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Would this be sheer madness? I'm thinking about discussing the possibility of this...
would be that unless you're totally sure it's what you want to do or already see yourself as a career academic, then go and do something in the real world for a bit and then come back when you have some ideas/ are fed up with working.
But no it's not madness, in the sense that it allows you to spend your life posting on this website and getting paid for it.
"being endlessly fascinated and basically aroused by the world of knowledge you are privileged enough to get the chance to explore".
Doing a PhD, especially, can drive you round the bend for any number of reasons.
Basically, what Dr. NVC said up there.
(the bit about being aroused by knowledge that is; I myself am near-constantly aroused by my work, to the amazement and appreciation of my office colleages)
for making you go mad. At least with sciencey stuff you get to do studies/experiments which give some more obvious structure, especially if it is laboratory science. Variety also, not just reading and writing.
But the idea of spending 3 years in some fusty library looking at old books would probably destroy my mind.
I've never even thought of it like that. I'm terrible for losing focus, even in this department where everything is super-structured and supervised.
If I were on an arts course,I'd have turned into some kind feral library man in Senate House by now. Surviving off discarded junk food. