All of my supervisory meetings are now complete. I have met with my primary and secondary supervisors, and I have had my monitoring interview. As many of you know, the PhD system is a bit different in the UK from the one in the US. First, the project is called a "thesis" rather than a "dissertation" (here, the dissertation is the MA project), and I think it might be, in general, a bit longer that the American dissertation. I'm expected to have five or more chapters and 100,000 words. The UK PhD also does not have all of the coursework and various stages for the American PhD. The focus is on the research and the thesis, and thesis work begins as soon as one enrolls as a post-graduate student.
The supervisory structure is also different. Instead of a committee, I have a primary supervisor with whom I work regularly, and then I have a secondary supervisor, with whom I meet from time to time. When I do my "viva voce" (like the American "defense"), I will sit before one external examiner from another university and one internal examiner, who is from my university but who has not been involved with my work. They will most likely be people I have never met. I think I am allowed to ask my primary supervisor to be present for moral support.
The purpose of my monitoring interview (which was with a third faculty member with whom I haven't worked) was to make sure my progress is timely and to see if I have any complaints about or conflicts with my supervisors.
I did not have any complaints. I have been very fortunate to have wonderful supervisors. My primary supervisor is a successful and prolific scholar who is supportive, friendly, and open. My secondary supervisor is also very nice (if a bit more reserved) and has great expertise in philosophy, which is extremely helpful to me since my project has philosophical underpinnings.
With my primary supervisor, I talked about a chapter draft I had submitted, and then we talked about the article that was rejected earlier this year. She was pleased with the chapter draft, and had great suggestions about some additional contextual factors I might research and consider. My secondary supervisor was very enthusiastic about the work and, most important, didn't seem to think I was totally stupid about the philosophical bits. And she, too, had great suggestions about ways I might further investigate the topic and its contexts. Today, my primary supervisor and I discussed the article and steps I might take to revise it so that I can submit it to another journal. She was very encouraged by the fact that I received one positive report for submission to a top-tier journal.
In short, they thought the work that I have done is very good! In fact, my primary supervisor said that I should not be stressed about whether or not the quality of my final draft will be good. She said that the work I do is very good, so my focus should be on Getting. It. Done. And though there is much left to do, they gave me a lot of great suggestions. Now, if I can just find time to do it all--the ongoing challenge. So this is where I am:
Intro: not yet written
Chapter One: Currently in article form. Needs to be revised for submission to another journal and later expanded to full chapter length.
Chapter Two: Currently at about 25 pages. Needs to be expanded to about 40-45 pages with more about context and method.
Chapter Three: Not yet drafted.
Chapter Four: Currently at about 35 pages. Needs a lot of revision with better attention to context, methods, etc. (I drafted it two years ago, so I'm sure it needs a lot.)
Chapter Five: Not yet written
This summer, I think I will work on the article revision while I also continue to develop chapter two. I will also be reading some primary texts for Chapter 5. In late summer or early fall, I will submit the article revision. Then, after I make it through fall and the peak of college crisis work, I will start in on chapter three or chapter five. I hope to have a drafts of all five chapters (even if some are only half done) and the intro by the end of next May.
It can be done! Right?