This post comes to you from the deep dark depths of the first year report. OK that’s mildly dramatic, the process isn’t actually too bad at all. I’m >5,000 words down (of ~8,000) and I’ve finished my methods, results and discussion and have made a dent on the introduction. I was originally planning quite an in depth introduction but I’m now rethinking that as, while this report isn’t an actual paper, no paper would have an enormous intro. I’m going to go with my instincts and just provide what I think is needed for my results and overall project to be put into context and make sense.
I have to admit that, while I understand the need to assess us at this point in the PhD, before I began writing it felt like a distraction from my “real work”, however I’ve actually really appreciated the opportunity to legitimately take a few weeks off from the lab. It’s been a nice change and also a great chance to collect all the research I’ve produced and form it into one meaningful document – I’m actually impressed with how much I’ve achieved this year. A major downside to desk work is the massive amounts of food I eat – I might start to look like the girl who ate Megan, rather than just Megan, if I don’t get this report finished soon.
So I keep mentioning my first year report/review. What exactly does it mean? Well, basically by the 1st Sept 2014 I have to submit the following to my department: Records of training undertaken in year 1, an ~8000 word report, a projection of what I plan to achieve before the end of my PhD and records of all mandatory supervisory meetings held in first year (1/month). These will then go to my probation review panel (this is two internal academics with knowledge in the field but without direct involvement in my project i.e. they aren’t my supervisors etc.), I will then have a viva style meeting with them and they will decide on one of the following outcomes:
- You are passed and continue with your PhD
- You remain on probation and are reassessed within 6 months
- You should be transferred to a lower research degree programme
- You will not be allowed to continue with your PhD
Obviously I’m aiming for option one! Options 3 and 4 are used when it is determined you will be unable to fulfill the requirements needed to gain a PhD within the registration period (4 years full time). I’m currently blocking out the actual viva style meeting so that I don’t panic about it, but I’m confident I know my project and where I’m planning to take it.
Coming to the end of my first year, I think the most meaningful advice I can offer is to treat your PhD as a job, as I’ve mentioned before I came into my PhD from work rather than education, and for me even as a PhD student I never stopped going to work everyday. This lets me, on the whole, keep my weekends PhD free (although I do use them to get on top of other things such as Brilliant Club work and marking for demonstrating jobs), but that’s not to say there aren’t some long weekdays. Jut remember, a PhD will always be much more than a 9-5.