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What is a Ph.D. / The Ph.D. Game :-)
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Quote From rewt:
Hi Mackem,

I have just read bits of your blog and I think it is quite informative. I think it would have helped me if I read something like that before my PhD.

I actually played that PhD board game! In one of the bigger labs someone brought in and I think 6 or 7 PhD students started playing it. It was quite causual but we are all progressing at roughly the same speed. I think there was 4 of us on 39+ and we were getting quite competitive, joking who would finish their PhD first. Until one guy overthrew the dice and it ended up stuck under a fume hood. Of course we tried to recover the dice but it was to no avail. So in the end we didn't finish the game or our PhDs. I just thought I should share that random story.


That aptly describes how we all feel with about a year to go. I think the Ph.D. Game was originally designed, just like a Ph.D., to be extremely difficult to finish. There was an earlier version and the extra squares added, especially later, seem to be to cover the full set of frustrations towards a Ph.D.'s end. Everything seems to push to towards square 33 and a proper job and you being virtually unemployable in the real world should you gain a Ph.D.

I think square 39 might have been comedy based on an urban legend as a few years later, I did hear an unsubstantiated story along the same lines.

This location should be safe from deletion if ISPs change.

https://ia601507.us.archive.org/35/items/phdgame/phdgame.pdf


Ian

Inferiority complex from friends and family
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Quote From Em89:
Yeah I get this. I was the first in my family to get GCSE's, and education isn't really valued in my family. I stood out and not in a good way, if I said anything relating to my BSc I was told to stop showing off. Even when I posted my graduation photo's an aunt chastised me and told me I should do my Uni work for me, not for anyone else so why did I have to rub everyone's face in it like I was better. I stopped talking about anything to do with my studies, then another family member did a degree and I was constantly told it was more of an achievement than me getting a funded PhD because I'm a 'smart a*se' so it's easy, and that as a single parent who's gay I obviously get everything handed to me because I tick a box.

I had a lot of counselling to deal with my toxic family, and I learnt that it was all down to their own insecurity; me doing well wasn't something to celebrate or be proud of for them, but a personal insult. I now do not see many of my family except for large events, and sometimes they ask how my work is going ('so you're not even a Doctor yet? Was it really worth it?') and I just reply 'It's going really well, but we both know you're not interested in it and that's fine'.

On the flip side, dealing with people who dismiss everything I say came in really useful during the PhD process!


May I ask if the other family member did their degree as a mature student or part-time while working? Did you?

I will concede that doing a degree part-time is much harder work when the student has other commitments. But holding it against you or saying you get it handed to you on a plate because you "tick a box" is a horrible thing to say.

Likewise, I was first in the family to go to University with concerns only being raised (as I explained) when I left a job to take up a PhD.


Ian

Inferiority complex from friends and family
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My parents were as proud as anything over me getting my PhD. One problem I did have was my mother was unhappy about me giving up my job and career (she saw me as settled into a job she thought was a safe bet for the future) to take up a PhD. I explained to her that the idea was always in the back on my mind since finishing masters after a gap of five years and basically having a rest. As my job was under threat anyway and the company I was working for folded some months later anyway, it made the move easier to understand for her.

It may be that parents especially see you as doing your degree then finding a job so you can settle down. Having someone in the family that has decided to remain a "student" beyond degree and masters might be seen as not reaching the point you are settling down. Also, you comment that PhDs are not common in your country, so they may be unsure what a PhD is. You might try to ask them what their concerns are about what you are doing.

It sometimes needs to be made clear a PhD is not a normal degree but a highly intensive research programme leading potentially to new findings and knowledge not already in the public domain. It's one of the reasons many moons ago I did my blog and that might help you explain what you are doing to them (http://www.geocities.ws/high_temp_wear).

Ian

What is a Ph.D. / The Ph.D. Game :-)
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Quickly, I notice some old links I threw up years ago don't work anymore to my Ph.D. blog and also the Ph.D. game. Basically, my ISP scrapped the web-space on which it was stored. I know one or two found the blog especially useful at the time I posted it up, explaining what a Ph.D. is either to potential candidates or to relatives. The questions listed are pitched at a basic level I have encountered over the years.

My blog is now at:

http://www.geocities.ws/high_temp_wear/

The Ph.D. Game, meant at the time as a mickey take of the Ph.D. experience, can now be found as a PDF at:

http://www.geocities.ws/high_temp_wear/phdgame.pdf

or as a jpg file at:

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EgxCcMUXgAA19P2?format=jpg&name=small

The latter is an upgrade of one originally found on the University of Cambridge website. Beware square 39, which shouldn't be taken too seriously. :-)

If the Geocities link is blocked, I'm possibly looking at converting the website to a PDF for uploading to an accessible cloud space at some point in the future.

The second link to the Ph.D. Game (jpg) should be accessible.

