Overview of Ender

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I did write more, but there must be a word limit to each post so it cut off, i can't remember what it was i wrote, but my laptop battery is running out! so better go.



I'd say don't try to be too friendly, like pals. You are there to teach them not to make friends with them, i think that's important to remember. The teachers who you can see are making too much effort to be friendly you just feel kind of sorry for- it just makes them look more nervous and unsure. But yeah be pleasant and welcoming.

Main thing, teaching suppose to be interactive, not so much at the lecturing level, but still try to be interactive, you don't want to be just "talking at them" all the time, they are your involved audience.

Basic things that lecturers always get wrong- make sure your board pens work- that they have plenty of ink, that they don't squeak, that you have a number of colours, that you have a board wiper (don't assume these things will be in the classroom, take your own). Take into account that some pen colours may be difficult to read, especially with colour blind students.
If you are writing on the board ask them every so often if everybody can see- go to the lecture room before hand- sometimes from certain places in the room only half of the board is visible to some students. Make sure you know how to use the powerpoints, room lights, simple things that can easily go wrong.

Make sure your diagrams are clear, make sure your writing is readable, familiarise yourself with the symbols (in maths if you do any) they are used to using in their other courses (otherwise they wont recognise it) and use the symbols they are used to if possible. Know what prior knowledge they should have- but don't assume they remember.

Give them time to write stuff down, but some people will be very slow- don't cater for everybody, there is a middle ground, if you think it is polite to wait for every single person in the class to write it down you will really annoy everybody else and you also wont get everything done. But also don't go too fast, the students will give-up. If your lectures have a lot of writing then give out printed notes but with gaps where they fill in information from the lectures, lots of lecturers use that these days to keep the students focused but to make sure they don't just spend all their time writing stuff down. Make sure you have more than enough copies of printed notes. Also tell the students that the completed (gaps filled in) notes will not be available on the website afterwards (makes sure they attend the class)- but actually put them up at the end of the year.

You also need to factor in thinking time, and give opportunities for questions (they wont just appear spontaneously, especially if you are nervous zooming through the material). If you can give them small tasks/questions to do in class then do it.

If you can give a storyline to anything you do then do it, it will make it more interesting, memorable and interactive.
If you have an idea about the kind of stuff the previous years were examined on then throwing in comments that previous years were examined on this kind of stuff will really get them listening, and importantly get them on your side, it will show them that you care. Refer to original research and your research whenever possible- it makes it more real.

Try not to say "uh" "um" and things like that inbetween sentencs, it can really become a habit.
Be aware of where you are standing! and don't be afraid to move between different sides of the class, but not too often. Don't pace back and forth.

Give an overview of what the lecture will cover at the begining of the lecture, and remind them what you just taught them at the end of the lecture (tell them what they will learn, teach them it, tell them what they just learnt). Also then at subsequent lectures remind them what they did the previous lecture. None of this takes much time, just 3 or 4 points to remind them what they did.

If you are trying to make an important point, and are writing things on the board, draw a box around it to emphasise that, they wil

Structure of Supervision

I haven't started my PhD yet, but i will tell you what it was like during my masters, full-time.

Formal (face-to-face) weekly meetings on a set-day and time with supervisor/supervisors.
These meetings sometimes included other senior members of the group because work is relevant to eachother.
Notes and aims made in meeting books by professors/students and evaluated the following week.
Email supervisors whenever i need.
Knock on supervisors door when i am unsure about something, or when i have puzzling results.

This time around i intend on doing it better- i mean i used to prepare for meetings on the bus on the way into university, and they were really good lol, but this time i intend on having a typed up weekly report of my work (rather than just verbal discussion with a couple of graphs). I also hear that PhDs are more structured than masters.

Day One

I officially start next Monday, but this Thursday and Friday i have induction things including meetings with my supervisors. I have already met my supervisors a number of times concerning this project in particular, and getting to know one of the supervisors who i didn't know before.
So yeah i would say i have been in constant touch with both of them about this project idea for a good while now, and knew one of my supervisors from my masters. We will figure out what day our official weekly meetings will be between us but we will basically be in constant touch every day, we need to work together on many things and we are all in close proximity.

I can't see myself making a 6 week plan, i think that will be too long for me, everything will change on a shorter lifetime than that. I know my first task is to review the research. I can't really make any kind of plan until that is 100%. Then i need training on some equipment that i have never used before (new equipment). After those two things i should be on my way to producing devices for testing- which would then have many problems designing new equipment capable of testing the devices (will have to design equipment and kits, order everything and make designs for the workshop- that kind of stuff always takes forever, and being a physicist i am not necessarily the best design engineer lol). But of course all the theoretical stuff will be mixed in there, and hopefully learn computing more for simulations.

There are books i am considering buying too, but i don't have any money yet, so can't buy them, each book in my area is always about £100, i can't afford that.
All of my work will be done from the university, all the experiments and lab work, and even when i am just doing research that will be done at my office in university, so i wont be able to play classical music i don't think (other doctors in the office), so maybe i should buy an ipod or something.

