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Mark_B
Friday, 30 August 2013 at 12:52am
Monday, 21 October 2019 at 10:17am
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Thread: The Postgraduate Moans Thread

posted
21-Oct-15, 16:35
by Mark_B
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posted about 4 years ago
I can't speak for your external examiners, but I'm sure you'd have a pretty good case for misconduct if they did.

Your supervisor wouldn't have let you get that far and submit if you were guaranteed to fail. Go forth, kick butt and let us know how it goes :)

Thread: The Postgraduate Moans Thread

posted
21-Oct-15, 10:26
edited a moment later
by Mark_B
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posted about 4 years ago
Stickied by request. Lets try and keep it lighthearted and PG13 though ;)

For myself: photocopier credit. Always photocopier credit.

And the #scholarsunday hashtag. Twitter should automatically replace that with #letsgotothepub

Oh - and people who sit and have Very Deep and Meaningful Conversations right in front of the coffee in conference breaks.

This is fun...

Blog: The Procrastination Zone

posted
14-Oct-15, 11:02
edited about 3 minutes later
by Mark_B
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posted about 4 years ago
It's almost a year since the UK Chancellor, George Osborne, stood up to deliver his 2014 Autumn Statement and dropped the mic with the surprise announcement of a new postgraduate loans scheme.

Well, he didn't really drop the mic (which would be quite tricky given that said device was built into the House of Commons Despatches box). But he may as well have done.

Because, over the intervening ten months, very little more about the loans has emerged.

We've had a consultation document, which more or less confirmed the initial outline (£10,000 a year, available to students aged 30 or under, from 2016, on Masters programs, at universities in England, etc).

We've also had a second announcement of a PhD loans scheme with even less detail (£25,000ish a year, available to people, from some time in the future, possibly on the Moon).

And we've had... a lot of questions. Some of them from higher education experts. Some of them from the media. And many of them from students. Including the fine folks here on the PostgraduateForum.

Here are a few of the most interesting or significant ones. None have solutions (yet) but, as every good postgrad researcher knows... if you don't know the answer, you can at least define the question/s.

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1) The age limit
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The decision to limit loans to those under 30 was the first part of the proposals to come under fire, with challenges by the NUS, Million+ and (most recently) a group of elite Russell Group Universities.

As well as the issue of fairness, the age limit also raises questions about the purpose of the loans.

If mature students and professionals can't return to university and benefit from postgraduate study, then what is the purpose of a Masters? Is their value merely 'academic'?

Or, if postgraduate education is to contribute key skills to the UK economy, should it not be available as a form of Continuing Professional Development, to all who might benefit? After all, the loans *are* being offered for part-time courses.

The government has claimed that the age limit reflects the greater financial resources of over 30s. Few commentators have been convinced.

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2) The effect on fees
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Loans are available for up to £10,000. Currently, the average cost of a Masters in England is between £5,000 and £6,000.

That leaves some headroom, though how much (if any) is left after living expenses are taken into account is open to question.

But it also raises concerns about fee inflation - concerns that have been voiced by senior university figures.

There's some evidence that the cost of delivering a Masters is actually close to £10,000 anyway. Will universities be tempted to increase fees if they feel students can now 'afford' them?

What would the effect of this be on those students who aren't eligible for loans... or who don't wish to take on more debt?

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3) The effect on other funding
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Currently, there isn't any universal funding for Masters courses in the UK, with the Research Councils having more or less ceased to support taught programs.

But the Research Councils *do* still support large numbers of PhD students.

The proposals for PhD loans are intended to 'compliment' existing support, but government figures have also begun speaking of a 'simplification' in postgraduate research funding.

What does this mean in practice? Will the introduction of loans (backed by public money) reduce the availability of studentships (drawn from public money)? Is £25,000 alone enough to make a three-year PhD project financially viable? Answers in congealed tomato soup, on the back of a three-day old bread roll...

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4) Availability elsewhere in the UK
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The postgraduate loans are only going to be available at universities in England, for English-domiciled and EU students. This leaves other parts of the UK in something of a grey area (and that's not just a joke about the weather).

Welsh universities have raised concerns about a drain on students and applicants. Northern Ireland has tabled tentative plans for its own scheme. But nothing is certain yet.

In the meantime, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish students are understandably uncertain about their prospects. Documentation suggests that three years of residency in England may be sufficient to make students from elsewhere in the UK eligible, but, with the start-date for the loans yet to be absolutely confirmed, that's not much to go on.

