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How much do academics earn?!

Remember that is usually less for postdoc positions, which is what the majority of PhD graduates will go onto if they stay in academia. Permanent posts are highly competed for and usually go to people who have been around a little while already.

In my field (psychology) postdocs usually start at about £25k and end at about £30ish. The problem is that many are fixed, so you never really get high enough on the salary range before your contract ends. You then have to negotiate a fresh salary when you are on your next post doc contract, and that tends to be lower on whatever salary range your new job has.

Uni PhD Degree taken away. Is it possible?

They cannot remove your PhD. You have not been awarded it because you "found something". There are lots of PhDs with negative findings or do not find massive results. They still constitute an original piece of significant research that reflects 3 years or more of work at doctoral standard judged by external examiners- that's why you have been awarded a PhD. Its about skills and abilities acquired.

They cannot revoke your PhD unless they can prove you deliberately falsified your data. In fact, by this yardstick, by changing your results you may be putting yourself in more danger of doing this.

Your ex-supervisor is acting unfairly, but this is par for the course. Probably political. If you need a good reference or need to keep him sweet you can pacify him in some way. If you don't need to have anything more to do with him you can ignore him.

After the PhD: where are the jobs?

My experiences

Its been a few months since I was 'ejected' from my last post doc and I am still searching for work. True the recession hasn't helped much for anyone, but thats quite minor for me.

In my experience most employers seem to think people with PhDs are overqualified and/or too specialist. Others struggle to see the transferable skills, even though I can evidence everything. I think the phrase PhD on your application form is a too high psychological hurdle for those who are in "the real world" (or so they call it).

The problems is your PhD is really a training for future work within academia, but if thats not where you are heading, then its fairly pointless. Its almost like doing pilot training course then applying for a job in an engineering firm -its understandable that they are not going to see the relevance.

I think some places are more PhD friendly. I was told Blackwell's bookstore regularly hires PhDs to work in their stores due to their specialist knowledge, but there is something really disheartening to think I will end up working as a glorified shop clerk. and the pay is lousy. Think tanks, medical writing firms and research centres either need additional training or high level contacts. Most of my similar age peers I met at conferences who work at such places don't really have enough clout to get me a paid (or even unpaid) post.

What did you want to be when you were little?

Wow, Seems like there were a lot of ex-wannabe doctors and clinical psychologists here.

As a psychology undergraduate that always puzzled me (childhood aspiration was to be a "hard" scientist, which I nearly became until a few months ago). This became straight out confusion when I actually got to know clinical psycholgists by working with them, befriending one and eventually dating (and then being dumped by) another. My abiding memories were that they are always SO stressed and came back with horrendous stories of what happens to unfortunate people.

I said this to my friend, who replied that the reason he made the switch from academia to clinical psychology was because I was always so stressed and came back with horrendous stories of university life. Funny really.

Regardless, looking back now, I dont think the job I thought of as a little 'un actually exists -a bloke that just does "science" all day. They never tell you in HG Wells, Phillip K Dick or Asimov about politics, grant funding and tenure not invent time machines or test androids. Shame really.

Insecure Scholar Blog -THES

Has anyone else been following the Insecure Scholar blog on the Times Higher Education supplement? It is really well written and accurately portrays life as an early researcher. Its my fave post-doc blog since "Invisible Adjunct" stopped being published.


What do people think? Looking back from the outside what I now realise is the petty, niggling things that eventually add up. Fine, its crap to have to always think 6 months ahead for your next contract, or not have a proper title at a conference, but when you add it all together it paints a fairly crappy picture.

I am curious to see how it will end, will IS stay or go do you think?

How clever are you?

Like anyone who actually has a basic understanding about IQ measures, I always find it funny when people talk about IQs of 160+. Most conventional valid and empirical measures of IQ lose effectiveness above 130 (e.g. WAIS, Catell, SB) and ought to be interpreted by a qualified psychologist with substantial experience. Remember most validated standardised cognitive ability tests are designed to measure DEFICITS (e.g. dementia, aquired brain injury) not the opposite.

To give you some perspective the mean population score of most measures is 100 with a standard deviation of most measures is 15. To have an IQ of 130 would mean that you are in the top 2%, An IQ of 145 top 0.13% of the population. Stated IQs like 170-180 are 0.00003% of the population (99.99997th percentile) and are likely to be meaningless as no known test is valid at those levels. You may as well say "I am the most loveable person on earth".

IQ tests are useful in some clinical and educational settings when looking for deficits or individual strengths and weaknesses. To cite them in the contexts mentioned in this thread is basically a pissing contest.

