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In need of advice from those more mature in their academic careers: post-docs or even PI’s

I would ABSOLUTELY take the initiative. The only thing is, our research group consists of only me and my PI.

And TreeOfLife, good advice however I’m certainly not leaving the work I’ve worked so hard for now. I love my research. I can’t let another human being, however senior, to stop me from doing what I love. I just wondered if anyone had any advice on HOW to deal with it... I know I have to deal with it for the sake of my research but I’m tired of constant disappointments *sighs*

In need of advice from those more mature in their academic careers: post-docs or even PI’s

I need to let things go but don’t know how...

I used to compare myself to “super star” PhD students and envy them for how confident they were. So I worked harder and harder each day and as I did I found myself in a much better place, knowing my field and it’s growing branches well enough to confidently speak out about it and manage to link sub-branches and ask meaningful questions. But I’m still not as confident or happy and I have seen a clear pattern in those “super star” phds and me. And this is: moral support of their PI!

I’m at a meeting this week. I was listening to a well-presented student talk (who wasn’t a complete super star as she couldn’t answer her questions) yet, despite how well she performed there was photo on twitter couple hours later where her whole lab were drinking wine in celebration of her performance. THIS is motivation. THIS is positivity and moral support. When you are happy, you shine! When you are happy, you can be confident.

What I saw amongst the Broad guys and many successful research groups is that they celebrate and care for each other’s milestones - how ever tiny - they use anything as an excuse to celebrate and congratulate each other. This is why they’re happy, they’re successful and come across as “super star” when in the broader scientific community.

In comparison, half the time my supervisor doesn’t even email me back! Even when I do well and random PI’s I talk to say “wow, that’s quite a lot you’re doing there for a PhD project!”. In the two years of my PhD so far we have celebrated once - a goodbye party for one of her favorite Bsc students!

I want to learn to deal with this psychologically. To learn to not feel let down by my supervisors dissapointing behavior. I’m not sure what’s the best way of learning this, accepting this and moving on from this.

Make writing fun

[quote]Quote From Mattfabb:
Not sure what you mean by fun,

But I normally first write something down knowing its going to be crap, and that the real writing starts with rewriting.

It’s a bit like this: I dont feel daunted the first time because I expect it to be bad. Then the second time I go back to it I say to myself ‘does this make sense, can I argue against what I wrote here?’


Hah! I do the same. Writing can be hard even when you really enjoy a topic. I tend to think about it for a bit i.e. procrastinate but in my head I'm telling myself "I'm thinking". Then I write down all my thoughts which has content and a point (I don't start writing until in my head I am clear) but what I write first time sounds like something out of this earth - that bad!

Then my best friend becomes Microsoft Word's Review > Track Changes ON
I pretend I am checking someone else's work and start correcting the whole thing - do a couple of rounds until it's decent enough to show to someone for a second opinion.
(I love track changes, it makes me think I'm correcting someone else's work and I become a ninja productive writer when the focus is 'apparently' no longer on me!) :-D

Good luck!

Too ambitious?

Thanks Tudor_Queen! Hope so :)

Too ambitious?

Thanks pm133.
I would have applied for a post-doc if there was anything relevant to my field in the Midlands but it's a very new field and so most academics doing what I am specialising are either down south or abroad.
but fellowship sounds like a good idea - I totally did not realise it was an option for me! Thanks!

PhD rejections

If I had the chance I would go to a "low ranking university". Why? because it's not about the name - it's about you, your research and the environment that is going to help you flourish.
I don't know about Kings, but I am currently feeling suffocated at Imperial, but I can't leave because I'm half way through a PhD I genuinely enjoy but in the most toxic environment I could have ever imagined.

In regards to how many applications, I was really fussy as I refused to do a PhD in something that I knew I wasn't going to love. I can't remember clearly anymore but I think I applied to two or three - but only got 1 interview and got accepted.

Too ambitious?

Just curious - with a couple of papers under your belt (2 from PhD, 2 from undergrad) how likely is it to find a teaching academic position in science/genetics in UK universities?

My personal circumstances makes it difficult for me to stay down south (London/Cambridge/Oxford is where genomics is flourishing right now) and so I may have to relocate back to Midlands where I can be with my family.
Having worked so hard for my PhD (still half way through :-) ) and enjoying my subject so much, I do not want relocation from where the 'hub' is to mean an end to a potential good career I can have in the field.

