Overview of Mackem_Beefy

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Mackem_Beefy
Monday, 13 September 2010 at 6:14pm
Wednesday, 3 July 2019 at 1:26pm
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page 1 of 85 recent posts

Thread: PhD at 38

posted
04-Apr-17, 11:22
edited about 1 minute later
Avatar for Mackem_Beefy
posted about 2 years ago
I went to do a PhD at the age of 30. In answer to each of yor concerns.

1) I was single at the time I did the PhD. I know there's plenty with family on this forum who've tackled one. It's about you time management.

2) I'd left after Masters at 24 feeling I was too old at that stage, however, upon returning having other older fellow PhD'ers around me helped. The main point for me was the nature of a PhD meant it felt more like a job than studying. PhD'ers are "separate" from the general student population unless there are teaching requirements thus to me there was no feeling of "going back to school".

I met one man taking a PhD part-time in his late 50s. Also during Masters, there was a man on my course doing it full time with a family in his mid 50s.

3) The normal route is PhD, followed by post-doc then going into teaching. The PhD helped me into two post-docs in succession and you generally need the PhD in scences, maths and engineering to to start an academic career. Finding a job after depends upon your ability to sell yourself just as much in academia as in the real world. There's a risk, but there's also a risk on changing any job.

4) Your last point sums it up for me in that had I not done a PhD, I'd have always regreted it. So I did one and have no regrets. Things did not work out for me after my second post-doc thus I'm out of academia, however, as with anything in life you take a risk.

After Masters, the subject had been broched with me and over the next few years I finally decided I had to do one despite leaving a job to do it (there was a redundancy threat anyway).

--------

Take a look at my blog and if you have any questions, get back to me.

Ian

Thread: How to turn down PhD funding (UK)

posted
03-Apr-17, 20:44
Avatar for Mackem_Beefy
posted about 2 years ago
I found myself in this situation many moons ago when I started my own long since finished PhD.

1) FUNDING HAS COME WITH THE PROJECT:

(This was my situation with funding already in place.)

In each case, the potential supervisor had obtained the funding therefore all I had to do was politley e-mail the supervisor of the project I rejected that I would not be taking up the project. The supervisor will then tell the funding body.


2) YOU HAVE APPLIED FOR FUNDING SEPARATELY:

If you have obtained the funding yourself separately, then contact the funding council (EPSRC, ESRC, etc.) or other funding body in writing to tell then you will not need the funding for the project concerned with a brief statement why (i.e. you'll be taking up a different project). Also obviously remeber to tell the supervisor concerned you'll not be taking up their project.

Ian

Thread: What to do after a successful appeal?

posted
03-Apr-17, 20:09
edited about 22 minutes later
Avatar for Mackem_Beefy
posted about 2 years ago
BeHappy,

I feel there's a a risk of a little confusion with the above. A couple of extra comments from me.

1) Are you at a UK University or at a University where the examination system is based on the UK model?

If so, you would not normally participate in exam panel selection. The University in consultation with your supervisors will select the two (one external, one internal) or three examiners (a third one may be included in the case of subject specialisation) and it is unusual for the candidate to be consulted. I hope given you have successfully appealed they will talk to you about this.

If you are being examined in the USA, then the student plays a major role in the selection of a larger examination panel. If you are in the USA, then as "tru" suggests, select carefully.

2) "Pjlu", I'm not suggesting major amendments by a further "once over". All I'm saying give it a read through to pick up anything obvious. It is a re-examination following appeal thus reworking is inappropriate until the outcome of the new examination is known. Asking if such a once over is allowable is fair comment.

--------

This is a serious case of sit down in a pub with someone else who's been through the same thing. Didn't Marasp (I think) have to appeal?

The problem is most of us have not been in "appeals" territory.

Ian

Thread: What to do after a successful appeal?

posted
31-Mar-17, 20:55
edited about 9 seconds later
Avatar for Mackem_Beefy
posted about 2 years ago
Tree of Life, Tru,

In principle, I'd agree you shouldn't change supervisors and continuity of supervision when properly done is important to a successful PhD. I also agree it's largely between BeHappy and the new examiners and if she can have a say in who they are then all the better.

My concern was if I was about to resubmit then a further supervisory once over for the thesis might be wise, especially after a bad outcome that had to be appealed against.

