View Full Version : ADD and PhD Applications/Study

Madame Bovary
04-19-16, 04:37 AM
Hello all,

I was just wondering if anyone here is doing, or in the process of applying for, a PhD? I finished my Masters in October and am hoping to start the application process around July/August, but I am seriously procrastinating on working on my PhD proposal (probably more to do with anxiety than ADD). I think the self-doubt is to do with me wanting to have some idea of a loose time-management schedule/structure for the PhD... If anyone has any advice, in any way, it would be much appreciated! (I study literature, but any non-humanities experience would be useful too!).

Thank you :)

04-19-16, 07:04 AM
I did a PhD in Computer Science. Your idea of wanting to have a loose structure or schedule in place before you start is a good one. The biggest difficulty I encountered was the lack of externally imposed structure. A PhD isn't hard but you need to be extremely self motivated, organised and methodical. Thankfully, I didn't have to write a research proposal. I doubt I'd ever have made it beyond that. I guess, everyone is different but here are a few thoughts:

1. The most important is that you really, really, really love your topic. That can go a long way in making up for our deficits and unless you are really interested and really want to know the answers to your research questions it will be very hard to motivate yourself.

2. Make a plan, fairly early in your PhD (or before you start). Make it fairly detailed with concrete dates. It will keep changing throughout the course of your PhD and that's perfectly fine and normal but having some sort of plan you can refer to will help a bit in making you feel accountable and knowing here you stand or how far off track you are.

3. Give yourself hard deadlines. I could never do anything without deadlines. Most of my work was done the day (and night) before each meeting with my supervisor. Thankfully, I had fairly frequent meetings. :rolleyes:

4. A lot depends on your supervisor but they will probably be happy to work with you in a way that suits you. Keep communicating. Don't be afraid to ask for help (from them or anyone else). They'd rather help you than have you waste months being stuck or working on a little, mundane, insignificant but necessary obstacle. I wouldn't disclose that you have ADHD but I'm sure they will be happy to oblige if you ask them for a bit of help with structure and organisation.

5. Write down EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!!!! I have lost a lot of work because in the first two years I didn't write down absolutely everything. I read countless papers just to forget a few days later what was written in them or even that they existed. Later I started using MS OneNote to write down absolutely everything. Every little thought or idea I had, details of every script I wrote, etc.

5a) Use a REFERENCE MANAGER!!!I could never get into the habit of writing short summaries of the papers I read but I can't recommend enough using a reference manager. If your field is literature you might be writing in MS Word and EndNote is absolutely brilliant. Anyway, whichever reference manager you use, save every paper that you read in it (maybe you can add keywords) and give it a descriptive label so that you can easily find it later.

Apologies I could blab on forever. I struggled quite a bit and it took me way too long. I'm still proud of some of the ideas I came up with but I struggled so much with procrastination, organisation, making little mistakes (and finding them years later so I had to redo everything several times :( ) that it wasn't a lot of fun. If I'd been more organised (or medicated) I think I would have done a much, much better job and finished much sooner. you have any specific questions?

Also, for the application process, it might be worth starting as early as possible and emailing potential researchers that you'd like to work with. Always email them (or meet them personally) before you apply (unless you already have a supervisor). They can also help you with the proposal.

04-30-16, 08:36 PM
When I worked on my PhD, I found this forum very useful: phinished dot org
People are really supportive and keep each other accountable in the process

05-20-16, 06:29 PM
Did mine.
One error I made that cost me many hours lost - and frustration and all: I have a habit, which generally serves me well, of saving new drafts of papers under new name (say, draft0516, draft 0518 - sometimes adding things like -r for revised, etc). Well somehow I wound up editing an older draft!!!!!! So then I brought a draft to my advisor, he was unhappy that none of his comments were addressed, and I was shocked not to find my new text in it! But I remember doing it! With difficulty, I found it in that older draft, and it was a lot of work done, so then I had to reconcile the changes in that draft and in the later draft and it was a lot of hassle. So be very careful.

What is very important is careful documentation of every step, no matter how obvious. I once had to redo a big chunk of analysis because I forgot what some variable was that I introduced - something multiplied by something else, but WHAT? It was obvious when I did it! It was completely bafflingly obscure just a couple days later. So I always keep a separate journal, in Word but sometimes Excel, and enter all sorts of things like "#2. removed survey #76 from the data set because it appears to be an attempt at a joke, judging by comments"; #3. created an indicator variable .... with formula...."

(Needless to say, survey #76 is clearly marked #76, and is easy to find and get back to).

I also keep annotated lit review-preparation notes. A document with citations, abstracts, and my notes on the article along with markings on how this work can be used. Make sure it is clear to you what in the notes is your original thought and what is from article.

When you take classes, make sure you keep detailed notes. Not some sort of recordings - no actual notes that you yourself make, with pen. It's all right for them to be on a pad where it will get transcribed, but keep notes.

Make notes during all your meeetings. Make sure you store all your notes in one place where you review them.

07-19-16, 01:36 PM
I love this post because I am living my dream of working (albeit slowly) on my Masters. The long range plan is to continue to the PhD and complete that, as it is my ultimate goal in terms of reinventing my life post divorce.

Relative to academia, I returned to school post BS for a BSN and bridge program to MSN, but at the time, exH was relocated out of the state. Had to go because I was married at the time with small kids. Point being, I returned as a matriculating student with a new accomplishment of maintaining a 4.0 without meds. It was not easy.

I returned to continuing ed and took took technical medical courses and passed with a 4.0 both in class and exam nationals.

All this was astonishing to me because my original BS was dismal in terms of studying and grades. It was so hard for me to study or pass school at all. I still cannot believe I was able to re-matriculate and attain a BS with two toddlers.

Here I am at age 51 in school for my Masters and I am still disbelieving I have a 4.0.

I always assume they have the wrong person.

I started taking adhd meds in continuing edu and that is when the tears and frustration, anxiety and sleeplessness stopped and I began to assimilate my studies. It felt a bit weird at first, but it worked.

I had a 4.0 in matriculating for the BSN, but I was unmedicated. I have no idea how I managed it. I think I cried a lot.

I still struggle with making my rear sit down to study. I had to try a few different methods to find interest in learning whatever it is I am studying even if it is boring as heck. I found dictating my readings into my i phone and then sending them to my email notes for review and re listening was helpful. I also found that there aint no way I am going to cover the amount of absurd reading required in each class. I found solace in understanding others without ADD or ADHD felt the same and I was not annoyed merely due to my jumpy brain.

I read things and scanned for important info and noted them. Read other student papers to determine what it is that is considered essential to the course as well as affirm my interpretations of what is being asked. Now I am relying more on my own judgement and sometimes I get it right, at least for the most part.

When I get into a subject and start reading I can get lost in rabbit holes and often follow them to a time detriment. But I test better because I am more informed. I have to strike a balance.

Thank you for this question. I look forward to reading more from all of your replies on it.