Archive for PhDs

The ‘substanceless blue’ time of day

Posted in Life, research with tags on 16 March 2011 by Steve

“It’s safe to say I have definitely entered another level of commitment to my PhD. It’s becoming an obsession. I find myself getting up early, not exactly the very early ‘substanceless blue’ pre-dawn in which Plath wrote many of her ‘Ariel’ poems, but around 7 / 8am I will pour my first cup of tea and settle down to my humming laptop in the early morning silence …” (more)

[The Plath Diaries, 16 March]


Too many doctors? Or too few?

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , on 11 March 2011 by Steve

“Should you ever choose to live in Germany, you will sooner or later come across a person on whose business card you will see that they are ‘Dr Dr’ something or other. It is not even that rare a phenomenon …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 11 March]


Posted in research with tags on 9 March 2011 by Steve

“Apologies for my bloggy-absence, I suppose it’s fair to say I’ve been having a few down days in relation to the PhD. These feelings are, of course, the nature of the beast. If you google ‘PhD and loneliness’, hundreds of news articles, blogs and the like appear …” (more)

[The Plath Diaries, 9 March]

State support for R&D and universities remains critical

Posted in research with tags on 4 February 2011 by Steve

“Increasing the number of graduates with doctoral degrees has been a key element of State policy in the past few years. Does it matter whether we are producing a lot of PhDs? Many have argued no …” (more)

[Karlin Lillington, Irish Times, 4 February]

77% of PhD students will stay in education rather then work in knowledge economy

Posted in teaching with tags , , on 31 January 2011 by Steve

“Releasing the results of a survey of PhD students, Alan Kelly, reveals that the majority of PhD students will stay in the education cycle rather than contribute to the so-called ‘Knowledge economy’ …” (more)

[Alan Kelly, Labour Party Blog, 31 January]

We Ignore ‘The Economist’

Posted in research with tags , on 24 January 2011 by Steve

“Well now, there’s The Economist with this year’s ‘Doctorates are a Waste of Time’ article. This piece falls in line with 2009’s New York Times article about the awful academic job market, helpfully illustrated with photos of glum-looking PhDs who either can’t find a job or settled for an academic job – the horror! – in the Deep South …” (more)

[Daniel J Ennis, Inside Higher Ed, 24 January]

PhDs: for the rich and the (very) lucky?

Posted in Fees and access with tags on 21 January 2011 by Steve

“Well, I had my viva on Monday and thankfully was passed! I am so relieved to have it over, one of the major challenges of PhD life so far for me, has been self motivation. I have been trying to cram as much as I can into my days but worry that it isn’t enough …” (more)

[The Plath Diaries, 21 January]

The disposable academic

Posted in Governance and administration with tags on 22 December 2010 by Steve

“On the evening before All Saints’ Day in 1517, Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg. In those days a thesis was simply a position one wanted to argue …” (more)

[HT: Shane O’Mara]
[Economist, 16 December]

IRCHSS and IRCSET PhD Funding Deadlines

Posted in research with tags , , on 22 December 2010 by Steve

“It’s not too much of an exaggeration to say that for those considering PhD study in Ireland in social science or in areas such as neuroscience that these will be the only show in town for the next few years …” (more)

[Liam Delaney, Geary Behavioural Economics Blog, 21 December]

Universities agree PhD reform principles

Posted in teaching with tags , on 24 October 2010 by Steve

“… University structures dedicated to doctoral education should be developing ways that strengthen the research environment rather than simply creating more taught courses for doctoral candidates, the European Association of Universities (EUA) warned this week …” (more)

[O’Malley and Dobie, University World News, 24 October]

Some poetry and professionalisation on a Monday

Posted in research with tags on 4 October 2010 by Steve

“… In terms of Professionalising the PhD, what I have learned so far is that UK and Irish Universities expect a lot more from their students than just the qualification. It is really important – and I think this is something vital to take into consideration if you are thinking about doing a PhD – for the Universities to train their students in research methods, teaching and other skills like communication, computer literacy, organisation. In my opinion, training students up with these kinds of qualifications can only be beneficial in the grand scheme of things …” (more)

