Experience for PhD(science)


Alright everybody. I’m looking for some information regarding the pre-requisites for applying for a PhD.
I graduated last year with a 2.1 in Biology and am currently working as a lab tech in a dairy. I would have immediately gone for a Msc in Immunology last year had it not been for a distinct lack of available cash.
Anyway, my honours co-ordinator says that he will not reference me for a PhD until I have a couple of years experience as a research tech in a University. Is this normal or is he just being a twat?
Any information on experience needed would be great.


yep he's being an idiot - he may have his reasons though?- but technically with a 2:1 you meet the minimum requirements for applying for a PhD. (you can also apply if you have a 2:2 with masters.

Although in an ideal world you would use this person you might consider finding other people to act as your references as long as they are credible - try other lecturers you get on with - you need two anyway as far as I remember.

Good luck



I agree - if he's not wholeheartedly behind you, I wouldn't risk using him as a referee. How about your BSc project supervisor? Any tutors you know well and have done some really good assignments for?


A reference doesnt have to be very good , it is not a letter of recommadation . It is just a piece of letter required by the rule and regulation of all universities , most of the time you dont need it until they make you an offer.
I think your co-ordinator is just being lazy !


That's not true - letters of reference are usually critical to the success or otherwise of an application.


I too would be surprised if anyone could obtain a PhD studentship with lacklustre references. It may be prudent to look for an alternative referee.


I would agree with the statement that Referees are a very important part of an application, i know that some can sound generic and some can be more revealing but a good reference will put you in good stead during the process.

First off you should not be getting a 'bad' reference as such, i.e 'This student is rubbish and i wouldn't recommend him'. If the referee feels he/she won't be able to give you a good reference then they should say so.

Second though from my own experience in the long winded approach to applications, try and obtain a hard copy of each of your two academic references. Though these should be on official paper and signed.

This way you won't be bouncing back and forth between your referees asking for more copies as it can be a time consuming process if you are unlucky and are waiting for them to mail you another fresh batch.



Even though most applications ask for a signed and sealed envelope for references, i've never had a problem just sending an open photo copied example with the application. This also goes with those obtuse and obscure reference forms which seem to force your supervisor to score you from 1-10 on academic ability to looks ;).

The last part is only a personal opinion so the risk goes with you but i've never had a problem with it.

Regards Mike F


Rather than start a new topic I thought I would ask here:

My supervisor/tutor mentioned to me the other day that he had written a reference for several Phd places I have applied for in the past month. I have had two interviews both of which were not successful, one outright rejection and I have two more interviews next week. I am really concerned about what he has told them, seeing as I just can't seem to get my experiments to work. I have spent three months trying to get it right and he has even watched me work and he reckons I am doing nothing wrong. Is it likely that I am getting turned down because my supervisor is telling them I am crap in the lab?! I'm working really hard, I just think I have had really bad luck.


Mambo, why not ask him exactly this?
The experience of what you describe in the Lab is hardly unusual; I would be very surprised if he used this as a reason to write negatively about you.


:D Only one other forum refer to me as "Mambo", I don't know you, do I? :D he he

Anyways he won't say which is why I got a bit worried... but I am getting interviews so I assume all is well so far. Unless of course the lab where I had my most recent interview haven't asked for references yet.