So after lots of thinking, I feel the best option would be to find a relevant teaching position at a university in East/West Midlands and then maybe after a couple of years when my family situation settles a bit more, move down south or overseas for better opportunities with my family.

So my question is - is it impossible for a recently graduated PhD to find an academic position directly? What if I can introduce a new module at a prospective university for the undergrads/Masters? Would that work or am I dreaming and need at least 1-2 post-docs under my belt before aiming so high?

Thanks in advance!

Doing postdoctoral research in Japan

Hello, a friend of mine just completed a post-doc in Japan. It really depends! firstly, on how flexible and adaptable you are and whether you can fit into the Japanese system. I don't know where you're from but the Japanese society is very focused on etiquette and social hierarchy - and if you are planning to stay there for at least 2 years (typical duration of a science post-doc) you need some Japanese under you belt. (and there's adapting to the food as well)
If you're cool with all of that, Japan is a brilliant place for a post-doc. I would say it's 3rd leading in the scientific field after US and UK and an enriching place to be.

Applying for a new PhD

Good luck for your interview! Finger's crossed you'll rid of this unnecessary pain!


[quote]Quote From random_6772:

I'd NEVER go to a big-name, top-of-the-top Uni again. Too much obsession with appearance and success over doing useful work plus deaf "look-at-me" ego people who don't give anything for the students. Politics, ego and image - very important for my 1st supervision.

My old Uni (Newcastle) is a decent second tier place (with, looking back, better facilities). I should have gone there. On hearing I was looking at doctorates they made 2 offers (I applied once, got 3 offers).

But my ego pulled me in to a big name place. Oh well.

Hey Random,
Just read through the thread, I'm sorry for what you're going through but I'm pleased to hear that you are less stressed now.
I've quoted what you said above because I think it's very key and it's something I 110% agree with you on.
I also went from a 2nd or even 3rd (?) tier undergrad university to the #8 university in the world! (saying that out loud with the exclamation mark feeling what I feel about it makes me lol). In my 2nd year still and I must say I find the university atmosphere and staff extremely toxic and impossible to breath in. I love my PhD topic which is the only thing keeping me sane. But I just needed to quote you on that and put it out there for other young bright minds - do not choose the university based on its ranking (yes it looks good on CV) but if it turns out not to be your cup of tea, you're STUCK there, mentally crushed, for at least 4 years of your life.
If I had the chance I would run back to my 3rd tier undergrad university doing what I do now, in a more peaceful, scientifically challenging, friendly and supportive environment with far more facilities! but alas reality is different. I guess what doesn't break you makes you stronger! Good luck!!!

Should I see a counsellor or psychiatrist?

Firstly - apologies for moaning -again-. I’m starting to hate the sound of my own voice complaining about my dissatisfactions. I’m half way through a PhD , have not published yet, and basically my supervisor is leaving but I’m dealing with that (I think). What I would like advice on is whether you think I need to seriously speak to a counsellor about my worries or whether this is normal and I should get a grip, keep calm and carry on!
Basically I’m starting to worry about my brain. I find it hard to focus, hard to speak elaborately (I’ve always spoke before thinking, a very bad characteristic of me I don’t know how to fix) and just difficult to any longer have any kind of intelligent debate. When I’m in a situation where I have the chance to express my opinion my mind goes completely blank and I end up speaking like I have no clue what I’m talking about. People who know me well say we know you don’t mean to speak this way and you’re actually a lot more intelligent than what you sound like when you speak, but most people I interact with on a daily basis don’t know me well and judge me on how I speak and express myself. And I don’t sound smart AT ALL even when I’m talking about my PhD. Nobody knows my PhD project as well as I do, yet it doesn’t sound like it when I open my mouth. I was told by my supervisor that I’m now a scientist and must lead by example but I can’t even talk like I know what I’m talking about. Sometimes I think I must have early onset Alzheimer’s! Is it because my brain is overwhelmed with info (PhD and life as lot is going on in both avenues!)? Do I need to speak to someone?

Depression, PhD, being a wife...

