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Author Topic: 5th year  (Read 1978 times)
lohai0
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« on: December 15, 2012, 9:32:08 PM »

I'm sitting at a crossroads with my dissertation right now. I'm struggling to decide whether or not the best possible decision for me is to try and quickly finish my dissertation project or to stay here a 5th year.

Pro 5th year: I can have a break between semesters, my letters will be much stronger next time (because other grad student should get a job and we have 2 of 3 letter writers in common), I can build my teaching portfolio more (probably math for elementary teachers or teaching a proofs class), I ought to be able to get at least three more first or solo authored publications out, collect data for at least 2 new projects, and I can take 4 more classes and have 18 credits in three cognate areas. I may even be able to apply for a dissertation fellowship or two and get off the schneid in the whole "record of external funding" area, and there would be a little less pressure to write. Oh yeah, and my dissertation would be better, I guess.

Con: my advisor can be challenging to deal with and another year of that will be ... unfun, my rent is going to go up substantially, and Super Duper Mega Rockstar grad student in my subfield from Big Name U is on the market next year.

I have all of Chapter IV left to write (~80 pages) and if the next round of rewrites is enough to appease TTO, then there is just one section of Chapter V left (~30 pages). I could finish and defend before August, probably even before July, but it would require a sustained grinding effort on the order of 10+ pages a week. (I strongly suspect that TTO is going to require that the 80 or so pages of Chapter V I've already produced be substantially rewritten, if not written from scratch, at least one more time). I would be fully funded, though I would have to apply formally for an extension because some of my transfer credit would  be too old. This is unlikely to be a problem.

For those people who were at the cusp like I am, did you kill yourself and finish in 4 or stay a 5th year to buff up your CV and (hopefully) not burn out?
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totoro
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« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2012, 10:00:03 PM »

I would try to apply for post-docs, dissertation fellowships etc. and see what happens while in the meantime working as hard as possible on the dissertation. I didn't have much choice when I was a PhD student. I got a fellowship for my 3rd year and then the department wouldn't give me any more funding except a tuition waiver for my 4th year. Totally ridiculous incentives for getting outside funding... So I got a post-doc in the UK.
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msparticularity
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« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2012, 11:12:42 PM »

The pro: you could get some portion of your actual diss into publication, which might help you on the market.

The cons: this is so not about you. You are being held up on one small (relatively speaking) portion of the larger work because of someone else's enmeshment in it. As you already know, I think this is a no-win situation for you: you are going nuts trying to write in a way that makes no sense at all to you, and I don't see that improving substantially with time.
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baleful_regards
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« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2012, 11:55:55 PM »

I want you to be happy, lohai0.

Can you emotionally bear being with TTO another year?  I think we can all appreciate how difficult this limbo space really is on ones psyche.

Do you think he will be more willing to help launch you next year?

Chime to Ms P's comment on writing in a style that makes no sense to you. The parts I had to re-write to suit some of my committee were brutal. I would tell anyone to never have mixed methods on a committee. An unnecessary nightmare.
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lohai0
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« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2012, 12:27:17 AM »

I want you to be happy, lohai0.

Can you emotionally bear being with TTO another year?  I think we can all appreciate how difficult this limbo space really is on ones psyche.

Do you think he will be more willing to help launch you next year?

Chime to Ms P's comment on writing in a style that makes no sense to you. The parts I had to re-write to suit some of my committee were brutal. I would tell anyone to never have mixed methods on a committee. An unnecessary nightmare.

The deal-with-TTO-emotionally drugs just titrated up to an effective level last week. I should probably actually interact with him again to see if he is more bearable with drugs, so that will be on hold until January. Other Grad Student ought to get a job this cycle - TTO doesn't withhold his letters (OGS is at least 2 months behind where I am in the actual writing though). OGS and I share two letter writers (we both have TTO and our second research letter from the same people; the teaching letter is different). If OGS graduates and I don't, I get stronger letters next time. Also, TTO would be down to three advisees, all in totally different stages. I'd be revising, #2 would be collecting data and starting analysis, and #3 would be just starting their proposal. There is no chance he picks up a new 4th advisee this round. I'd be the only one on the market, and he would have more time in theory next year, so I have to imagine that he would be more supportive next time. He did not want me to be applying for jobs this year - he said so back in late September. I thought he'd changed his mind, but it doesn't seem that way.
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lyndonparker
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« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2012, 2:22:56 PM »

It's your call, but I would do all I could to get finished with my dissertation as quickly as I could. When I was in my last year I put my head down and got it done. I had a tremendous advisor but was in a snakepit of a program. It's much better being on the other side.
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marchesa
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« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2012, 10:22:26 PM »

I'm new here but I can share what I decided to do. Rather than rush to finish this year, I've decided to apply for dissertation fellowships now and visiting/adjunct positions in late spring if I don't get any nibbles on the fellowships. While I could, in theory have busted my butt and finished in time for August graduation, I decided not to for a few reasons. First, because my dissertation wouldn't be that good given the time constraints for writing. Second, because I don't have any publications under my belt. And, third, but no less important, because three of my friends from my department are on the market this year and all of us have research interests and training in common (think same region, though different places in the region, plus based on the same theoretical framework).

Many of the deadlines for dissertation fellowships haven't had their deadlines yet. They are relatively easy to identify by searching online, though many of them are reserved for underrepresented candidates (not sure if that applies to you). Best of luck with your decision!
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dr_prephd
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« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2012, 10:40:47 PM »

It's much better being on the other side.

I agree. Get as much of the work done as you can, explore as many options as you can, and be prepared to go with Plan B or C (fellowship, postdoc, 5th year, new advisor, new method, etc., etc., etc.) if necessary.
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lohai0
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« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2012, 10:43:41 PM »

I sent an email to TTO asking if we could talk about this in January. I'm pretty sure he is almost as sick of me as I am of him. Meanwhile, I'm looking for fellowships. I always feel a little guilty since I usually pass rather than be categorized as a "member of an underrepresented group" but it can't hurt to apply. I do have a decent number of publications (>5, education), but OGS and I are so similar, I'd much rather be applying against Rockstar Grad from Big Time U. I can differentiate myself from him...where OGS and I look very alike on paper.

I like that, dr_prephd. 5/7 of my remaining applications are post-docs. (The other two are really, really nice TT jobs). A 5th year here is like a backup backup plan.
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heynonnynonnymouse
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« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2012, 11:18:30 PM »

I'm in a similar boat on a lot of points, and I'm taking the fellowship/post-doc plan. I've already had some nibbles and an interview on 2 fellowship applications, so I'm optimistic that I'll be "out of here" next year, but still working on my dissertation. I have some papers out for review for publication right now, too, and hopefully one more by summer, so I should be a more competitive candidate next year, anyhow, with a lot more dissertation to show for it.
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kron3007
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« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2012, 9:52:27 AM »

Personally I pushed to finish as quickly as possible, and am glad I did, but I had a postdoc lined up with a quickly approaching start date.  I would no have been in as big a hurry if limbo awaited me.

If you dont have another position lined up, it seems that it would be best to stay put for now.  You will be far more competitive on the market with a couple more publications under you belt.  Spend the time making yourself more marketable and applying for postdocs. 

At the end of the day, only know know the specifics of your situation and you have to decide what's best, but the market is tough and you should be prepared for the reality of it .   
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piledhigheranddeeper
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« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2012, 1:25:34 AM »

I would try to finish.  Too many people do not finish.

My advsior would have wanted shorter chapters. lol
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