Overview of Dunham

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Dunham
Sunday, 19 April 2015 at 2:12pm
Sunday, 10 June 2018 at 7:25am
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page 1 of 21 recent posts

Thread: Second-year slump or something more serious?

posted
03-Jun-16, 16:22
edited about 4 minutes later
by Dunham
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posted about 3 years ago
Quote From TreeofLife:
Ok, first of all, what you are describing is pretty normal, not acceptable, but just a common experience.


I think it is a bit problematic if something like that is seen as normal. In my opinion it isn't. I'm not a UK student but I know at least 30 PhD students (all the people from my old universities and the new one I'm now working) and none of them has major problems with their supervisors. It might comfort people to hear something like that or encourage them to pull trough but if seeing the university counselor (I never ever heard of something like that before I visited this site) is considered as a common experience, then something is going terribly wrong. The majority of people I know enjoy their PhDs most of the time, don't suffer from mental health problems and so on and I think that's how it should be, despite the fact that there are of course sometimes difficult periods. A PhD does not come easy.

I would really try to get them both in one room and make absolutely clear that you seriously consider to quit because you see major flaws in methodology and do not believe that this project can be successful. Maybe that is the wake up call they need to take your matter a bit more seriously. It is also not good for the reputation of a supervisor if their students fail or if there are complaints about their supervision style. I would not give up yet. There is still time to get data and finish a thesis, even though it will probably not be a master piece or might get major corrections or something like that.

Thread: How to support a PhD during writing up

posted
02-Jun-16, 10:56
by Dunham
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posted about 3 years ago
If you are not living together you don't have to do anything in my opinion. Just be understanding and not pissed if he is busy or generally spends less time with you. That's it.
Writing is part of every PhD and I think you can still manage to prepare your own food and clean at least a little bit from time to time, so your place is not a complete mess ;) I know tons of single people who wrote their PhD theses without additional support. He will make it ;)

Thread: Loneliness and Isolation during your PhD

posted
01-Jun-16, 16:58
edited about 3 seconds later
by Dunham
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posted about 3 years ago
In case it is a possibility for you, moving in a shared flat could help. If you find nice flatmates you usually have at least two to three people you already know and that include you in activities with their friends from time to time if you get along well. Are there no activities specifically for PhD students organized by the University or the PhD students themselves? We have a lot of these things. It is usually combined with something academic e.g. one PhD student gives a talk about his/her research and then there are beers afterwards and people can chat.

But I guess many people have the same problem. The older you get, the harder to make new friends. Most people found their circle of friends that is not changing anymore making it harder to join as an outsider.

Thread: I'm a PhD Candidate with Feelings of Insecurities and Inadequacies

posted
01-Jun-16, 13:29
by Dunham
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posted about 3 years ago
Quote From Hazelle:
I think what happens for PhD is we go from being real high flyers or even top of our year at undergraduate to being surrounded by a load of other people who were also near the top of their year at undergraduate level because those are the only people who do PhDs (or at the least the only ones who get funding because it is so competitive).


Depends on the subject. In the hard sciences sometimes up to 80% of students do a PhD after their Masters (biology or chemistry for instance), so you are definitely not only surrounded by high flyers and you don't need to be one to successfully complete a PhD. Probably different in the humanities.

Thread: Applying for university admin jobs

posted
18-May-16, 22:34
edited about 33 seconds later
by Dunham
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posted about 3 years ago
I think everyone is put in the Failed-Scientist-Drawer that applies for non-research jobs after a PhD...inevitable. You can try to explain the shift and some explanations are better than others but in most cases they probably don't buy your explanation of how you discovered area xy during your PhD. Maybe the motives doesn't even matter that much. We are all humans and know that you somehow have to pay the bills.
You have absolutely no possibility to move somewhere else in England? Anyway, hope you are not giving up ;)

Thread: Applying for university admin jobs

posted
18-May-16, 17:43
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 3 years ago
Quote From TreeofLife:

Do you think if you have a PhD you less likely to get interviewed for university admin jobs?


I think so, but nowadays that is true for almost all jobs :D

They don't like to hire people that are overqualified for a job. Mostly because people leave as soon as something better comes up and see that job rather temporarily. You probably don't want to be a basic admin for the rest of your life, while others might be fine with that and don't even try to climb up the career ladder. Generally your experience in the exact field should be an advantage. On the other hand, the fact that you left admin/managment related jobs to do the PhD and the Post Doc might give the impression that this is not what you initially wanted but rather something you do out of a lack of opportunities. They easily put you in that Failed-Scientist-Drawer. It depends how you "sell" this change from admin to research to admin.

