All 5 entries tagged Dilip

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June 22, 2011

PhD life is wonderful – by Dilip

I have had a couple of people ask me about life as a PhD student and I was ranting about the sleepless nights, problems with my supervisor, my personal problem, the extra year, that my scholarship money was not enough and so on - all negative things. In fact I think I might have scared a few prospective candidates away.

Yesterday I had time to reflect and thought to myself: "Wait a minute! Why am I being so negative?"

Like a lot of people, I was actually blocking out all the positive things I had experienced and focussing on the negatives. So I decided to write this positive post - of how the PhD has been such a wonderful experience.

Japanese Gaden

I consider myself really lucky because right after I signed up I received an email telling me that I had been awarded a scholarship from Warwick Business School. This was amazing because it was totally unexpected and it really helped us with our finances.

A lot of people talk about how a PhD can be a lonely experience but I never felt that. I made so many great friends from all around the World and had some really great times. Most of them have now gone away but I am sure that some of the friendships we made here will remain forever.

There were so many other people who will remain in my heart forever like Jane Varley, an amazing lady who used to be in the Doctoral Programme Office. The University really needs people like her who are understanding and can relate with students.

I guess I have a deep sense of loyalty to the University of Warwick, not only because I got a scholarship/ studentship from WBS but because I have worked with so many different people in different places all around the University - WBS, the Learning and Development Centre and now the Library.

I have visited so many Universities around the UK and though they had their own charm, I really feel that Warwick is actually the best. Even better than some Universities who are on top of the league tables. I mean which library allows you to eat and drink inside? Some Universities are inside one building or scattered through out the city. The student unions of a few are almost non-existent. Some of my friends didn't get a room or even a PC. When we had financial problems, we received bursaries from the school and also received support from the University to send my kids to a nursery. My supervisor was really understanding and I was able to submit my thesis a little more than the official 3 years. I can go on and on.

The PhD at Warwick has been a wonderful experience and I am really thankful and glad I decided to resign from my comfy job and move to the UK to pursue my PhD here.

June 10, 2011

The PhD limbo period – by Dilip

Several guys have blogged about the so called "honeymoon period" in the life of a PhD student - usually in the first year when you are filled with optimism and with dreams of doing a Nobel prize winning research.

However, this post is not about that period but about another period which I shall call the "Limbo period".

Officially the duration of a PhD here at Warwick is 3 years but as everyone knows that it is almost impossible to complete a PhD in 3 years. In fact I don't know anyone who has even submitted their thesis in exactly 3 years. So what happens when you pass the 3 years?

Which brings us to the question "What do you mean by completing a PhD?"

To me, you have completed your PhD when you have had you viva, and made the corrections (if any) and finally submitted your corrected final version of your thesis.

Anyway the first limbo period occurs when you pass the 3 years and enter the PhD extra year. I had applied for an extension but it had been slow in coming through. The deadline came and went and one day I suddenly discovered that I couldn't get into the WBS Teaching centre where my office was located. The doors are protected by a smart card entry system but it simply refused to let me in. I couldn't get into the WBS main building either. Worse, I found out that I was barred from entering the library.

Later at home I discovered that this extended into the virtual World - I couldn't access the Library online nor my student account. In other words I was completely locked out of the University of Warwick - I was still a PhD student but was not a PhD student. This must be what it feels like when parents kick out a child from the family home even though he has not done anything wrong (OK! I am exaggerating a little bit here for dramatic effect).

snow wbs03

Left out in the cold

Ultimately I was granted an extension and all access were restored (apart from my student records which is now blocked to me forever for reasons unknown to me). Later on I found out from other friends that there was yet another form of limbo period – when you have submitted your thesis and waiting for your viva and your extension period suddenly runs out. The whole problem starts all over again and it is worse this time because you have already submitted and are unlikely to get an extension just for your viva.

You then have your viva. However, you found out that like most PhD students you have passed with minor corrections This means that you have 3 months to make the changes to your thesis. You then go to the library site to look up some journal article and then you suddenly remembered that you are no longer a student and have no access to the library.

But you still have got work to do on your thesis!!!

May 14, 2011

Finally submitted my thesis – by Dilip

It taken me almost three years and six months of my life but I am finally here. Yesterday I submitted two copies of my thesis along with two CDs and £20 to the Student Reception on the ground floor of University House. 

This week has been a nightmare and it has been some of the most hectic days of my life. A couple of days back Unitemps emailed me saying that my payroll had not been updated and I might not get paid in time. I rushed to their office the next day with my updated visa but I found out that I was too late and the money for the work I had been doing for the Library would be coming in only next month. 

submitting my thesis

As I was going through my thesis for the last time, I found that the formating was going haywire and paragraphs of text were appearing automatically where they were not supposed to. I also discovered that I had not put page numbers for a number of direct quotes. This could have got me in trouble with the Turnitin plagarism software. And as I added words and removed some, I realised that all the carefully formated tables were running around everywhere. Arghhhhh!

