I'm about to start my PhD in 2 weeks and have been reading this forum regularly for hints and tips. It concerns me just how many people hate their PhD, don't get on with their supervisor or just want to quit. Is there anyone out there who actually enjoys doing their PhD and are their any pro's related to having a PhD?
unfortunately the nature of a forum is that people generally only come on here when they have a problem, not when things are going well! so the majority of posts can be a bit negative.
so in the spirit of positivity here goes:
1) i can work to my own timetable
2) i am, basically, my own boss!
3) i can choose to a large extent the direction i take my research in
4) i can work at uni, at home, or at my industrial sponsor and no one minds!
5) i get to work with some incredibly intelligent people and ask them all the stupid questions i like
6) if i'm not enjoying a particular area of my work, i don't have to do it! i can change the direction of the research, or just leave it for a bit and come back to it later
7) i am becoming (slowly!) an expert in my field, and people are starting to ask ME to explain things to THEM for a change!
8) one day, people will call me DR.....!!
these are just the first things that popped into my head, in no particular order, i'm sure others will be along soon to add more....:-)
If you want to feel a bit more positive then I would go and read the posts on "Good things about doing a PhD"! A post started a while ago to celebrate all things good about the process! :)
Like many things in life, it can be a love/hate relationship, although I think in most cases, hate is too strong a word. Like Bilbo and Smoobles have said, we can moan a lot, but generally out of frustration I think, and also this is a place to come to speak anonymously to people about our work and our problems without having to bore family and friends! :)
I'm sure if you really want to do a phD then you will love it, and maybe we'll see you on here occasionally to get or give advice!
Best of luck when you start
As others have said, people usually come here because they have a problem, so we don't always see the good sides. I generally enjoy my PhD, particularly when you get an exciting result come out. Sure there's good days and bad days but, overall, a positive experience for me!
Here are the pros and cons I see now in hindsight (I quit) and from before I took it on (note I'm not 'having a go', this is simply the way I see it):
- You're your own boss (ish), you choose your own hours (ish).
- You get the title of doctor if that floats your boat.
- It will help you get into academic research.
- It's guaranteed income for a while.
- You can work on something you love.
- Usual student benefits such as no council tax to pay, student discounts on this and that.
- Some great experience such as extra MSc courses if that's part of your PhD.
- Other things you might not experience elsewhere such as teaching undergrads, managing yourself in terms of time, research and self-focus.
- Most people wont care what you're working on.
- It can be very isolating.
- It's a long commitment.
- The pay ain't great and you may be better off money-wise going straight into a grad job.
- Supervisor clashes can be a nightmare.
- There's an almost aimless nature to it, unlike your degree, where you had set goals and could graduate after passing exams. You could spend years on your PhD and not get awarded it at the end.
- Employers could see you as overqualified/too specialised when considering other jobs.
- Compared to an American PhD (in engineering, anyway) the British PhDs seem more like MScs!
- Very few lecturer/professor positions to fight for.
- The academic culture (paper reading & writing, brain never able to switch off from research etc) (this could be a positive if you like it!)
- The people you work with may be social recluses and can impact on how you interact with others.
- Like everything, it can cause you ill health, as has been pointed out. It's a massive undertaking so expect to feel low at some point, most do, I reckon.
I've many more pros and cons that just don't spring to mind right now. Overall it was a bad experience for me despite excelling at uni & post-uni project work. Read all the replies and take it all in - hope you do well :)
In one dodgy sentence, I'll sum up what I think of the PhD and the pro's related to it:
I do enjoy my PhD (at times); it's a slog - but then anything worthwhile is - but in the end it's more than worth it, as it's mine forever, the ultimate benchmark for personal academic achievement and a big reason to look forward to my future.
Just to say I love my Phd, the topic yes, but the many ways in which the overal experience is helping me grow, identify what works with me, what does not, what I am good at, what I am not. It tests you, especially if you are jugggling multiple roles/things and somewhere along the road it makes you grow unbelievably.
The theory-to-'real' world link is up to you to find and sort. The kick that you can potentially get out of forging these sometimes difficult links, is awesome!
In one word, YES, I love my phd and I have to work to support myself over and above scholarships, and still there is nothing ekse I'd rather do now than this! :-)
Thank you all for your replies. I'm really looking forward to getting stuck into things. I've been out of uni and in graduate employment for a year now and I really miss things like being busy. I kinda miss the stress too - is that weird? lol.
I suppose their are pros and cons to everything and a PhD isn't for everyone. I'll just do my best and see where it takes me. Just wait, i'll be the one posting the negative comments soon. lol.
hey Michelle, I do enjoy my PhD, its been about a year since I started I have learnt alot I still have a long way to go. I work with wonderful colleagues at the cutting edge of their respective specializations, I have superb supervisors whose previous students are flourishing career wise, I manage my own time, I choose what to read and when to read it...... there are many things to love in a PhD. I think it all boils down to why you want to do a PhD in the first place.
There are downside as well; realising that your work may never translate into anything useful or tangible, living abroad thousands of miles from everything you ve been used to, different cultures, patronizing attitude or people who make you feel stupid at times, going on for weeks at a time without anything working or any results...... I am sure you ve read many of these on the forum before.
You ll be fine, the advice given on this forum was really useful for me when I started and it still is so dont worry at all
And just to add my 2 cents worth - I also love doing my PhD. Am keen to finish, and somewhat antsy at the moment as the writing up is so slow, but am enjoying it overall. My supervisor is the most generous person I've ever met - she's supportive, brilliant and provides me with many, many opportunities. I love thinking and get a real buzz whenever I have the occasional epiphany - this is what makes it worthwhile. I love my subject area. It's hard, but I also wouldn't be doing anything else!
Me too, I love my PhD! I am scared by how much I need to do this year but I never lose enthusiasm. I absolutely love my topic, I love where I work and the team that I am a part of, and my supervisor is great. I can honestly say I never get to Sunday and dread going in to work on Monday (although a lot of the time I have to do some work at weekends anyway). Sickening, I know! The important thing for me is making sure I get a good balance and make time to socialise and exercise and relax etc. It should be an enjoyable experience overall, although of course some people don't find this, and there will be ups and downs along the way, but that's just life I guess! KB
Hi Michelle - as people have already mentioned on this thread, students use this forum to deal with, and get support during their darkest experiences, and during their darkest times. I love my PhD, and even with the financial hardship (I am self funded) I wouldn't sawp it for the world. have a WONDERFUL supervisor, for whom it is an honour to be a PhD student; before that, I had a dreadful supervisor, and my PhD experience was totally different. The other big factor in PhD satisfaction is your own disposition towards the work: if you enjoy research and writing to your own agenda and rythm, on a day to day level, then you're far more likely to have a positive experience; however, if you are only doing a PhD for the title Dr.; for the studentship money; or for what you think is a steady career, then you'll probably hate it.
I am one of the people who love their PhD. I am doing something really exciting, something that seems very easy and common, but (of course) it is not. I have 2 wonderful supervisors and a third new one whom I will meet in a couple of weeks. They are very helpful and understanding (I am based in Greece and sometimes it is difficult for me to be at the university).
I think that if you do what you like and if you do it because you like it, not because you have to do it, then you will be happy!
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