Overview of Jewel

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Re-thinking the system of viva

These variations are pretty unsurprising. After all, is there actually specific training given to academics in doctoral examination? I am not aware of any in the UK. As a result, I think there are some academics who are stuck in a mode of assessing theses according to their own personal standards (which maybe much higher than that required at doctoral level) whereas really they should be judging a thesis on whether it meets the requirements of the institution for the award of a PhD.

laptop cooling fans...

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It probably needs opening up and a good vacuum. You may also need to remove the CPU fan and heat sink assembly and remove the dust that has built up there. Back up your data and take it to your nearest repair shop. Your university computing services or department IT guy might be able to help?

Early thoughts of research career, advice please

Go straight into the PhD. You'll probably find it easier than getting a job in industry given that you have no background in energy.

How do you postgrads afford living?

Although I don't know the specifics of the work and your circumstances, my prior belief is that you shouldn't touch it. Most molecular biologists I know need to be in the lab 9-5 and often can't afford to take time to do regular teaching or other activities. Often they find themselves working in the labs during the evenings and weekends too which makes getting part-time work difficult. You need a good stipend to support this work. Furthermore, if funding has been cut for the project, I would also be concerned about the budget for consumables (i.e. money to pay for all the experiments you need to do) and whether there is enough money to cover all the activities you need to do to complete a PhD. Science costs money and if a project doesn't sound like it has enough from the outset I would leave well alone!

Does the University/Institute really matter?

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poorly renowned group at Oxford

The only problem is that you might find it hard to actually find such a group at Oxford and if you do they tend to get culled very quickly! Oxford is peculiar in that it lacks tenured lectureship positions at junior levels so if you do get a lectureship at Oxford you will normally be quite well established already and probably doing some top work.

There are always a few exceptions but in general you will find that senior faculty at top institutions often will not tolerate underperforming staff for too long.

Of course, conversely, a well-renowned academic at a under-performing university is very likely to get pinched by someone like Oxford!

Supervisor is taking the credit for my work!

Pre-empt his treachery by making sure you are the one who reports the work first to external audiences but don't be as deceitful as him, always make sure you say that he is your supervisor.

Phd Supervisour Left

This sounds like a very bleak situation and possibly one where you may even have to consider legal actions :S Although this is a terrible path to be forced down as previous cases have shown that academics and their institutions tend to close ranks and use their collective powers against the student and their grievances :(

A bit disheartened....

As a reviewer myself, I've dished out some comments like that before. Sometimes you don't mean to be harsh but if it's late in the day, deadlines are looming and you got a dozen abstracts to review it can be taxing. Remember reviewers don't get paid for this, they are asked to do it and it can be difficult to say no if the person asking you to help review is a senior figure in your field.

Anyway I wouldn't take it to heart. It is often not personal (blind review) and although the comments might seem unhelpful (conference abstract reviews tend to be less thorough and thought out than journal papers due to the number that you have to do) there maybe something to them - investigate. At the conference, seek the opinions of various people and see if they agree. It is not unheard of for junior or senior academics to have missed out on an entirely relevant piece of research that has already been done on the same topic and not be aware of it especially when there is so much research activity going on around the world.

Help with filling application form for Lectureship Position

I started applying for things at the start of my third year.

Another Latex question

You need to use PDFlatex for JPEGs and PNGs.

Which has greater value?

Funded is always better than unfunded. Unless you are independently wealthy then go funded. It is tough enough getting a PhD - it is even tougher to fund yourself through one!

supervisor with too high expectations for just me?

I feel for you because this is terrible. I really hate academics with poor (or non-existent) management skills.

How many papers should a student have at the end of their phd?

It depends on your field. In experimental sciences, it is normal to have one first author paper which presents the major finding of your PhD research (this is often obtained after your PhD because of the length review process) and maybe a couple of middle author ones (from helping other people in your group do their work). In theoretical or computational sciences, you might be expected to publish more regularly, like once a year. Of course, much depends on your ambitions too, if you have no intention of staying in academia then I would not bother with publishing work at all.

University's Own Funding

This type of thing can be quite complex because the money will probably not come from public funds. The money will often be derived from a mixture of private donations, bequeathments, endowments and other historical gifts and investments. Benefactors often also place stipulations on how the funds are to be used.