stepping up, contact your personal tutor and discuss your options.

If your PhD is funded, it might also be worth looking at your regulations from your funding body to see what they will allow.
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Cedg25
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oh gosh thanks for the kind support guys - Its an odd scenario so I was getting slowly more drained working at home but was doing fine - but the more my supervisor hasn't turned up the more I have been like screw this (we don't get along too great). Reasons have varied from he was recording videos, had other meetings, didn't put it in his calendar and just forgot.

He has recommended suspending for 6 months - its a consideration but I am due a review in like 2/3 weeks so I don't see the point suspending to then jump into a review straight after return. Mnot is right it has been entirely reading for the last few months and has been slow, a few potential areas I have been told not to explore which is fine but the one I really wanted to do was on the PhD advertisement so I found that strange.

Yeah I may speak to my tutor again, I have in the past, he is my second supervisor and fairly new and was also my current supervisors PhD student in the past - its a strange scenario - im happy to go and do a masters and try a PhD again later, but I don't want to be financially crippled for a few months

Thanks for the advice guys!
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mnot
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(Original post by Cedg25)
oh gosh thanks for the kind support guys - Its an odd scenario so I was getting slowly more drained working at home but was doing fine - but the more my supervisor hasn't turned up the more I have been like screw this (we don't get along too great). Reasons have varied from he was recording videos, had other meetings, didn't put it in his calendar and just forgot.

He has recommended suspending for 6 months - its a consideration but I am due a review in like 2/3 weeks so I don't see the point suspending to then jump into a review straight after return. Mnot is right it has been entirely reading for the last few months and has been slow, a few potential areas I have been told not to explore which is fine but the one I really wanted to do was on the PhD advertisement so I found that strange.

Yeah I may speak to my tutor again, I have in the past, he is my second supervisor and fairly new and was also my current supervisors PhD student in the past - its a strange scenario - im happy to go and do a masters and try a PhD again later, but I don't want to be financially crippled for a few months

Thanks for the advice guys!
Id say if you don’t get on with your supervisor this isn’t a great spot to be and could lead to further issues. They don’t need to be your best friend, but I think a certain level of rapport is important.

Ignoring the review in 2/3 weeks, if you really love the subject and want a PhD I think the 6 month suspension of studies could be a good option, as it’s difficult to get some traction starting your PhD in such a difficult environment separated from the department.

That said the fact you have now mentioned a couple times dropping to a masters is making me think your heart is not in this project specifically, something pretty important for a PhD.

This is a difficult time to start, I rather suspect the reading you are doing may what you would have done if you were in the office at the start anyway. That said it sounds like a lack of meetings & communication has really left you feeling out in the wilderness. Best of luck.
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Cedg25
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(Original post by mnot)
Id say if you don’t get on with your supervisor this isn’t a great spot to be and could lead to further issues. They don’t need to be your best friend, but I think a certain level of rapport is important.

Ignoring the review in 2/3 weeks, if you really love the subject and want a PhD I think the 6 month suspension of studies could be a good option, as it’s difficult to get some traction starting your PhD in such a difficult environment separated from the department.

That said the fact you have now mentioned a couple times dropping to a masters is making me think your heart is not in this project specifically, something pretty important for a PhD.

This is a difficult time to start, I rather suspect the reading you are doing may what you would have done if you were in the office at the start anyway. That said it sounds like a lack of meetings & communication has really left you feeling out in the wilderness. Best of luck.
Thanks again Mnot - a very balanced and fair comment I would say! I totally agree with the masters comment, my heart was in the project in the beginning I was super excited I had multiple ideas I wanted to explore - I mean if I wasn't in it at the beginning I wouldn't have agreed to travel 2.5 hours a day for this I guess!


Yeah I think if my supervisor bothers to turn up ill have a proper discussion with him at the next meeting - maybe suspending studies is a good idea maybe you're right - only issue is it brings financial difficulties but Ill survive.

