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I've been offered a post that my friend really wanted. Feeling guilty.

am I the only one asking the obvious. The position should be advertised, and the successful candidate should be selected from a pool of diverse people. Adam would be an unlikely candidate without a PhD in any case.

Some departments tend to hire the internals in position after position. This is not beneficial neither for the group that is inbreeding stagnant in the same ideas, neither for the young academic that stays in their comfort zone never exposed to new challenges and expertise.

Bottom line, I left my group of 6 years to join a new group. Terrifying, but worth it. I really progressed as a researcher in a way I wouldn't have otherwise. My advice is probably meaningless, as I wouldn't have even believed myself from the future.

Good luck

Transfer of knowledge without words: mentor to student relationship

Hi amilo,

I think that during these stressful times it would be best if you could visit your family and stay with them for a while, or if you could ask a family member to visit and take care of you. Let your family know you are going through this as fast as you can, you need support and not go through that alone.

All the best

Competition instead of Collaboration

Can you bring an example of the interaction you find hurtful?

If the group critises your work, you should never be defensive or feel they are trying to hurt you because they are jealous. You should take the comments seriously and feel lucky that you have the opportunity to improve. In all honesty it gives me the chills when i present and afterwards there is just silence, no questions/criticism.

Any social scientists out there who use R?

No books for R, just "stack overflow" and of course all the CRAN documentation.
For multilevel modelling I recommend online tutorials for MLwiN from university of Bristol. For general statistics I loved open university courses on iTunes from Berkeley.

Any social scientists out there who use R?

Hi Tudor,

I am an R user and I absolutely recommend it. I use it for everything, descriptive stats, multilevel modelling, meta analysis, spatial statistics, visualisation, data management, you name it.

It is open source, there is plenty of help and you can write your own packages to do your stuff. it is a steep learning curve in the beginning but it is worth to invest some time to get a basic expertise. I would expect that social scientists need to deal with lots of complex data so this is a skill you should have.

Possible to finish in 3 years?

I submitted my PhD after 4 years, I did lots of teaching and published quite a few papers during this period. It definitely helped getting a job afterwards, so it's not a waste of time.

I would have finished earlier, if :
1. I had knowledge of a statistical software that would allow me to be more efficient with data management;
2. I was stronger in statistics, and knew from day 1 what's the best way to analyse data with complicated structure.

I would have taken longer if
1. My supervisor was not helpful in practical matters, (like I need this equipment NOW)
2. If I wasn't already quite comfortable with scientific writing

Teaching/Academy vs Industry

Hi Ghost town,

Here is how it usually goes:
-finish undergraduate
-finish a Master (just search online how much it costs for international and home students, I don't want to spoil the surprise)
- apply for a PhD scholarship and hope you get one, again without a scholarship estimate your living expenses plus fees for four years, and you probably won't have time to work to earn some money
- hope you get a postdoc position, of course there are less jobs than applicants. By that time you are at least 25 (if everything went according to plan). Of course you are happy to relocate where there is an available job. Your wage after taxes/ pension contribution is £10/h, but you will work more hours than your contract, so it will be actually less than that. If you want to hire a cleaner, they will ask £12/h. You are on a contract so you can't get a mortgage from the bank
- you spend a few years working as a postdoc, maybe change a couple of universities. Game over for most women at that point, because their wage is less than childcare. As for a female professor, I have yet to see one at my department ....
- some few people survive their way to a lectureship (this is another funny story on who gets the job). These lucky few now have to bring £100k/ year to justify their position in the uni. It takes at least five years to move to senior lectureship and another five to professorship minimum. By that time, you make what a medium experience skilled employee would get. And you need to keep bringing the money in to keep your post docs and the university overheads. Congrats

Yes, I don't get invited to parties much and people avoid me, but this is the truth. Maybe things are different in Brazil, but I don't know for how long, and I promise you, who-gets-the-job game is straightforward: someone's relative.

Post-PhD tiredness

Yes, perfectly normal. I started working straight after submission, so all I could manage was go to work, come back and sleep. Lie in the weekends, even meeting friends/ going for hiking was too much for me. I only started feeling better after almost a year of working the 37 hours a week you are supposed to work, and much sleep.

Imposter Syndrome or Depression? - PhD Student

Hi there,

I agree with the comments above, you might want to seek some specialised help. To some extend, what you are feeling is normal - (not healthy) - in the sense that many PhD students have the same thoughts.

My method to overcome these feelings was as follows: treat the PhD as a job. Set targets. Work a specified amount of hours, exercise and vent daily. For example, I would set short-term targets (finish this graph today) or long term targets (publish that paper by X-mas). My daily routine would be go to the swimming pool in the morning, have a coffee outside, work 2 hours, lunch break, 2 hours, coffee break, 4 hours, meet my friends/watch a movie, repeat. Everyday I tried to do my best, and if I didn't, I hoped that the next day would be better. Just stick to it, keep swimming, no thoughts "Am I good enough", just try to finish your daily tasks. And you will get there.

starting a new phd ? need advices

The aim of a PhD is to give you the opportunity to develop your skills as a researcher. It is supposed to be completed over a period of three to four years. It is not worth to spend more time of your life on such a task. I wouldn't drop out after two years, I would put all my efforts in finishing on time; that means working hard and methodically towards a coherent Phd. If you think you can't do it, my best advice would be to move on to something that brings fulfillement. PhDs can provoke extreme stress and depression. I don't think that the topic of your PhD will influence your post doc options, but the quality of your PhD might. Research is multidisciplinary, so you might find yourself in a completely new field.

After a year and a half, my postdoctoral experience is not that different from a PhD - I am not sure if this is a good thing?

Advice on recruiting parents to take part in research

Hi Tudor queen,

Same experience here working in schools with children and parents - only the most educated returned the questionnaire.

If you are working in London, try translating the questionnaire/ flyer? In my schools there were Somali and Turkish minorities and it helped because some parents had difficulties with written English. Ask the headteacher to join parents' evenings. Offer the classroom a reward (like pizza) if they get most of their parents to participate. Good luck.

Are professors all on the same level?

Clearly not, professors in particular can negotiate their salaries individually with the university.
Apart from that there are hierarchies and structures within the departments with more senior people taking the decisions - they usually have the support of their team. Seniority is influenced by how successful they are in bringing money in. Years in the field also play a role; individuals at professorial level often set up the department.

Hierarchy in PhD students is less clear I would think - I have never been bossed around by a fellow PhD student - but you know what they say, "if you don't know who is the person that everyone hates in the lab then it is probably you". Joking aside, I have been mercilessly attacked by "friends" that I did too much (teaching, marking etc), blocking their development in the group. May they never experience 4th year poverty, and may their data be normally distributed:)

Anyone elses supervisor just abandon them in 3rd year?

this is what I did to my supervisor: go to the office weeks before submitting anything and make them book a few hours for reading your PhD in their calendar and a face meeting soon after that. I don't think that anyone ever received feedback on one chapter though. But do warn them in advance for the first complete draft.


Apologies for being so nerdy, but this is what I would have done I. My first year if I had free time:

1. Think about the analysis of the data that I will collect. Attend statistical courses and learn a new software for data management. It makes me sad everytime when I see good data analysed poorly. Talk to a statistician. It took me about 3 months to optimise the methodological design.

2. Finalise and publish the literature review.

3. Set up a latex template for the PhD and sort out your references.

How long do you expect your PhD thesis to be? (social science)

I kept it short to about 50,000 words in 165 pages (hard to tell, I wrote it in latex)

- the appendices were a separate volume bigger than the thesis. Also social science.
Good luck!