Signup date: 20 Nov 2006 at 12:14pm
Last login: 06 Nov 2020 at 11:23am
Post count: 138
My work looked at a couple of big anti-globalisation protests, and took literature about global civil society as a potential force in global politics as its starting point (Falk; Shaw; Held; Scholte - and particularly the Gramscian lot of Cox, Gill and Rupert). I then approached the issue from Foucauldian and Lacanian viewpoints (well, not Lacan himself, but people like Laclau, Stavrakakis, Butler, Zizek). It was a complex and difficult piece that I was never entirely happy with (although it did make a significant advance in attacking all of the structural/historicist determinism that defines far too much GCS literature), but I passed the viva OK and have got a couple of journal articles out of it subsequently. I'm in the current issue of Alternatives, actually. I'm quite pleased about that. But it makes me a political theorist-cum-philosopher-cum-sociologist without really being definitively any of those things alone.
I then worked for 12 months as an ESRC postdoc in the same department, and then got a 6-month research officer's position at the LSE. I've applied for a few research grants as well (horrendouisly time-consuming things), but although I came close to getting a couple of them, they were ultimately declined.
I'm trying to score a book contract at present, although I'm working as a market researcher rather than in academic capacity at the minute so it's not easy to find the time to get on with much academic work.
So - I finished the PhD April 2006. Since then - 85-90 lectureship applications, all over the world. I've done a lot of teaching on courses in IR, Globalisation and even those research methods courses that full-time academics always aim to offload on to someone else. Many lecturers were of the view that the fact I won a 12-month ESRC postdoc would lead me easily on to lecturing, but that hasn't been the case. I don't know where I've gone "wrong"; I probably haven't (except to say that I could perhaps have published 1 or 2 more articles), it's more that the number of PhDs has increased vastly in the last 10 years, but the number of job openings has increased at a much slower rate, reducing the odds of getting any work in it.
I would advise looking outside of academia as much as possible, and don't focus all of your energies on getting a lectureship. Lecturers might say "you'll get there eventually" but the brutal truth is that you very well may not, even if you spend 5 years as a TA slave living on beans on toast, complete with the nagging suspicion that all of your undergraduate peers are earning 50K and own their own houses whilst you (the highest achiever in your year) have got nowt.
Market research isn't the greatest thing on earth but it's a lot better than you might think.
If I could go back and do the PhD again (perish the thought) then I would just do something that was as close to the mainstream orthodoxy in my field as possible. Contemporaries of mine who did PhDs in more conventional areas, using mroe conventional theoretical approaches and methodologies have mostly gone on to get some kind of work as academics - even if temporary positions - with considerably less on their CVs than myself. But I can't even get a temporary post, never mind a permanent one. This does flag up another deeply upsetting aspect of the process - supervisors always like methodologically innovative work as it gets them out of having to read "yet another" thesis on game theory or whatever - but they don't inform you about how choices made at the very first stages of the PhD have a fundamental impact on determining your desirability to academic departments.
My PhD was in global politics - although my subject matter and theoretical approach, being so inter-disciplinary, makes it hard for me to easily identify myself within any of the main areas of International Relations (which is what I'd be teaching if I ever got an academic job). Still, 85 applications and no interviews - admittedly, some of these were before I had an article published - is really soul-destroying when I consider how much effort I put into the PhD in the first place. It's one of the myriad destructive aspects of the RAE process. I don't know why I bothered, to be quite honest. I could have got my current job with "just" a Master's.
I don't want to piss on anyone's fire, but I've got 2 articles published in leading journals (one of which is ISI), have 2 years' worth of teaching experience across 3 different modules, have presented at all of the top conferences in my field, have administrative experience, had 2 postdocs, one funded by the ESRC. Despite this experience (which really should make me as desirable a candidate for an entry-level lectureship as possible) I haven't had an interview for any of the 85 lecturing jobs for which I have applied.
Outside of academia, I was interviewed for 5 out of 6 research-type jobs I applied for and am now working in strategic marketing, workign fewer hours than I would in academia, withouth the myriad hassles of the latter either. My advice to PhD students would be to focus on professional employment outside academia. As another contributor has noted, UK universities will just cherry-pick from abroad anyway, so unless you are really prepared to go off to an "emerging education market" (i.e. the Gulf states) to work then I would forget about higher education if I were you.
I didn't publish anything during my PhD because I thought it would be too much of a distraction (I was busy gaining teaching experience too). Basically, I think you can either gain lots of teaching experience, or try to publish some articles, but it's impossible to do both unless you have a sufficient pool of independent funding (e.g. wealthy parents) to fund your studies for a lot longer than would otherwise be the case.
I'm trying to get published during my current postdoc. I'm aware this means my chances of securing a lectureship before September 2008 are thus fairly slim given the RAE and everything, but I'll just have to bite the bullet, as it were, and try to get by financially between June of this year (when my postdoc ends) and then as best I can, I suppose.
I don't think there is a single candidate who can honestly say that they wouldn't do the thesis in a different way if they could do it again. I would have done more interviews, I would have changed some of the literature for other theorists, I might have structured it differently. They do ask you about alternative ways that you might have approached the subject. Just be aware of them and answer honestly.
Sure. Make 1-page summaries of your chapters, think about what contribution your thesis makes to knowledge (preferably along the lines of "it makes x number of contributions; these are...etc."), read your entire thesis through from start to finish twice - and properly, not skim-reading. And if you don't know an answer to a question don't try to fumble through it, simply say you can't answer. But the questions tend to be relatively general; they don't "pick fault" with a thesis unless it's very poorly written.
Well, after all that stress and worry about my viva, the real thing comes up this Tuesday (Dec. 12th), 2.30-ish. The mock viva went perfectly well so I am a lot more confident about the real thing. I'll still be happy with 6 months of corrections. I've also been told that, in reality, the decision about corrections has already been taken in advance of the exam and the viva itself very rarely influences or alters that decision, it is merely to confirm that you know what you're talking about.
I don't think I've properly understood the social theory I've tried to use (a lot of Foucault and Lacan). I think anyone familiar with it, and the surrounding literature (as my examiners are) would absolutely slaughter me. And I have a case study approach that tries to deploy that literature to analyses particular cases, where I think it is very obvious I don't really know what I'm doing. Bit late now though; wish I'd spoken up when I was trying to write it instead of pretending it was all going OK.
I have my viva in three weeks. I've prepared quite a bit, but I find that on reading my thesis I think it's actually very weak, poorly argued, and I'm really not sure I can defend it. I was very poorly supervised, with very little of my written work ever inspected (I ended up submitting the thesis without it even having been read by anyone, for reasons of time pressure), and am now deeply concerned that I will fail, which would be a devastating experience.
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