thinking of a PhD

posted
05-Aug-11, 22:54
edited about 3 seconds later
Avatar for Liamdobro
posted about 9 years ago
Hello,
I have just finished my undergraduate degree in International Politics and International History. I am going on to do my Msc in International History.

In the last few months I have been considering a PhD. I have been back and forth about the idea...sometimes taking it seriously, others times I see it as a passing fancy.

What advice do you have for me, in deciding whether or not to go for a PhD? Clearly, a good start is to talk to existing academics, which I have started to do. I have also been given contact details for a number of current doctoral students and recent doctoral "graduates" by a professor who is a friend.

I really don't expect to be able to go start my PhD in the academic year 2012-13, as I imagine sorting funding to be a complicated and drawn out process?

Thanks in advance,

Liam
posted
05-Aug-11, 23:17
Avatar for Mackem_Beefy
posted about 9 years ago
I did a blog ages back (recently a few minor updates) that tries to answer some of the more common questions members of the public and potential students might ask.

http://www.wearthesis.talktalk.net

Hope it's of help to you.

Ian (Mackem_Beefy)
posted
06-Aug-11, 00:10
Avatar for HazyJane
posted about 9 years ago
Ian's link is very helpful.

Just to add my tuppence-worth I think the main points for consideration are:
- Why do you want to do this? You need to be sure in your mind what your motivations are or else you'll get half way through and be wondering how you got there.
- Do you think you would be suited to the kind of studying a PhD involves. I'm guessing a PhD in history can be quite isolating, so you need to work out whether you will enjoy the lifestyle.
- Do you have a project/area in mind? How will you go about identifying a suitable supervisor?
- How will you secure funding or self fund?
- Will a PhD help or hinder your job prospects? Are the lost earnings worth it? This has always been a concern in academia but is increasingly so, with post doc positions becoming more competitive and the job market outside being over saturated. Make an honest appraisal of this, get advice, and not just from overoptimistic professors who will sell you the dream.

Finally, consider that the PhD qu is not necessarily just a yes/no qu. 'Not yet' is an equally valid answer. Maybe getting a year or two's work under your belt first might help you clarify a project proposal, open up other sources of funding, and give you some relevant experience which aids in applying for jobs after a PhD.

Good luck
posted
06-Aug-11, 14:51
Avatar for Liamdobro
posted about 9 years ago
Thank you both, that's given me a lot to think about.
posted
06-Aug-11, 18:05
Avatar for Mackem_Beefy
posted about 9 years ago
Quote From hazyjane:

Ian's link is very helpful.

Just to add my tuppence-worth I think the main points for consideration are:
- Why do you want to do this? You need to be sure in your mind what your motivations are or else you'll get half way through and be wondering how you got there.
- Do you think you would be suited to the kind of studying a PhD involves. I'm guessing a PhD in history can be quite isolating, so you need to work out whether you will enjoy the lifestyle.
- Do you have a project/area in mind? How will you go about identifying a suitable supervisor?
- How will you secure funding or self fund?
- Will a PhD help or hinder your job prospects? Are the lost earnings worth it? This has always been a concern in academia but is increasingly so, with post doc positions becoming more competitive and the job market outside being over saturated. Make an honest appraisal of this, get advice, and not just from overoptimistic professors who will sell you the dream.

Finally, consider that the PhD qu is not necessarily just a yes/no qu. 'Not yet' is an equally valid answer. Maybe getting a year or two's work under your belt first might help you clarify a project proposal, open up other sources of funding, and give you some relevant experience which aids in applying for jobs after a PhD.

Good luck



Hmm, I'm thinking about a few updates to the blog and there's food for thought there. I also think I'm going to slightly revise the supervisor and examination bits, as there's one hec of a lot of people having problems in those areas.

A final amendment may possibly be a link to the page from a few days ago I posted about as regards individual University pass rates. There are some places out there that really need to get their acts together.
posted
08-Aug-11, 10:12
edited about 26 seconds later
by AndyP
« Moderator »
Avatar for AndyP
posted about 9 years ago
Hi Liamdobro

It sounds like you're taking the right approach and talking to current doctoral students will certainly help you get a better idea of what you're letting yourself in for. There's plenty of advice and guidance about doing a PhD on FindAPhD, which I hope will be useful to you. You can also search for PhD opportunities in history there as well.

Good luck.
posted
16-Aug-11, 14:37
edited about 3 seconds later
Avatar for griffinalice29
posted about 9 years ago
You must give a serious thought about doing about PHD; after all it will all depend on you. You must understand that while doing you will wholly and solely responsible for making PHD a success. Thus whatever hard work and days you would spend should have fruitful results. I know some PHD entrant who tried PHD but in the middle of it they left it and had wasted their years of career.
posted
16-Aug-11, 16:06
edited about 8 seconds later
Avatar for Mackem_Beefy
posted about 9 years ago
======= Date Modified 16 Aug 2011 16:11:34 =======
I've added potential funding bodies for different fields of study now to Question 7 in my below blog (link reposted for convenience).

http://www.wearthesis.talktalk.net

Ian (Mackem_Beefy)

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