Which brings us to...

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5) The timeline for the loans
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All announcements and consultation documents have pointed to Masters loans being available from the 2016-17 academic year.

When that announcement was made by the then Coalition government, 2016-17 was two years away, on the other side of a general election.

Now it's next year.

And, in the meantime, there's a lot of uncertainty.

Current third-year undergraduates are understandably keen to know if loans will be available (particularly those approaching the age-limit).

Universities will also need some clarity as they begin their recruitment for the next academic year (and take questions from prospective applicants).

For all we know, a key announcement about the loans could drop tomorrow - with answers to all of the above questions and more.

But the consultation ended almost three months ago.

And as for the PhD loans, well... those don't even have a prospective date yet.

*********************************************************************************************************************************

Those aren't all of the questions surrounding the loans, by any means, but they're some of the most important concerns the government will need to address, one way or the other.

You can read everything we know so far over at FindAMasters.com and FindAPhD.com

And if you'd like to share your own questions or concerns... feel free to do so here.

Until we know more...

Thread: Feeling my anxiety returning...

posted
06-Oct-15, 15:00
edited about 1 minute later
by Mark_B
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posted about 4 years ago
Hi Nesrine

It's not an uncommon way to feel. During my PhD I worked as a distance learner and as an 'on-campus' student (with a desk in my department and a favourite seat in the library).

Sitting at home reading, writing and talking to the cat was often preferable to the slightly odd 'environment' that is a postgraduate research cohort.

That said, there's a lot to be gained from contact with other students (as I'm sure you know). Seek out the chilled people and the fun conversations.

If you do get caught rubbing shoulders with folks that feel the need to trumpet their publications, endlessly retweet their blog posts or whatnot, well... they're probably doing it because they're just as anxious as you. Don't let it bother you. Your work probably rocks at least as much as theirs.

Thread: Post grad loan scheme

posted
05-Oct-15, 10:31
edited about 17 seconds later
by Mark_B
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posted about 4 years ago
Hi Jmistry

If you're under 30 when you apply and have graduated since 2012, you should be eligible. There's no requirement that students go straight from UG to PG study (in fact, I suspect quite a few people will have been motivated to wait a year).

As you say though, we're all still awaiting confirmation of the details - possible that something could come out of the Conservative conference, but I'm not sure anything is billed.

Thread: NEW UK Government Postgraduate Loans Scheme

posted
28-Sep-15, 12:37
edited about 7 seconds later
by Mark_B
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posted about 4 years ago
Hi Rob

It's important to bear in mind that all details of the new scheme are subject to confirmation - we've based our guide on the best possible sources (including the government's own consultation docs') but nothing is set in stone yet.

As the author of the guide and someone who's read through all the consultation paperwork (so you don't have to!) I'm fairly certain the loans *won't* be available in January. The scheme is meant to support students from the 2016-17 academic year, which begins next Autumn.

Incidentally, I'm not sure there will be any requirement for students to hold a 2.1 or higher. Criteria so far have mainly been based on nationality, residency and age.

We're keeping an eye on the loans proposals over at FindAMasters and will update our information as soon as we know more - hopefully that won't be too long now.

Cheers

Mark

Thread: Postgraduate in Australia

posted
09-Sep-15, 10:39
edited about 8 seconds later
by Mark_B
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posted about 4 years ago
Hi Meghana

Somewhat spookily, we've just published an updated guide to Masters study in Australia over at FindAMasters.com:
I'm not sure if this will help you decide between the merits of different qualifications (that's really a more general question) but it may help answer some specific queries about studying 'downunder'.

Thread: Master in marketing/ career prospects

posted
21-Aug-15, 09:21
edited about 38 seconds later
by Mark_B
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posted about 4 years ago
Hi nadbio

I work in Marketing, broadly speaking, as a copywriter and web content editor (with an academic background in Humanities). By the sounds of it, the kind of work I do isn't what you're looking for, but you're right: Marketing is a broad profession.

I have colleagues who focus on customer engagement and relationship building (including social media) but there's a strategic element to this too: planning campaigns and reviewing analytics.

I also have colleagues who work in very technical areas, such as search engine optimisation, web analytics and digital marketing.

My advice would be to take a look at a lot of different Marketing Masters and see what's out there. You can, of course, do that via FindAMasters:

Hope that helps a bit!

