Week 40: I Passed My Probation

This week, I passed my probation review!

I am now feeling a bit more relaxed. It was very nice that my supervisor announced that I had passed, and my colleagues congratulated me.

The review meeting was more like a discussion from various perspectives, including the views of the external examiner. I mainly discussed my research with the panel, and he asked a few general questions (they were similar to some that were on my list of possible questions) and many specific questions which I had not thought about.

Overall, all the topics in the discussion we had were very helpful, and it was not a problem that I was not able to answer straight away some technical questions which I had not looked at. The panel gave me many suggestions on references and other important aspects of data analysis.


My advice

Now, my advice to any PhD student facing a first-year probation review is to:

  1. Print all your probation documents and read them very carefully, until you know them very well. My eight-month work became a 100-page paper, including a full version of ethics applications.
  2. Make sure that you can explain the methodological frameworks you use.
  3. Bring water, pens and a notepad, and during the meeting be ready to receive any feedback from the examiner.


List of questions

The list of questions that I prepared for, in no particular order, are:

  1. Explain your research in a simple way.
  2. Why are you doing this?
  3. How does it relate to your earlier studies?
  4. What was your motivation?
  5. Discuss the research and context.
  6. What are the main issues and debates in this subject area?
  7. Discuss your work so far.
  8. How did your research questions emerge?
  9. What is your original contribution?
  10. Which topics overlap with your area?
  11. How are you answering your research questions?
  12. Why have you chosen these methods?
  13. What problems may arise with these methods?
  14. How will you access your interviews?
  15. Ethical issues or confidentiality issues?
  16. Where do you see this going?
  17. What are the implications?
  18. How do you intend to share your findings?
  19. Discuss your progress and plan.
  20. Who are your intellectual influences?


I started thinking about my next tasks: fixing and reinforcing the points that the panel emphasised, writing Chapter 2, and completing some training sessions on methodologies. I have also started taking an Italian language course. And my birthday is coming in a week.



My goals for Week 41

  • map out the prospective participants and the amount of data
  • expand the outline description of Chapter 2