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bongmaster5000
Friday, 9 February 2018 at 10:18am
Tuesday, 10 July 2018 at 10:36am
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page 1 of 3 recent posts

Thread: Quiting PhD - Terms and conditions

posted
20-Mar-18, 11:06
edited about 16 seconds later
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posted about 2 years ago
Following on from what Pjlu said, I actually googled the text of point 2 to see if I could find the full text - some more context might help. It looks like it comes from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore - is this correct? This might be relevant to the answers, since most people here I think are posting from a UK or perhaps US perspective. Not sure about differences in rules or protocol in Singapore.

Thread: Any Advice on a good Phd in green logistics or sustainable logistics and supply chain

posted
18-Mar-18, 14:22
edited about 12 seconds later
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posted about 2 years ago
Sure, try looking here for a start:

Thread: Money saving tips for students

posted
15-Mar-18, 10:02
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posted about 2 years ago
I think this person is trying to harvest ideas for an inevitably-terrible blog.

Thread: First year, no confidence in my ability

posted
09-Mar-18, 10:44
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posted about 2 years ago
I'm in pretty much the same position as you, having also come back into academia after some difficult workplace experiences.

All I can say as - I am with you! I constantly feel like I don't know enough, don't read enough, don't have anything to say or contribute, or am not making enough progress. Actually having one of those days now, as it goes.

I know this is considered completely normal, so have decided to try a strategy of head down, one foot in front the other, concentrate on the work in front of me, and trust absolutely in my supervisors' judgment. It's first year, you are going to need that kind of interventionist support for a little while, but absolutely everyone I've spoken to assures me that it gets easier. I am starting to feel like making big progress on that front, but still have many days/weeks like you're going through now.

I think the important thing at the moment (for you and me both) is to accept where we are at - the 'conscious incompetence' stage, perhaps, and keep doing what we are doing. As long as your supervisor isn't sounding alarm bells about anything, I suspect you're doing totally fine.

Do feel free to PM me if you want to commiserate together! Good luck.

Thread: UCU strikes

posted
08-Mar-18, 14:23
edited about 1 minute later
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posted about 2 years ago
PS - regarding the impact on students as referenced in the other thread - yes, I am sorry that it has come to this and I fully back their calls for tuition fee refunds as a result of the current disruption. I don't agree that it will be 'utterly ruinous' for their future, though I am sympathetic that they are missing out on education that they have paid through the nose for; I am convinced that universities will be scrambling to save face over this and will choose to modify exam content based on learning missed, rather than 'blanket passes' (this is what's happening where I am) - of course it's massively disappointing from a students' point of view, but I don't expect people to be missing out on 2:1s and 1sts across the board as a result.

Also, this strike has been on the cards for MONTHS and UUK is still this week dragging its feet over finding a resolution, in the face of opposition from a majority of VCs. The way UUK is handling this dispute has been pathetic and they seem prepared to drag this out to the bitter end, and they bear as much responsibility (if not more) as striking staff.

Nobody I have met or spoken to *wants* to be striking; we want to be working. Leave the 'selfish lecturers targeting students' attitude for the Daily Telegraph or the next Tube strike. UCU hasn't struck for years and years, academics have the legal right to withdraw their labour just as everyone else does, and wouldn't have done so unless they perceived it necessary.

Levels of student support here have been good and I am extremely grateful for the understanding of the situation they have shown. Students deserve a better system than they've got under the current shambles, too, and I think that is something that's also at the forefront of strikers' minds.

Thread: UCU strikes

posted
08-Mar-18, 14:10
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posted about 2 years ago
I am strongly in support of the strikes and have been taking action myself. I am a PhD student but I also teach undergrads part-time, so we're into the third week of missed classes for them and working out of the office for me.

Initially, I was quite sceptical (as I'm sure were others on here) of taking action and losing out on pay, as a casually-employed early-career academic, on behalf of the wealthiest and most privileged demographic of academics; the last generation in our industry to benefit from easily-available and well-paid permanent jobs, not to mention nice big pensions. Where will they be when we're fighting tooth-and-nail over 6-month postdoc contracts paying >£20k a year? Very nicely pensioned-off!

However, I quickly realised this perception was massively flawed. The youngest generation of scholars has the most to lose here, since most of us won't have accrued much (or any) pension under USS yet, while for senior academics the bulk of their benefits are relatively safe. Over the span of a career, a switch to defined contributions will put today's generation of up-and-coming scholars out of pocket by far more than it will the established profs and senior lecturers.