A key point in the latter posts not pointed out in the opening post is that the second supervisor is a more helpful person. Using the second supervisor to give the thesis this last once over and to offer any further support and guidance seems to be the obvious thing to do. This should negate the need for a supervisory change.

Ian

Thread: What to do after a successful appeal?

posted
27-Mar-17, 20:43
edited about 7 minutes later
Avatar for Mackem_Beefy
posted about 2 years ago
Quote From Hugh:
Hi, well done on your appeal. On what basis did you win your appeal?

Also, what was the result prior to the appeal? I assume you had a viva, was it a fail or MPhil?


As well as these questions, what are you going to do about your supervisor now he's distancing himself from you? This is the bit that concerns me.

You need supervisory input even with a successful appeal and it might be worth asking if he would prefer it if you proceeded with a new supervisor who may want to proof your script before resubmission.

I personally wouldn't want to continue with an unwilling supervisor, however, finding another member of staff willing to step in may be difficult as you were previously seen as a "failing" student.

My examiners were chosen over a year in advance and I personally had no say. Under the UK and similar models, you don't normally have a definitive say as to who your examiners are although a more enlightened supervisor might discuss examiners with you.

That said, well done and fingers crossed for you.

Ian

Thread: One or two humerous stories!!! :-)

posted
25-Mar-17, 01:54
Avatar for Mackem_Beefy
posted about 2 years ago
I've compiled a few humerous tales I heard about during my time in academia if only to cheer up a few people, who may be feeling down for various reasons of happened to stumbled in from the pub at this time of night.

The link to these stories is at the below link - enjoy!!! If you have a few to add I will consider adding them with appropriate credit;

Ian

Thread: I need a solicitor !!

posted
25-Mar-17, 01:46
edited about 2 minutes later
Avatar for Mackem_Beefy
posted about 2 years ago
Quote From pm133:
Genuinely interesting couple of posts there mackem_beefy.
I can tell you what I personally would have done during that first meeting.
I would have stood up, told them that this wasn't a working relationship which would work well, apologised and told them I was leaving. I would wish them well on their search for a replacement and I would walk out.
As you found out, there is little worse than persisting with that type of person.
I am like this in interviews as well. If I detect a bad match then I will stop an interview immediately. Done that a few times. Never regretted it. It is very important that you realise your personal value and worth to others without being arrogant or aggressive with them. Make no mistake though, you should take no unreasonable crap from anyone. You deserve to be treated with respect.


Walking out has been suggested by a few people including my mum when I told here. However, I'd already resigned from my first post-doc and walkig out would have meant I was unable to laim jobseeker's allowance or income support. I was thus financially trapped unless I found another job, which I tried and failed to do.

My dad who was more unreformed let's say suggested he would have "decked the bastard" for the senior Prof's rudness. That said, a prison term is the last thing I would want!!! Tempted at the time though. :-) :-) :-)

C'est la vie!!!

Ian

Thread: I need a solicitor !!

posted
24-Mar-17, 08:39
edited about 7 minutes later
Avatar for Mackem_Beefy
posted about 2 years ago
One brief addition to the above (sorry if I've been long-winded, the situation is hard to describe), was I did look at what action I could take over my treatment during that year. However, looking at the previous industrial tribunal and talking things through with an employment agent it was clear that the "closing ranks" situation I described meant it was my word against theirs. Always only launch a complaint as a very last resort.

That said, it did make me laugh after the fact that (no direct help to me as I wasn't a student at the time of my second post-doc) I found out the student union unofficially had a person "used to dealing" with difficult academics and the senior Prof. wasn't the only difficult academic at my "second post-doc" University. I was told of other cases similar to mine (one including a former colleague) and one small crumb of comfort is at least I survived to the end of my contract.

As Pm133 points out, "making a formal complaint and then announcing in front of the university authorities that you are terminating all contact with your initial supervisor" is also to me badly handling the situation and exacerbating confrontation.

There are people in academia who are ill-equipped to man-manage. You realise quickly more contentious characters who might be high impact paper-producers can be immune to disciplinary action due to Universities being more interested in reputation than recruiting decent people with good man-mangement skills. Only if a situation is extremely damaging might they dismiss more fractious people, with it being easier to close ranks and protect the complainant even if the complaint is justified.

