Overview of HazyJane

Recent Posts

How to get into academia without a PhD?

People who have a successful academic career without a PhD usually have highly pertinent external experience, are in particular subfields where 'equivalent experience' really means something (often highly technical roles/fields such as programming), and are often from an earlier generation.They are very rare, and trying to find a generalisable formula for their success in order to emulate their path is unlikely to be a fruitful pursuit.

If you really want an academic career (and many more people do than are successful) then you should optimise your chances. This means doing a PhD at some stage. Fewer than 10% of people with PhDs manage to stay in academia long term, so be realistic about the odds of success without one - it is not simply a case of 'hard work conquers all' as most PhDs are earned by just that, and it is still not enough. Stick around on this forum and you will see multiple cases where effort still hits a brick wall.

There is more than one way to do a PhD. Yes, most people struggle by on a studentship, but there are ways of doing it while employed full time as staff or 'by publication' for long established research staff who have earned their stripes via their work. Look into the available options at a few universities.

If you frame the PhD hurdle as simply a financial one, you overlook the skills/experience acquired during the process which would be necessary for an academic job. It is unclear how you propose to develop those skills outside of academia. If I were you I would apply for a research assistant job, get a proper feel for the nature of academic life (Masters degrees give you little exposure to the full reality; your perception of some aspects seems a little rose-tinted) and explore alternative routes to a PhD from within academia. If it's the career you really want, then starting working in it is probably your best bet.

Final stages of PhD and on Suicide Watch

Firstly, I am very sorry to hear of your troubles. Secondly, though it is good to have passion for your PhD, don't let it be a reason to neglect taking proper time to recover. I appreciate that in depression it can be difficult to find anything that sparks enjoyment, so I don't want to dissuade you from the pleasure you find in it, but please don't let it come between you and whatever you need to do to get yourself in a better place to fulfill the potential you clearly have.

Quote From Tetraselmis:

...and I've lost most of my closest friends by pushing them away from me as a means to try to save them grief if the worst was to happen.

If I were you I would start here. Not all friends will 'get' your situation but hopefully at least some will understand if you have an open and frank conversation with them about things. It is quite likely those friendships are not truly lost, and are rather temporarily adrift due to your circumstances. Try to reframe your friendships away from the idea of protecting people in case something should happen - to me that seems more like negative reinforcement as it's quite likely that the isolation will make you more vulnerable.

Hope this helps a little. Do keep seeing the counsellor and see if s/he can help you prioritise steps that will enable you to return to an even keel. In the mean time, take as much time out from your PhD as you need.

Not heard back after postdoc application, should I email the PI?

In the UK, referees are not normally contacted for references unless an offer is made.

In my recent experiences of being given an interview I've only been given 4 days to a week's notice. So I wouldn't worry yet, unless you have complex/costly travel to book.

I would wait a few more days and then contact the department administrator in the first instance. It can be a bit awkward if you directly contact a PI and they're in the middle of sifting, particularly if you're in a 'maybe' pile. So the administrator/PA is likely to be more neutral. If you are being invited for interview they will be in touch when they are ready.

How to cope with taking a break due to illness

Sorry to hear of the many difficulties you've faced recently. That's a lot to deal with in a short space of time.

Quote From Zutterfly:

I am bed ridden a lot of the time and on narcotics and I have revisions to submit to journals and a conference next month to prepare for and lots of teaching prep.
I suppose I am just looking for some experiences and/or advice on how to 'accept' that it is ok to take a break from the phd due to such reasons?

You have your justification right there. You cannot possibly be expected by others, or reasonably put pressure on yourself, to be performing in any kind of normal way when you are still recovering from surgery. Even when the obvious physical side of things has resolved itself, be gentle with yourself as there may still be a need to recover more wholly.

If you are currently signed off, you should not be worrying yourself with other matters. Make sure that the uni admin people are aware of it so as to potentially grant an interruption of studies, thus extending any submission deadlines. And then forget about as much uni stuff as you are willing (ok, conference deadlines only come around once a year, so if that matters to you then maybe do something about that, but journal revisions can definitely wait.)

Be kind to yourself. The PhD can be all consuming but it is not worth damaging your health over.

What has been your responsibilities as a PhD with the University ?

Most science/engineering PhD students will be allocated a desk within an office/lab. There is often some level of expectation of daily attendance Mon-Fri. Actual contact with one's supervisor during that time will be infrequent (once a week/month/term/year!)

Post-submission finances

My attitude is once people stop funding you they have no right to object to you seeking other sources of income. Obviously, submitting has to be a priority, but that shouldn't preclude you from being able to provide for yourself.

I got a full time job at an external organisation during the last four months of writing up my thesis. It made it very difficult, but I survived. I cannot imagine sitting around twiddling my thumbs between submission and viva, but nor can I imagine being very inclined to do paper writing up during that time. I appreciate others may have more enthusiasm for that though.

