Choicing a School

posted
07-May-18, 00:18
edited about 29 seconds later
by Benton
Avatar for Benton
posted about 2 weeks ago
Hi,
I am interested in Molecular biology PhD programs. Does anyone have advise on how to narrow down schools and what to look for/where to look for it? For example, i want to see how papers do at one school compared to the other but am not sure if there is a place that would compare or rank this information for me. Any advice is appreciated:)
posted
10-May-18, 15:48
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 1 week ago
Do you mean academic journal papers? You can see where top ones are published (which schools) by looking at the author info on a paper. There must be some better way to choose your school though. Have you googled rankings for your particular area of study?
posted
10-May-18, 23:25
edited about 10 seconds later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 1 week ago
Quote From Benton:
Hi,
I am interested in Molecular biology PhD programs. Does anyone have advise on how to narrow down schools and what to look for/where to look for it? For example, i want to see how papers do at one school compared to the other but am not sure if there is a place that would compare or rank this information for me. Any advice is appreciated:)


This would be a terrible idea. Just because others are getting published at a uni doesn't mean you will.
There is no reliable ranking system of any kind anywhere in the world which you can rely on.
posted
10-May-18, 23:27
edited about 12 seconds later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 1 week ago
Surely rankings do provide an index of how highly a particular institution or school is ranked?
posted
11-May-18, 13:43
edited about 1 minute later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 1 week ago
Quote From Tudor_Queen:
Surely rankings do provide an index of how highly a particular institution or school is ranked?


Othr than the likes of Camridge or Oxford how would that help this person?
posted
11-May-18, 14:32
edited about 23 seconds later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 1 week ago
Well, I guess if they found a list of rankings for their particular field of study it could be helpful.
posted
11-May-18, 14:34
Avatar for Jamie_Wizard
posted about 1 week ago
Quote From Tudor_Queen:
Surely rankings do provide an index of how highly a particular institution or school is ranked?


I agree. They do. Rankings such as the REF assessment of 2014 show how focused an institution is on research output, and use various metrics to gauge quality as well. How does this translate to the experiences of a PhD student? One will be in an environment where publishing research is encouraged, and indeed there will be pressure to publish which should be good for the development of the student. A negative aspect of this, however, could be a pushy supervisor who micro-manages in order to meet this demand. Other than that, it's a no brainer that rankings, especially those that assess quality are a good indicator of performance.
posted
11-May-18, 14:37
edited about 13 seconds later
Avatar for Jamie_Wizard
posted about 1 week ago
Quote From pm133:
[quote]...Just because others are getting published at a uni doesn't mean you will.


Is that really necessary?
posted
11-May-18, 19:41
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 1 week ago
Quote From Tudor_Queen:
Well, I guess if they found a list of rankings for their particular field of study it could be helpful.


Don't get me wrong, I am open to persuasion here but I don't see how this could help. In any PhD group, no matter how "prestigious", there will be people who succeed and those who fail. That's why I'm asking why university rankings are relevant.
posted
11-May-18, 23:02
edited about 1 minute later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 1 week ago
I'm guessing Benton is looking to go to best possible or one of the top ranked unis to get his/her PhD. The quality of the environment he/she chooses will most likely impact on his development during his PhD. That's where I'm coming from here. There is only so much you can progress/do in a given environment, no matter your aptitude.
posted
12-May-18, 17:44
edited about 10 minutes later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 1 week ago
Quote From Tudor_Queen:
I'm guessing Benton is looking to go to best possible or one of the top ranked unis to get his/her PhD. The quality of the environment he/she chooses will most likely impact on his development during his PhD. That's where I'm coming from here. There is only so much you can progress/do in a given environment, no matter your aptitude.


I absolutely agree with all of that except your last sentence but the uni ranking isn't going to give Benton any of that information.
Not only that, focussing on the ranking of the uni doesn't take into account Benton's ability. Nor does it take into account whether there is a good match between personalities of supervisor and other PhD students. Nor does it indicate the availability of suitable equipment. Worse of all the ranking doesn't give an indication of the likelihood of success at PhD level for the prospective student. Rankings are fools gold in my opinion and best ignored. There are so many other important factors which have a direct impact on the likelihood of success. The highest ranking uni won't guarantee success at PhD level.

I really don't understand this national obsession with league tables and rankings at all.
My strong advice is that Benton should be using better methods to select a supervisor and location for this PhD. Rankings should be at the very bottom of the list of things to consider.
posted
12-May-18, 20:13
edited about 24 seconds later
Avatar for chaotic1328
posted about 1 week ago
Having gone through (and are still in the process of going through) the process of choosing the best uni for a PhD, here is my two-cents worth:

There are no reliable metrics to show the best uni that fit your topic...the best you can do is try and narrow down the field by matching potential supervisors' interest and expertise with your own, and the uni's particular strength in the area of your research interest. How likely you are going to get on with the supervisor is anyone's guess, as a twenty minute skype, or even face-to-face, interview is not going to reveal that much.

In that sense, the best bet might be to stay at the same uni where you did your undergrad/master's, as you would have a much better idea of the personalities of the supervisors. It also helps to talk to the current students of the potential supervisor if at all possible.

Research Ranking can also play a part. At least you have a better idea of the research environment as graded by the REF.

Hope this helps.
posted
12-May-18, 22:51
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 1 week ago
Quote From chaotic1328:
It also helps to talk to the current students of the potential supervisor if at all possible.


Yeh I think this is a good idea too if you can contact them.

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