That's not even the main motivation for me, though - I really see this as part of a wider struggle against the neoliberalisation of higher education. It's a struggle over different visions for the future of education provision in this country. While I accept that sometimes savings need to be made, I don't think this is one of those cases; the main backers of the UUK position have been hugely wealthy universities - like Bristol, with a £70million surplus for example - who have splurged on facilities, campuses etc and but won't absorb increased contributions. Not to mention the dubious methodology used to get to the £6.1bn deficit figure.

Sorry for the rant. Solidarity to fellow strikers, hope for a resolution soon.

Thread: Want to quit Phd! Please advice!

posted
02-Mar-18, 12:19
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posted about 2 years ago
Absolutely listen to your supervisor - I bet you are doing fine, academically.

I am in my second semester of PhD study; last term, I thought I was absolutely terrible. Went into every supervision expecting to be told that my work wasn't up to scratch, my supervisors didn't think I was cut out for it, and that I should just go for an MPhil and be done with it. Went home over Christmas thinking about quitting.

Needless to say, none of that ever happened. I am still not super confident, but this semester something has just 'clicked' where I feel like I'm at least on track. You're struggling with impostor syndrome - mine was pretty acute for a while, and has lessened now, but some people struggle with it throughout the entirety of their PhD. It can at least be managed and is totally normal.

The key thing (as I have been advised by other PhD students who are close to completing) is to just get out of bed each day. Keep putting one foot in front of the other, turning up, and trying. Eventually, it will click; even if you go through your whole first year feeling confused and clueless, that's not necessarily an indication that you're doing poorly.

Supervisors have no interest in sugar-coating their assessments of you; if you're doing poorly, rest assured you will absolutely know about it. Assuming they've supervised before, they know the process, they know where they expect you to be and what you're experiencing. You have to trust their judgement at this early stage that you will be OK.

Don't give up; you've done amazingly well to get a sponsored PhD, and have been judged competent by your funders and your supervisor. It will get better - just keep going, and give yourself a break. If you're losing weight, I'd really urge you to go and see a campus counsellor or therapist too. This is not worth destroying your health over. Good luck.

Thread: Quitting current PhD project after a year and trying to apply for new project at different Uni

posted
27-Feb-18, 09:31
edited about 20 seconds later
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posted about 2 years ago
I have to agree strongly with pm133 here. It sounds like you're not even attempting to work independently and are looking for reasons to blame your supervisor, and your attitude - from your post - sounds terrible.

The only issue I can see here is one of sub-optimal lab/equipment conditions - of course, not ideal, but not uncommon either, and as has been pointed out this is something that should be relatively easily rectifiable. Yet your first response is to try and jump ship without even trying to sort it out?

PhD study is in very large part about independence and overcoming obstacles. If you can't manage that, you might transfer somewhere else but you'll still struggle, because you're looking for ways to pin the blame on others. Once a week, as pm133 points out, is above and beyond the regularity with which most PhD students meet with their supervisors. You shouldn't be needing that level of support.

As for your bizarre allegations of 'incompetence' and 'not understanding basic data analysis' - not to mention the kids part - sounds like you're salty about being supervised by a woman. Perhaps you're not, but that's how it comes across in your post.

Thread: MBA: Do this candidate profile stand any chances at a top school?

posted
26-Feb-18, 12:09
edited about 13 seconds later
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posted about 2 years ago
None of the information you've given is remotely helpful.

Smashing the 'Master of Bugger All' stereotype here.

Thread: Funding

posted
26-Feb-18, 12:07
edited about 12 seconds later
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posted about 2 years ago
You're going to struggle, realistically. Masters tuition fee scholarships are very rare and I've never heard of universities offering scholarships to cover living costs and tuition, short of a Fulbright scholarship or something like that.

In some disciplines, people have their MA/MSc funded as part of their PhD funding, though a 1+3 scholarship from a research council. However, I don't think this is done very often in the 'hard' sciences (I may be wrong?) as lots of people go straight to PhD from undergrad.

Your best bet, I think, would be looking at findaphd or similar websites and trawling through the advertised listings. They will almost all require a 2.1 or higher at undergrad; you might find some that don't, or you might want to get in touch with the advertising professor/faculty (at the risk of annoying them and potentially putting them off you by asking about clearly-listed entry requirements) to see if they'd accept you with a 2:2 MChem. If you have relevant work/lab experience since 2011, this might make up for the shortfall in grades. What was your %, by the way - did you get a 59, or a 50? What was your grade in your final research project? If you did well in that AND just missed a 2:1 AND have some relevant experience, you might be more competitive - but it is still going to be an uphill struggle, I think.

I would forget about the Masters route, as it's ultimately not going expunge the 2:2 from your CV.

Perhaps not a nice question and I don't mean it maliciously, but there is also the consideration of whether you've got the drive/ability to complete a PhD if you didn't manage a 2:1 at undergraduate level. It is very challenging and ultimately the funder needs to be 100% sure that you will complete.