Ian

PhD haunted by Third class degree
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Quote From rewt:
I agree with Tudor_Queen and pm133, two masters and a PhD will supersede any degree. If you don't want to talk about the third you don't have to put it on your CV. Just leave the grade of your CV and let them assume. It is similar to how no-one asks about secondary school grades after a stage, your undergrad degree doesn't matter as much after a PhD. So I would just avoid telling employers about the third.

Also, I don't think you can change your degree result without resitting the entire degree. You could possibly get a reference from your supervisor saying that they thought the results was unfair and attach it to your CV as a supporting document.


I would say check with the University registrars as it might be possible to resit the last year's exams as an external candidate depending upon University rules, although you may be limited to a top result of 50%. It might be enough to make the degree a 2(ii).

That said, there's probably a time limit in which this can be done and given the opening poster has done double masters and PhD since, that time limit has probably expired. I think the limit might be two years, with it not really being feasible beyond that especially with rapidly changing technology subjects.

Quote From pm133:
I would agree with this but funnily enough I had an interview for a small company many years ago. My CV had my degree and my Highers results from school. I also had quite a few years of experience. [b]The owner of the company interviewed me and said "Erm I noticed your GCSE results are not on your CV".[/b] I laughed out loud and then realised he was serious about wanting to know what they were. No other company ever asked about anything to do with my degree or my schooling. It was all about what experience I had.

Employers can be weird sometimes during interviews. One of them tossed a Yellow Pages at me, turned sideways and opened up and starting reading a magazine in the middle of asking me a question once.

So glad I don't have to tolerate this sort of thing anymore. I should write a book....... :-D


This can be explained simply due to many employers looking for basic evidence of Level 2 literacy and numeracy, translated, you have the equivalent of a GCSE English and Maths pass during the initial screening. Although fairly rare, it's something I'm seeing increasingly in job adverts.

That said, if you've a degree, masters or PhD it should be self-evident you have the required level of literacy or numeracy. I don't personally list school-level qualifications on my CV now though I can produce evidence of these if asked, which to date I haven't.

Ian

PhD haunted by Third class degree
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I note replies by others that third class should be history given you've since gone on to two masters and a PhD. I wish I could say that is an end to the third class story. I'm sorry to hear about you mental health issues and had you reported that at the time, that could have been taken into consideration. But as you say, there are different attitudes to mental health issues in different countries.

I ended up with a 2(ii) followed by two masters then PhD. During the first of those masters, I also suffered health issues (exhaustion plus a damaged ankle) that I reported late in the day. I was surprised I got that first masters as I'd written it off and started the second when it came through. It's wrong that your penalised in any way, shape or form because you have had health issues of any description.

What I have identified is perhaps during screening, my 2(ii) was enough to stop my application going further as generically that was enough for an HR administrator to bin an application before it reached a hiring manager. It wasn't 2(i) and above, so end of story. This issue is a hard one to get past.

Where, however, you do get past this very basic screening and you are queried on your third class degree, you might allude to health issues rather than talk about depression per se. You might have had a period of ill health at around the time of your finals and not really elaborate. If you are pressed further, just say the level of work you put in for your degree had left you heavily fatigued and needing to seek medical help. You could say once past this, your dedication to hard work once you recovered was born out by your later achievements, your masters and PhD.

Translated, it's possible to turn this round into a selling point and it's just finding the right words to do that.


Ian

PostgraduateForum - new site feedback
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With me finished long ago, I only pop by once in a blue moon.

My feedback includes:

1) No options to insert emojis / emoticons as you have on other forums. That said, you only need basic emojis / emoticons (happy, sad, etc.) and not the huge sets that other forums have.

2) A image insert / display option would be nice for basic examples of problems or information sharing. Again, keep this basic and full on media sharing is probably not necessary given the nature of the forum.

3) Font, bold, italic and underline options would be nice to have too.


Cheers,


Ian

PhD viva passed - some advice to return.
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I remember you posting ages back and welcome to the post-PhD world (the main reason I rarely look by here now - so long ago).

Congratulations!!!

Ian

After the complaint, what should I do if the university doesn’t take an action?
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I am minded that your supervisors are likely to be your main employment references for whatever emplyment you apply for post-graduation. Complaining has to be a last resort and I speak as someone who had a Prof who was a poor supervisor / line manager when I opted to do a post-doc at a University away from my PhD University.

So unless the actions of your supervisors have prevented you from graduating or are hindering your life as it stands, then I would leave be and move on to be honest. You have your award so why pursue this any further?

The only reason I can think of continuing to pursue your complaint is if your supervisors' behaviour is having an ongoing impact on other students. If whatever happened is a one-off, leave be and just live your life.

Universities tend to close ranks against complainants, who end up getting no-where. People who say things disappear or become uncertain of what they witnessed. I saw this happen to other people, which is why I decided it wise just to walk away when my post-doc contract ended.

Ian

Waiting for viva and JSA?
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Another thought. Is a post-graduate student loan yet possible to fund living costs over the year four write-up period?

Ian.

