Overview of Cakeman

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Endnote questions...

Hi 4matt

I would recommend you simply use endnote as a reference manager

Any papers you want to read, or even are considering reading I would either print, or save as PDF

Then, when you come to write something for the first time, I recommend you only put the details you need for the reference, i.e. title, author, year published, journal etc into endnote programme. A colleage of mine did the whole import journal plus abstract and link to journal thing from web of science, In the end the file got too big and crashed endnote and he lost a lot of the information.

You may be ok if you are running a newer version, and he had imported over 200 references this way, but I would recommend just having the minimum of info in endnote and use it as a reference manager, whilst saving any papers you may want to read as PDFs

How well is your PhD going - A definitive Enquiry

Hi Guys

Nice thread,

At the moment I feel like my PhD is going OK, I'm at the very end, and am aiming to submit by Christmas all being well. Most of my thesis is written, and I have maybe 2 more experiments to finish, both of them repeats.

Generally my PhD has gone quite badly I would say, and have generally felt this way about most of it. I don't have any first authored publications, although may get on 4 publications as 2nd author in the quite distant future, (not sure 2nd authorship is of much use or not, any input, much appreciated). I'd say some of the reasons for this going badly is my fault, although for a lot of it I blame poor supervision (critical equipment not working when I started, and not fixed for 1st 14 months, lack of interest from boss generally, lack of any constructive input from boss, and lack of respect from boss generally, and regarding my input into other people's projects.

At the moment I feel fairly ok about it all, I think my thesis will get the job done, though will be glad to get finished. My biggest worry is finding employment. I've applied for four jobs so far, and am eyeing up a 5th (1 industry, 4 post-doc), only one has closed for applications yet. My funding expired 2 months ago, so I'm writing up whilst living off savings which is not ideal.

also slightly worried about my boss giving me a reference, just have to hope it will be ok.

Help please

hi Keep_Calm

The problem I can see here is that your boss may not be prepared to accept your arguement that your chapter idea does not seem like a good one.

The key here is to have the meeting, but take time to explain why you don't think the idea is any good. In academia it should be the case that anything where there is sufficient evidence to justify an arguement, will make sense as an arguement. So, as long as you can say accurately why you think the idea is not a good one on the basis of the data that you have, your boss can either accept your arguements, or question the data that your arguements are based upon

It sounds to me like you could do with leaving this idea alone for a little while, ultimately I think you will need to be honest and tell your boss the problem. I appreciate supervisors can be pretty awful, but he should be prepared to accept that this is reasearch, and sometimes things don't go as you might have hoped. As long as your arguements are sound, you should be fine.

As far as tonight goes, I can't recommend much, just try to figure out why the stuff you are doing is not working, or what your ideas are to this extent, and send that to your boss?

Good luck

Anyone else submitted and waiting?

Hi Heifer

I envy you for having the job finished, thus leaving you to pursue other aspects of life for now

My situation: Writing up, have done 3 chapters which are on my boss's desk, 4th chapter printed out on my desk to give to her when I see her, 5th chapter, 90% written, needs an afternoon more of experiments, and maybe a day to tidy up, paste in the graphs etc, 6th chapter 90% written, needs maybe 3 days experimental work to finish.

Am currently writing final (7th chapter) expect to finish sometime next week.

How much has my boss read.......................... absolutely none of it.

She has had two of the chapters for over 3 months now, it would be nice if she would just give me some kind of idea regarding when she's planning to do it, or even some initial feedback. I know most academics are busy, but things are getting a bit beyond the joke here.

My best advice is try to get job applications fired off in the meantime, that's what i'm doing with half of my time these days

I apreciate it's just as hard, if not harder for you, but i'm tearing my hair out here trying to figure out when I might get even a first draft back from my boss.

At least this way I'll be prepared not to recieve a viva date for 2 months!

Good luck

Equal opportunities...Just pretence!

