A PhD update: 6 months to go

My time as a PhD student is ticking away. It’s ticking away far quicker than I want it to be. It seems like only last week that I was writing and preparing my previous update at 8 months to go back in January. Now, the thesis submission deadline is at just 6 months!

So, I thought it was time to share another honest update from a final year PhD student, allow me to reflect on my progress but also for all of you to hold me to that progress so I don’t fall behind πŸ˜› So, let’s share with you how I’m feeling, what I’ve achieved since January and my plans for the next three months.

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How am I feeling?

In my 8 months to go update, I wasn’t feeling that stressed or worried about time and finishing my PhD. Fast forward 2 months and has that changed? No. Not really. I still feel on top of everything. I feel organised and prepared. Probably not the confession you were expected from someone who has about 180 days left to submit their PhD thesis. As a matter of fact, I feel more frustrated than anything. Frustrated that I don’t have the time left to do everything that I want to do for my PhD. Frustrated that I haven’t published my paper yet, and worried that might affect me getting a job if I choose to stay in the lab scene. And frustrated that with how I’m going to manage getting a job, finishing writing up and then make sure I don’t end up with no money coming in either. But I’m sure everything will come together. At least I hope it will. But taking some time out from the lab has allowed me to return refreshed and ready to tackle this final stretch in the lab.

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What have I been up to?

Well, despite taking a short break from the lab to go home – had to cancel my holiday so still being a green eyed monster when I see anyone jetting off – and start compiling my thesis, I think I’ve made so more progress.

PLURIPOTENT STEM CELL RESEARCH

In my 8 month to go update, I wanted to finish all my β€˜loose end’ experiments and make some significant progress on my epigenetic results – check out my previous update for a bit more info on what exactly this means. So, have I managed it? Nearly. The vast majority of the β€˜loose ends’ have been tied up. Another week or so and they will be done. These experiments revealed some interesting findings so I wanted to spend some time trying to dig a little deeper with those too. And as a result of that, I have made some progress on my epigenetic research but not the significant progress that I had hoped for. But I have got some results and I’ve now come up with a theory that I want to prove or disprove – hopefully.

CANCER STEM CELL RESEARCH

This started off as a β€˜small side project’ during my PhD but has turned into probably the biggest chapter of my thesis. Over the last 2 months, I wanted to either prove or disprove the theory I had and write a plan for a second publication. So, how did this one go? In short, very well. I performed most of the experiments that proved my theory with just a few more to complete the work and the second paper is planned. Celebrating the small wins on this one!

THESIS WRITING

This was not a major concern of mine 2 months ago, and still isn’t a major concern now. But I took off that short amount of time I wanted to and though I would make use of the time not doing experiments but putting the figures I had into the final format and add it to my transfer thesis. I even managed to finish the first draft of two of my results chapters. Probably a reason why I am not at all worried about finishing my PhD just yet. But the writing is going to plan so far and currently stands at 334 pages and 70,037 words!

thesis

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Aims for the next 3 months

Basically, in the next three months I need to have finished everything in the lab. It all needs to be wrapped up and have some kind of idea about what is going on and what more I could do – all ready to write up into my final PhD thesis. No pressure eh?

PLURIPOTENT STEM CELL RESEARCH

β™₯ Finish up β€˜loose end’ experiments – obvious, but needs to be done.

β™₯ Complete my epigenetics research project – it might seem like a stupid thing to be starting a new avenue of research 3 months before having to be finished in the lab, which is true. But I also don’t want to be and don’t think it’s write to have three months just tying up those loose ends. So, I started my PhD program with 3 rotation projects that made up my Masters, so I am treating these 12 weeks or so that I have left as another one of those projects. Fingers crossed it all goes to plan.

CANCER STEM CELL RESEARCH

β™₯ Finish up experiments – again, this is obvious but needs to be done.

β™₯ Write first draft of publication

THESIS WRITING

β™₯ Continue adding figures to current thesis draft

β™₯ Make a thesis writing schedule and plan

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Are you in your final year of PhD? Or maybe you’ve finished, or even graduated, and you have some wisdom to share for that final push? Share any tips or resources in the comments below so we can all learn and benefit.

Science love.

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7 thoughts on “A PhD update: 6 months to go

  1. Nice blog! I defended my Chemistry PhD in December. For the postdoc/job-hunting I started early and tried to do little bits on a regular basis, such as checking job websites and firing off some applications. You also have the time to make corrections if you feel your CV is lacking in anything – I managed to get some science news stories published in our student newspaper in my last semester.

    So good luck! I’m sure you’ll do well. πŸ™‚

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