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Offer Letter
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Hi Yandex,

Offers can take a while to go through the bureaucracy, I would give it at least two weeks.

I had about 3 weeks between being confirmed verbally and actually getting an official offer via email. They will have to do a lot of bureaucratic stuff like check eligible for the bursary, check references (if they are), check if you actually achieved the actual grades, put all of the above onto the IT system before having someone review over it all. Each step could also be done by different people also dragging it out, so don't be worried.

If the supervisor wanst you, there is a very good chance you will get it an official offer but some things can't be rushed. Though I don't know University is Salford procedures so there could be more to it.

Hope that helps and congrats on passing that interview!

I don't want to divorce! But would I have to?
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Quote From tru:
Hi, Bloop,

I agree with rewt that a supervisor with little experience will make mistakes. However, I disagree that one has to put up with these mistakes at the cost of one's PhD quality. Your research fellowship/postdoc application does not distinguish between a fully supported PhD lab and one that was not. It is not necessarily true that a first time supervisor will put in extra effort to get you through. I know at least three students who had the unfortunate experience of becoming student no 1 who was neglected while the supervisor was trying to establish his/her lab. Besides, the supervisor generally will not put their best idea forward for student no 1 because they know they have better chance of success when they have established networks/collaborators, have established a research team with trained technicians, have preliminary data and know the academic system better. In other words, generally PhD student no 2 or 3 gets better quality PhD project. I have seen many examples of this. An inexperienced PhD supervisor may have less knowledge to discuss/troubleshoot problems and their reference letter may not be as highly regarded as an experienced/established one.

Being the first Ph.D. student does mean your supervisor will make mistakes but you can also get far more skills and experience than being the second or third student. I am both my supervisor's first Ph.D. student but also the first student in a new research group. I have had to learn/develop several new techniques which I have already got 2 long external lab visits from. Because there is no real research group I am somehow collaborating with researchers from other countries instead. I don't have all the right lab equipment though I have learned so much amount the understanding methodologies to compensate.

An inexperienced but well-motivated supervisor isn't bad if you take is an opportunity to step up and don't expect to be spoon-fed everything. You just have to work harder for better results.

Citing Authors I haven't read
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I think it is always better to give too many citations than leave some out. I would check how many citations this book already has. As if it has quite a few citations just cite is as other people have already reviewed it and thought it noteworthy. If it barely has any citations I would be more skeptical.

Just because you haven't read it doesn't mean that you dont have to acknowledge it. The book still exists and your reviewers might be able to read it and you dont want them asking why haven't you cited it. If your supervisor thinks it is relevant, take that as your verification of it being relevant enough to cite. The worst case scenario is that you get accused of plagiarism of their work and citing it generally stops all that nonsense (I know it is far fetched but that is why cite other people).

I don't want to divorce! But would I have to?
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Hi Bloop,

Are you married or something? As when you say "divorce" in the title it suggests there is a relationship or do you mean that you want to quit your PhD?

It sounds like your supervisor is inexperienced but that happens. Mine finished her PhD in 2015 and I am first Ph.D. student so I am in a similar position. You got to remember she is just as inexperienced as you but she is actively working at it and learning from mistakes. She will make mistakes but she will also probably put far more effort into getting you across the finish line than other supervisors as you are her first one. She may be super busy but it sounds like she is making time for you, which is a very good plus as a lot of supervisors barely respond. She may lack an eye for detail but maybe ask other PhD students to proofread and vice versa?

About dr Freeloader, we all know those freeloaders/second supervisors that are annoying but what harm are they doing? A third name on a paper isn't that much in the grand scheme of things but I know that it is annoying but you may be able to return the favor one day. Also did you not want a second supervisor or want to chose your own? Because having a second supervisor is always bloody useful and if you chose your own you could always have the dreaded supervisors not agreeing situation. Remember you are a still student.

You complain about the research focus, not 100% aligned with your interests but that is a sad sad part of academia. Unis get money from universities to research particular things and if you want their money stick with it, there is less and less unallocated money these days. If you really want a career in academia you better get used to following the money.

How far into the PhD are you? As it is always easier to quit the earlier through it you are but the grass is not always greener.

PhD with a 2.1 and a Pass
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I got a mid-low 2:1 (including on dissertation) but got a fully funded PhD. From all accounts, they were impressed with my written application and I nailed the interview. So you can definitely do it with a 2:1.