Thanks for the support!
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PhoenixFortune
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(Original post by Cedg25)
oh gosh thanks for the kind support guys - Its an odd scenario so I was getting slowly more drained working at home but was doing fine - but the more my supervisor hasn't turned up the more I have been like screw this (we don't get along too great). Reasons have varied from he was recording videos, had other meetings, didn't put it in his calendar and just forgot.

He has recommended suspending for 6 months - its a consideration but I am due a review in like 2/3 weeks so I don't see the point suspending to then jump into a review straight after return. Mnot is right it has been entirely reading for the last few months and has been slow, a few potential areas I have been told not to explore which is fine but the one I really wanted to do was on the PhD advertisement so I found that strange.

Yeah I may speak to my tutor again, I have in the past, he is my second supervisor and fairly new and was also my current supervisors PhD student in the past - its a strange scenario - im happy to go and do a masters and try a PhD again later, but I don't want to be financially crippled for a few months

Thanks for the advice guys!
Tbh he doesn't sound like he's showing you much respect. He knows that he is committed to having meetings with you, but doesn't hesitate to shunt you aside in favour of other things. I would understand a little better if you were his first PhD student, but you aren't, so it's not great.

Could you have the review and then suspend? During my review I had a confidential part with just my personal tutor who asked me if there were any issues. That would be a good time to bring up you supervisor's conduct. I guess suspending also depends on whether you'll want to go back - if you aren't doing the project you thought you'd be, and aren't happy with that, maybe cutting your losses early would be a reasonable option.

Are you a funded student btw?
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Cedg25
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(Original post by PhoenixFortune)
Tbh he doesn't sound like he's showing you much respect. He knows that he is committed to having meetings with you, but doesn't hesitate to shunt you aside in favour of other things. I would understand a little better if you were his first PhD student, but you aren't, so it's not great.

Could you have the review and then suspend? During my review I had a confidential part with just my personal tutor who asked me if there were any issues. That would be a good time to bring up you supervisor's conduct. I guess suspending also depends on whether you'll want to go back - if you aren't doing the project you thought you'd be, and aren't happy with that, maybe cutting your losses early would be a reasonable option.

Are you a funded student btw?
Hi Phoenix thanks for replying. Yeah I got that vibe a bit too.

That’s a good suggestion maybe suspending after the first review - my fear is I don’t make it through it! But Iv heard almost everyone does. Yeah I could speak to my personal tutor after too I’m just a little reluctant as he’s my second supervisor and my supervisors ex student so I’d imagine they’re pretty close which makes me feel a little awkward

Yeah I’m funded
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PhoenixFortune
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(Original post by Cedg25)
Hi Phoenix thanks for replying. Yeah I got that vibe a bit too.

That’s a good suggestion maybe suspending after the first review - my fear is I don’t make it through it! But Iv heard almost everyone does. Yeah I could speak to my personal tutor after too I’m just a little reluctant as he’s my second supervisor and my supervisors ex student so I’d imagine they’re pretty close which makes me feel a little awkward

Yeah I’m funded
Your second supervisor should not also be your personal tutor - they should be two completely separate and impartial entities (my personal tutor is from a completely different department than my 2 supervisors, for example). It's a conflict of interest to hold two roles on the same committee, so you need to ask for a different personal tutor.

You will need to speak to your funder about the circumstances where suspensions are allowed. I don't know how getting more funding will be affected in the future if you decide to leave, so these are conversations you need to have with your funding body and/or funding lead at your university.
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Cedg25
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(Original post by PhoenixFortune)
Your second supervisor should not also be your personal tutor - they should be two completely separate and impartial entities (my personal tutor is from a completely different department than my 2 supervisors, for example). It's a conflict of interest to hold two roles on the same committee, so you need to ask for a different personal tutor.

You will need to speak to your funder about the circumstances where suspensions are allowed. I don't know how getting more funding will be affected in the future if you decide to leave, so these are conversations you need to have with your funding body and/or funding lead at your university.
Yeah I thought that with the second supervisor/tutor thing - it seemed a bit off to me too cause I don't feel comfortable speaking to him about certain things although he is a really nice and approachable person so I would be happy to talk work related things anytime with him.


I believe the funding is provided by the university but again ill look into this and thanks for the advice!
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