Quality of PhD graduates

28-Sep-18, 03:10
edited about 16 seconds later
by Hope98
Avatar for Hope98
posted about 9 months ago
Hi. Lately I have been thinking about the quality of PhD graduates. I have seen a lot of threads discussing about supervisory issues. But I personally think that besides the supervisors, some issues are indeed from the PhD candidates. Let me share with you what I observed from a PhD graduate in my school. She started her PhD with a one-year proposal. She failed her Confirmation milestone, and she complained to the Head of School saying she was treated unfairly in the review process, changed her panel team and eventually passed her 2nd confirmation. Her new panel team proposed her subsequent plans (Of course her supervisor was useless, too). She didn't do lab work, instead she sourced out some sets of samples to service companies. Also, she asked her supervisor to take in foreign intern and she assigned all workload to this student. She forced the student to work for 9 hours 7 days a week. She didn't allow the foreign student to fly home until she finished the workload, which has been added from time to time. She even told the intern "You have to finish everything, because I won't be able to continue after you leave". They had multiple arguments but the supervisor was supportive to her. She has neither skills in the lab nor data analytical skills. We saw her results & Discussion during her presentation and it's faulty here and there. During her viva, she couldn't answer any questions from her panel (One of her panel withdrew eventually). She only answered "I don't know", "I don't remember" for every question. But she passed! She was always furious and even threatened to sue the school when things didn't go her way. The school had to introduce several new policies due to her behaviours. Anyhow, she is now a Dr. to the world, and only us, who are in the same school know her true stories. Is this kind of PhD graduates common in every university? Thank you for reading.
01-Oct-18, 13:43
by eng77
Avatar for eng77
posted about 8 months ago
What would you try to say? You personally dislike a person and want to characterise her as an evil. She did everything bad and wrong. So what? Is what you say making you happier? I do not think so. Just move on and concentrate on your study/work and forget about her and you will be fine.
01-Oct-18, 15:24
edited about 9 seconds later
by rewt
Avatar for rewt
posted about 8 months ago
Universities in the UK get assessed/ranked by the government on the number of PhD completions and the completion rate. It is in their interest then to pass as many PhDs as possible to get more funding. Which is what I think is the underlying issue.

Another point is that academic freedom is on the wane. Undergraduate and masters courses are more and more, do as you are told and get a first/2:1, which isn't really good preparation for a PhD. As well as, funded PhDs usually having set topics/goals because that is how you get funding in the first place. So again, you can do as your supervisor says and you get a PhD. Academic rigor and curiosity is being driven out by "competitive market" funding models.

That is my opinion. The world changes and standards must change. PhDs are not were they once were because the government treats them as sources of cheap research not by the old academic standards.
03-Oct-18, 13:51
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 8 months ago
Hope98, I am curious to know how you know for certain what was discussed during her viva.
Were you present?
03-Oct-18, 19:28
edited about 16 seconds later
by melodie
Avatar for melodie
posted about 8 months ago
I feel here it is too easy to have a singular experience and to then conflate that with an entire industry. I know some really great PhDs, some great supervisors, and also some less great PhDs, and less great supervisors. I think most people that pose questions on here about struggles come to look for a bit of help from fellow PhDs that have some common experience. I think the fact you met one you didn't like has little reflection on PhDs as a whole. After all we're all diverse humans before anything else.


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