Obviously working will reduce the amount of time available for viva prep and writing articles. As far as the former goes there is only so much prep one can do. For the latter, bear in mind that feedback received during your viva might improve your work, so don't necessarily rush to submit papers pre-viva (though prepping drafts is another matter).

Anyone else feel too stupid to be doing a PhD?

Quote From beetsforblood:
Hi everyone!
I do all my reading, I stay up late to plan the meeting, write topics to discuss; today I woke up at 4.00 just to make sure I knew everything inside out before we started and I was just as bad as the previous week.

It sounds like perhaps you need to understand how a PhD differs from other degrees. The point is not to have all the answers ready, it's to learn how to frame sensible questions, think through a problem and find answers through research. There is no fixed curriculum (at least not in the UK).

If you put yourself on such a pressured path so soon, you will never make it to the end of the process without burnout. I'd recommend comparing notes with other students to see how they approach(ed) these meetings in the early days.

If you knew *all* the answers already - well *that* would be a reason not to hire you.

corrections misery

It's not fun but it's doable. I wrote the last 30K words of my thesis while working full time in a non uni job (i.e. just weekends and evenings to work on it). It was not at all enjoyable but I got it done. Just pre-warn friends/family that you will be basically be unavailable for most things during that period. And do make sure you factor in enough time/energy for self-care so you don't end up irretrievably frazzled.

Good luck.

Advice for transitioning to industry from academia

Have you done any networking in that time e.g. attended conferences/external events/participated in online interactions with different people/organisations in your field? Some academic societies have formal mentoring schemes but there our other informal routes to finding one - it does require some searching on one's own part though.

Starting a new journal and looking for contributors

Quote From Paloh:
Not in the traditional sense but perhaps some sort of open feedback or comment mechanism by members would useful. The wider idea is to get the research out there and to get people talking about the issues, so I think a forum or discussion would be really useful.

That being the case, are you even really talking about a 'journal' or more an online repository? You might like to check out http://arxiv.org/ to see how that works in the physical sciences, and whether the education field has (or needs) an equivalent.

Starting a new journal and looking for contributors

I'm sure it's frustrating but I'm not sure that your proposed solution is the right one. Ideally such a journal would be peer reviewed. If you stick to a narrow field you might struggle to find adequate numbers of submissions to sustain the journal. If you accept submissions from any field, do you have a sufficiently wide academic network to publicise the journal and attract peer reviewers? Some work that is controversial and challenging is important, game-changing stuff. But some is bordering on nonsense. Would you accept both categories? If not, how do you sort the wheat from the chaff?

It's worth noting that, however intellectually sound, most theses are rarely perfect to be published as they stand: almost all will need some kind of editing or reworking to translate into other types of document such as books or papers. So your reluctance to modify any of it at all may be putting up an additional barrier to publication. It may well be that the key arguments can be retained and accepted, but perhaps need presenting in a different way.

Unless you actually want a career in academic publishing, I would be reluctant to start a journal from scratch as to make it actually work would probably take more time than would permit you to continue with actually doing some research. So I think maybe you need to think about the long game. What do you want to do with your career?

Presumably your supervisor is supportive of the main approach of your work. Has s/he offered any advice as to target journals?

when self-funding is the only way...

Quote From Eds:
Yep. Nothing wrong with f/t self-funded.

Nothing wrong in terms of academic validity, or personal satisfaction. A lot wrong if you are doing the PhD for career enhancement and aren't in a very well off financial position.

when self-funding is the only way...

Firstly, you're definitely not too old at all.

Secondly, I'd always caution anyone against doing a *full time* unfunded PhD as it is rarely a good 'investment'. However you have the good sense to want to do it part time so that's not a problem.

Thirdly, I'd also warn that the jobs prospects in many fields of academia are truly dire, so if your only reason for doing one is career enhancement, proceed with caution, particularly if self-funded. But if you want to do it for the stimulation/interest as well then that's a different concern. Having a decade of professional experience under your belt also puts you in a stronger general career position than, say, a new graduate with no job history who is looking to self fund and comes out the other end to find themselves struggling to find work.

It sounds from what you've said like an itch you need to scratch. If that's the case, then go for it. And maybe have a look at this guide to see if there are funds you can apply to which would supplement your income:

Submitted PhD and typos!

Yes, many typos are correctly spelled words, albeit the wrong one.

I know of one person who was in the middle of printing before they noticed a place were "public health" had an unfortunately absent first 'l'.

Also, it's easy to turn a blind eye to the red squiggly line when it is picking up every technical word.

Submitted PhD and typos!

I had multiple typos, plus a sentence that trailed off to nothing (I'm still not sure whether I failed to finish writing it or it was victim to a copy-paste-editing shuffle) plus a weird page numbering/printing glitch that to this day I cannot find a logical explanation for.

Examiners picked up on some of the typos and asked for correction (but not the missing text!), and I corrected the rest myself.

It's not a major issue by itself, but if the thesis has other substantial issues then it might tip the balance of opinion to the unfavourable end of the spectrum. But only a very picky examiner would make a big deal of a thesis where typos were the only main issue.