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Conference Comittees
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Quote From AlphaOmega:
Maybe I am throwing a curveball here but why not organise a "real" international conference? I did so when I was a PhD student, with support of my institution(s), and it was one of the best things I have done, real experience and made a lot of useful contacts, and was, together with a session I organised with a more senior colleague at another international conference, the "seed" for a collection of essays I am now editing for Bloomsbury.

You say that but someone said the same thing two days ago to me. I will probably do their idea if I could find enough people to help organize it.

Good to know someone else did it as well.

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Hi Dody,

What are you making a complaint about? Viva result, supervisor, dismissal? We cant help without some more facts as to give you good advice.

Sorry for being harsh,

Managing your Supervisor
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Sorry for the rant, it is was an odd day yesterday. Most of the time my supervisor is really good about giving feedback, helping with administration, and general supervision. She just doesn't want to talk about methodologies.

To be honest, my project is my supervisor's idea and it could open a new sub-field if successful. However, I can't make a key substrate in high enough quantities to follow the initial methodology, therefore I need to change something. The easiest way is to move to goal posts and prove 4/5ths of the concept by different methods, which should be enough for my thesis. But I can't do that final fifth without some new expensive equipment, therefore, we can't get that AAA+ paper that directly leads to a lot of further work or we even possibly get gazumped. So really she wants the initial idea to work so that it helps her career but doesn't want to hear that we can't do it.

Fortunately, I have got my second supervisor (who is more of a formality than an actual supervisor) to organize an official meeting for all of us about my transfer report. I have sent a draft version of my transfer to both of them, were it says the initial method didn't work - I am changing. I am hoping that I can make it real to her in that meeting, so that she starts helping me.

BTW: My two supervisors are very good friends in real life, which might be good or bad.

PS: I tried emailing her directly about my methodology issues to her, but she usually cc'es someone else in with the reply saying "so and so might have something that might be useful for INSERT SOME RANDOM IDEA". Via email, she deflects and results in me having more work, so I have stopped emailing about this

Long term academia
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Quote From bewildered:
I suspect it's realistic rather than pessimistic. There's quite a few surveys that suggest PhD students do not have a realistic picture of what the job is like (or the job market), so I think it's a useful set of resources.

Completely agree. The problem is the most visible holders of PhDs are academics, therefore people assume that a PhD leads to academia. While the majority of PhD holders disappear into the industry and drop the Dr status, diminishing their visibility and thus people don't realise that the majority of PhD holders go there.

I think some PhD recruitment offices need to make clear that the most likely career path is industry, not academia. But that might reduce applications, and we can't have that!

Managing your Supervisor
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Hi guys,

I have a relatively new supervisor and I am her first PhD student. She is usually quite helpful and it is easy to get face time with her. I usually see her every 1-2 weeks and she is also fast with emails plus helpful when dealing with other issues.

The problem is I sometimes have trouble getting her to talk about my work. Literally, I try to talk about something I am doing and need help with but she takes a tangent and suddenly we are talking about a grant application. Try and bring the conversation back to my problem, talking about a paper she wants to write. Or research she wants to do, or what equipment she would like to have. Usually, in like a 30minute conversation I might get her to talk about my work for 5 or so minutes but recently it has become a lot harder. Sometimes it feels like everything she wants to talk about does not involve my work. Like assuming that I know what I am doing when really, I have no clue. It doesn't help that no-one else in my uni has any experience in my area, so there isn't anyone else I can go to with technical issues.

Normally this is okay but I am having some issues at the minute with equipment and what direction I should be taking (as the equipment isn't sensitive enough for what I originally planned). I have had about 4 months of equipment issues with minimal usable data and I am getting worried. I just want her advice, she is already giving me time, why can't she talk about my problems, not the future??

Sorry about the rant. But do you have any advice on how to manage your supervisor?

Conference Comittees
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Quote From pm133:
. A better mindset is to realise that a CV is a marketing tool designed to describe the dream jobs you want to do, full of evidence regarding how you have demonstrated your suitability for those roles.

That is good advice, I never thought of it like that. Thank you!

So joining organizing committees are only good on a CV if you want to organize more in the future. To be honest organizing conferences later on in life is not really that rewarding but a pile of work. So I am probably going to keep it off the CV.

Though I am going to keep doing them just because they are relatively easy and learning to herd academics might be useful as a skill in its own right. Plus most of the meetings have free food.

Thanks for all the advice!

Conference Comittees
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Hi Guys,

This is a question from my PhD office and I would like some more opinions on this.