I think they will read applications from anyone with a 2:1 or above but you need to make yourself stand out to compensate for the low grades or have a very good excuse. Grades are good indication of how much you know/ work ethic so you need to be better than the other applicants in other areas. If you think you can do that go for it or even go for a self-funded one.

Though I was that guy that drank 4-5 nights a week and never turned up, so maybe I am just lucky.

How to deal with lack of attendance (lecturing)
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Quote From butterfly20:
Rewt I love that suggestion! I'm not sure I'd get away with it where I am. I also didn't attend alot when I was an undergrad but I never had the balls to email the lecturer to ask, I used to rely on friends!

Yeah, I never had the balls to email the lecturer if I didn't turn up either.

Is there a book that you could refer them too, instead of answering them individually? Or give them some pre-made notes? Or if they are asking the same questions, tell them to ask the other person who asked/ forward them those emails. The department wants you to be supportive and available but you dont need to give a tailored perfect answer every time. Directing them to the right place may be enough.

Or every time they ask a question, say "is this what you mean ..." and copy/paste the answer from someone else. Half-time they might just drop it but the really dedicated ones will only ask the second time. Could be a good screening process but I have no experience in teaching a full class, so take my ideas with a pinch of salt.

Should I quite my high paying job for a full-time PhD
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Similar to Tudor_Queen, I have zero relevant experience

Why do you really want to do a PhD? You mention passion and that you want work in areas you are interested in, why do you need a PhD to do that? Couldn't you get a new job or start a few Github projects in your spare time to challenge yourself or do you want the structure/environment of a PhD? I am asking because a PhD project can be fun and challenging but at the end of the day, it is still a huge pile of work with commitments. If you get that challenge or interest going without a PhD, I would do that over the PhD.

A part-time PhD can be easy to drop out of but if you are truly passionate, I have seen a few people do it. Just set clear boundaries and goals, then stick to them, a part-time PhD is a lot of self-discipline but if you think you can do it, go for it. One of the things with a PhD is that you have a lot less direct instruction from your boss (normally) so you have got to have that self-management skills, especially with a kid.

An idea, would it be possible to go part-time at your job, so you have 1-2 days a week to work on the PhD? It might be easier financially than full-time and you will have dedicated time for the PhD

Though if you do go full time, I bet you would finish it on time or even early as you will probably have a better work ethic than most PhD students (and maybe most lecturers).

Just my thoughts, hope it helps.

How to deal with lack of attendance (lecturing)
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My thoughts as the student with sub40% attendance during his degree is that if they think they can pass it without turning up, they won't turn up. Most people are at uni to get the piece of paper at the end so the only thing motivating them is the results. As I thought that the module was easy I didn't attend. Didn't matter about teaching style or engagement, if I thought that I could pass with minimal work I stayed at home. If I knew the course was hard or that the lecturer who based exams only on what he said in class, I attended whatever the lecturer's ability to teach.

So literally fail a lot of people one year and the next year you will have good attendance. In my undergrad a lecturer did that because her attendance was allegedly 10% (wouldn't know as I wasn't there), so she made an exam that was barely based on any of the lecture slides. The result was a pre-standardised average of sub 30% and she held her ground so that during standardization most of barely passed. Word spread and the next year she had high attendance because she suddenly had a hard module (it was a core module).

My opinion is that with this drive for "e-learning", recorded lectures and online notes makes lectures far less appealing when you can do it all in the comfort of your bed. So don't take it personally and if you want an easier time without failing people, listen to what they are asking and add it to your distributed powerpoint/notes for next year or make an FAQ site.

Also, is your lecture at an odd time, end of the day or is the only lecture they have on the day? Timetabling may just make your lecture awkward to get to.

PhD or job? Help please!
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Maddy I would take the job.

You can always do a PhD later with a few years of civil service experience to help you as the others have said. I think you should always take follow option that you think that you would regret the most if you didn't take it. Ie you can always take a career break and do a PhD but it is far harder to get a second chance at the civil service fast track.

PhD attendance type?
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Quote From Virshininke:
Thank you rewt, that helps a lot. So do you ever have any lectures at all or is it more about just seeing your supervisor?