Graduate Tax

I was watching the politics show today, roughly they mentioned that because student fees are high, to make this cheaper for future students, they propose a graduate tax- so that means that the people who currently get the high fees will also get the graduate tax to subsidise new students who will probably get it easier on both fronts. So we will be punished twice for working hard (and they justify this because they think we will earn more money as graduates- very unlikely).

I might move to Australia/America/New Zealand, anywhere, the UK just doesn't know what it is doing (note nobody calls it Great Britain anymore, clearly because it isn't), such poor leadership, such poor decisions and ideas, politicians are like little children straight from some private school pretending to be grown up intellectuals. I really don't know how the quality of politicians has declined so rapidly, why are we scraping the bottom of the barrel? There must be some intelligent people in politics right? right? maybe not. Maybe the wrong kind of people are attracted to politics these days? i don't know. If you are doing a PhD in politics, fast-track yourselves! i think we need some new blood.

Emigrating Mid PhD

Quote From RLD1984:

On the UK side, my supervisors are happy for me to go to Oz for a year and continue with our monthly supervisions via Skype or video conferencing, which I think is based on the level of motivation and independent working I have demonstrated over the last 2 years. My thoughts are, if we do decide to stay longer, and they are happy with my progress, they will continue to support me after a year. But of course we will have to cross that bridge when we come to it, as I don't even know if we will be there for longer than a few months!

I see, so you will still be registered with your current university, your PhD will still be awarded from your current university?
I totally thought you meant something else sorry. Doesn't sound like much of a problem then, that's good. Should be fine.

Emigrating Mid PhD

I wouldn't be able to emigrate during my PhD because it has experiments, but it seems to me that even for another subject it would prove to be a very difficult thing to do especially where funding is involved and finding somebody willing to take on your project with you.

If your professor doesn't already have a partnership with a professor in Australia then forming a connection as soon as possible seems necessary. First discuss with your professor and head of school. Perhaps then have a look for possible relevant professors in Australia, email to see if such a thing would at all be feasable where funding is concerned (grant applications may need to be written) and if it is feasable set up a conference call with all three of you to discuss. The politics of it all would be difficult i think, having to clear everything with the heads of schools.

I'm not even sure if you can transfer your work from one university to another for a PhD, i imagine there would be ownership issues there, your current uiversity would have just invested in work for another university to gain a PhD student (to steal effectively), but it could possibly be done on a favour basis, as long as you are appealing. If your work is too crucial to the current university however the likelihood is they will not be happy for you to take the work away with you. There may also be differences in Australia to how they run PhDs.


Quote From hazyjane:

Quote From hazyjane:

I did remind me, however, of the fact that the debt is continuing to increase with inflation but rather charmingly the UK research councils have frozen stipends so the 2011-12 rate is exactly the same as the 2010-11. But hey, it's not like we have to eat or anything.

I take it all back. I received my monthly stipend installment today (I don't know why - it's usually the end of the month) and it HAS gone up! By the grand total of ......drumroll........38p.

Ooooh, what *shall* I spend it on?! ;)

I'd say either a very small down-payment on a house, or maybe 38 penny sweets, i would go for the milkshake penny sweets, that's healthy right? it is shaped like a milk bottle after all, maybe the penny sweet eggs, a good alternative to a real breakfast


Quote From Caro:

I think the stipends are staying the same for the foreseeable future, I'm just about to start my research council funded PhD and my letter clearly says that I'll be getting £13,590 for all three years.  But I guess pretty much all people working are having the same so it's not just PhD students that will be starving!

Oh and I was planning on keeping any extra money in a savings account as a nest egg in case of running over the three years or have to wait a while to find a job which looks likely! 

My letter says that the minimum stipend i will receive is £13,590 (doesn't specify exactly what they will give, but it is probably the minimum) but also says that this will increase each year. Mine is from EPSRC.

Pay for being a lab demonstrator

I was told that it is up to you if you want to do lab demonstrations or mark undergrad homework- you don't have to do either if you don't want to. However, i happen to know that it is secretly frowned upon if you don't help out with one or the other, lab demos or marking. So it seems unusual for him to sign you up automatically. Maybe he thinks that's what you want?

I think you get paid per hour, i can't remember how much the postgrads said they were on in the past (couple years ago now) but i think it was in the region of £11 per hour. If you are in the UK near London it would be higher obviously.

Neutrinos faster than light???

Quote From gsm:

Newtonian physics is a special case of Einsteinian physics, and if the neutrino results are confirmed, in all likeliood it will be the case that Einsteinien physics is a special case of a new era of more elaborate physics.

Quite possible. Just for fun, if you could name it, what would this new era/model be called? would you name it after somebody, or give it some wacky name?