Are there any real benefits from joining organizing committees for internal conferences? Like your department's postgraduate research symposium? These committees are usually student lead but with academics supervising the committee so that it tries to mimic real conferences.

I think these committees are a low energy task that can be easily managed around your work. While you get experience in how conferences are set-up and managed so that you can potentially do one in the future. Also as you have a better understanding of how the process works, you will be better at submitting to real conferences. Plus it will look good on your CV.

While most of my colleagues think they are a waste of time and too much effort while having no relevance whatsoever. As they argue that they aren't like real conferences so no-one cares if you have organized them. And you also gain no relevant experience. I know they aren't to the same standard but the organizing process has got to be the same at least?

I know I sound biased but would genuinely like some other opinions.

Enough data for a PhD?
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I think submitting with 3 good chapters is a risk. You need to be really good with not many flaws plus have a decent external who likes quality over quantity. You could get an external marker who thinks that a thesis need x amount of work whatever the quality, and there will not be much you can do. Externals are hard to predict and better to play safe.

I would pad the thesis with some null results or method development. Just so that you can show off your skills as a scientist as showing the methods of being a good researcher is nearly as important as getting good results. As a thesis is supposed to show that you are capable of being an independent researcher and three chapters might not be convincing enough, even if you were published.

PS: A girl at my university got major corrections despite 3 first name papers and I think 4 other papers. She got major corrections because her thesis was quote "not a thesis", whatever that means.

spending all days and weeks to elaborate the graphs
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Quote From ollie:
Fortunately, they are the right ones that my supervisor recommended me to use. I see your point, but still need to use time more wisely. Balancing two different activities may help me rather than investigating all the day on a single task.

Are you spending most of your time setting up the simulations or running them? If it is taking forever to run can you get acces to a faster computer? There probably is a high spec desktop somewhere that you can use/book.

Or can you set up batches of simulations to run overnight? A few people in my office write their simulations during the afternoon and leave them to run/complete overnight. Then review their work in the morning, so that you spend your working hours doing constructive tasks.

spending all days and weeks to elaborate the graphs
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Yes it is normal. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither will your skills be. Next time you do it, you will probably do it faster and better because you know the software more. Keep trying and eventually it will become second nature. It can be tough and frustrating but you learn through failure. Though you might be able to speed things up if you can find another PhD student will knoweldge with the software, and trade help for beer.

However is it the right software? You might be trying to use the wrong software for your probem. So have you checked what other researchers are using or what your supervisor recommends? I would check that first.

IP Theft
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I feel sorry for your daughter G57 but that is a sad part of academia. It is publish or perish and if you have a good idea, it isn't yours until you publish. Even then they can just reference your work. That is why they recommend you to only present work that is close to publication or present at a published conference.

The real question is how identical is it? Like I know someone doing a virtually identical project as mine at a nearby university but he is in a different department with a different approach. We are looking at the same objective and after talking with him, we realized that weren't really competitors as we were doing quite different experiments. Same project outline

If this Spanish group is EXACTLY the same, I can only recommend your daughter to speed up. If they are hiring now, she probably has 3-6 months to get a paper published and beat them to it. Try and work out what their expertise is or what equipment they have and do what they can't. A lot of academic papers are about differentiation and if you can reach the same conclusions with different methods, that is acceptable.

The plus side is that if your daughter does get published first, the Spanish group will have to cite her. Got to get them lovely citations.

EDIT: it isn't IP theft or professional misconduct, it is the ivory tower that is academic research

Revise and resubmit-passed viva exam second time round!
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It is nice to hear a positive story here. Congratulations!

How are you?
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We have a moderator?

Also, I am doing fine; labs are awful, I have no data, I have massive writer's block and imposter syndrome but I got a free lunch today so everything is much better.

PhD fellow vs PhD candidate
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Is it an official title or what they call themselves? If it is the former - pass, if the latter they might just be calling themselves that to blow smoke. I know a third-year student that calls himself a "PhD fellow" as well and he made the title up himself to make his LinkedIn sound better. After so many years of education, you sometimes want to drop the student moniker and at least pretend to be something else.

Poster Software
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In hindsight, I agree with you both (tudor and nutty) about powerpoint and word being good.

I was trying to make a few good infographics to explain my concept and making diagrams/infographics in Office is pretty horrible. I tried both Inkscape and illustrator, while very good for graphics they are woeful for text and making a poster. I would clarify and say that if you want some nice graphics, make them outside powerpoint and then just import them. So much easier.