In the UK we dont have any lectures or coursework as part of our PhD so we have less "supervised" work (though we are usually expected to have a masters before starting which kinda compensates). So as long as I am showing results and work I keep my supervisor and Uni happy. Though I do meet or call my supervisor weekly to catch up on what I am doing/ what I should be doing.

That is the thing with a PhD in the UK at least, you are usually measured by results, not by the number of hours in the office. In theory, I could only come in for labs and do the rest of my work in the middle of the night at home, so I am not physically bound to a desk.

Virshininke, you are considering full-time or part-time based on workloads? Generally, I would say if you can get funding go full time as there is less time management hassle as you only have to manage one thing. Or do you have other priorities to consider? Also what field are considering as certain areas require more/less time in uni?

PhD attendance type?
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I am in the UK doing a full time engineering degree and I turn up every day 9-5 because I have trouble focusing at home. But I barely see my supervisor once a week and she doesn't mind where or when I work or even how much I work. As long as there are some results and progress, no one cares how much I turn up. Hope that helps.

PhD application dilemma
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Hi traductrice,

First, it is Easter holidays so things will be going slowly in Universities until next week. The delay could be good it could be bad you dont know as long as there is Easter. I would wait until next week and then politely ask if they have come to a decision as you are considering other options. Academics as you probably know are notoriously slow as responding sometimes.

So you have applied for an already funded position and to funding body as well with the same project at the same uni? I am assuming that is right for the next bit.

My opinion on the consortium is that if that it is at the same uni with the same supervisor, go for it. The supervisor(s) already has already considered the possibilities as they suggested you to do it in the first place. The supervisor is probably hoping to get two PhD students out of this as if you get the consortium funding he saves his own money to fund another person. Also if he rejects you and consortium accepts you, he still gets two PhD students. Really you have two chances at the same project with different adjudicators.

So go for the second interview as you effectively have already effectively done it before and can only get better. The external funding will look on your CV plus you will have another student working alongside you (that will help a lot). Two people working on similar projects can be very good if there is some coordination as you can help each other but avoid too much duplication.

If you are still worried send an email asking for help for the consortium interview. Ask for some feedback to help you develop your presentation (if there was one) and if they thought you had gaps in your knowledge. It would look good for you anyway.

Just remember they invited you into this process so they must think you are good enough.

What University is your better option?
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So what topic are you studying and at what level? Ie are we talking masters in biology or PhD in English literature? They will vary significantly and the more information you give the better the answer. As at present you could be talking about anything about those three universities

I have no knowledge on any of those three unis but if you do want help it might be a good idea to say;
1. What you want to study/research area
2. What level masters/PhD
3. If you know who your supervisor would be what your thoughts are on the supervisor
4. If you have offers what is the funding situations/entry requirements
There is much more info you could give but that would be bare minimum you would need to give to even have a chance of helping.

Also, there generally isn't an overall better university, just a better option for your particular set of circumstances. So without giving us the circumstance, it is virtually impossible to help.

Hotdesking and laptops
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I have just started a PhD in engineering in a UK university. Over the summer the department changed policy from all PhD students having a fixed desk to hot desking, so they are still figuring it out.

I have no issue with hotdesking except most of the desks are just a desk, monitor, keyboard and mouse, no actual computer. With the expectation that we bring a laptop. There are some high-end workstations available however priority is given for people doing high-end simulations. So if you want to work in a quiet area at university you need to lug your laptop (and mine is rather heavy) to and back from uni every day. Is it usual to have hot desks without workstations?

The students that started before September were provided with a laptop from a central fund. On my first day, the PhD coordinator said that all the new starts are getting laptops. However, it is becoming more likely (from many internal rumours) that if the new starts want a laptop it is coming out of their bench fees, as they dont have the money to give new starts a free laptop. Were the previous students just lucky to get free laptops? I know I can use my laptop in PhD hot desking area but I am without the full range of software that is on a university workstation/laptop. And using communal undergraduate workstations is possible, I lose the advantage of working with colleagues.

I dont see the point in giving previous students a free laptop, then not buying workstations and then expecting us to use bench fees for a laptop so we can effectively use the PhD hot desking area. They could have bought workstations with the laptop money and everything would be easier and fairer.

TL;DR Is it common for hotdesking areas to be without workstations and what is the laptop policy with bench fees for you?