Thread: Mres and PhD

posted
18-May-16, 11:47
edited about 18 minutes later
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 3 years ago
Quote From Chemikalie89:
I used to think the same. BUT you there are too many variables involved:
1) I don't want to take a 2 years master. I'm already 26 years old, so I don't stay in university till my 30s (I would for a PhD, it's a full time job);


This is something you have to decide yourself. This magical line you are drawing there at the age of 30 is rather arbitrary and should not prevent you from doing a 2-year master. If you are already 26 years old and consider a Mres, you will be anyway over 30 when graduating. A minority of students manages to finish in 3 years, no matter if it is in Germany, UK, Belgium, Norway...and so on. No one will care if you got your PhD with 31 or 32.
A general chemistry degree gives you a general background in chemistry ;) That does not mean that you can't benefit from a more specialized master in inorganic chemistry or whatever field you choose. Keep in mind that these things can also affect your performance during your PhD. Comparing my knowledge to a couple of chemistry students and then conclude that it is probably not necessary....I don't know. That's your call.

PS: . Everybody that is involved in research knows the institutions with the highest reputation. There is nobody that considers all universities in England as great. So what is the point of spending thousands of pounds in a degree from the university of Leeds or Manchester if it is not higher regarded than a much cheaper degree from Paris? Again, not saying that these universities are bad but the UK also has a lot of average universities like every other country. Every employer can check how the university's chemistry program is ranked or how good your publications were. The times were someone said " Wow a degree from UK/USA! Must be great." are definitely over. In the end you have to make that decision, but these are some points that I would consider.

PSS: At least in bigger cities in Germany, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, whole Scandinavia, Netherlands and so on you will get by with speaking English. I have so many international friends who never learned German. Not even a little bit. Still they lived in Germany for years.

Thread: Mres and PhD

posted
17-May-16, 20:56
edited about 16 minutes later
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 3 years ago
I am writing this quite often but is there a special reason why it has to be the UK? If it's not oxbridge or imperial college, it is a waste of money for a non-UK student (just MY opinion ;) ). This is not supposed to be UK bashing, but you get the same education and the same standards at countless other european universities but often without ridiculously high tuition/fees.

Most 2-year master degrees in Europe are nowadays research focused. It is not true that you spent most of the time in seminars or lectures. In my case, more than a year was pure lab work (9-month thesis project + several internships before that) and I don't think there are huge differences between biology and chemistry. You just have to look for the right program. The lectures during the master have the additional advantage that you go more into depth while still covering a broad area. During the PhD or the thesis you usually directly focus on your specific project and the really narrow research area it is in. If you know that your future research focus will lie in the field of organic chemistry, it can be beneficial to do a 2-year organic chemistry master after a general chemistry bachelor instead of directly continuing with a PhD or other specialized projects. I started my PhD a couple of months ago and the time for literature is limited. Due to the lab work you usually focus on the things that directly apply to your project even though I would sometimes like to read much more and think it would be highly beneficial....the day just has 24 hours ;) So it is good to have a solid knowledge basis before you start the PhD

Thread: Computational PhD in biology?

posted
15-May-16, 20:02
edited about 1 minute later
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 3 years ago
Quote From mchan:
having had left industry to start a PhD which is half an half wet lab and bioinformatics, I can say to you that EVERYBODY in the Pharma world is looking for a PhD grad with computational bio background.


That is, pardon, bullshit or at least extremely exaggerated ;) For sure the chances to land an industry job are higher than for, let's say taxonomists or marine biologists, but most major universities nowadays have full bioinformatics degrees and therefore produce a shitload of people with computational biology background. I have friends who specialized in bioinformatics and they have a hard time finding jobs as well. There might be a certain lack of people with an absolutely unique skillset in pharmaceutical companies but that applies to some "computational biologists".

Overall, I think that the chances to land a position in academia are higher with a computational biology PhD but very low nonetheless.

Thread: Struggles of a First Year PhD student

posted
13-May-16, 19:18
edited about 39 seconds later
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 3 years ago
Quote From TreeofLife:
If you get a Nature paper in three years you will be the best student ever... seriously, good luck with that!

But, what you are experiencing is completely normal. I'm a postdoc and I still feel as if I know next to nothing. These feelings are hard to shake. All you can do is keep reading, discussing, thinking and writing and remember that most people feel exactly the same as you.


In case of a PhD student, a nature paper would be probably more luck than individual accomplishment. Some academics even admit that. I heard something like "Frankly said, we were just lucky" more than ones from an Assistant or Associate Professor. You can almost never predict how good the outcome of a project will be.

I agree with the rest. Just dig through the literature starting with the most important reviews, or even books if you feel you lack basic knowledge of a wider area, and then work yourself to papers. Takes time...

Thread: Post PhD life

posted
05-May-16, 12:34
by Dunham
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posted about 3 years ago
Didn't want to escalate things ;) Sorry for that!

Thread: Post PhD life

posted
05-May-16, 11:35
edited about 29 minutes later
by Dunham
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posted about 3 years ago
Quote From Tudor_Queen:
"It's an interesting career path isn't it... I can't really think of anything else like it. Pilot maybe? But even they get to live in one place!"

Since when is that complaining?

I love moving around and with very few commitments am able to do so easily.

However, it is a disadvantage for (dare I say most?) people, who in fact want to settle in one place. What is the problem with people raising their concerns, or even COMPLAINING as you put it? (Oh, what dreadful sin is THIS).

Maybe talking about things is how progress can start to happen.


