Signup date: 17 Sep 2021 at 12:37pm
Last login: 19 Feb 2024 at 12:11pm
Post count: 14
Congrats, that first experience sounds pretty awful. Regarding the easy viva, try not to sweat it. My viva was the same as were a lot of my friends' and dwelling on it does no good, it just feeds your imposter syndrome. Key thing is that you passed easily and can now move forward beyond the PhD!
Hi there - yes, really sorry to hear that you are struggling.
As a social scientist I am going to slightly push back against the last post - no, all is not lost. You say you're on your 3rd postdoctoral job but what do you mean by this - your third postdoc grant? Your third RA job? Or your third teaching job after the PhD? Your PhD is not awarded yet, so it seems like you are early on in the process. What's the situation?
As tru says you may not be competitive yet but I don't think it is too late for you. After my PhD I took a rubbish teaching job, but then managed to get a 3 year lectureship on the strength of my postdoctoral research agenda and a credible plan to publish - I had not published yet! That position gave me the space to push out publications and I've started to rapidly get acceptances with more in the pipeline, and also a grant project that's been fettled, submitted, rejected, fettled again, and is once again ready to go. This is just to say that it is not too late for things to start kicking into gear. It took a long time for me, I had a fortunate turn with my job, but believed that I wasn't good enough for a very long time. Don't let that feeling become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I think you are probably coming down to earth with a bump re: the PhD being the biggest hurdle - it's definitely not. It's a challenge unlike many others because it goes on for so long, but now you've done it, the rest of your career will follow similar patterns (research, publish, present, rinse and repeat) but with much tighter deadlines and piles of admin work and teaching to go along with it.
If you're three short-term jobs into academia and you don't feel able to handle this, or rather, you don't think this is a sensible or worthwhile use of your life and valuable time (no judgment there at all!) then yes I'd consider whether this is the career path for you. It is also a sad reality that this is a hostile career path for carers and parents given the uncertainty, poor remuneration, and the need to move around a lot. Having no responsibilities of that kind gives me, and others, a big structural advantage. However, I also have colleagues who are single parents and harder workers/better academics than me, so it can be done.
In sum - don't give up just because you think it's too late, because from what you've said I am not sure that is the case. However, if this is grinding you down to the extent that you don't want to do it any more, then you will be following a well-trodden path by leaving the 'profession' (if one can call it that any more) - and you're likely to be financially and psychologically better off for it.
Hope that is some help. You can message me if you want to chew over anything else.
Not too sure how useful this is going to be for anyone else. It sounds like a case of academic research not being what you thought it was going to be. There is no shame in that, clearly it wasn't for you, with an industry background. And congratulations on your nice computer I guess?
What kind of support were you looking for if you'd already decided to leave?
These kinds of problems are par for the course, unfortunately, in a lot of PhD programmes. PhDs are about independent research and those who successfully come out the other side will usually have learned to overcome these kinds of obstacles - though of course the supervision situation you describe is not up to scratch.
I don't mean to sound dismissive. The attitude of people coming from industry to do a PhD often rubs me the wrong way. These things you describe aren't necessarily true of all PhD experiences, as you imply, and nor do they have to derail the entire thing. It just wasn't for you. That's fine. The main lesson here is to be clear-eyed about what you're getting into before you decide to take on a PhD - especially a self-funded one!
I don't think so, I know self-funded people in academic careers, although I'd maybe say, on balance, that they've struggled a bit more to get jobs.
The question is a bit more complicated than that, though. The funding issue plays into the question of whether the PhD is a good value proposition for you. Is it a good idea to spend, say, £75,000 of your own money on fees and living expenses over three years for a humanities PhD? Bear in mind that starting salaries, if you manage to get an academic job, are low, especially in humanities - and jobs are increasingly few and far between. My PhD (in the social sciences) was funded and I've still incurred a huge opportunity cost in lost potential earnings over that time, given that I could have spent 4 years in another field making a ton more money. That didn't bother me because I didn't want to do anything else, but it's relevant.
The other issue is - and I don't want to sound harsh or mean here, so please don't take it this way - academia is about securing funding. For many people, getting PhD funding is the first time they'll demonstrate that they can do that. If you can't get funding for your PhD, you might want to sit down and ask yourself why that is. Like I said above, it's perfectly possible for people with self-funded PhDs to have fulfilling and decent academic careers - but if you're falling down at the first funding hurdle, you might want to question whether this is the path you are best suited to take.
I suspect you probably can get PhD funding, unless your research proposal has serious and fundamental shortcomings. Given the massive costs of self-funding, I'd be inclined to wait a year until the next admissions cycle and beef up your chances of getting funding. It's competitive but it is very much still possible - especially if you have a supportive prospective supervisor and institution that is willing to help you out.