Given my own experiences, that is why I say to the opening poster that if possible write off your experiences, learn from any mistakes you made and move on to a fresh Uni., a fresh set of faces and research project to start afresh. If you need to brush up your scientific English, so be it.

Ian

Thread: I need a solicitor !!

posted
24-Mar-17, 08:14
edited about 5 seconds later
Avatar for Mackem_Beefy
posted about 2 years ago
Pm133,

Post understood. As you say, posts must be taken at face value and my own past history as described below is an example why.

In my case "personality clash" was a big factor, though it also became clear I was employed simply to relieve the principle researcher's workload. They'd also changed their minds between me signing the contract and me starting, meaning we were contracturally stuck with each other (I was also financially trapped) despite me attempting to find another job. At my starting kick-off meeting, I was described as "very much a second choice, a stop gap measure". The senior Prof. looked at the principle researcher and said in front of me "we'll just have to make do" as though I wasn't there. I'd not yet done any work for them???

There'd been an industrial tribunal lost by a previous staff member against him, which made the local press and the case described had been nasty. On the basis of this I almost withdrew from the contract, but well meaning family members persuaded me the case was nothing to do with me. Only after I started did I truely learn about the senior Prof.'s formidable reputation and by then it was too late.

As regards self-blame could I have been more duty-diligent? I was doing serious hours and don't know what more I could have done. I was not an exact role match meaning mistakes (which I made) were always likely as I had to learn the job from scratch. They clearly needed someone already experienced in the role, which I wasn't. I lacked certain specific skills they needed; better had they recognised this and rejected me for their own sake at interview.

I learn't from the above a situation CAN be one-sided and regards my mistakes, taking the job in the first place was my career-damaging biggest when the warning signs were already there.

Ian

Thread: I need a solicitor !!

posted
22-Mar-17, 22:38
edited about 7 minutes later
Avatar for Mackem_Beefy
posted about 2 years ago
How far into the project are you?

If you're still within your first or even second year, would it not be better to gracefully withdraw and start afresh next year with a new University and new project?

I've seen enough fall outs in Universities to know they close ranks to protect there image and reputation. Other researchers are already towing the line and I'm sure the lab manager will be quietly advised to back down before long.

I've been at the wrong end of similar (second post-doc) and know that it doesn't end well. Even my own PhD supervisor talking about another case suggested that the University would close ranks to see off the problem. I also saw an unwanted maths lecturer basically relieved of all his duties until he finally got the message and walked. He was not sacked and coontinued to be paid, but had nothing to do except for a daily check of his e-mails.

If you are near the end, then perhaps trying to resolve through the proper channels should at least be exhausted and also talk to your student union. Once you involve a solicitor or even the University Ombudsman (very last resort), then you will see how effectively the University closes ranks.

You supervisor wants you out. Going queitly might at least give you a good chance of finding a new project at a different University. If you make a fuss, your name may be "mud" (i.e. effectively blacklisted) as far as a future supervisor is concerned.

Sorry to say all this but I've been there,

Ian

Thread: PhD Interview - what to wear (female)

posted
17-Mar-17, 02:31
edited about 16 seconds later
Avatar for Mackem_Beefy
posted about 2 years ago
What image does your PhD supervisor expect you to present at conference?

If that's something you don't know then I would play safe.

As a man, I opted for shirt and tie (as much as I hate ties) and feel I made the right play if only to get the PhD position over the line. After that, I was able to work out what was the right clothing for each situation.

Mostly, no one cares and all is very casual but conferences and presentations can be more formal.

I suggest trouser suit unless you know what your potential supervisor expects, then once you have your foot in the door you case assess potentially formal situation on a case by case basis.

Ian

Thread: Mentioning difficult family members in thesis acknowledgements

posted
17-Mar-17, 01:00
Avatar for Mackem_Beefy
posted about 2 years ago
Quote From Dunham:
Quote From Mackem_Beefy:
Quote From TreeofLife:
How about something like 'thanks to all my family, especially my father for helping me financially prior to starting my PhD, my mother for xxx and my brother for xxx'?


Keep it general. "Thanks to all my family and friends for all their assistance". Don't mention names, thank people personally who deserve it. Problem sorted.


