Academic common room
Screenburn · 09/01/2019 19:33
Not sure if this is the right place to post as an aspiring doctoral candidate, but was just looking for some advice and general handholding as I go through the process...
Basically I’m in my early 30s, nearly 10 years in the field I want to research. Did a masters part time whilst working full time a few years ago and loved every second of it! Have now found my dream DPhil project and applied for it. Feeling positively sick with excitement and nerves.
Just wondering if a) anyone else is in the same boat; b) anyone has any tips should I be lucky enough to be called to interview; and c) presuming I don’t get in, tips on how to pursue my dream project elsewhere?
Apologies if I appear a bit naive; I’m not all that well-versed with the machinations of the academic world! Thanks in advance for any support or advice!
parietal · 09/01/2019 21:46
is this science or arts?
In Science, the key steps are -
- find a good supervisor. someone who does work in the right area & is nice & supportive etc. talk to other students who work with that supervisor if you can.
- work with the supervisor to develop your proposal. you don't need to do everything alone, and you need to be sure that your proposal fits with the scope of what your supervisor can supervise. this is especially true if your work needs access to special equipment / resources.
- find funding. just getting a phd place is not so hard but you can't take it up without having funding. your supervisor should be able to advise on possible funding, and look up any extra options you can. but don't take on a PhD unless you have a very good idea of how you are going to be funded throughout the whole project. self-funding is VERY hard.
- if an option doesn't work, ask that supervisor who else they recommend to supervise your project. that is the best way to get the names of the relevant people in your field.
SarahAndQuack · 11/01/2019 08:53
This advice holds true for the Arts, with the caveats that you may not need to fit so closely with your supervisor's exact current project (though it doesn't hurt), and that funding is harder to find, but again, it's not a good idea to expect to self-fund.
NotABunny · 20/01/2019 03:30
I’ve applied too and I feel sick! I’ve met with both potential supervisors, they read over my application before I sent it off formally and gave it the thumbs up, so I’m confident of being offered an interview. Only time is ticking on and I’m getting increasingly nervous about it. I have no idea how long it might take before I hear back so not sure whether to worry yet or not!
MercedesDeMonteChristo · 29/01/2019 19:42
Can I join? I have my offer of a place so now just constantly writing funding proposals. Good luck.
louisejanep · 29/01/2019 23:44
I received an offer to start PhD yesterday!! I am over the moon, so happy but anxious to start at the same time. I start Friday! I too completed my masters degree (don't graduate until March).
The best piece of advice I can give for the interview is to show that you are really passionate, knowledge will come along the way, but passion for the area of research will really make you stand out. You've got 10 years experience in that field already so I'm sure its something you are very passionate about. They asked me questions such as: what research experience have you got? What methodologies would you be using?
My supervisor kept mentioning that a PhD is not just about having a goal in sight, but it also about the 'journey'. And that journey is going to be huge ,with lots of obstacles, and changing directions!
Good luck, keep us posted OP
MercedesDeMonteChristo · 30/01/2019 08:42
My interview was highly focussed on methodology, why I am using it, how I will do it, pitfalls and positives, how I might supplement etc.
It would be lovely to keep this thread open. A bit like the academics chat thread.
I can’t believe you start on Friday, that is incredible. Congratulations.
I got shortlisted for one funding stream yesterday so have yet another deadline. I don’t start until October, in fact I haven’t actually accepted the place yet.
NotABunny · 30/01/2019 16:43
Congratulations those of you who have already been offered places! I have been informally told I’m through- one more step before it’s official but I should be getting started very soon
Soberfutures · 26/05/2019 11:07
Can I ask all who have had interview what did they focus on with regards to methodology. Did they expect you to have every detail thought of? Did you have to justify all parts of your methodology?
I am applying for a research project that has a base set out already and it has been a previous short paper. So in that sense I believe they want to follow previous methodology but will expect it to be expanded and analysed if improvements could be implemented.
So how was the structure of the interview?
Did you have a full methodology before hand? And how did you present this to them. And what feedback did you get?
Thank you and congratulations to all who have got positions. Oh and since this was a while ago how have you found the support of your department since you have started?
yorkshirecountrylass · 27/05/2019 07:34
Shamelessly place marking as I'm starting to look at prospective supervisors for a PhD when I finish my Masters next June! Any and all tips gratefully received and good luck to those pending outcomes
Alaimo · 27/05/2019 17:25
How to find a supervisor (in the arts/social sciences where you are likely to work on your own project rather than your supervisor's one):
I think that a supervisor-supervisee relation is as much (if not more) about personal fit as it is about academic fit. My first supervisor and I did not get on at all. On paper he was a great academic, but he was also an absolute arse of a person (his view was PhD students should be working 60hrs/week with no time for holidays, he would often just not show up for scheduled meetings, didn't support the conceptual approach I wanted to take, etc.). After a year I couldn't stand it anymore and requested a change of supervisor. My second supervisor was not perfect, but we got on much better, and I ended up completing my project without problem.
Other issues might include supervisors who still live in the good old days and don't understand the current realities of the academic job market or who are not used to supervising non-traditional students (e.g. mature students with family commitments).
It can be difficult to suss out potential supervisors, but it may be worth asking questions such as what they think makes a successful PhD student/project, and see how that aligns with your own ideas. If you can speak to other PhD students supervised by the same person, even better.
MercedesDeMonteChristo · 28/05/2019 15:52
In terms of questions about methodology the questions were largely around why I had decided to take that route, possible pitfalls and solutions to those pitfalls, how my supervisory team might fit with my chosen methodology etc.
I found my interviews (one for place and one for funding) really useful for thinking about my ideas out loud. It was essentially a space for justifying my choices.
It is a little different if you are joining a project I think.
NotABunny · 02/06/2019 01:28
In terms of questions about methodology the questions were largely around why I had decided to take that route, possible pitfalls and solutions to those pitfalls, how my supervisory team might fit with my chosen methodology etc
Mine was very similar to this. A lot about the ethical considerations of my methodology too. There were some questions that asked about areas I hadn’t considered so I had to be honest and say something like “I hadn’t considered that possibility but I would do XYZ to inform myself before making a decision”
I was accepted so I assume my answers were fine
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