PhD reputation

…most academics trust their colleagues to be ethical, upright people who are careful with data. Sure, we look for research design flaws and argue about theories, but no almost no one has the time to check your analysis. It would too much time and effort, which needs to be spent on our own work. We just assume it’s been done properly – and go on to argue furiously about how we would have done it differently. This is why reputation is so crucial within academic communities; doing a PhD is one way to put money in your reputation ‘bank’

I’m a Paying Customer … How Assertive Can I Be With my Supervisor?

I was lucky enough to get a Masters degree and PhD by research on the public purse – the University of Melbourne even paid me a living stipend while I was doing my PhD (ok, technically it was an amount below the poverty line, but better than nothing at all). Australia is relatively generous – at least to local students; in other countries, all students have to pay to do their PhD. When you pay fees are you a student or a customer? How much can you demand of your supervisor? Dr Sarah Louise Quinell from Kings College in London ponders these issues in this guest post.

Researching then and now

How has doing a doctorate changed over the years? Prof Peter Downton reflects: ” Someone undertaking a doctorate at the same time as me was locally famous for reading only about six books. They were well-selected and extremely well read. In those times it was less evident that there was far, far too much material to be accessed. Fears of drowning in material, or horror of being unaware of important papers, were lively issues then as well as now. Perhaps I realised early the difficulty of getting to all the material within a lifetime. I became calm about this. If, realistically, I could not deal with everything, then it was useless to fret.”

The process

“It’s time to be rid of this. Write until it hurts, then just keep writing. You develop a bizarre clarity about the context of your work, you see the patterns, it all makes sense. Your best friend’s divorce? Who cares! You don’t know how to finish this paragraph, why are these people even talking to you!”

Is losing weight similar to writing a thesis?

Dr Emma Kimberley: “In the writing-up phase of my PhD, at the same time as my word count was going steadily upwards I was trying to decrease another important life-statistic. I joined Weightwatchers in my final year, hoping to lose weight gained over 7 years of undergraduate and postgraduate study. As it turned out, I lost 4 stones and learned a lot about writing a thesis in the process.”

The perils of PhD parenting

I was under the naive assumption that finishing my PhD would mean this need to balance my work time with family life would change, but sadly this is not the case. Becoming an academic is like signing up for a whole lifetime of study, so the challenges are still there. I’ve been talking to other PhD parents since this incident and I’ve come up with 5 ways your PhD might affect your school aged child