Thursday, November 11, 2010

What I learn from 'PhD illness'.

When I read, read, read and read journal articles, it came to a point when I asked myself, what am I reading? Why am I reviewing? When should I stop? And when these questions started popping out in your mind, I knew that I'm starting to loose focus, I'm starting to loose interest.

Then, I would find 'other' more interesting stuff, which range from facebooking, ebay/online/window/virtual/pasar payang shopping, playing games, scrapbooking, no-objective-online-browsing, HBO, TLC, Diva Universal, and even shifting my concentration and energy in a  sudden interest in cooking and new recipes.

Surely, at the end of the day, I'd suffer the 'non-guilt-free sleep' syndrome. Yikes!!

Cure needed!
I needed to find a cure. So, I arranged for a special appointment with my SV and told him about my disease, well he's a Dr afterall! To my amazement, he said that this is a common illness for full time PhD students.

And so, we came to an agreement that I needed (and still need) to keep focus by not reading off track. Off track in this context can mean too much, or too little reading. So, he told me to start compiling my reviews in an article format. This means, I have to limit my review on a sub-topic only up to 15-18 pages, including the reference. 15 page?! Gosh.. that's alot!

But then, I think my SV read my mind (and wrinkled face), and he said, 'Hello Azza, your first few parts will be your abstract and your intro, which will be your background of studies. You've got them already from your proposal! Just reshape your reviews and put them into a theoretical review! Please bring it to my table in a week.'

A week?!! Biar benar?!

Puzzle pieces.
I thought it'll be hard, but hey, I was wrong! Remember in the third lesson from the previous entry that I told you all the 'wrong' reviews will build up to be the 'right' one? This was the 'a-ha' moment for me, putting all the tiny jigsaw pieces into the right places in the research puzzle.

During my next appointment, I bravely showed my SV my first draft on my first ever attempt in writing an article. He nodded, then he shook his head, and some more nods.

The verdict.
He told me that it was a 'marketable' article (being an editor of an international journal himself, I have to admit I was very pleased) BUT I needed to refine my academic writing style and flow of writing. And so, he gave me a private tutoring on how to create a good journal. Then, he sent me back to my work station and asked me to meet him again after lunch, where he wanted to read my second draft.

In less then 3 hours, I managed to produce a second draft, yes, I was shocked I could manage to do that in a short amount of time (but I think I managed well because I did not change my window browser at all during that time!).

The issue of co-write or solo author.
During the second meeting in regards of my first ever journal article, my SV asked me frankly whether I wanted to co-write with him or publish this article on my own. I gave him a truthful answer, which I have thought about during the AirAsia flight from KT-KL earlier in the morning, that I wanted to co-write with him.

  1. Surely my SV has more publications=experiences in writing journal articles. When he agrees to co-write, it means that he can help me reword and edit my amateur version.
  2. His name could ring a bell to another international journal editor, so it'll be easier for the article to be accepted (I think).
  3. It'll be a win-win situation for both of us. Not only my SV will be credited for another journal article, but I also have a publication, too! 
  4. Furthermore, the article would be edited and refined by both my SV and the editor of the journal, hence, I could easily cut and paste it without doubt into my thesis! Cool eh?! Super cool!
I think these are more than enough reasons to co-write.

And so, both of us had corrected and refined the article until the 6th draft before I boldly sent it to an international journal editor! And it was accepted with 2 more corrections!! Alhamdulillah!

And now, I have submitted another article in an international journal, but there is no reply just yet, and working on my third one. The reason I want to write on this was not to boast, astaghfirullah, but to share that there is a cure out there for the PhD illnesses!

You'll enjoy doing something when you have a reward instore for you. It's a basic Affective theory in education. It's a basic theory of life.

'Many learners want to succeed. They are capable of suceeding: 
they are simply lack the belief (and effort) to do so." Jensen, The Learning Brain (1994)




  1. MashaAllah Azza..such a meaningful writing you had give me a glimpse of idea..Syukran Azza..syukran =)

    Love all the way from Auckland
    Pani xoxo

  2. Ahem, nice sharing Azza. I am still in the midst of finishing the findings chapter! All the best to you dik. Let's have a lunch date again next time eh? :D


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