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Juggling PhD and family

I take my hat off to anyone who does a PhD whilst having a family. I cant imagine how tough that must be. My mother has been doing a two year masters whilst having a very demanding full time job and two small children to look after and I thought that was tough....

I think you are right about full time PhDers though. A lot of PhDers will claim they put in up to 12 hours a day but probably at least half of that is wasted through day dreaming, procrastinating and general adminstration tasks. I found when I was doing my PhD that I spend a lot of time on emails, checking facebook, talking to people in the office, on this forum complaining about my sup... So I think if you cut out a lot of the time wasting activities and are well organised/disciplined there is no reason why a PhD cant be achieved in normal reasonable working hours provided of course you know what you are doing

Advice needed - wanting to do a PhD in 2010!

I would advise against going straight to PhD from undergraduate as I did so and ended up dropping out. However I know quite a few people who have gone straight from undergraduate to PhD without any serious problems. The transition can be hard but is certainly achievable. If you are sure of the area you want to research and get accpeted onto a PhD with a good supervisor then there is no reason why you shouldnt do a PhD straight after your undergraduate. I think it helps a lot if you do your PhD with someone you have worked with before as at least you know what you are getting yourself in for!!!

Advice needed - wanting to do a PhD in 2010!

If you graduate with a 2.1 with good course work grades that will stand you in good stead. I would go so far as to say that good course work grades are more important than exam grades when applying for a phd position although transcripts usually ownly show overall course grades.

achieving high grades in your course work demonstrates your capacity for problem solving, critical analysis, independant learning, creativity, written and orla communication.... and I would certainly put forward these points in your CV with examples to illustrate as they are skill very relevant to research.

If you think your exams may pull your average down to a 2.2 then consider applying for a relevant Msc course so that should you get a 2.2 the Msc will effectively bring you up to a 2.1 and you will be in a good position to apply for PhDs.

If you can get yourself on some kind of undergraduate research internship over the summer that would help your chances no end as well

good luck

Advice on choosing the right PhD offer

i totally agree. lack of response to emails is indicative of the type of supervisor that cherishes the student who they never have to see or talk to. If you are happy for this to be the order of the day for the duration of your PhD then by all means go for it, otherwise I would advise you to steer well clear. Go for a PhD project with a supportive supervisor who will have time for you. You will probably learn more, be more productive and generally have a better PhD experience.

i ended up going for the " i dont like students i have to supervise type " supervisor route when i took on my PhD. the supervisor was never in his office didnt really reply to emails and yet i stilled signed up. big mistake!!!

Feel like a fraud and need help

Excellent advice given so far,

I would agree that six months in seems quite early to be presenting at a conference but if you get the opportunity to do it, I would take it. It is an opportunity to get independant feedback from researchers in your feild on your project which can only be a benefit to your PhD. I agree that most people at conferences will be interested to hear what you will have to say and will ask genuine questions rather than just tryin to score browie points. Conference presentations are quite short and are usually very similar in content and style e.g most people may well be working on very similar things ( from my experience ) so it wont be expected that you have to present something ground breaking. If you prepare well and work out the main points of your arguament and throw together a powerpoint presentation then you will be fine. Get your supervisor to gloss over both your powerpoint and paper. I am sure your supervisor as with most supervisors would not put you in the unfair position of presenting at a conference if your work wasnt up to standard.

learning to deal with critisism is probably one of the most important things you will need to learn. You will recieve both positive and negative critisism of your work throughout your career and although its never something you will ever completely accept it is important not to let feedabck destroy your confidence so much that you don't want to show your work to anyone. If anything it is a very self destructive route to take and one that can have serious consequences for your PhD as I found out the hard way...

Leaving Industry for PhD in a Downturn

Hi there,

it sounds like you have taken a very level headed approach to this and considered the most important issues which is good. One thing I would ask though is your job really secure? I would of thought job security is rare in most profession unless for in a profession like teaching or healthcare ( where im headed soon)

Industry experience will put you in a very good position do do PhD in many respects as you have an indication of the important gaps in the feild

and it sounds like you know what you are interested in researching which is a good start. keeping motivated throughout your PhD will be greatly faciliated if you are working in an area that really interested you and fits in with your career ambitions. A lot of people sign on to PhDs without really knowing anything at all about the topic they are about to research. Not a very good idea if you ask me!!

