Signup date: 12 Apr 2010 at 12:30am
Last login: 23 Jan 2014 at 2:10am
Post count: 105
A phd is a learning experience, its pretty normal not to know much in the beginning.
Also- you don't have to read every paper in your field! In most fields there will be hundreds if not thousands of broadly relevant papers, not to mention new ones being churned out every day. Trust me, no one is reading *all* of them. Yes you will need to be "familiar" with large swathes of literature- read a few reviews and key papers in detail, but I would say for most, just read the abstracts and maybe skim through. Save most of your detailed reading for papers directly relevant to your actual topic.
In terms of lit reveiws- I'd check with your supervisor on what you should include in your thesis. Definitely keep notes on what you read/skim so you can go back to it later as you need it, but I would not attempt to write up comprehensive reviews on *everything*. If you want/need to write a comprehensive review, make it narrowly targetted to your own topic, otherwise you might be at it for the rest of your life!
It might be ok to spend the first year reading and planning your research in detail- but again check with your supervisor, they can advise you on planning your timeline.
Good luck, and enjoy learning about the new topics :)
There is no predicament here- go to the interview!
First, is that the only possible time for the interview? Maybe explain when your teaching comittments are, and ask would any other time be possible (but say you can make arrangements for that time if necessary).
Second, if you need to miss the teaching, then miss it- these things happen, people get sick etc, make up a reason or call in sick if you don't want to tell them about the interview.
As treeoflife says, if you get the job, you can figure out how to deal with the teaching work then- people leave jobs, its not that big of a deal, or the new job might allow you to delay or alter working hours to finish the teaching.
Good luck :)
Hi Cleancotton, it sounds like you're doing well in terms of progress- a paper already submitted and getting data for another two. It happens a lot with lab work that things don't always work properly, as you are no doubt well aware. In this case, can you talk to your supervisors, or to the people who did the sequencing, about what went wrong, what your options are for analysis, or whether it might be feasible to re-do the sequencing? Also, your phd work doesn't have to be "perfect", it just has to be enough to get you the phd.
You say you are not enjoying it in general, and the environment you work in. That makes things harder to get through for sure. Usually it helps to spend time with friends, and on interests/activities outside the lab. Having a life outside of studies helps to keep things in perspective.
As I say, setbacks happen frequently, and its easy for anyone to get down about it and decide they hate it when things are going badly. If you truly still don't enjoy it even when things are going well in the lab, then that could be a sign that it might not be a career you want to continue on in the longer term. Although maybe in a nicer lab environment with people you like, you would enjoy it after all.
Anyway, I'm sure you will do fine in your phd if you keep persisting! Good luck with it, and remember to take time out for fun.
I don't have a huge amount of experience in these things, but maybe you could ask the PI some of the questions you've asked here? Eg it would be fine to ask them if there's a project already specified, or how much scope there is for the post-doc to develop the project themselves. It's pretty much always seen as a good thing in academia to have your own research ideas and interests, regardless of how well defined the project is, so I'd probably think about what kind of things I would like to do, that would fit along the lines of what's in the ad description. Then in the email you could briefly mention your areas of expertise and how your interests fit with what is described, and ask whether you would be a suitable candidate. Also, if the ad is vague that's a really good sign that they don't already have someone in mind for the job :)
I think that's what I would do, but maybe others on here with more experience can also advise ;)
I assume the professional use of the Dr title also depends heavily on the field in question.
Coming from a science perspective (biological/environmental), it seems that large numbers of people in industry, consulting, sales and the public sector have phds, and it is common to see Dr used in email signatures from people in these jobs. And certainly you would not get any kind of academic position in my field without a phd, or at least I have never heard of this happening.
Maybe in some "scientific" industries a phd is seen as a kind of professional qualification, and a lot more people have one? So definitely not redundant, or a dirty secret!
I find MeaninginLife's reply quite clear, and a good analogy. The retraction of a paper could be equated with apologising to someone (or to the academic community for publishing incorrect data).
They made a mistake with their data and published a paper that was wrong- this could look bad, and you might question their other work since they made this mistake once.
On the other hand they had the moral integrity to retract it once they realised, they admitted they were wrong rather than covering it up. So perhaps now their other work now seems all the more reliable.
