PhD at Open University

posted
16-Jun-16, 16:41
edited about 18 seconds later
by Mutant
Avatar for Mutant
posted about 4 years ago
Hi all,

I'm considering doing a life sciences PhD at the Open University's Milton Keynes campus, but really want to know what people's opinions are of where it stands as a research institute.

Would a PhD here be held in lower regard than at say a red brick university?

Thanks for any contributions.
posted
17-Jun-16, 09:44
edited about 19 seconds later
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 4 years ago
Probably, but that doesn't really matter if you take advantage of all the opportunities on offer such as training, conferences, writing papers etc.

With life sciences though, your supervisors can be really important for networking and finding jobs afterwards... I don't know much about the open university to be honest or how well connected/respected their academics are.

What are your reasons for pursuing a PhD there?
posted
17-Jun-16, 10:23
Avatar for SocialJen
posted about 4 years ago
Within the UK academic community, for many an Open University degree is seen as more prestigious than many others. To take an Open degree often means students having to be much more motivated. I certainly wouldn't turn down an Open doctoral place.
posted
17-Jun-16, 10:37
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 4 years ago
Do you think this is the same for Life Sciences though SocialJen?
posted
17-Jun-16, 13:03
edited about 2 minutes later
Avatar for chickpea
posted about 4 years ago
I think it would be worth looking into who the proposed supervisor is, just as with any PhD. I can only speak from experience of an OU Masters, but my supervisor in that case was a respected academic who split her time between OU and another uni.
posted
18-Jun-16, 01:17
edited about 2 minutes later
Avatar for fredminxis75
posted about 4 years ago
PhDs ought to be respectable wherever they are from, especially given the greater role of external examiners than we see at first degree level. Who the examiner is is more important really. That said, non-academic employers and the wider public don't really realise this (very unfortunate for those of us who have been studying at an institution that has taken an unprecedented nosedive in reputation since starting!, from 40s to scrapping around at the bottom)
posted
18-Jun-16, 18:40
edited about 6 seconds later
Avatar for bewildered
posted about 4 years ago
Hi Mutant,

I think you need to think more about the reputation of the lab / supervisors than the university (although the department's REF2014 score will give you a reasonable idea of how the Open University are rated for research in your subject). I know the Open University has found finances tough since the changes to their funding regime about 5 years ago, so I think asking questions about whether the necessary equipment is there / is there a project budget for whatever supplies are needed etc would be a good idea (if this is a research council grant funded project that all should be fine - if a university funded studentship worth checking). Secondly have a look at the publications coming out of the lab - does it look ok in terms of quality and quantity and have previous PhD students published? Thirdly, does the university offer the training that you might need - it doesn't seem to be a BBSRC doctoral training partner (I assume that's the relevant RC) so that might be worth asking about.
posted
22-Jun-16, 21:44
by Mutant
Avatar for Mutant
posted about 4 years ago
Thanks for all the useful advice, really is much appreciated.

The department’s results don’t appear on the official REF2014 scores page however there website states “Our submission as part of Unit of Assessment 3 to the University Research Excellence Framework in 2014 was rated as 16 per cent 4* and 62 per cent 3* overall.” From my understanding the 4* rating is well below average with the 3* slightly compensating in being a little above average.

However the studentship advert quotes the REF20,4 as 77% 3* or 4* for impact, slightly disagreeing with those figures.

The Lead Supervisor hasn't published for a couple of years however I believe there are one or two in progress, should this be a concern?

In the plus the lab is pretty modern and reasonably equipped and the project is one I find very interesting. Funding is provided by the university.

Essentially my concern is whether other institutes/academics would realistically look down upon an Open University PhD qualification, and significantly whether this inhibit my chances of obtaining a fellowship etc?

I'll do a little more digging to analyse my prospects.

Thanks again for the help offered so far.

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