Signup date: 13 Jul 2010 at 3:06pm
Last login: 21 Nov 2011 at 4:36pm
Post count: 206
The format in our dept was: 1. Introduction/Literature Review 2. Methodology 3. Results (either actual or anticipated) 4. Anticipated Progression Deadline 5. References.
We did not have to give presentations but were given a viva-type Q&A session with a panel who did not consist of our own supervisors.
I live alone because I moved to a different country and didn't know anyone. This meant that I had to force myself to make friends and to socialise to avoid becoming totally isolated (I am also the only one in my research group that looks at my topic). I now have a lovely group of friends that I go out with regularly and a wonderful boyfriend. However, I also have the freedom of living alone to walk around the house in my pjs, watch Desperate Housewives, Sex & City and other tv shows of that ilk without having to worry about what someone else wants to watch (except when bf is round - then we watch boy stuff like Star Wars :-/). I can keep the house clean in the OCD way that I like, everything in the bathroom belongs to me (bathroom issues are of particular concern to me) and on the days when I have been interviewing and hate the sound of my own voice I can be silent and not have to come home and make small talk with others etc. Sometimes when bf is away and friends are unavailable, it can be a bit lonely but there's always the phone and the gym (as a last resort).
I will say that I wish my bf and I were in a position to move in together as I really would like us to live together and move towards settling down, but having lived the luxury of single occupation of a 2-bed house, I would not consider living with others or even good friends. I am way past the housemates/flatmates stage of life.
I'm really sorry to hear that you did not get the ATAS clearance that you applied for. Looking on the website it seems that you have to actually contact them in order to get the instructions for making an appeal against a refusal or if you want to find out the reason why the application was rejected. They do say that one reason for rejection could be that the info in the form did not exactly match the info provided by the university, or did not match the info on your visa etc. They don't say what the other reasons could be. It is probably worth getting in touch with them and asking them about this.
I wish you all the best.
I also meant to say that you can fit quite a lot on just one side of A4 too. It doesn't have to be just a single paragraph - unless like I say the app form is very comprehensive and you really would just be repeating what was in there in the letter. For the last HE non-ac position I applied for and got, I sent a cover letter that said 'I'm applying for position X please find enclosed my app form'. The app form was more of a booklet and so comprehensive that they didn't even want a CV. There was nothing else I could put in the cover letter that wasn't directly repeating info in the application form. If the form is less comprehensive then you have more leaway with the letter.
I used to work in a corporate environment in the City and cover letters were no more than one side of A4. No one has time to read pages of letter and there's something about having to turn over the page that indicates to the reader that there's a lot of work ahead of them. The key was to say a few key things very succinctly and leave the rest to your CV. If you've piqued their interest they will invite you for a interview which is your cue to tell them about your achievements in greater detail. They'll be listening then.
I also worked in HE recruiting for academic and non-academic posts and there again it was much better for the non-ac cvs to be one page (usually because the app form was so comprehensive).
Cover letters for academic positions should be a bit longer because there is this view among some, not all, that if you can fit everything on one page you haven't done enough. Whereas in corporate situs it's seen as 'waffles and can't get to the point quickly'.
That's just my experience though so it will be interesting to see what others say.
Re supervision, this seems to be a total lottery. You can try to get behind the facade a bit by finding out how many phd students have graduated under your possible future supervisor, what time frames their students complete in, how many of their students have published successfully etc etc but until you're in you really have no foolproof way of ensuring that they will be there to support you in the way you want.
The one thing to bear in mind that they may be able to offer PhD projects but not employment after the phd. You may have to be prepared to relocate after your PhD to do a postdoc/job somewhere else. You can ask about career progression after the PhD; long-term projects in the dept, prospects for applying for funding for postdoc positions after PhD completion but even asking about these doesn't guarantee you will get any of them. In our dept us first years know that there aren't ANY opps for us here after our doctorates because the dept is full to capacity with phds and postdocs. Our 3rd years are already struggling to decide what to do next and they haven't even submitted yet. Looking at the economic status of the country/area/region you are in is always worth doing before you sign up for a phd and is an absolute must for those who cannot relocate after the phd because of partner/family commitments.
I hope this post doesn't put you off, I definitely think you should do the PhD if that's the right thing for you but I am saying be aware that there is currently a big gap between people's expectations for what's available after the phd and what the job market is currently able to offer. Going into it with eyes wide open and realistic expectations has become a key criterion in deciding whether to do a phd.
I write a normal diary but I noticed that when I started my PhD, it became almost exclusively an academic diary and 8 months in it's definitely an academic diary. I write about my challenges and successes and how I feel about my research and about my role in it and I've even questioned my own motives for pursuing a topic that most other people wouldn't want to do (end of life care and death studies).
I also write about how reading other people's personal narratives of terminal illness affects me as a person and as a researcher and sometimes I write about how people (and friends) have reacted when I tell them what I do. It's not always a positive reaction. Sometimes I write about how my perspectives on life have changed since I started reading about and studying the end of it on a daily basis.
It's also been immensely helpful as one of the questions I mused on a few months ago - a sort of 'I wonder what I would do if...' has, months later, turned into a research project in it's own right. :-)
I don't always write in it everyday only when I have a question or something to say. It helps me get things off my chest. Many people stop asking me about my work or refuse to talk about it (including my own family who will talk in general terms but who don't want to know the nitty gritty) so I need a way of expressing some of the things I feel about what I do.
I would never put any of it into an academic thesis (apart from the res project obviously) but it has helped me keep things in perspective.
Hope that helps :)
Never has the phrase 'It's not WHAT you know, it's WHO you know' been more appropriate or true than in the context of academia. The 'old boys network' has always been a direct route to getting jobs and it is still is. Having been on the recruitment side of things in two different unis I can tell you now that staff have been taken on that haven't been the best people for the job simply because they were the former PhD student of the HoD's golfing buddy etc etc. It really can be like that especially in the more prestigious, old-fashioned unis...
Name dropping though is poor practice and not respected by anyone, not even the people whose names are being bandied around. Name dropping has a time and a place and has to be carefully done. Doing it at Master's level to other students is just misguided and totally pointless.
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