Jesus ;) Don't get so caught up with the "complain". I phrased it poorly and should not have cited your post, as this was more a general statement referring to the issue. All I wanted to say is that people should take some responsibility for the choices they made. Everybody who knows a little bit about academia knows that is like that and what you can expect. We all decided to still take the risk. If you are not fine with that, don't start a career in academia.

What kind of progress do you expect? That they offer ten times more positions in academia so that everybody finds a job in the location they want to stay? If you are educating more academics than you can employ, this is the logical consequence. Get rid of 80% of the PhD students and you have to move around to a lesser extent. There is no solution because there is no real underlying problem. This is what happens in every job sector when there are way more applicants than positions. Working conditions are getting worse, salaries are getting lower, contracts getting shorter...employers simply have more pull. Of course this is kind of worse in academia as special rules apply (at least in Germany) but how does it help me to get for instance a 3 year contract instead of three 1-year contracts? To plan your life you need a non-temporary contract and most of us will never get one. More tenure track positions or some permanent post doc positions are just a drop in the ocean. That will not help us. A society only needs a certain amount of highly educated researchers so most of us will probably make the same choice as Treeoflife and just try to find a job (even if its second or third choice) that is acceptable and allows us to stay with our partners, kids and families ;)

Thread: Post PhD life

posted
05-May-16, 11:21
edited about 11 seconds later
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 3 years ago
I understand the frustration and it is not that I can't relate to it but so many people are acting as if these conditions were something unexpected. I know that I would not like to spent substantial amount of my time waiting for the flight back to e.g. England, so a career as a pilot would be definitely not for me, even though I may really enjoy flying a plane. I know that this is maybe not the best example but I think you get what I mean. Why taking a career path that is known to make relocations likely if you don't want to? I have friends at home that are the same age and own a flat, have two cars, thinking about kids and have started jobs after their bachelor degrees, while I am still living with roommates and am probably in my 30s until I know if I can land a job. But that was my decision. I could have had the same thing if I wanted. Could still live in that 100km range, near to my family and friends. If you want something stable then search for a career that at least promises something stable.

Thread: Post PhD life

posted
05-May-16, 11:21
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 3 years ago
Quote From chickpea:
Dunham, you are attributing everything to personal choice, when in fact most people want to do things like have a family life, a decent place to live and a sense of community. It is not unreasonable to want those things as well as a job. If an entire employment sector dictates that you need to give up those things, then I say an unduly narrow field of applicants is the result. I don't think that is healthy for academia or the people who stay in it.


That is absolutely in line with what I said. Your career is your personal choice. You can find a partner, start a family life and find a decent place to live almost everywhere. All of my superiors have families. If you want all of this in a specific place in the country you were born in then you should have thought about a career in a field that offers a lot of employment opportunities everywhere. This is not only an academia problem. Try to find a job after graduating with a political science degree or sociology. If you are not lucky you probably have to relocate because there are just not many jobs in these fields. Why should that be different in academia? Alternatively you can just do it like Treeoflife said and try to get a job that's maybe not first choice, but allows you to live the private life you want to live.

If you are exceptionally good and successful you often have the chance to stay in a certain area. You find enough people who ended up being a lecturer at the University they studied. The sad truth is that most of us are just not good enough. This is a minority. The vast majority is just mediocre. You may do a satisfying job but you are not outstanding, you are not changing the field with top notch publications. Generally nobody dictates that you need to give up those things. Relocation is just the logical consequence if you are not competitive enough and can't land a job nearby. This applies to all sectors where there is a massive mismatch between graduates and job opportunities. There are tons of other professions were people have to relocate because they can't find a job.

Thread: Post PhD life

posted
05-May-16, 00:15
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 3 years ago
Quote From chickpea:
I'm not sure it was a series of complaints, Dunham - the OP asked about people's plans and people are answering with their reasons. For what it's worth, I don't think it's good for any type of employment to rely only on those who can move around and chase short-term contracts - seems to me that it's going to be completely skewed in favour of younger people and those with no dependents/commitments, regardless of actual ability.


Why in favor of younger people? Most of the time you compete with people around your own age. If you commit to things that require you to stay in a certain location then you kind of made your decision and defined your priority. Most people could easily relocate. They just prefer not to. No PhD student has to get a mortgage, nobody needs to settle down, have kids or live in a certain area of the country (there are of course few exceptions like nursing family members or similar things). You just decided that you want these things and that's perfectly fine. It just seems a bit odd to me to expect that career opportunities adapt to your preferences. In an area like academia that provides so few opportunities to work you just have to move around. How many universities are there in most areas that can still be reached by daily commuting? 3 to 5? Imagine you were an engineer and decided to just apply at 5 companies. You would have a hard time as well. It's just obvious that you probably won't stay at the university you graduated from unlike you are really really lucky. If your career choice is hardly compatible with the private life you want to have then you made a poor career choice.

And the thing with the actual ability: Let's face it. Most of us are just mediocre. The people who have proof of their outstanding ability or outstanding accomplishments have also way more opportunities and can stay in their home country or maybe even certain areas. 90% just don't do outstanding but rather solid, mediocre work. In that case you just have to apply to more employers to increase your chances (like all other employees as well) and in academia that usually means move.
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