Belle de Jour is a Post doc !?!

Moving away from the "fight".

The whole thing still raises lots of questions about PhDers resorting to prostitution. I am sure that there are no stats, but is anyone else wondering how commonplace this is? Or maybe even some of our regulars may be doing this kind of work?

I mean if the best BdJ could do in the 14 month period of writing up/ being awarded her PhD was going on the game, it doesn't say much about our employability.

Belle de Jour is a Post doc !?!

If I'm so wrong then why is prostitution illegal?

Lots of things were illegal in various times and places. Homosexuality. Blasphemy. Alcohol. Divorce. Women driving. Just because something is illegal doesnt automatically make it harmful.

A person can have an excellent material education, and have extensive knowledge about a science or philosophy, but be lacking in spiritual education. A person who possesses the loftiest material education but acts unjustly, for example, ought to be regarded as ignorant. There are many professors today who are highly uneducated.

Um, good luck with defending your viva with your "spiritual education".

I can imagine it now:

Examiner: "Your lit review was non-existant, methodology was crap and I think you have 15 individual errors on your results section"

Candidate: "Yes, but spiritually I am right. My research was morally sound. Therefore you should award me my PhD -without corrections!".

Personally, I wish Brooke Magnanti all the best in her research. She is a talented writer, bright, funny and articulate. Academia needs more like her and from my brief searches on pubmed she is well on the way to becoming a credible and valuable researcher.

On the other hand the idea that Cleverclogs may one day be in a position of responsibilty over young minds and an educator is frightening...

Belle de Jour is a Post doc !?!

Sorry, I didn't mean "forced".

Bad choice of words. I meant "ended up as"

My point was a sympathetic one about how badly funded PhD students are, and that many do end up in prostitution. I am guessing this was not an easy choice for BdJ, and the fact that she did it and then left and continued with a research career shows it was not something that she had aspired to since childhood. I am guessing she did it because it was expedient and she felt that was the best way to support her.

What I find even more shocking is the amount of judgement and hate directed towards her. I dont think there is anything wrong in being a sex worker. She isnt hurting anyone, nor taking from the public purse (i.e. JSA). Why the hate?

Belle de Jour is a Post doc !?!

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I just found out that the notorious secret call girl/escort blogger is a postdoc!


The most interesting part for me was this bit:

"I was getting ready to submit my thesis. I saved up a bit of money.I thought, I'll just move to London, because that's where the jobs are,and I'll see what happens."I couldn't find a professional job inmy chosen field because I didn't have my PhD yet. I didn't have a lotof spare time on my hands because I was still making corrections andpreparing for the viva and I got through my savings a lot faster thanI thought I would."
Unable to pay her rent, Magnanti's mindturned to other things. She told the Sunday Times she wanted to startdoing something straight away, "that doesn't require a great deal oftraining or investment to get started, that's cash in hand and thatleaves me spare time to do my work in". Her solution was prostitution."

Even a mega-cynic like me finds it horribly despiriting that a PhD student was forced to end up as a prostitute for a while.

Crystal ball: A positive future post-PhD

Also I am not sure where this version of the world where people are either PhD student academics/ or ASDA checkout attendents or call centre workers is coming from. The sort of people in the first group are very, very unlikely to end up for the duration of their lives doing the tasks of the latter.

Compare "like" with "like".

I am from a cohort of graduates that attended a Russell Group university. My friends with similar capabilities did things like medicine, law, management, finance, performing arts. Other started their own businesses. Some are more successful/ richer/ happier than others. However, the one thing I do notice is a) my training was longer than most, b) my prospects as an aspiring academic were more similar to the jobbing actor than the trainee solicitor. Even though everyone else thought I was made and on easy street.

Crystal ball: A positive future post-PhD

yes, you guessed it: WE KNOW ALL ABOUT IT THANKS

This may be true for you. I am not sure how generalisable that is though. Most of the PhDers in my old team were naive about the realities of life after their PhDs and had the "I am going to be the one that makes it" attitude. Btw, When did you come to "KNOW ALL ABOUT IT". After you were accepted for your PhD? Masters level? undergrad? A-levels? Nursery?

Lets turn the situation around, how would you feel if some 2nd year undergraduate came up to you, asked you about your PhD. When you talked about the good parts, but also because you feel some kind of moral obligation you mention the hurdles and pitfalls and how to avoid mistakes (e.g. keep references listed as you go). They then turn to you and say:
"Oh I know all about studying! I have read loads of books and written loads of essays so I will be fine. I NEVER write my reference list until afterwards, and I always manage alright. Btw, why are you trying to put me off doing a PhD".

