Overview of NapoleonofCrime

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Funding approval - just a formality?

I heard today that I have been nominated by my institution for an AHRC block grant studentship. Hurrah! (the moon must have been in conjunction with Saturn, or something).

One thing that gave me pause for thought, was the mention on the email I received, that all studentships had to be approved, firstly by the institution's central funding committee, and secondly by the AHRC. I was wondering, is this just a formality to check that I fit the basic criteria (UK residency, eligible previous degrees etc.)? Or is there a real chance that I can be turned down because the committee/AHRC can just decide that I don't "deserve" a studentship?

Would appreciate advice from anyone who has gone through this process already, or who knows more about it. I'm holding off on celebrations till I know that the award can't be snatched away from me! Cheers

Graduate Teaching Assistantship Eligibility

Since starting my PhD, I have found out that my dept. only gives TA work to people on the 2nd/3rd years of their thesis, hence I have some teaching lined up for next year but am not doing it at the moment. I think the reason that some (not all) places are reluctant to give TA work to 1st years is not down to experience, but rather a desire to see you established in your research. TA work is supposed to be quite time consuming, and I can imagine that trying to get your thesis off the ground AND prepare, teach and mark work for a class, might be quite a challenge.

The exercise thread

I got a Wii Fit for Christmas :$

I try to use it for 20-30 minutes in the morning, if I'm working at home. It wakes me up and stops me feeling sluggish, which I'm liable to do if I don't leave the house.

Facebook for academics

I've found it quite useful for keeping in touch with people I've met at conferences - but, as has been pointed out, mainly other postgrads rather than established people.

self-funding? no?

I am self-funding my first year with savings, part-time work and by living at home - I'm applying for AHRC funds, but if I don't get those, then I'm just going to have to stay at home etc.

One unofficial benefit of re-applying for funding AFTER enrollment, rather than before, is that you presumably have a better chance of being awarded funds by tutors who have had the chance to get to know you and your work. It's supposed to be impartial, but I'm sure that 'continuing students' have an advantage when it comes to funds doled out by the institution (like the AHRC funds now!)

Questions about library use

I don't work in my university library, partly because of the aforementioned dominance of undergrads using Facebook, but mainly because I live over an hour away and it's not worth the frequent travelling. If I'm not working at home, I go to one of several specialist libraries and institutes (in central London) where I know they have the books I need, and I know it will be quiet!

How Big is this Boo-Boo?

======= Date Modified 09 03 2010 16:03:32 =======
Hi y'all

I recently applied for a month-long pre-doctoral fellowship in the US, and am waiting to hear back from the institution where the fellowship is based (in March).

Shortly after I sent off my application materials, I was re-reading my submitted research proposal when - HORROR! - there was a big, fat typo in the first paragraph. Not a 'their instead of they're' typo, more along the lines of 'concept X is defined by...', when really I meant to write 'concept Y is defined by...'. I am, naturally, kicking myself, as it's entirely my own fault, and I am normally the first person to jump on mistakes of this sort.

My question is, given that the typo is obviously an accidental error (placed in the overall context of the paragraph), is this the kind of thing that can actually prevent someone from being awarded a fellowship of this type? Obviously it looks sloppy, but (given that I've heard that American universities are rather more strict and formal than UK ones on this kind of thing), is it a 'dealbreaker'? This is the first fellowship I've applied for, and even though my 2nd supervisor assures me that this one isn't particularly competitive (!?!), I may have messed up on this one.

I'm not going to sit and fret about it - I'll reapply next year if need be - but I would be interested to hear opinions on how important this kind of thing is when it comes to applications.


N of C

Oh no! I think my laptop is going to die

Quote From badgerspy:

I just had another thought. Over the past couple of weeks, every so often I've seen a tiny white insect, like a termite maybe, crawling around near the top of my laptop screen. The first couple of times I tried to chase him out but he got away, and then I gave up bothering. He pops out for a second, and then disappears again. Perhaps my problem is insects are eating my laptop from the inside!

Seriously, you might have a dirty keyboard, from crumbs, dust etc. It can cause havoc with hardware on a laptop (and is just generally Not Nice). You can buy a special keyboard-cleaning air spray from most office suppliers, or (my cheapo solution), turn your keyboard upside down, shake VERY gently, and blow air into it to dislodge the worst of the dust.

Should I be using endnote?

Quote From jollygolightly:

I’m just starting my PhD, and I hope to use something similar. It costs money to use Endnote on one’s home laptop. I’ve come across a free reference management application add-on to Mozilla Foxfire, called Zotero. Does anyone know about and use this? Does anyone have (from experience or reviews) which, out of the various reference management programmes, are the most versatile and reliable?

I have been using Zotero and I like it a lot. I've never used Endnote, so can't compare them directly, but I do find Zotero easy to use, and very practical.

As far as my work is concerned, I use Zotero to keep track of my online articles and texts (e.g. from JStor), as it saves all the citation/footnote information, plus a PDF link for the article itself. There's also an option to write up your notes and save them on Zotero, and to 'tag' articles by theme or subject. Apparently you can also make it automate your footnoting in Word, bu I haven't got that far yet!

Sorry to wax so lyrical, but I really do find this a useful piece of software. You need Firefox though. I didn't use it during my Masters, but now I feel the need to keep track of all the disparate and numerous papers I'm juggling for my PhD!

research masters thesis

======= Date Modified 03 Feb 2010 23:16:25 =======
I suppose it depends on your subject, but my MPhil thesis took me about 4 months of writing (20,000 words), plus preparatory reading in-between classes and essays for the preceding 8 months. Having said that, I could probably have condensed 4 months into 2 if I had worked more consistently, so I think it can certainly be done, and done well :D


Pan-frying chicken, lamb or tuna in lemon juice instead of oil is not only healthy, but also deliciously tangy! If you're feeling posh, steam some asparagus and serve alongside, with a dob of butter on top! (sprout)

How much do academics earn?!

Although there is indeed a national pay scale, with the lowest-paid 'permanent' positions starting somewhere around 30,000 pounds p/a, contracts for junior research fellows can vary, I think. At Oxford or Cambridge, for example, an annual salary for a JRfellow might only be about 14-18,000 pa, but the addition of book allowances, accomodation stipend, dining rights etc. actually bumps it up to a package worth about 25,000.

Per-hour teaching can start from about 12 pounds (that's what my institution pay postgraduate TAs) to 30-40 pounds.

Supervisors say the darndest things!

My supervisor is full of non-sequitur wisdom. On the importance of proper planning:

"You wouldn't trek into the Kalahari desert with just a bottle of wine and a roulade of cheese, so why start a chapter without a proper plan!?"