Mark

Thread: Question on academic journal articles accepted for publication

posted
19-Aug-15, 09:07
by Mark_B
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posted about 4 years ago
Hi nikyniky

In my experience it's fine to cite one of your own forthcoming articles, provided it's been firmly accepted for publication. I'm Humanities, however. There may be a conflict if you intend to present data or results in advance of the publication - possibly best to double-check with the editor.

You can usually reference a forthcoming piece by inserting something like 'Forthcoming, 2016.' at the end of a reference (or adopting a similar convention to suit your style sheet).

I'm not an expert on the copyright issues - I suspect the rights can only exist once the material is published, but your contract with the journal will stipulate that no other complete publication of the material occurs in the meantime.

Hope that helps a bit

Best
Mark

Thread: author publication fees?

posted
05-Aug-15, 10:03
edited about 1 hour later
by Mark_B
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posted about 4 years ago
Hi Dotdottung

Is the journal operating under an Open Access model? These are free to readers, but can cover publication costs by charging academic authors or their institutions.

There isn't any difference in quality between an Open Access and non Open Access journal; both types should be fully peer reviewed.

It's also possible that the journal simply charges a fee to help cover its running costs. I've never come across this in my experience publishing in (and working for) academic journals, but it's not impossible for a small publication.

Thread: Writing a book review

posted
21-Jul-15, 09:06
by Mark_B
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posted about 4 years ago
Hi PhDer

I've done some book reviews in my time - they don't take quite as long as you might think, but they're very easy to keep putting off (!).

I'd set aside some dedicated time and try and get the book read in a few sessions, making notes as you go.

I tend to structure actual reviews as summaries. Introduce the material, then offer a precis of the main arguments on a chapter-by-chapter basis, assessing any strengths or weaknesses as you go. This is helpful for readers as they get a sense of what the book actually covers as well as your appraisal of it. It's also quite easy to organise and write a review this way. You can sign off with a general summary of the book, suggesting who it would be most useful to, what further avenues for inquiry it implies and any significant limitations or potential it has.

Hope that helps a wee bit - happy to try and help answer any more specific questions.

Mark

Thread: Funding decisions for English PhD

posted
09-Jun-15, 11:16
edited about 7 minutes later
by Mark_B
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posted about 4 years ago
Hi Confused

I'd certainly not sniff at the Oxbridge reputation, but I would weigh it up with a few other factors. When you come to apply for academic posts the experiences and development opportunities you gain during your PhD will be just as important as the awarding institution - if not more so.

Think about who you'll be working with, how well the the research culture of your department fits your project, etc. Institutional reputation isn't necessarily as important as the more specific reputation and experience of your supervisor and department.

It can be hard to assess all this as a prospective student, but it's worth having a go.

There's a lot to be said for having full funding too. It'll make your experience of the PhD a lot more pleasant and rewarding (as TreeofLife points out) and having won and completed a research council scholarship also says something about your quality in and of itself (and, potentially, your ability to win further project funding as an academic).

Hope that helps a wee bit

Mark

Thread: Lets talk about funding!

posted
05-Jun-15, 14:00
edited about 7 seconds later
by Mark_B
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posted about 4 years ago
Hi Kyle

29th May was the deadline for the end of an open consultation process, during which the government invited feedback on its loan proposals. There should be a report on the results of that consultation within the next week or two - we'll be keeping the information on FindAMasters.com updated:
Hope that helps a wee bit,

Mark

Thread: Postgraduate Loans Consultation - Make Your Voice Heard (UK Students)

posted
28-May-15, 12:05
edited about 25 seconds later
by Mark_B
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posted about 4 years ago
A final reminder for this folks:

The consultation process ends tomorrow, so there's one day left to take part.

There's been some very vibrant discussion of funding and finance related topics around here recently - if you're eligible to contribute to the consultation, you can let the government know what you think about their own plans to mix up the economic landscape for PGT and PGR students.

Thread: any advice on my first conference

posted
26-May-15, 15:49
edited about 15 seconds later
by Mark_B
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posted about 4 years ago
Hi Dodottung

I'd admit I didn't know and make a note of the suggestion. That's the honest response and it's quite a common one.

Questions at conferences are often quite exploratory: 'what do you think of / have you considered x' rather than 'tell me the answer to y, now!'

People often ask questions because you've sparked their interest about something or touched on a related topic they know about. They almost certainly won't be looking to try and catch you out.

It's also fine to take a moment to collect your thoughts before answering. Noone's going to judge you for thinking at an academic conference ;)

Hope you have a great time - the first conference experience is pretty exciting.

Mark
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