Also consider how different the culture in academia can be from what you may be used to and whether this is something you will take to or not. You may well end up spending a lot of time working on your own, driving your own research with potentially very little input or back-up from your peers or supervisor. this can be very demotivating and can drive self confidence into the ground. Do you know the supervisor well? what is their reputation like with students. what do they offer, is this a person you think you would work well with?.....

Sounds like you may have a good deal going on there, you will just have to weight up the pros and cons and maybe take that chance. It might not work out but then again there is every chance it will work out!!!.

It just depends on how much of a betting person you are

good luck


Easing back after an extended period of illness. Academic limbo?

Yes governments fund a lot of research but that doesnt entitle them to the copyright of any papers published from that research as far as I am aware.

Ive never really understood why journal articles are so expensive. In the sciences it appears that each individual article will cost about 20-30 pounds and university subscriptions to journals must cost thousands a year. It really boils down to the fact that academic publishers are private companies and want to make a nice big fat profit. They arnt interested in giving journal articles for free any more than book shops will give their books for free and I dont blame them. Every business has costs to cover and needs to make a proft. I just wonder if the prices individuals and universities have to pay are justified and im not really qualified to say so.

You will probably get little return by asking randomers on the net to help get you papers for but there is no harm in trying I suppose ( ill have to admit though it does sound a little bit desperate though ). Your best bet is to have a chat with your supervisor at your uni. They should be able to get papers for you or get you access to the appropriate journals but officially speaking you wont get access to journals until you are registered as a student as technically speaking you are not a member of the university at the moment. They pay a lot of money for the privlages to access journals and databases so will almost always give access exclusively to current memebers of the uni.

I suspect the university will only give you access to journals when you are well enough and willing to resume your PhD studies and register as a student. Best of luck with it though

If I don't get the PhD can I try again later?

I quit my PhD two years ago( same uni as Smilodon i think ) I'm on an MSc at another uni at the moment. I will be starting a job in the NHS in September back in the same city I did my PhD ( attempt ) at and I may end up applying to do a PhD again at the same uni or somewhere else in the next couple of years as it is seen as an important qualification in the feild I am getting in to and I would like to try again if the circumstances are right.

The answer to your question is yes it is possible to have another go at a PhD, as the previous posters have said ,but how easy this is to do will really depend on your personal circumstances. You will need to do either one of two things: Wait enough years so that you can comfortably erase your first PhD studies from your CV (although in your case this might be hard to do as three years is a lot harder to hide than one) or make sure you can get references from your current uni that will strongly support your application for another PhD.

Most importantly also ask yourself objectively how leaving this PhD and doing another one will improve your situation. Why do you want to leave in the first place? bad supervision, disinterest in topic, stress, lack of progress....? This is important because if you don't consider this carefully you can end up signing on for another PhD and will still have the same problems as in the first instances. I have heard of a few people on this forum who have dropped out of two PhDs. It doesn't happen very often but it does happen. To be honest my first drop out was a very soul destroying experience so I won't sign up again for a PhD unless very confident I will complete it.

If your just fed-up with your project, but everything else is good, then my advice would be stick with it, get your PhD (or at least a masters) and then if you want to research something else after, sign up for a relevant post doc or do a conversion masters.

If it is bad supervision you are worried about then talk to your department. You may be allowed change supervisors.

if its a case that you are not making enough progress to complete and/ or have a general lack of motivation ( with adequate support from your supervisor I might add ) then jumping from one ship to another will probably not help.

A question of ethics?

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"I'd rather eat an asbestos sandwich" I couldnt have put it better myself. lol

@ BB

Why should you give a rats **** whether this person leaves now or in three months?  I'm sure a few months more is not going to break the bank for his supervisor and its not as if he will be doing nothing for the next three months.

