Checking out @PhD2Published for #KeepCalmandGetPublished

keep-calm-and-carry-on-213x300As I’ve been working on my book proposal (16 pages so far), 10 years after my PhD was written (and probably of even more relevance now than when I wrote it, though that’s taken quite a lot of time to research), thanks to Suzie for spotting this article:

I deliberately gave myself a year from my PhD defense to decide whether or not I wanted to turn my dissertation into a book. During that year I didn’t look at my dissertation at all. Instead, I talked to people – mostly outside of my own Department –about their experiences and advice. The number one advice I got is that you should only turn your dissertation into a book if you can find the motivation to do so. If you cannot be enthusiastic about it, don’t take it on. Similarly, if you realize that large parts of your dissertation are already outdated, or make it unfeasible as a book for other reasons, you’re better off turning the best parts into articles – if you hadn’t done so already – and move on to a new project.

Read full article.

Value in a PhD?

An interesting piece on the ‘value’ and employability of a PhDphdgrad

Who would do a PhD? Who would willingly submit to spending endless hours, over three or four years, in the laboratory or library, racked by self-doubt and money worries, in preparation for a career for which vacancies were never more oversubscribed? …

But do doctoral students really feel prepared for life beyond the ivory tower? And how ready are they to embrace it? Here, we speak to five current and former doctoral students from a range of disciplines and universities about why they did their PhDs, what their experience was like and where they see their futures now.

Read full piece, with a couple of more positive responses 28/811/9.

 

The value of PhD supervision…

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Interesting piece on PhD supervision:

When a PhD supervision session constitutes just another blocked-out hour in a besieged diary, it can be all too easy to forget that it could make an impression that stays with the student for the rest of their research career.

We asked five academics for their recollections of the PhD supervision they received, and the way it had informed their own approach to tutoring. Three had enjoyed excellent supervision that had deeply influenced their own practice. But two had not. One recalls exchanges with their tutor characterised by yawns and silences, while another was treated with a “cutting harshness”, valuable only as an exemplar of how not to conduct yourself.

Read full story, and accompanying editorial.

PhD: Has the quality dropped? If so, who’s “to blame”?

mfIRNyuThis is rather concerning (but not particularly surprising, as we’ve heard all those complaints about GCSE, A-Level, degree level standards dropping, etc.) re PhD doctorates. Really, by the time you sit the viva, you should know that your work is ready to pass, and that your job in the viva is to demonstrate that you actually wrote it (although others will still see it as a test) … and as I hope to take on a PhD student before too long:

Our experience does not lead us to criticise any particular system of examination or type of thesis. However, it does raise serious issues about the quality of work submitted for the PhD degree (or its equivalent) and the standards employed to judge such work.

To cut to the chase, a significant number of the theses we have examined did not deserve to pass – at least, not in the form in which they were submitted. One of us has examined six doctoral theses in the past year and believes that not one of them was worthy of the degree. Yet he had the means at his disposal to fail only two of them. Administrative conventions and examination procedures, not to mention social pressures, simply did not allow the possibility of failure.

Read full post.

10 Truths for Prospective PhDs

drbexl-70_600Important reading if you’re planning on doing a PhD:

As a prospective PhD student, you are precious. Institutions want you – they gain funding, credibility and profile through your presence. Do not let them treat you like an inconvenient, incompetent fool. Do your research. Ask questions. Use these 10 truths to assist your decision.

The 10 are as follows:

  1. The key predictor of a supervisor’s ability to guide a postgraduate to completion is a good record of having done so (although with new supervisors you will have a second, experienced supervisor)
  2. You choose the supervisor. Do not let the institution overrule your choice
  3. Stars are attractive but may be distant. Pick a well-regarded supervisor who does not spend too much time away
  4. Bureaucratic immunity is vital. Look for a supervisor who will protect you from ‘the system’
  5. Byline bandits abound. Study a potential supervisor’s work
  6. Be wary of co-supervisors
  7. A supervisor who is active in the area of your doctorate can help to turbocharge your work
  8. A candidature that involves teaching can help to get a career off the ground
  9. Weekly supervisory meetings are the best pattern
  10. Invest your trust only in decent and reliable people who will repay it, not betray it

Colindale Disappears? @drbexl interviewed on @bbcradio4

I was interviewed earlier in the year about Colindale, where I spent many hours researching my PhD. As someone with a foot in the historians camp, and a foot in the digital world (and no, they’re not exclusive!) our conversation was wire-ranging. I’ll be interested to see which bits appear:

Read more about the programme, and listen in tomorrow 11am, or afterwards on iPlayer (as I will be doing).

Academic Career or Plan B?

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1386500

Story in Times Higher Education this week has attracted MANY comments already… it starts:

Universities benefit from the large pool of cheap labour provided by PhD students and postdocs, but there aren’t enough academic jobs to go around, so young scholars should prepare for the possibility of a future outside the academy, one postdoc advises

Not everyone who completes a PhD gets an academic job. I knew that. But still I thought that my prospects were good.

I have degrees from some of the best universities in the world, in the UK and the US, and currently hold a postdoctoral position. I have had no problems securing funding for my research, and am close to publishing some of the results.

This year, however, I have had some interviews but no job offers. I may be able to find an academic position next year, but it now seems unlikely.

On a good day, I feel confident about my research and believe I have something to contribute to my discipline and to wider society. But increasingly I wonder: if others do not value my research enough to pay me to do it, what else can I do to make a living?

Read full story, the editorial, and content from UCU conference.

Interesting comment:

As another commenter has said, the only reason to do a PhD is because you love your subject, and realise that this may be the last and only chance to do research in it. That, incidentally, is what gets people jobs: a true passion for the subject always shows (I speak as someone who’s been part of numerous interview panels). So please listen potential and current PhDs, this is the truth: you probabaly won’t get an academic job, so if that’s the only reason why you are doing it, give up the idea right now and go and do something else instead.

I tend to have a low boredom threshold, but I still get excited every time I see a new poster, or a variation on Keep Calm and Carry On… and I’m clearing my backlog to get around to publishing my PhD!