PhD Questions for Sheridan (or anyone else)

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#1
12:15 PM Apr 8 2011 2011
Giant Baba
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PhD Questions for Sheridan (or anyone else)
I'm kind of curious about people who are currently undertaking this task because it's something I think about constantly with regards to my future.

I'm pretty sure I'll never do it because of financial reasons and that I don't find literary research to be even remotely important. That being said, it would be nice to have it because it would allow me to teach community college without the prerequisite of 20+ years of experience. I approached my MA with a similar mindset and I was able to bang out my thesis without much of a problem, but I don't believe I'll be able to do that again, especially now that I'm 2 years removed from university life.

Still, I'd like to gather as much information as possible to make my decision, even if my discipline and university is different from others. As far as I know, Sheridan and Tuen are working on their PhDs, but there could be more people that I'm just not aware of.

Anyways, here are the questions (in no order whatsoever)

1. How does the coursework compare to the MA level?

2. What are the expectations of your thesis in terms of size and scope?

3. How much time do you allocate for your thesis on a given week/month?

4. What made you choose your particular thesis? (dumb generic question, but I'm interested)


That's all I can gather at the moment.

P.S.

I have a belief that the higher you go in education that the proportion of ability/talent to work ethic you need inverts. In high school, and a few years of college, you can coast on your ability. Once you reach your later years in college and begin doing extended research (a process that requires thoroughness, attention to detail, and a whole lot of reading), talent doesn't matter as much because the size of the project becomes simply too great to halfass.  When I think of my graduate school cohorts what I remember is not their intelligence (which was certainly above average), but their extraordinary passion and determination for their discipline. A passion I can't say I possess at this time.

I remember a few months into my program the most academically accomplished person in the group (he got his MBA at 21) dropped out because he didn't have the same motivation for teaching as he did for management. I would like to prevent myself from reenacting this particular scenario if possible.
Last edited by Giant Baba, 11:40 PM on Apr 08, 2011
#2
1:11 AM Apr 19 2011 2011
Tuen
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1. How does the coursework compare to the MA level?
Dunno. I just got in the program. But I'm also an anomaly, I've been doing two projects on top of TA work and school work this whole time. LoL!

2. What are the expectations of your thesis in terms of size and scope?
I expect it to be like 100+ pages with a pretty focused scope (though it'll have a broad-ish background to it). I had the benefit of reading other PhD Thesis papers that are somewhat related to my field and saw that you actually detail a lot of background information (if you used an SEM, talk about how it worked into your project... in great detail). I haven't started my Thesis yet because I don't have sufficient data. :-/.

3. How much time do you allocate for your thesis on a given week/month?
When it comes time, I'll treat my days like regular work days. 9 to 5 every weekday. When the Thesis becomes my focus, all my time will go into it.

4. What made you choose your particular thesis? (dumb generic question, but I'm interested)
Availability. I knew I wanted to do Chemical Engineering and focus in Microprocessing (I want to be Intel bound :-p), and this project just so happened to be there for me. If you have the first two items in line (major and focus) then find a professor in your field and focus and they'll get you a project. At least, I think that's how it worked. Again, I'm an anomaly. My senior project and my research work are one in the same, so my undergraduate work just flowed right into my graduate work.

===

As for motivation, it's a tough transition. I didn't do it gracefully. I described undergraduate and graduate school like fighting. In undergraduate I wiped the floor with it until senior year when I took some lumps and powered through. Graduate school is like an exchange of KO hits. I've been knocked down a lot. I've 'failed' some courses (C+ is failing). It's tough. But it's that same process that tempered me into the guy with the strong-enough motivation. At least, I hope so. This is my recovery term, lol. I'll let you know how it goes!

Feel free to ask me anything about school. I can flap my gums about this forever.
#3
12:25 PM Apr 22 2011 2011
Giant Baba
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Hmm, thanks!

And yeah, a substantial bulk of a thesis (and probably the most time consuming part) is the lit review. My MA thesis was about 80 pages, but I know for some English programs you have to put out books of literary criticism (which has to be a punishment on some sphere of hell).
#4
11:48 PM May 12 2011 2011
Atticus
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http://100rsns.blogspot.com/
#5
5:34 AM Aug 13 2011 2011
Giant Baba
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I just read your post and holy **** did those cheating articles bum me out.
#6
11:07 PM Sep 19 2011 2011
HyugaRicdeau
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First thing I have to tell you is that some things are highly dependent on your particular field, so I will answer them directly as they pertain to me, and try to estimate, as necessary, how likely they are to be different in other fields, but don't take my word for it on that. As a general rule though, it's not too different between different sciences, but there is a lot of difference between liberal arts and science grad school, so bear that in mind when you read that blog that Atticus posted.

1: For Physics, generally everyone is going for a PhD, and you basically automatically get an MS after you do 2 years of coursework and pass your qualifying exams, so technically the coursework is almost exactly the same. This might be the biggest point of difference between Physics and other fields' PhD programs, because 99% of professional physics jobs you need a PhD for. This is not true of most other science fields, to my knowledge.

2: My thesis is on a very specific topic, and this is pretty typical, as you're basically writing a paper for a scientific journal. I expect mine to be around 40 pages, but it's very dense writing as you might expect.

3: I have an RA-ship which means that my stipend is specifically for research time. Therefore I try to put in 30-40 hours a week like a real job. I used to have a TA-ship instead which meant that I had to work as a teaching assistant, which is somewhat stressful and so I would work about half as much per week on research as I do now. This is another thing which probably differs a lot between fields. All my tuition and stuff is paid for and I get some money each month. This is probably true of most other science fields, but generally not in liberal arts fields.

4: My specific topic is a search for dark matter in gamma rays. I picked it because it is at the interface of several topics I found interesting (particle physics, cosmology, galaxy formation, gamma ray astronomy, etc.). It was also one of the first topics I looked at, so I'm not sure if everyone has as much freedom in their topics. Usually most professors have a lot of stuff they are working on so I'd guess that you could sort of shop around and find something interesting that suits you.

I also absolutely agree that determination and work ethic are the biggest determiners of success at the professional level.
PRAISE "BOB!"
#7
7:21 AM Sep 20 2011 2011
Giant Baba
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Thanks for responding, Sheridan. Although, I'm now much more confident in my position (to not do it) I appreciate the response.

The financial aspect is one of the biggest reasons I'm not doing it, especially considering my level of interest and the benefits of getting a PhD.

When the biggest motivation for doing something is to prove how smart I am (as if getting a piece of paper somehow makes you a genius), it's probably a good idea not to do it.
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