At the same time, I had to finalise and submit the assignment marks for an undergraduate course which I was marking. Then the undergraduate office emailed me saying that a few assignments were missing. 

I was really getting stressed and in the end my wife who's a perfectionist took over. She did a great job with my final editing even though it took her one whole day and she got a bit stressed out as well. 

The funny thing was that right after we had finished editing and I had saved it into my portable hard drive, my PC crashed. It would take me another day to get it fixed.

I printed out the copies on Wednesday night then passed it to Warwick print for binding on Thursday afternoon. I picked them up yesterday morning. I also sent off the remainder of the answer scripts which I had put for safekeeping in my drawer and had promptly forgotten. We then went straightaway to University House and submitted the two copies of my thesis.

As they say, "all well that ends well". 

I recall the inital honeymoon period in the first year when I was full of enthusiasm, euphoria and grand expectations. It's all coming back to me now. 

May 08, 2011

Campaign to make Wikipedia more credible – By Dilip

This post builds on an older one I wrote in my personal blog In defence of Wikipediaaround the same time last year. 

I have been a loyal supporter of Wikipedia since it was first created in 2001. This free online and dare I say, the greatest encyclopedi,a  had 3,632,208 articles and 14,508,528 registered users when I last checked. 

Many academics will not admit it but Wikipedia is the usually the first place that most researchers  go to whenever they have some problems understanding a concept. theory or need some clarification on specific topics.

I do understand why some academic harbor some level of animosity or opposition to this amazing resource on the web and have heard of some academics failing their students for referencing Wikipedia in their assignments. The main issue that most academics have with Wikipedia is the credibility of the articles in it. A credible source is someone who has the attributes of trustworthiness, expertness, and attractiveness. As anyone can edit and add to Wikipedia and as all articles are a joint contribution, there is no single author, this can be a problem.

However, there is a solution. If we in the academic community adopt a few specific topics of interest or in our area of specialisation, we can help make Wikipedia more credible. We can help by providing academic references and updating the concepts and theories and concepts. We can also present alternative arguments as well. 

Do not let egos stand in the way of collaboration and if there is theory or concept you don't agree with, don't delete it but instead present the one you think is better as an alternative. In this way we can develop an interactive and collabortive community. 

In conclusion, instead of discouraging students from using Wikipedia, let us help Wikipedia more credible and ultimately more useful to researchers, professionals and lay man alike.

In fact, I feel so strongly about this that I have started a campaign on Facebook called "Credible Wikipedia". So far I am the only fan on it which is not surprising since I created the page last night.

Click the button below and please "Like" the page to help spead this message. 

Credible Wikipedia

Promote your Page too

April 14, 2011

Are doctoral conferences a waste of time? – by Dilip

The 5th Annual Woxbridge doctoral conference concluded today and I have to admit that contrary to my expectations, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I generally avoid doctoral conferences but made an exception this time as the venue was here in the Warwick campus and because it was organised by the business school (and registration was free).

It had been drilled into my head that doctoral conferences are just a waste of time and that we should be attending the “right conferences”. The term “right conference” can mean different things for different people. One of the main reasons I go to conferences is to get feedback on my research. A Professor of marketing once advised me to attend only the top tier international conferences. For example, in the field of marketing top conferences include the Academy of Marketing Science Annual Conference and the Association for Consumer Research conference (both in the US). In the UK, the Academy of Marketing conference is generally considered to be the leading conference.

These big conferences tend to attract the top academics and professionals and if you are lucky, you might end up in a session with one of them. At a conference in London last year, I ended up chatting with a Professor which happens to be one of the “Gurus” in the field of consumer behaviour and I have to say it was a surreal experience to have tea and share a conversation with a guy I only knew by reputation and whose papers I had referenced in my own research.

Moreover, the papers at these top conferences usually have to go through a peer reviewed process and as a result, the quality of papers presented at these conferences are supposedly of “high quality” and to have a paper accepted for presentation in these conferences is quite an achievement.

However, I later discovered that some of these so called “leading conferences” are mere hype. One of my biggest disappointments occurred last year. First of all, my paper was missing from the published proceedings – apparently “by mistake”. Also the quality of several of presentations was appalling. At my own presentation, many thought it was interesting but I didn’t receive any useful feedback at all. It left quite a bad impression that I have decided not to waste my time and money attending the conference this year.

As I found out during the past two days, doctoral conferences can be just as great. I am glad I made the decision to attend the Woxbride conference. It was really great to learn about some of the amazing and interesting research that other PhD students are carrying out in Oxford , Cambridge as well here in the Warwick Business School. What really surprised me were the questions and the discussions – they were really good and constructive. I made some new friends as well. My only disappointment was that only a few academic staff made it to the sessions. The conference would have really benefited from their experience.

Doctoral conferences are definitely not a waste of time.

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