Where has the time gone?..

…by Katherine / from Canada / PhD Biomedical Sciences 2015-2018

How is it the middle of October?! How are the leaves already turned various shades of yellow and orange? How is it already dark by 18h30? When did this all happen?

Time warp

I know I have spoken at length in my blog posts about how time somehow manages to speed up in your third year. I didn’t realise that this phenomenon is exponentially exaggerated in fourth year! I do not know where the last 2 weeks have gone. All I know is that writing this blog post has been on my to-do list for over 2 weeks. Between finishing up experiments, supervising a PhD rotation student and writing my thesis, this blog post has just been delayed. I have decided that with every year of your degree, time speeds up (note: I obviously know this isn’t a real phenomenon, but relatively speaking, I feel a lot more rushed as time goes on, probably because there is less of it left!). During your first year, it feels as though everything takes ages to start and you just spend so much time reading and waiting to begin experiments. When second year comes along, you have reached your cruising speed, you know what you’re doing, you still have loads of time ahead of you, life is good. Then, third year hits. Your thesis committee starts asking you what you are going to do after your degree and tell you to write a plan for your thesis, but you feel like you’ve just gotten the hang of this whole PhD thing, and now you have to think about the end and how everything fits together and how it’ll form a cohesive (semi-cohesive) thesis. Then fourth year, out of the lab, except for maybe some control experiments and writing should take priority. You suddenly realise that maybe you should have done your experiment differently, but too late now, you have to make do with what you have… I know I make it sound really daunting, but I promise that doing a PhD is feasible and at times very enjoyable.

Writing up

My goal is to submit my thesis by December. I have already submitted my Notice of Intention to Submit notifying the College that my submission is eminent. This notice gets the ball rolling and examiners can begin to be selected. My external examiner has already been selected for my viva which will be tentatively held in February! I feel like everything just got more real. This is finally happening! In terms of actual thesis writing, I’m trudging along slowly. I have decided to start by writing my results chapters. This way all my data will be fresh in my mind when it comes time to write my introduction and final discussion. This is to ensure that I don’t go off on tangents that are only tenuously related to my data in these sections. I have analysed all my data, reformatted all my graphs (my advice would be to decide on all your formatting the first time you plot your data, learn from my mistakes), written my figure legends and I am slowly getting into writing the actual body of the text. It’s a bit slow, but I do feel like I’m making progress. I hope to have a first (or maybe even second) draft the methods (which I started working on in India) and results completed by the end of the month. Then I have November to write the introduction and discussion. I can do it! I must admit I have started going to yoga twice a week now to stay calm. It is working. It does help that I’m also on my way to Italy for a few days. Hopefully it’ll be a relaxing and semi-productive change of scenery.

Ciao Edimburgo! Ci vediamo pronto!

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