A PhD in isolation

Published on:
March 26, 2018

A PhD is by definition a degree that represents up to four years of original research. Within that time, you will be expected to specialise on something very specific, but which has a significant implication in a broader topic. A PhD requires a level of maturity and professionalism, and its outcome will not only depend on your ability to collect results, but on the ability to be productive even in challenging situations. A PhD requires frequent planning and re-planning, as well as commitment. But this commitment comes at a cost. As you progress through your specialism, your knowledge will become very specific and while you may know basic concepts, you may become isolated from knowledge and skills that are obtained by other means. 

Tags

Category

PhD | Development | Isolation | Careers

Pressure - Doctor's Corner

Where have all my good friends gone? 

Published on:
February 18, 2018

Starting a PhD is a leap from your undergraduate or taught postgraduate. Like going to a new school, you will b e faced with meeting and getting to know strangers, which may eventually be more than acquaintances or may just remain as colleagues. Then there’s the feeling that you’re sticking to more education, while everyone else you know wants to head out to the real world and search for a real job. Your good friends have graduated and most have left the campus. Or maybe it was you that left, and embarked on your adventure, leaving behind everyone that you knew. It is not surprising that some prospective PhD students are scared of being isolated and left all alone.

Tags

Category

PhD | Personal Development | Work Ethics

Pressure - Doctor's Corner

The truth about academic jobs.

Published on:
February 9, 2018

The last question of my PhD interview five years ago was: what do you want to do after your PhD? At the time, I wanted to go into industry with a plan to return to academia and perform my own experiments. Four years later, I am not sure I still think that way. Employability and the value of the PhD has always been in the background during the degree. On the first day of the programme, the Graduate Director told everyone that about 10% of PhD graduates get a post-doc and something like 2% of those get professorships. At first, I thought it was about the competition based on the mere number of applicants and positions to be filled, but in reality, competition has very little do with it. There is competition within science, of course, and that plays a significant part to an academic’s development, but to say that only 10% of PhD graduates get a post-doc because they managed to out-compete other contenders, is too simplistic.

Tags

Category

Post-Doc | Jobs | After the PhD

Pressure - Doctor's Corner

Breaking down your PhD viva.

Published on:
February 1, 2018

There is nothing original by writing about the PhD experience and how to prepare for the viva. If you have submitted your thesis and are waiting for the viva, you might spend a full day reading other people’s experience on blogs and forums. In fact, this article could very well be another generic guide on how to prepare for the viva, that you may or may not read. Reading through other people’s experience and advice may give you that tiny confidence boost that you need. You might already know everything about what to expect on the day. And yet, you are still reading this. I guess one of the first things that we learn on a PhD is to gather as much information from several sources before coming to our own conclusions.

While it is good to talk to others about their viva experience, it can give you a false sense of exposure to it. Most advice is good advice, but is good advice always relevant? The problem with most of viva preparation advice is that it is exactly what we expect. That is because it will usually be given by people who have successfully passed their viva and wish others to pass as well. Therefore, it is not surprising that most of these blogs are highly positive in delivery. But I find that these tips are so generic and blatantly obvious that we might forget their real importance. Perhaps these guides are written as a way to comfort the person reading it, rather than breaking down the logic behind the viva. Let’s be honest, have you ever come across advice and think ‘I didn’t know I was supposed to do that’.

Tags

Category

PhD Study | Viva  Preparation | How to Pass

Pressure - Doctor's Corner

5 reasons to be excited for your PhD viva.

Published on:
January 18, 2018

The PhD is not a linear experience, and getting to know your subject and be comfortable with your results takes time. Some days you might feel really excited about the results and think you understand, then be faced with a complex question that you can’t answer. And then the entire project seems to collapse and those exciting new results don’t seem so great anymore. 

Did I do enough? Could I have done more? Frankly, yes. But, hardly needed to pass. For some reason, most PhD students dread the viva. Perhaps it’s the feeling that there is no control over it and not know what to expect. But guess what, if you have gone through the PhD and attempted to write a thesis, you are ready for the last stage of the process.

Tags

Category

PhD Study | Viva  Preparation | How to Pass

Pressure -Doctor's Corner

Pressure Ink® is a registered trademark.
Any unauthorized use is prohibited.