Waiting for viva and JSA?
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Quote From pm133:


I know you mean well but what you are suggesting here is benefits fraud and will lead to a criminal conviction and/or a prison sentence and probably the end of your career if you are caught. Don't assume it's easy to get away with this. Universal Credits and JSA before it are specifically for people actively seeking work. A full time student is not considered to be in a position to actively seek work and are therefore not allowed to claim either. That is the law whether we like it or not. Break that law at your peril.


I know and I personally wouldn't advise it.

However, I'm aware of at least two alledged instances of this happening and in one of these, the supervisor supposedly suggested it. There will probably be others.

It's not good and not clever in my eyes, I'll admit. But I've been told it happens. The logic and sense if allowable is to try to change registration to part-time and actively look for work.


Ian

Email etiquette... how would you reply to this person?
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I'd always respond with the same level of formality as displayed to me.

If the mark has been overstepped, it is not me who has too quickly decreased the level of formality.

My opt out is "Dear Mr/Dr. Smith (or "John" if you prefer)", should it not be clear where you stand.

I prefer informality at the earliest opportunity, as a more laid back position creates a better atmosphere for information exchange. It takes away any sensation of being "uptight".

Ian

Waiting for viva and JSA?
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I can't advise on council tax though you should receive some reduction either as a full time student or Universal Credit claimant. You won't get JSA as a new claimant now.

You won't receive benefits if you are registered as a full time student. Exceptions may include attendance allowance or personal independance payments if disabled. If you're a full time carer, you can receive carer's allowance provided you are not earning roughly £125 a week and looking after someone on either attendance allowance or personal independance payments.

You can receive universal credit if you are registered as a part-time student studying <=12 hours a week. You also need to be actively looking for work to the satisfaction of Job Centre Plus advisors and Case Workers.

You might look to changing your registration to part-time in order to entitle yourself to universal credit. One point here are that your PhD supervisors might object in their interests in seeing you submit by the end of year four.

Another option is given you're in year four and can show Job Centre Plus you've no income on your bank statements, is to not tell Job Centre Plus you are still registered a full-time student. It's a little dodgy this but as the University cannot give out confidential information on its students unless presented with a court order, there's not a mechanism for Job Centre Plus to find out. A court order may only be sought if there is clear evidence of wrong doing and as you've no income there will be no evidence. Many year four students have done this historically I hate to say (ahem).

A part-time job alongside your year four writing up is probably the best approach. Either that or hope your department 'invent' an RA post to finance your writing up period, this being obviously common from the RA adverts you see.

As you can gather, I received lots of advice on this issue way back when I was writing up.

Ian

What do I do now?
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MissLost,

Once relationships with supervisors break down, they are very difficult to repair and the seeds of mistrust are sown. This happened to me at post-doc for reasons I've discussed elsewhere. Briefly, I was hired because someone else turned down the position and they needed someone quickly to lift workload off the primary investigator. My skills didn't quite match their requirements and by the time the contract ended, I was glad to go and they were glad to see the back of me.

It seems you have had to take a part time job alongside your PhD; you're not explicit here. This raises a number of questions.

1) Does you switching to part-time mean funding for the PhD will be partly (loss of bursary only) or fully (busary plus fees) withdrawn and will the part-time job cover (or more than cover) this?

2) Do you believe you can recover the relationship with your supervisors? It seem you've already answered this and from my own experience, this seems unlikely. That said, Tudor Queen speaks wisely here, so try her approach before giving a final answer to this question.

3) If you move to another University, can you take the funding with you? I ask as normally funding is obtained by the University for the project so this suggests not.

--------

Would withdrawing from the PhD to sort out your personal situation and finances be an option? My take is you could then work full time for a few years and get some money behind you by saving.

If/when you feel ready for another go, you could apply to another University in better financial/personal shape than you are now. Given my own experiences, I don't know if I'd be able to continue with supervisors for another two or three years whom I no longer trusted. One year was bad enough.


Rewt,

I disagree with you as obtaining a PhD under supervisors you know longer trust will be that much harder even if you knuckle down as you suggest.

Ian

Anyone with two PhDs?
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Quote From shortfatchemist:
Yes, I am a mad fool that is doing his second PhD and both have been part time while I worked in industry. So why the second PhD? Well it is simple… how does one maintain his research edge when he is working for a living? Simple, you carry on studying, its ordinarily hard on your life but this is how you maintain your edge. Hard bloody work!
PhD Chemistry 1996
PhD Chemical engineering 2020 (fingers crossed)


It's very rare I pop by here now but this caught my eye.

I guess you've found a good reason to do a second PhD in order to keep your edge and fair enough. You'll also know what's involved on your second go and will to some degree be able to plan accordingly. But doing this alongside you job both times is not something I envy. I remember 12 to 16 hour days especially for the last couple of years as I wrote up and that I'd not wish on anyone. Admittedly I was full time and there was just the PhD.

As per Tudor Queen, how are / did you fund these PhDs? I imagine you having to pay the fees unless your company has supported you.

Ian