@ Pseudonym,

I do think it is a tough one to call though. If you have a good relationship with your supervisors then they should be very understanding and will probably appreciate you telling them now so that they can plan ahead. In this instance, I cant imagine you would be asked to leave straight away as they wouldn't be able to get another student till September anyway.

Having said that depending on the kind of supervisors you have, they could well turn on you as soon as they find out you are jumping ship by either getting you to officially terminate your studentship straight away and have your funding pulled or keeping you on but treating you like a lab whore for the next three months. As soon as I told my supervisor I was leaving my PhD he had my funding pulled, but then again we didnt exactly part on agreeable terms.

Is there anyone in the department you can talk to discretely to gauge opinion on what would be the likely reaction of your supervisors?

I cant imagine a summer on the dole watching daytime TV is very appealing prospect which is probably what you will end up doing should be be booted off, so should you think this is likely to happen than I would keep your gob shut until nearer the end.

Some people way find this hishonest but you will only be doing what many PhD supervisors are good at: looking out for number one!!!

Plagarism in Academia

Hi there,

Yes I think you are right. What I am talking about is very much geared towards the sciences. In essence, the person  who has claimed that my supervisor had been stealing other peoples research found a paper published based on work from a PhD students thesis without their acknowledgement. It sounds pretty serious although it doesn't appear to be as simple as just running to the journal. This post doc still works in the same lab and I can't imagine making these allegations against his supervisor will do his career any good. Even when he leaves he will have to be careful about how he proceeds. This particular field is a small incestuous field and this particular supervisor is very manipulative and could very well make things difficult for this post doc if he tries to take him down.
Personally I won't get involved unless I have all the facts and even though I'd like to see the supervisor taken down a peg or two it really isn't in my interest to do so as there might be a chance I re-apply to the university to do a PhD in the coming years.

I'm sure he will get what is coming to him eventually

Plagarism in Academia

Hey Folks,

I am really interested to hear people's opinions on this particular issue. I'm interested to know how wide spread plagiarism is in academia. I don't mean students copying assignments, I mean plagiarism of a more serious nature like researchers passing off the work of other people in their labs or departments and having it published or patented.

I see this as one of the most serious impediments to progression in any field of inquiry. I think that advancing the state of knowledge particularly in the sciences really necessitates open collaboration and communication amongst the peers of that discipline. Yet such doing so can really result in a researcher having their best ideas, theories and methods being used, published and patented by other researchers without any form of recognition what so ever. It is kind of sad really but it does appear to be the rule rather than the exception.

I find it remarkable what some people get away with in this respect. My ex-PhD supervisor has been accused by a number of people who worked with him of effectively stealing research from other people at his old university as well as his own post docs and making money in the process and one of his research associates claims to have evidence of this. I have no doubt that he speaks the truth. My supervisor himself once said to me that one of the post docs he worked with during his PhD accused him of stealing his research and I did notice on a couple of occasions about how easily he "seemed" to confuse his ideas with other people's

This guy is a lecturer at one of the best universities in the UK ( oxbridge ). I once heard one of his post docs say Dr X happens to be full of great ideas, the problem is they just happen to be other people's ideas.

I've seen him present the work of undergraduate students at project meetings (without acknowledging them) to make it look as if the project we were working on was making great strides when in fact it wasn't and I often wonder how many of his so called ideas and project proposals come from his undergraduate students, who from what I saw were generally very bright and did some outstanding research for their projects.

I'm really amazed how far people can get in academia with such obvious indications of dishonesy and plagiarism levied against them.

ageism, feeling old and dealing with not making a 'famous discovery' yet as a 23 year old phd student

@ aletheis,

Excellent post by the way. Very thoughtful. A blog sounds like an excellent idea as a starting point for sharing your work with the masses. You can reach a lot of people and regularly update them with your thoughts and feelings about research in general or your specific area of research. write articles, poems, jokes and draw pictures what ever you want.... I know quite a lot of Phders that do this

My last post might have sounded harsh but I am being honest. If you want recognition of the kind you are referring to then you really need to reach out there and grab it. My experience in academia is that to be recognized you need to be bullish by putting yourself out front and center otherwise people walk all over you and take the credit.

