I work a lot with stuck and panicking PhD researchers near the end of their time here, and from them I have some intel to share. Bear in mind then that what follows doesn’t represent an ever so typical experience, but it does represent an important and keenly felt negative experience. One we can all learn from as colleagues in researcher development: be your role full time academic superhero and supervisor, or like mine, a specialist learning and development role, I think this will be relevant to you. Read the rest of this entry »
I must admit that I ummed and ahhed about posting this entry. For a start, I’m still in pretty deep denial about it already being September, and the fact that the new academic year is about to begin; and, for another thing, I’ve touched on my approach to resolutions and goal-setting before in this blog, and I was conscious that I could be about to repeat or, maybe, entirely contradict that post. But, actually, I’ve been thinking quite a lot about my New (academic) Year’s resolutions, and, from talking to other colleagues and researchers, I’m not alone. Read the rest of this entry »
As another birthday looms (tomorrow! eek) , I again take the opportunity to reflect on the last year and make plans for the next.
It’s a bit like News Year’s Eve except that I have to do it alone, as it’s my birthday and no one else’s! (well, maybe a few million others but no family or friends) No one will be asking me what my new resolutions are, just wishing me ‘Happy Birthday’ with smiles on their faces. Read the rest of this entry »
Organising your PT Phd by @SRDent89
“I go through spells where I don’t do anything. I just sort of have lunch—all day.”
Writing is not my natural forte, I like the Nora Ephron quote above about her writing process, so similar to mine. I go through long dry spells where my motivation is on the floor, my focus too caught elsewhere, and I’m not entirely sure I’ll get a PhD at all – the guilt creeping in for every day off, or trip out for coffee. Secretly I feel abit like a dilatant, who if they can look and sound the part someone will eventually give them a PhD. Like Annika’s earlier blogpost, I have the “swishy wool coat and smart leather bag that makes me appear intelligent”.
The truth is I probably work far too much, and am anything but a dilatant. I am a part-time PhD student, with a full time job, who would…
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You may not have heard of Hofstadter’s Law; I hadn’t until, as I sat, staring wretchedly at the expanse of white on my computer screen, I fell back into one of my favourite, if not most useful, writer’s block activities – namely, mashing my keyboard, trying to shake answers to life’s great questions out of my search engine:
WHY IS THIS SO HARD?
WHYYYYYY? WHY IS WRITING SO AWFUL?
HOW COME IT TAKES LONGER EVEN WHEN I PLAN MORE TIME??
Oh, come on, you’ve all done it……right?
As a UK-based researcher you might be interested in working in academia outside the UK, whether in a permanent role or just to broaden your experience before resuming a career at home. Given the international nature of the postgraduate student body, the fact that employers recruit globally to academic and research posts and the long tradition of British PhDs undertaking post-docs abroad, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to find someone in your own institution who’s been there and can advise you on how to go about looking for a job in your chosen country. Read the rest of this entry »
Guest post from Caitlin Brumby, a PhD researcher in the Dept. of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology.
I joined Kay’s PhD leadership coaching course more because it sounded interesting rather than anything else. In hindsight, this may be one of the better places to start from, it gave me pause to think about almost everything discussed, and one train of thought has stuck with me more than the others. Something I thought about more and more throughout the sessions was giving real thought to one nagging worry:
‘Perhaps I’m not the right person for academia in the long term, would I eventually fit in amongst these well respected academics? Me? They know everything!’
I’m one of the masses suffering from the imposter syndrome I suppose, a constant feeling of inadequacy, when actually, looking at the facts and feedback, I’m doing pretty well.
I don’t think I’m the perfect PhD student, in fact, I know I’m not. I get incredibly distracted by the big picture, the elegance of experiments, new techniques on different continents and cool 3D microscopy models. Read the rest of this entry »
Where are your data? How would you feel if somebody contacted you and asked to see it? Public access to research data is an initiative being driven forward by big research funders, influential societies and government. In essence the aim is to ensure transparency and reflect the right to access information through the Freedom of Information Act.
Data Management Plans are now a common part of the application process for research funding and the EPSRC helped roll the ball by mandating that research organisations comply with EPSRC expectations. These include making metadata (the data about data) available online in a way that is visible, searchable and accessible and that accurately represents the underlying research data, in most cases, 12 months after its generation. If access to the underlying data is restricted then the metadata must include the reasons for restriction and conditions of access. Research data must be available for a minimum of 10 years. All publications resulting from RCUK funding require a statement detailing how underlying data can be accessed.
In June this year, at the University of Sheffield Engineering Symposium (USES), PVC Professor Tony Ryan gave a wonderful talk on collaboration and one of his pearls of wisdom was “Serendipity favours the prepared and open mind”. Serendipity has been described as “an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident; good fortune; or luck.” How true I thought of my life, when several times it has seemed an opportunity has just fallen into my lap! On reflection the only reasons these were ‘lucky’ was, because of the range of experience I already had, from not following a structured career path. “The harder I work, the luckier I get” said Samuel Goldwyn, so perhaps opportunities only come when we have worked hard to ensure we are ready! Can we be prepared for the opportunities that come our way?