Minor point, but I do think that right at the start of your career, PhD funding from a big research council (AHRC in your case) does add a little bit of sparkle to your CV, but yes, it's quickly dwarfed by publications and professional experience.
Edit: sorry about the formatting, edited the post and it's taken out all the paragraphs.
I work in academia and I use it on presentations, e-mail signature, job applications, etc. - i.e. strictly professional and formal situations. Personally I'd never think to use it outside of academia, unless it was directly relevant. For instance, we had teachers at school who'd go by Dr XYZ instead of Mr XYZ because they had a PhD in the subject they taught.
This is an age old debate and people will have different answers, but in an industry-based job in a different field, I would not use Dr anywhere. It would rub me up the wrong way a bit if someone did, as well, but not enough for me to make passive-aggressive comments in team meetings about it. Then again, my old housemate started putting Dr on his bank cards, Amazon packages, anything you like as soon as he passed his viva, so some people clearly have different views.
I can see how PhD is slightly better, although to be honest I'd be discinlined to use either. Then again, I'm a man, and I recognize that it's often more difficult for a woman to be 'taken seriously' in professional situations, and showing people you have a PhD could conceivably help with that - so maybe go for (PhD) after the name instead?
'Most universities' aren't diploma mills, don't know where you got that idea from.
Neither is this one, it's accredited and as far as I can tell completely legitimate, just not very good. Private for-profit university that wants to make money by churning out MBAs. It will be a waste of time and money if you want to go into academic research.
You don't need an outstanding bachelors to do a Masters degree. In the UK a lower second/2:2 will be enough to get you enrolled on most MA courses at good and even elite universities - funding is the issue.
What you should do next depends what you want to do a PhD in, why you want to do a PhD, where you want to do your PhD. Difficult to help otherwise.
In terms of your original question, you've answered it yourself, avoid this one.
My advice to this is, and always will be, follow the money. If you have a fully-funded PhD offer (and it's a compelling one, good supervisory fit, etc) then take it. They don't come along every day. There's no guarantee you'll get internal funding if you wait. Doesn't hurt to try and get over the Oxbridge fantasies either.
Not to be funny or anything but it does say right there on the government website that you're not eligible if you already have a Masters degree or equivalent. I take that fairly unequivocally to mean that a non-UK MA makes you ineligible.
It's great that you have time-consuming hobbies on the side. That's very healthy. Nurture them while you can. You will find your workload ramps up towards the end, and then once you submit, it's all change and likely a stressful period ahead. The PhD can be a very valuable time to prepare for that by treating yourself well, developing healthy approaches to work, and nurturing those other interests to the extent that, when you finish and go into the hellscape of early-career research, you'll still feel compelled to make time for them even when things are really busy.
If everybody thinks you're doing well, and you're not being dramatically under-supervised, then I'd advise to keep on trucking. Get the PhD finished and after that you can hopefully focus on research that's more interesting to you. Enjoy the relative abdundance of downtime while you can.
I can't speak to the other stuff about your supervisor and witholding contacts etc., that's all very strange. Maybe they are concerned that you focus on your work, maybe they are scheming and being deliberately evasive. However, my main point is don't feel bad for not working more if you're making good progress. You probably have a better-adjusted approach to work than your colleagues and peers, and that will serve you well in the long run.
Long time lurker, made an account to respond to this.
I think you're fine. I submitted in August and have my viva at the start of next month. Never during my PhD did I work a solid 40 hours a week (although many many weeks did I sit at my desk and waste time for 40 hours). 1st through 3rd year my workload was honestly quite relaxed, and I did other extracurricular things alongside - teaching qualification, big academic admin role to help with career stuff, plus a lot of cycling and bikepacking! During my 4th year it really intensified and I did the lion's share of my writing, but I don't think I was touching 40 hours of work at all. That's normal, I think. The majority of posts on here are horror stories and people going through serious problems, but I think for a lot of people (if not most) the PhD can be an enjoyable experience where you get to read a lot and work to a relatively relaxed schedule. Don't get me wrong - it's still been hugely psychologically stressful (for many of the reasons you described) - but I haven't worked my fingers to the bone.
I'm in social sciences rather than STEM so my experience re: supervision and project will have been very different to yours, but I think it's also very normal to not be excited about your project. As I finished my thesis, I really felt that I'd gone as far as I could with my research topic, and I'm now drafting up a big postdoc bid on something that's different but related - and which I'm actually really excited about. The PhD is an apprenticeship, essentially, to prove you can do research. I think anyone who's still absolutely mad about their PhD project after 4 years of work on it is either lying or has a screw loose. I've submitted a thesis which I'm pleased with and proud of, but it doesn't excite me like it did in 2017.
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