Hi all! I am so frustrated at the moment!!! As we all know, it's become a given now that PhD students are expected to, not only work on their theses (which is enough in itself!), but we're also expected to teach, publish and present at conferences all during our three years of PhD life. Is there anyone else out there who is struggling with all these added expectations? A PhD is more than enough, and when you throw all the other factors in, it just becomes unbearable! I honestly didn't know when I started the PhD that we would be expected to do all the added bits during our three years. Anyone else frustrated by all this pressure?
The thing is, you're not actually told this directly. You find out from other postgrads as you go along (or at least that's my situation). I'm trying to focus on my thesis, but am feeling that I should be doing all of these other things, and I just can't imagine juggling it all without going mad!
Over in the U.S. - or at least in my research institution where I work - all that and more is expected after graduation when you become a researcher and the duties get more complex as you go along; publishing X amount of papers in higher tiered journals, presenting at International conferences, being member of so many committees and review boards. My mentor outlined all her requirements, and I don't know how she has a spare moment to breathe let alone continue to keep herself (and me) funded...
I know exactly how you're feeling. I too have been getting annoyed with all these expectations. Three years is not a long time for a PhD really, and if you throw everything else into the mix, it becomes even more stressful than it already is! I'm feeling the pressures of all this too, and everyone I talk to is also feeling overwhelmed.
Lol, well the thing is - I suppose if you're looking for a job in academia after it all then this is life forever more! After all, as a lecturer at my institution it would be expected that you carry out independent research, publish material, attend conferences, teach, mark etc. The main difference would be the thesis, but then as a lecturer you'd be coordinating modules also and contributing more at a staff level, so it would probably balance out not too disimilar in the end.... So I'd say if you're feeling the pressure already perhaps an academic life isn't for you! Or maybe you'll get used to it eventually? Of course if you have no desires to be an academic - just grit your teeth and get on with it for a couple of years I suppose, not much else we can all do!
I don't know, most of the lecturers I've spoken to said the PhD was by far the hardest thing they've ever done. Although when you get a 'proper' job you get overwhelmed with admin, there are other benefits. Teaching in my dept at the moment you effectively have to act at the whim of staff... a couple of weeks ago the convenor of the module I teach on insisted I come in to uni on my research day (I live an hour away) for a ten minute meeting, which basically covered why I need to do his photocopying for him. Whilst that's an extreme example - it wouldn't happen if I were a full lecturer.
This is why raising sheep and spinning wool looks like an attractive option to me. Digesting the details of academic daily life is a bit eye opening. It is all competitive and there is a constant pressure to have academic outputs. I am not sure the pressure is more or different than in other sorts of professions, in reality, academia is although a world unto itself. My own question for myself--will this be fulfilling? Is this what I want? Its a difficult thing to answer. The easy thing would be to shut my eyes and just continue down the path. Except, that would not be easiest in the end, because there is a part of me inside that wonders if it is a viable choice. Which is hard to know...
Olivia, I too have concerns about whether or not this is the right path for me. I often wonder if I'm just 'going through the motions' and doing the PhD just to prove that I can do it. I've always had such high self-expectation (as I'm sure most PhD students would agree with), and I think the PhD might be my obstinate self who refuses to stop until I push myself to the utter limits, and the PhD is the highest degree attainable. I think I would be quite happy if there weren't all these mounting pressures on top of the thesis. I wonder if I'm going to be able to keep up with all of this.
I am having "chapter-structure-itis avoidance" where I am staring into two chapters wondering how to make them into some connected coherent whole...the shredder??! I agree Spacey, its hard to derail yourself from a certain path when you have a history of high achievement and always tackle the giant mountain in front of you...I stayed at home with the covers pulled over my head until it got too hot...its hard to push myself to the utter limit when part of me wonders if I should walk away...
What ARE the benefits of being an academic or an academic life? This is not a sarky or rhetorical question, am asking. Obviously it is an attractive profession to many. So...what are the perks of academia? Lots of holidays? Academic freedom to research and write? The rewards of being part of encouraging students to learn? A refuge from the business world ( though this seems to be vanishing with the notion of econometrics in education)? Others? What is the reward at the end of this--?!
olivia - re, what are the benefits?
- doing something i like for money
- doing new things all the time (all of my previous jobs, i started off well enough but got bored once i was doing the same thing for the second time...)
- doing something i think i am good at - thinking analytically and stuff
- the good feeling of staying abreast with the newest developments and contributing to them, too
- being able to organise my own time - that's very important to me - when i HAVE TO get up early, i can't sleep. when i can get up whenever i want, i sleep perfectly, and get up early. insomnia really makes me unwell.
- the good feeling of being able to help other people (students, friends) on their way
Totally agree with Shani's list except for being able to organise your time - with a young child I can no longer do that and time pressure is intense. My big concern is the compatibility of an academic job with family life. If I could settle that one - I'd be OK with it.
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