Hi, I had a quick search on google but I feel PhD comrades and other academics may have a more relevant advice than a generic google search.
I'm half way through a 3-year PhD and the amount of PhD work on my to-do list is staggering.
I'm also married but no children yet (thank God?) and every day more and more I feel like I am sinking into depression.
The good thing is I love the topic of my PhD so I am not tired of it, I just don't feel I have enough time to get things done. I also love my husband but he has problems, not diagnosed but he may have paranoia to the extent of paranoia personality disorder - he also has another disability that stops him from being the social butterfly every member of my family expects him to be like. he's also a working lad, not an academic like I am trying to become - so there is pressure on him every time we are around my family and friends and everyone just scrutinises his every move. this leads him to being super sensitive and leads to us arguing.. so I end up going through phases of complete depression and not doing anything except staring out of a window and feeling guilty to over-working a full 24-hours and being super productive. there is no balance.
I want to manage my life better. I want to be a good wife to him as well as manage to get all the things I want to get done on that to-do list. I don't know how though sometimes. any advice please?

loss of intellectual confidence and the good old procrastination!

[quote]Quote From pm133:
[quote]Quote From statictraveller:
OK first off, you really need to knock some of this stuff on the head, such as comments about your IQ etc. It's nonsense and you are using it as a weapon against yourself. Self flagellation isn't going to help you here - you will just drive yourself insane.

Not one of us on here has a different story to tell about how overwhelming our first few months are. Not one of us. Lonely, overwhelmed, feeling a bit shit, whatever - we have all been there. It would have been nice if someone had prepared us for this before we start so we know what to expect. The first sentence in the PhD acceptance letter should read "Welcome to Big Boy/Big Girl school. Buckle up and prepare to feel inadequate for the next 4 years".

Thank you so much!! :-) truly honestly thank you! after having spent a week at a conference and being told the same advice you've just given me by truly inspirational scientists, I am geared and ready to take over all my previous fears and tackle bioinformatics and computational side of my work!

loss of intellectual confidence and the good old procrastination!

I have lost my (intellectual) confidence. I am one year three months into my PhD and honestly all I can say at this stage is that I finally know why I'm doing what I am doing but I am so overwhelmed by the amount of work I need to do and disbelief in my shortcomings (i.e. my brain does not understand bioinformatics) that I end up procrastinating.
About 6 months ago, my Sup indirectly mentioned casually that I should be writing papers and that there's enough data for me to do so. 6 months have passed and I'm still going round and round in circles with my initial data-analysis. I haven't started writing anything. I started to write a review 2 months ago, submitted 1/8th of a draft to my Sup and she's been too busy to read it and suggested I should leave it until she gets back to me. Having gone round and round in circles I still do not have a concrete conclusion for my initial data-analysis. I spend my days with "what ifs" and look for papers published in 1970s(!) that I can never access nor even read their Abstract as they don't exist instead of productively and systematically get real work done.
In addition, I would like to tear my hair off as I can easily spend over 48 hours to run a script, having never ever had any bioinformatics training, which ultimately fails. I have heard many PhD students "yeah we taught ourselves Python or R". I am sorry but they must have a much higher IQ than me because I cannot get my head around simple stats, let alone script-writing.
Also, I am so lonely. my research group consists of me and my Sup.and nobody else around me does remotely similar work to me. I am totally in the wrong department!
Any advice on how I can stop procrastinating and get on with this? I love my research, I don't know what's wrong with me.

No motivation, always procrastinating - is there any hope?

Hi Coarvi,
I know how you feel, I am also the only PhD student in our research group so I can fully sympathise with you when you say you feel lonely and there is nobody else who understands what you are doing. My supervisor (one of them) is the only person who understands what I am doing too. you are not alone - not sure if that helps?
I think a part of this being more than half-way through your PhD and going down the negative slope, as many do and may not admit and also partly becoming a mum. I am not a mum -yet- but when I am I would have so much other priorities in regards to my baby that I would not be prioritising my research. and PhD is hard, once you stop working for a week or two, everything piles up so much that you would just rather sit and look at it and think about everything that you can't do and can't understand rather than sitting down and tackling it. and this is also completely normal!
but chin up. like you said, at the beginning you felt you were the best PhD candidate and you still are. take a piece of paper and make a to-do list. write down every single concept/script you can't understand and make a timeline of what you expect of yourself to achieve by what day and what time. and once you do, tick it! tick so you feel blissful when you look back at that list of paper again - let it be a reminder of of your achievement.
and once you get your intellectual confidence back, you'll be on a roll and finishing your third paper.

Never let the fear of striking out, keep you from playing the game.

Good luck. you can do it, fellow PhD student.