[The Plath Diaries, 4 October]

Why higher education is like a Ponzi scheme

Posted in teaching with tags , on 1 September 2010 by Steve

“PhD students are competing for fewer and fewer jobs, and one professor believes the academic marketplace is turning into a Ponzi scheme …” (more)

[HT: Declan Jordan]
[Public Radio International, 1 September]

Stop Admitting PhD Students

Posted in Fees and access with tags , on 19 August 2010 by Steve

“They walk into my office every spring, dressed in new suits (the men) or dressy pantsuits (the women). They are prospective graduate students, and they’re nervous. We engage in a few pleasantries, and then I ask them what they want to do with their PhDs. They all reply that they want a tenure-track job at a research university. I then ask them what they know of the academic job market in my discipline (social psychology) …” (more)

[Monica J Harris, Inside Higher Ed, 18 August]

PhD graduates face jobs shortage

Posted in Life with tags , , on 6 June 2010 by Steve

“A government policy drawn up four years ago to double the output of PhD students in Ireland is midway through its term. But now there are questions about whether the plan is on the right track and if it still has the merit it once had …” (more)

[Nicola Cooke, Sunday Business Post, 6 June]

Is there any doubt that investment in graduate education works?

Posted in teaching with tags , on 27 May 2010 by Steve

“… Over recent years many have become aware of the national target of doubling the number of PhD graduates as a key element of the Strategy for Science Technology and Innovation. This was an easy number to express the various national investments in research. PhD students are the backbone of research teams and some will become future research leaders. Recent budget cutbacks do threaten the momentum gained by these national investments …” (more)

[Conor O’Carroll, Irish Times, 27 May]

PhD Diary: Andy Sargent

Posted in research with tags on 19 April 2010 by Steve

Do you consider your PhD to be a job or a vocation? Originally the reason for starting my PhD was mainly due to a personal interest in my subject. Now, nearly three years on, my PhD has become a job – a job that needs to be completed! …” (more)

[Pue’s Occurrences, 19 April]

PhD graduates face bleak choice

Posted in research with tags on 5 March 2010 by Steve

“Madam, – Dr John Walsh (March 3rd) does well to warn of the dangers of the new breed of temporary contracts which are becoming ever more prevalent in Irish universities and research centres. I have been a researcher in Italy since 2002 and was very fortunate to have had to wait ‘only’ seven years before obtaining a permanent position, whereas many colleagues might have 10 or 15 years (or even more in some cases) of successive short-term contracts under their belt before obtaining permanency …” (more)

[Fergal Dalton, Irish Times, 5 March]

Aiming for 5,000 foreign PhDs

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , on 21 February 2010 by Steve

“One in four doctorate candidates in Sweden are foreign citizens. There were 4,179 of them in 2008 in a PhD student population of 16,900, an increase since 1999 of 62%. Of newly-recruited doctoral students in 2008, 32% or 1040 people were foreigners, up from 19% in 1999. The annual increase was 19% between 2007 and 2008 alone, indicating a significant change in the recruitment pattern …” (more)

[University World News, 21 February]

Chained to the kitchen sink …

Posted in Life with tags , , on 15 February 2010 by Steve

“Via Larvatus Prodeo, I became aware of KRudd’s latest gem – a PhD is an ‘excuse for not having kids’. (What is it with the political leaders in our country at the moment?) Nina Funnell, a thirty something researcher, attended a function where Kevin Rudd spoke on an ageing population …” (more)

[SkepticLawyer, 15 February]

PhD Diary: Colm Flynn, TCD

Posted in research with tags on 15 February 2010 by Steve

Do you consider your PhD to be a job or a vocation?: I have distinct memories of a celestial voice imploring me to share my historical insights with the world … so, vocation then, I suppose. Also, jobs pay so its not one of those …” (more)

[Pue’s Ocurrences, 15 February]