Phd job prospects

If you look on the internet, on blogs, newspapers, virtually everywhere, you will only find negative views about doing a PhD, because it is mostly the people who have had a bad experience who write those things, the people who failed or the people who couldn't take it and comforted themselves in another way. Or the people who successfully completed their PhDs, but chose a poor project topic, or didn't complete it in the correct way, so couldn't get a job at the end, or realised that in their field PhDs may not be so important. Or people who don't really understand what a PhD is (never done it). Or people who didn't realise that a PhD is merely a stepping stone to lots more work, post doc positions etc, and get scared off and then become disillusioned because of how they wasted their time only going half-way up a ladder (thinking that it would get them to the top by itself). A PhD isn't just a qualification, it is much more than that, but if you don't network right and focus on the right things and topics and skills and people then it is only worth a qualification, you wont see the benefit. That's why so many people complain, because they think "I did my PhD, now why can't i get work" not understanding that you can't just do your PhD, you have to do it in the right way.

The people who think well of a PhD generally don't write about it, news tends to be "bad news", so you just doing see the positive views on the internet.

Yes, in reality it is hard, there are no jobs, but there are no jobs for PhD students or people without PhDs. I prefer to have the PhD and struggle than not have one and struggle.

Yes, it is expensive and there is a lot of debt, and your salary will never come close to justifying the work you put in and the sacrifices you make, but we do it because it is what we want to do.

You only live once, i would prefer to struggle with no money doing something i enjoy rather than have a middle-ground decent salary working a boring office job.

Neutrinos faster than light???

A very current article for interest:

"Puzzling results from Cern, home of the LHC, have confounded physicists - because it appears subatomic particles have exceeded the speed of light."

If you are a physicist then you would probably agree that it is very unlikely that neutrinos could ever really be faster than light, everything we know will all of the sudden be turned upside-down. It would be an extremely serious revelation. But at the same time as scientists we have to be open to the possbility, not fear it. We don't have to be worried about telling people that Earth isn't the centre of the universe anymore, and we have to be careful not to hinder change just because it is against everything we know and believe in.

I am not a particle physicist, but i am a physicist, so i don't know much about this particular field. Perhaps this puzzling result (which i think will soon be found to be a systematic error as noted in the article) is being publishing in such a manner as to attract public interest and maybe funding (cynical)? At the same time they have made a really exciting forum of debate. Exciting time to be a physicist!

Like i said i personally think it may be an error, but if not, if it does "appear" to be faster than light, then it must mean that neutrinos somehow morph (warp) space-time in a different way, or maybe flicker between what i will call "sub-space layers" (watch too much star trek lol) to account for the difference (and not that they are actually faster than light). Neutrinos are particularly strange in any case, i think we need to know more about them before we can make such great conclusions from this experiment.


Publishing undergraduate work

Publishing undergrad work full stop seems rare to me, not sure what field you are in. In my area, physics, it is very rare for an undergrad project to be good enough for publication, and if it is, it is usually only good for publication at the time because of the pace of the subject.

Quote From blueberry:

======= Date Modified 18 Sep 2011 14:20:38 =======
My brief was to add to the evidence base of the field I work in. However, there seems to be a general belief among staff in the department that I should be taking undergraduate dissertations (maninly students I have never met, supervised, etc) and essays/reports and write them up for publication in peer-reviewed journals. ';Blueberry';!

I would ask for more information and clarity on what the brief is. The general belief among staff that you refer to that says you must use undergrad essays may not be quite accurate. At the end of the day it is your integrity and career on the line, and the quality of work will reflect on you, so if it doesn't seem right, don't do it.



Thanks everybody for your replies! Again your advice has saved me from making the wrong choice. (and yep i'm in the UK).

You are right Skig, these student debts are from the student loan company, the majority of it i think is made up from the maintenance loans, but also tuition fees.

Hey Cindrella, my Phd is also funded for 3 years, although they officially have allocated 3.5 yrs funding for it, but if it looks like i need the extra half a year nearing the end of the third then i have to ask for them to release the extra money.

Hi KB, unfortunately i don't have any other money saved up, i did have quite a bit of money saved up from my undergrad, but all of that was eaten up since i was out of work this past year, and didn't sign on to job seekers for a number of motivational reasons.
My parents have no money at all. I do feel happy with my situation though, i started with nothing and now i have minus nothing (at least i don't have to pay it back yet- and i will follow your advice, not pay back more than i have to, and only when i have to), but i am doing what i want to do so that's good. I am still naively excited about starting it!

The holiday idea is great!!! I have always wanted to go to a hot country, i have never been able to go yet. I tried to organise to go away before starting my PhD but it didn't work out- i really wanted a tan to try to offset being stuck in a lab for years lol, but oh well. I have only ever been abroad to America, and not a hot part either, so finding my way onto a hot sandy beach with clear blue waters remains a dream of mine! I think i will save up for that, definitely. Maybe that can be my happy thought for when the PhD gets really hard?

I also agree that i will need to keep money for relocation and waiting for a postdoc position. I do want to go to a different country for my first postdoc (my professor has suggested California or Japan...), and return to the UK for my second, with the hope that i can find my way back to relatively familiar surroundings for an eventual permanent position (in whatever is available at the time, academia, industry, i will probably be getting desperate to settle down by then, so i will just go with the flow).

Thanks again