Wednesday, August 22, 2012

PhD application - getting there...

I've been kicking on with the whole PhD application process since July.

I was fortunate enough to find a potential supervisor; a lovely, enthusiastic academic who seems as excited about my area of research as I am. She's also very prompt with her feedback, which is very, very encouraging! I've done a bit of online research about her and she's an overachiever who leaves me feeling altogether slack and lazy! I'm going to attempt to use that knowledge as inspiration to pick up my game!

So, anyway, I have written my proposal and she's happy with it. I wrote a first draft which was a bit clueless and she was very encouraging anyway, which led me to research proposals and bounce ideas of mum and the Grumpy Old Man and generally go back to the drawing board. I wrote a second draft last Sunday, with a much clearer idea of my thesis statement and research questions and my potential supervisor was very happy with the second draft. Now I just need to make a couple of minor changes (clarify a couple of rambling sentences) and I'll be good to go.

For the actual application itself I need all three of my previous degree transcripts. I can find two of them but the third is MIA - why didn't I keep better track of them???

Once they're all located, I also need my birthday certificate, marriage certificate (because none of my degrees have the same name on them) and a copy of my Masters Thesis. I need two academic references (which I've arranged, just need to send them the forms and get them to email the forms back to the University). Finally, I need to have certified copies of all paperwork delivered to the University as well.

The hardest part - assuming I find that third transcript and don't need it reissued - will be getting the certified copies done. According to any list of justices of the peace, you can find them on most street corners, but the reality is, chemists mostly refuse to do this job, as do most all other JP job types, leaving only the police, and I'll be showing up with something like twenty pages I'll need individually certified. Can't say I'm looking forward to that.

I'm going to apply for an APA scholarship when I put in my course application. APA Scholarships are given to the highest ranking candidates in each round. I have the marks to get one, but they also consider previous research publications and I have none of these. I really hope this particular round of applications are similarly under-endowed!

According to the website, applications take up to three weeks to process, so if I get it in by the end of August, or first week of September, I should know by the end of September whether my course application was successful (the scholarship applications don't end until October 31st, so a bit of a longer wait for that).

I have to decide when I want to start my research degree and this is giving me a bit of anxiety. What is the right time to start? Do I need to wait until a new trimester or the beginning of next year? Financially, the sooner I start, the sooner I can apply for Mobility Allowance, which would ease some of our financial stress (by a whopping $80 a fortnight!). If I say I want to start on October 1st, for example, that will mean I have two months to get in a proper proposal (the one I just wrote was more like a brief summary). That means before Christmas...

By the way, this is an example timeline for a PhD at Deakin.

Sample schedule: a starting point only
Commencement: 1 February 2012
Produce a project proposal:  1 April 2012
Ethics application: 1 May 2012
Literature review and essential chapters for colloquium: December 2012
Colloquium: 1 February 2013 (confirms candidature)
Carry out research/field work/experiments: throughout 2013
Draft and revise chapters: one every 2 months from Feb to Dec 2014              
Chapter 2: due end of February 2015
Chapter 3: due end of April 2015
Chapter 4: due end of June 2015
Chapter 5: due end of August 2015
Conclusion: due end of September 2015
Introduction: due end of October 2015
Revisions: November to December 2015
Final editing and proofreading: January 2016
Submit thesis for examination: 1 February 2016

You can find it here.

For some inexplicable reason I hadn't looked this up until last night - I freaked out just a little bit - it's one thing to have a vague idea of what is required, something else completely to have it laid out like this. I also read about how I'll have to present a seminar each year explaining my research and progress - I wonder if I can get someone else to read it for me, because seriously, reading something aloud is not one of my strong points (because of low vision issues).

On the upside, it looks like I get a 'computer station' in 'an office to share', with access to a photocopier, printer and computer software - though it doesn't actually say anything about a computer...

Ooh, and I can get money to present at conferences - though the very thought of presenting at conferences makes me a little nauseas!

So, it's all happening here, and I'm very excited, and scared, but mostly excited!

And at the end of this long journey, I'll get to wear this...

Stunning, isn't it? There has to be some sort of irony in making new 'Doctor's dress up like this - something along the lines of, 'Don't be tryin' to take yourself to seriously, now!' I never wear navy blue, so that's a little disappointing, but hey, I can live with it... Oh, and you'll all have to start calling me 'Doctor'... Doctor who? Well, that's a question for another time...


Rhianna said...

Sif how incredibly exciting. I always dreamed of an academic life but sadly it just didn't pan out that way. Good on you though

Sif Dal said...

Never say never, Rhianna. My mum did her first degree in her late forties...

Good Job!