That's what I would do as well. I am not a fan of these super long acknowledgment sections where people prate over several pages thanking literally everyone remotely related to that life period. My family provides the support they always provide, no matter what I am doing. I am incredibly grateful for that, but they give this support PhD-independent. I am pretty sure none of my family members or friends would expect me to mention them personally and all would be fine with a sentence like "Thanks to all my family and friends for all their assistance and support". They try to understand what you are doing and they show some interest in my PhD (some a bit more sincere than others) but that's where the supports basically ends. That's all they can do and they don't have to do more in my opinion. Of course it kind of helps me indirectly during that PhD time to have a loving family and friends but the people who really directly help me are rather colleagues, supervisors and partner and those are the people I would address a bit more detailed. But that's just me.

If you don't want to thank your father this is perfectly fine. We are just talking about an acknowledgment section. I would not overthink it. Do whatever feels right.


Nailed on.

However, I wasn't able just to leave it to the above quoted paragrah as my supervisor said I should acknowledge just about every member of staff I shook hands with in the previous paragraph. FFS, none of them will even see the acknowledgements. Pointless.

Thread: Mentioning difficult family members in thesis acknowledgements

posted
16-Mar-17, 20:51
edited about 2 minutes later
Avatar for Mackem_Beefy
posted about 2 years ago
Quote From TreeofLife:
How about something like 'thanks to all my family, especially my father for helping me financially prior to starting my PhD, my mother for xxx and my brother for xxx'?


Keep it general. "Thanks to all my family and friends for all their assistance". Don't mention names, thank people personally who deserve it. Problem sorted.

Here's what I put at least for the family and friends acknowledgements. Basically my mother understood what I was trying to do and offered moral assistance when she could, even to the point where she told my friends quite bluntly and firmly to lay off me whilst I finished my write-up. She'd done an admin. job years ago at a local Uni. so understood the process. My dad wasn;t sure what I was doing and diplomatically saying just "family and friends" was the way round any issues of apparent favouritism.

"Many thanks must be made also to my parents and friends who had to listen to all my tales of woe whilst I completed the write-up of this thesis. I also wish to pass on my gratitude to Sunderland Association Football Club where I am a season ticket holder; my trips to the Stadium of Light for football matches were at times the only break I had from my doctoral work."

The football reference at least added an element of humour to an otherwise bland statement of thanks.

Ian

Thread: Going forward???

posted
16-Mar-17, 20:40
edited about 22 seconds later
Avatar for Mackem_Beefy
posted about 2 years ago
Okay, food for thought here.

My job hunting is proving fraught as it's turning out that my skills set was very specific to my last employer. Prospective employers, even if I was to stay in "Quality" (ugh) are all asking for different skill sets and therefore retraining is looking increasingly unavoidable.

Therefore, if I have to retrain then I would prefer to retrain to do something different and my gut instincts to say do a Masters to retrain is seemingly looking to me to be the right path.

The problem is when we opt to do PhDs, we focus very narrowly on portion of a field making us very niche. One employment agent who has looked at my CV has said directly I've done lots of niche projects, making me appear very specialised. Another difficulty is the PhD puts it in the mind of employers that Im going to move on the moment something better comes along as well as appearing too academic. That is depsite a substantial period in my previous "Quality" job.

My retraining idea may sound counterintuitive, however, if I can fix my core Engineering skills to make myself more attractive to employers then this seems to make more sense to me. The alternative, struggling to find a job I enjoy or doing a job I seriously don't enjoy (and now struggling to find even that), is not an enticing one.

There are two approaches I could take. The first is to go full time for a year to be able to sell my new skills set at the other opportunuity (student loans required, which I could live with). The second is part-time for a few years alongside a job (even a Quality one), however, there is a risk whathever job I take could pidgeonhole me further. I'm therefore erring towards option one, that being my "gut" and I've tended to do better when I've gone with my gut.

PJLU, if I can locate the extra "author" then I'll contact him for a copy of the paper.

Ian

Thread: Who's doing the weirdest PhD?

posted
13-Mar-17, 00:40
Avatar for Mackem_Beefy
posted about 2 years ago
Bump to cheer you all up!!! :-)

Ian
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