I still feel the kind of recognition you crave is a lot more mainstream that what most academics will ever achieve. A lot of it depends on how "sexy" the topic you are working on is (i.e are you seeking to discover a new elementary particle or develop a theory on how the universe came into existence or a cure for cancer...? most people are not going to be interested in the majority of research topics which are more mundane. For examples things like: research on the mating habits of chimps or the evolution of local governments in 16 century bl bla bla. Given that PhD research tends to be very focused, the average person is only going to be interested in the broader details of the more sexy research subjects which are usually in the physical sciences ( medicine, physics,engineering, psychology....)

a very interesting remark that I have heard on numerous occasions relevant to this topic is that you cannot educate the public!!! A remarkable, but very true statement I think

How much help is too much help?

it is probably best that you offer the whole class a revision lesson where you can review problems people are having difficulties with. You could always send an email to the class to ask if there is specific areas they want to review so you have a bit of time to prepare.

As you said it probably is the case that many of the other students are having difficulties and I am sure there is no harm in the student you are referring to dropping up to your office to go though a couple of questions before the main exam but id be very careful about committing to "private lessons" where the single student ends up monopolizing your time. I would say this is a no no on many levels especially if they are of the opposite sex.

ageism, feeling old and dealing with not making a 'famous discovery' yet as a 23 year old phd student

This is a very interesting post but I have to agree with many of the other posters on this issue. I understand the desire and need you may have for recognition of your work. Afterall PhD students in general do put their heart and soul into projects which can have important benefits to society. But you seem to feel that you somehow deserve celebrity status because of your PhD work. What is it about your work that is so important that you feel everybody needs to hear? From what I understand very few people can claim to do research at PhD level that is worthy of anything other than a pat on the back from their supervisor,examiner and maybe the odd old fart they meet at a conference . Individual PhD project are not likely to make the 9pm news and why should they?

Do you think society owes you a debt of gratitude? If you are funded by a research council then the tax payer is already paying your way.

Please don't make the mistake of thinking that because you are an academic you deserve some kind of special recognition. What about doctors who may save lives on daily basis or cops who keep the streets safe? Do they deserve media attention? Not necessarily but they will likely get the recognition they deserve from the people that matter the most: their peers

I have friends doing PhD s in a broad range of academic disciplines and even though the outcome of some of these projects may have important benefits to society the specific details of their research will be of little interest or consequence to anyone but a handful of academics working in the same area. Achieving the kind of recognition that you seek would more than likely require that your research is watered down to a level were it is likely to become misrepresented or oversimplified in the media spotlight making you look like an ass in the process

celebrities are indeed famous because they are what many people in society aspire to be: rich good looking, big house and car, endless attention from adoring fans... this is indeed a sad reflection of what people in todays societies value but don't really see these people as real. They live in romanticized idealized worlds far removed from the rest of us and the bubble always bursts eventually.The few academics that do achieve celebrity status and recognition do so because they are remarkable people ( for the right or the wrong reasons ) and because they have something to tell people are interested to hear

this may sound harsh but if this is what you want then grow a set of balls and go for it. Write into local and national news papers, write a book and have it published. If you have something to say and people want to hear it then you will get some kind of recognition. if not, then publish your work at conferences and journals and become recognized by the people who are most qualified to judge and appreciate your work: your peers.


you could always say you have some other offers on the table from other universities and you need to get an answer asap to make a decision. as has a already been said the worst that can happen is that they tell you to wait for the official response. But i think most supervisors are reasonable in this respect and if you send them a polite email to that effect they will probably give you the verdict if they have already made their decision. it might not be finalized with the university but university admissions department will 99% of the time accept a student on the recommendation of the supervisor you have applied to, should they want to take you on.

hope it works out for you