Hi Benm

Interesting debate, bit of a shame you don't seem to want to participate as such

Looking in my field (biological sciences) it appears that approximately 10% of the PhDs advertised on findaphd.com, the website that is attached to this forum stipulate that only UK nationals can apply to recieve the funding attached to the PhD project. The majority of PhD projects stipulate that any EU nationality can apply and recieve, whilst some projects are open to anyone from anywhere in the world (generally more than those open to UK nationals only). Now, I appreciate that other fields may be different, but I don't really see much truth in what you are saying in my case.

Another question i have, If you dislike the UK, and any lingering Imperialist tendancies that we may have, why don't you simply go and do research somewhere else?

I take this approach, I don't like the USA very much (nothing against individual people, i simply could not stand a country that does not have socialised healthcare) so I simply don't bother going there, problem solved.

Do we have it too easy??

An excellent point Walminskipeasucker

For the Cakeman model to work, one has to assume a relatively even playing field lower down the education system, which in reality, there is not.

Looks like there is no obviously easy way to improve things here, but I think by limiting places and setting certain minimum standards of academic excellence, we will at least retain some credibility in the current system and therefore retain the value of the degree.

Another point I ought to make, is that tuition fees have a social component as well. For example, harking back to my parents age, nearly all student were politically active, societies and sports clubs were also relatively well attended. Currently, participation in such activities is decreasing, probably because the students are having to take part time jobs to be able to afford to stay at university, once again lessening the experience for the students.

Once again, the cakeman argues for a less is more approach, although it's too bad this will never happen

Do we have it too easy??

Hi Folks

Interesting debate

Something I can't help thinking about all this stuff is the more people are paying for education, the more they expect to get for their money. In a society such as ours this is understandable, but could cause quite some problems. Academics nowdays are generally overburdened with lectures, practicals, marking etc, to the point where everything is being dumbed down somewhat, and less attention is being given to the students and their learning experience. This is, in part due to the need to maximise incomes from tuition fees. As well as this, people who are paying for their education will all expect at least a 2(i) for their money.

We are essentially arrrving at a pay more for less situation, it would seem that the modern student today is especially hard done by, even compared to the likes of me, who had it relatively easy on 1,100 pounds per year fees a few years ago. I personally am not too sure I like where this is all going at the moment, in fact I disagree strongly.

I think it's time for a return to the 1960's when only the academic elite went to university, and degrees were an awful lot harder. The flipside is that the goverment could fund more university courses, allowing the gifted but financially poor to attend university. This therefore eliminates the situation we have today, with far too many graduates. I would still have most courses that are available today happening, just fewer of them.

Ultimately, it would probably mean what is now considered a graduate position would be filled by a non-graduate, but I think other forms of vocational training could be used here quite succesfully.

This may never happen, but that's what i believe in, and I don't see why the goverment consistently getting this wrong should change that

Post-doc Job applications

Hi Folks

Thanks for your responses so far, and good to know there are others out there like me. On the research assistant front, does anybody know if taking a research assistant post after PhD for a few years, then moving onto a post-doc placement is considered the done thing?, or is this frowned upon?

Can't help thinking with the competitiveness of the jobs market at present this may not be a bad way to go, but will this harm my academic career prospects long-term?

Post-doc Job applications

Hi Folks

I've been looking at post-doc job advertisements in the field of biological sciences, mostly in the neurosciences/physiology area. Trouble is, i've yet to find any jobs for which I tick every box on the job advertisement, in most cases I manage about half to three quarters of their requirements, in some cases I manage all ofthe essential requirements but not the desirable ones.

I would like to know if this is entirely normal, and to those who have recently suceeded in getting a post-doc job, how one would work around this, or even make a relative lack of experience seem like an advantage. At present I've got no papers to speak of, and am about to start 4th year, (funding ends at end of 3rd year). If everything goes brilliantly from now on, I may manage to be on 4-5 publications with one first author from my time as a PhD student, but am not counting on more than one paper published by the time I have my Viva.