Thread: How to find out a good research topics?

posted
21-Feb-18, 11:39
edited about 9 seconds later
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posted about 2 years ago
No

Thread: Which PhD should I go for ?

posted
20-Feb-18, 10:42
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posted about 2 years ago
Lots of specifics going on here which ultimately come down to your own choice/gut feeling.

However, all else being equal, I really don't think it matters at all whether you graduate from an English or MFL department. The structure of universities simply means that you have to be put in a 'box' one way or another, but once you get to PhD you find people working on inter-disciplinary things which straddle departments and it's really not a big deal. I work in a specific social science discipline and we have PhD students who would technically be classified as geographers, political philosophers, political economists, historians of science, sociologists, etc etc, who will all graduate from the same department - the name of which tells you very little about their research.

What matters is a) the appropriateness of your supervision arrangements (sounds like uni A has got that right), b) the research environment and availability of relevant expertise, and c) - by far the most important - the content and quality of your own thesis.

Whether it's an English or MFL department, from what you've said, shouldn't have much bearing on what you actually research and write. I really wouldn't worry about that aspect.

Thread: Difficulties managing part-time job and PhD

posted
19-Feb-18, 11:04
edited about 9 minutes later
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posted about 2 years ago
Regarding the last point above - lots of universities will have student hardship funds or similar pots of money, designed to bail out students who are in dire financial straits (I'm not sure if this is what you're referring to - apologies if not). Unfortunately, these are difficult to access; they will require itemized receipts of all your expenses in order to determine how much/whether you need it. However, the main problem is that they will be conditional on your having planned your finances adequately, and having a reasonable expectation that you can complete your studies with the funds you've already got in place. Taking on a self-funded PhD without the cash in place to do so, without part-time work, won't be considered a valid reason for accessing that money. Plus, it tends to be a one-shot thing, a lump sum of a couple grand (maximum) to get you out of a financial pinch that would result in you dropping out otherwise. Not much use for funding a PhD.

Definitely do go and talk to the SU, though, to discuss your options.

Can you apply for external grants? That would probably be my first port of call in your shoes - even if it requires interrupting for a year so you can search for funding and maybe work to build up some savings in the meantime. There are also career development loans from certain banks, but again I'm not sure these would provide enough to cover multiple years of full-time PhD study and all the expenses it entails.

Maybe even bite the bullet and go part-time. Plenty of people do it and in certain countries (like Finland, off the top of my head) it's the norm to do it part-time and take up to 10 years to finish. You'll still be out quicker than that.

Thread: Difficulties managing part-time job and PhD

posted
19-Feb-18, 10:14
edited about 24 seconds later
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posted about 2 years ago
That is a really tough situation. Full-time PhDs really are essentially full-time jobs. I would seriously struggle to juggle an extra 18 hours a week of paid work, it sounds exhausting - personally I do a couple of hours a week teaching plus prep; much more than that I think would have a serious quality-of-life impact. You're right, lots of people do it, but I certainly wouldn't judge anybody for sacking off the job to focus on the PhD.

I guess it comes down to whether you can continue to fund yourself adequately. What's the job? Does your university have internal opportunities like teaching or note-taking? Some people find these easier to fit around their studies, and they are often a little better-paid than other available part-time work.

Thread: PhD rejections

posted
09-Feb-18, 10:35
edited about 19 seconds later
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posted about 2 years ago
I have to agree strongly with the above two posters. A focus on RG unis because you don't want to 'aim low', for me, potentially shows a pretty fundamental misunderstanding of the research environment and how PhDs work at a basic level. If this is as indicative as it sounds, I am not surprised you're having problems. Are your prospective supervisors and departments the correct fit, or are you trying to shoehorn yourself into an unsuitable research community? How are your references? What feedback have you had? It's hard to say what exactly is going on here without a bit more information, but it does sound like you need to totally scratch your existing application/proposal and start from the ground up.

PhD applications - I quickly found - are about being smart and strategic, definitely not about churning out as many applications as possible, or repeatedly banging on the door of the same institutions for years on end.

To answer your question: applied last year while finishing a masters at a non-RG university (but one that is excellent in my field). 3 applications and offers of a place, 2 research council funding interviews, 1 offer of funding, which I accepted. If it hadn't worked, I would have completely re-evaluated my approach and started again. Yes, funding is competitive and scarce, but if you have the track record and the capability it shouldn't take you that long to get in unless something is going dreadfully wrong with your applications. I'd seek some frank feedback from a referee or academic contact who's been with you throughout the process because you urgently need to find out what's going wrong before you waste any more time!
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