Hi Satchi- I think we need to use every question in an interview as an opportunity to tell them how we are suited to the job and why they should choose us. It can be subtle at times, no need to hit them over the head with it on every question. But the employer is not merely curious, they are asking questions in order to figure out who to select for the position. So you should try to make that easy for them ;)
For your multidisciplinary qualifications, personally I would tailor the answer for each job. Can you think of a way your geography experience has helped you in your psychology research, or emphasise how your different degrees compliment each other? Was there something in your first degree that inspired you to want to study people? Did you do some human geography, social science or psychology in your BSc that you could highlight? Your answer will still be "true" but you can paint the picture in different ways. If your two degrees really are completely different and you can't think of anything at all in your BSc that is relevant, then I would probably not give any details on your CV or application form, just put BSc.
Hope this helps.
Its pretty much impossible to be certain 100% that you haven't missed something. All you can do is do very thorough searches, talk to others in the field to see if they know of any papers, and be careful in how you word things in your writing. I doubt your thesis will be nullified if there are 1 or 2 studies out there you have missed. There will still be very few empirical studies published, and they will never be *exactly* the same as yours, so your work will still be a novel contribution. Yes it will be very uncomfortable if someone points out a study you missed, and you want to avoid this happening, but you should be able to rewrite and adjust if it does happen. If the existence of another similar study really will nullify your work, then you should probably adjust your research questions a bit if possible, because even if there is no study out there now, one could be published before you finish yours. I think this is something a lot of people worry about, me included, and all I can say is read, read a lot, and check the reference lists of the papers you read for other relevant papers. If you can't find any similar study, and no one else in your field has cited one, chances are it doesn't exist, or at least your reviewers won't have found it either!
How long ago was your interview? It wouldn't hurt to enquire informally, to find out if they would consider your application. However if your interview was quite recent (within a couple of months), it is most likely that none of the people who applied the first time (including you) were quite who they were looking for to fill the position, so they may have advertised again looking to get some different candidates. On the other hand, it might be for a slightly different phd position, related to the first, or maybe the peron they first gave it to has pulled out. Hard to know, but as I say, it doesn't hurt to ask. Good luck.
Hi Satchi- on interdisciplinary phds- I think they can definitely be a good thing!
I have worked in 2 different fields, although they are related, and some people might think it "strange" or at least unusual. I just make sure I have a coherent story as to why I did it and where I would go with it from here- eg the combination of those topics allows me to address unique research questions/ is the way of the future/ I am interested in it because of important issues in blah. Highlight the links between the fields, and why it is important to link them. If necessary make something up, and adjust it for each job ;)
Also, you have more flexibility with skills in 2 different areas, as you can potentially apply for jobs in either field, by tailoring the way you present it to employers. If applying to a job that is purely in one field, then I would emphasise that aspect of everything, and play down/leave out some parts relating to the other field. Make it look like I have solid skills in field x, but also have a bit of experience in field y, and say how the experience in field y will help in field x or give unique perspectives etc. I don't know if you have to say specifically (in your example) that your bsc is in geography and your masters in psychology. Maybe you can just say bsc, and then list some of the topics covered, eg stress the *human* geography side of things, and then for the masters describe the research topic so the links and overlap with the bsc is clear.
Just my thoughts anyway. Don't know if that helps, and you are probably doing this already :P
I think you're right, everyone is wanting to do interdisciplinary stuff now, but people that are the product of those projects are not yet very common. But it will become more common, I'm sure!
Hi Satc, I can't advise you on whether to move out, or how to deal with your family. But I think you can still do the phd in either case, if you want to. People have all kinds of problems and stresses during their phds, it's just normal life, so it really depends on what you think you can manage. If you are worried, maybe you could settle into your phd first, then decide whether or how to move out of home, rather than facing so many new and stressful things at once? Also, going to a lot of conferences might not matter that much from an academic perspective, and many people find it hard to travel for all kinds of reasons, eg caring for young children, ill relatives, etc. Someone said to me recently, that there is a difference between people who finish their phds and those that don't- it's not what happens in their lives, because life happens to all of them. But some of them decide to carry on and get their phds anyway.
Good luck and let us know how you get on.
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