All advice/opinions are welcome

My write-up dreams & reality

Hi Sheena

No need to be so hard on yourself, I'm aiming for December 2009 as my writing up finish point.........and I also only have 2 chapters done, although am probably about halfway through 3 more, and still have a few experiments to finish.

Mostly I feel as if i'm on target, give or take a few days, given that i've been writing up since about June, whilst also doing lab work, this looks achievable to me.

Peaks and troughs are fairly natural in the writing up process, and it could be different if your actually trying to be creative, as a cell signalling/pharmacology PhD, i don't really have this problem. My advice is try to mix things up, so if you get bored writing, do something else that really needs to be done, i.e. job applications

Good luck

program for curve-fitting and optimization

Hi Limlin

Not sure what your field is, so this may not be especially useful

I'm doing pharmacology, and find that for standard curves, and general curve fitting, a programme called graphpad prism is just the job.

I think it is designed specifically for the biological sciences, so you may find it to be of limited use for what you want, but it does have many options that could come in useful. It's way better than Excel, and a little more user friendly in my opinion.

Anyway, you can download a month's free trial, google it, and see what you think

Thinking about A-level results day

hi People

Great thread, I remember my A-levels in 2003, i got AABB (+ D for general studies, never used to go to lessons). This was quite a significant improvement on GCSEs (4 A's and 6 B's. remember A stars were available) and went on to get a 1st, and here I am, at a 60's modern Uni, hopefully handing in at Christmas, if i can control my procrastination and my boss gets her act together and reads my thesis.

GCSE's can be a very deceptive thing in my opinion. When i look around at those who considerably outperformed me, a large number went on to struggle with A-levels and degree, although they do also all have jobs and a steady career by now.........

My biggest recollection from schooldays was being pigeonholed as gifted but lazy, because I was gifted, I think I was mostly left alone to do as I pleased, whilst teachers concentrated on the other kids, so I was never really pushed. Moving to a new sixth form did a lot for me, I left my comfort zone, old friends, and bad habits behind.

Anyway, great thread, my message is move sixth form after year 11, or at least dare to leave your comfort zones to understand your true abilities

Anyone else wasted the break?

Hi Phdbug

Just thinking, could you define the term wasted

Quote From phdbug:

spent all the time on cooking, travelling, entertaining friends, celebrating my Bday in xmas week, and chatting with family...

GOSH i feel so guilty...and drained out with nothing :-s

Sounds to me like your time has simply been spent doing normal things that people do at this time of year.

If you've managed to spend your time socialising with friends and family, surely this time is not wasted at all, these people, are, after all much more important than work, no?

Retracting plagiarised paper

Hi Pyshnov

I just visited your website....... my word, i cannot express quite how shocked i was at what is happening there, not to mention the fact that this creep is now still teaching students. The worst of it is that you look as if you had enough for a great thesis, i've found not even half as much interesting data in mine, and nobody has tried to kick me out.

I really don't understand what your professor's problem was with getting the paper's published with you as first author and her second, there's nothing wrong with that, surely. In addition to this, for people with good data, departments usually bend over backwards to get students with good data the time to finish. I just really cannot understand what her problem is, it doesn't even sound like she has anything personally against you, just wanted to nick your results.

Hard lines, and i hope you find some justice eventually

I've had enough

Hi Bobby

I feel your pain friend, my second year upgrade took about 4 months to complete, at least three of which were due to continued rejections from my supervisor. Firstly, if your writing up a paper then you must be doing alright at least, personally, I'm nowhere near having enough data to write my own publication and I'm 2 months into 3rd year, and have been told I'm progressing fairly well.

My big problem with the whole 2nd year report business was, like you, a lack of clear instruction. At first i did the minimum having not been told what to do, after my boss threw it back at me and basically called me an idiot because she couldn't understand it, i simplified everything and it came out ok. I appreciate this may not be the problem your having. You may simply need to be honest with your boss and say your fed up with her constantly changing things.

If this does not work, I'm unsure what to suggest, it may be that telling your boss that you want to leave may stimulate her into doing something about the problem, though please only use this as the last resort.

Good luck