Yeah? Frustrating isn't it?

No one is trying to get people to give up their PhD. For God's sake, we trained in the dissemination of knowledge and most of us have some aspiration towards contributing to human betterment. Its just many of us can no longer stand the hypocrisy of a SYSTEM that sells such a dream to unknowing aspirants ("do a PhD and you are guaranteed a respectable job/stable career/decent money/balanced lifestyle").

Likewise its tough to see something amazing (a dedicated protected time for scholarly reflection and achievement bestiwed only to a few) being sold as a means to something else (c.f. the list of things that Walminskipeas made). Thats not an attack on him, as I admit I bought into this "dream" just the same- and it made me miserable because the reality for me was NONE of those things. Its only now, after coming out, I can take stock of what I had actually accomplished.

And move on. (Which is why I am more optimistic now).

Crystal ball: A positive future post-PhD

Thanks for the star.

Sure I may be on the dole, but I am aware I am actually happy for the first time in 6 months. I am the most optmisitic I have been in a long, long time.I kid you not, its like leaving prison.

Now here are the REAL reasons why you should be proud of what you are doing.

1). Your PhD will be an achievement very few people on earth will achieve. Like climbing mount Everest. Do you think Edmund Hilary did that so that he could get a good salary out of it?

2) While your PhD is not a marker of intelligence, it IS a marker of phenomenal stamina. The sort of dedication that makes marathon running easy (most people who enter finish) or joining the SAS look like something you may do on a weekend (fairly achievable for a halfway decent professional soldier). To start, write up and complete a PhD is one of the high points of human tenacity. Oxbridge, 1st class honours, award winners all fall by the wayside. Regardless, you finish, you have something about you.

3) A former nobel laurate once told me at a conference: "You will never learn more about yourself at any other time, or what you are truly capable of doing when you do your PhD." As cynical as I am, I actually believe him.

4) I learned what your PhD is what you make of it. While the academic rat race is all well and good if you are well connected, lucky and prepared to give up almost everything else, its also a way to get into commercial research, publishing, journalism, and 101 other routes. Obviously you have to think laterally, and have some self possession. No one is going to come begging to you.

5) For outsiders a PhD, is a scary misunderstood thing and people tend to listen to any kind of nonsense you care to fire out your rear. Combined with a decent general education and shot of self confidence you can convince people that your half thought out speculations actually are incredibly meaningful. In academia people used to look down on me because I wasnt a Fullbright Scholar- in the real world, people buy me drinks.

Crystal ball: A positive future post-PhD

It may be due to the strange fact that I am enjoying the dole queue far more than the last 6 months of Post doc slavery but this post made me laugh more than anything in a long time.

1) If Walminski wants to be a post doc or junior lecturer I assure you he is going to do a lot of boring stuff (grant apps, paperwork) in order to make some people (notably Vice Chancellors) very rich.

2) Those niche skills are SO niche you may as well classify them alongside speaking Klingon.

3) Yep, smart intelligent people alright... but you forgot ruthless, backbiting and very, very scared thanks to the impending HE reorganisation.

4) You also get to teach the dregs that are churned through our universities thanks to the wonders of 50% participation goals.

5) The money is similar to an area manager of McDonalds. Or the graduate starting salary of a medic. Think about that.

6) This is true. Its also true if you spend a couple of hours down the public library every day after work.

7) If you mean by autonomous "left alone to get onto it, but still be subject to the whims of your PI, university, demanding students", then whoo autonomy.

8) This is true.

Bitter. Moi?

Some Advice for Current PhD Students re: Academic Jobs

Looking to get out was where I was a few months ago, and now that decision has been made for me since my funding finally ran out on my post doc. It really sucks going from practically running the research team (being the number 2 to my PI) to hitting the job centre in the space of a few months. I applied for hundreds of post docs and lectureship posts but due to the freeze they are so thin on the ground. There is no safety net and I am seriously re-evaluating what I need to do to survive.

Gibson's OP is completely spot on. I really think anyone thinking of a future in academia needs to have considerable backup or be blessed with wealthy parents or a partner. Even then they need to be willing to move at the drop of a hat and live a transient lifestyle.

I would like to think in a few years things will pick up for those seeking lecturships full time academic jobs, but I doubt it. I think it will go the American way with part time lecturers and contract academics fighting over each other for the remaining few crumbs. Regardless by then I will be long gone and my time in academia will be nothing but a bad memory.