Incivility and Academia


I am wondering, in general, if doctoral programs tend to be a discriminatory, uncivil and wretched places, or if my perception is colored by my experiences?


From my experience I would say that our experiences can certainly colour our perceptions. I can't fault my dept, supervisor and programme - they have been fantastic, caring and supportive. Maybe I'm just very lucky but I have nothing negative to say whatsoever!


I think a lot must depend on your supervisor. I too am enjoying my PhD.


Hi.I do not know what your experiences are. I am sure there are exceptions but I will be vary careful before embarking on PHD again. Depends if your face fits in many Universities as a colleague was actually told. Also if the supervisor has experience in your research. Also if the Uni is slanted to what your research approach is. You need to fit through hoops. Does not matter how ingenious you are. Some professors think your facts are wrong when they are correct.PHD is being a member of a club.If they dislike you, they give your idea to someone else. I do know there are genuine people out there; I have met them. 2ors ago I wanted to research something which was not politically accepted. Now it is; everybody is doing it. Now I help others research and gain their PHD!


Carold, I have a friend who's having a hard time because the thrust of her research doesn't fit with the agenda of many working in the field. I think academic freedom is largely a myth.

Avatar for Eska

======= Date Modified 30 Sep 2012 21:39:52 =======
Hello PhDDiva,

I have had a very mixed experience, some wonderful and some appalling. I guess it depends on the quality of your supervisor and department. I began my PhD having a really bad time with my original supervisor who was ego-driven, rude and not good at her job. My current supervisor is fab, very conscientious in his academic supervision, always professional and seems genuinely bothered about my welfare and future career. He is also head of my department and I think that attitude filters down, although there is still some stag fighting amongst a couple other academics which, sadly, is also played out on PhD students... myself included, I suspect. I've worked in quite a few different fields and I do think the cut and thrust of academia can be one of the most severe, although when postgrad/academic life is good it is very, very good - so an environment of extremes of negative and positive I would say, from my personal experience.

Avatar for Mackem_Beefy

Quote From PhDDiva:

I am wondering, in general, if doctoral programs tend to be a discriminatory, uncivil and wretched places, or if my perception is colored by my experiences?

It happenes sometimes that someone joins a department that is subject to internal rivalries, making things very uncomfortable for anyone joining it.

On the otherhand, people can find themselves in a department where staff and students look out for and help each other.

I found myself in the latter (friendlier, though not perfect situation) for my PhD and first post-doc. It was the happiest and most challenging period of my life.

For my second post-doc, I found myself in a hostile department where I was clearly wanted. I was hired simply to take up the slack for a post-doc there that had too much work on her hands. In otherwords, I've seen both sides of the story. And yes, at times I was reduced to tears (and I'm a man).

This is one reason I recommend taking a good look around a department and meeting the people before signing on the dotted line,

Referring to you other post about your complaint, I'm of the opinion investigating a transfer if possible may be in your interests rather than giving up completely. The current University would be rid of the problem sitation and using your external examiner's report you could possibly sell yourself to a net University with a potentially friendlier, more cooperative atmosphere.

Ian (Mackem_Beefy)

Avatar for Pjlu

My supervisor and the department are all good. I did find my Masters thesis a challenge a couple of years ago but this was mainly due to being a distance student and a having very overworked supervisor-and the rewriting at the end got to me at times.

This time round, I'm close to the campus and supervisor-my supervisor is lovely and the department are pretty helpful. The ethics committee are finicky but pretty much standard otherwise. And I am so used now to rewriting everything all the time, I don't even blink an eyelid at critical requests for rewriting. But, I could be very lucky this time round...I know it isn't always the way for everyone.


I have already wasted 50K on higher degree and I am as miserable as hell! I think its time to return to the real world to make some money and pay back this loan, which will take me eons to pay off.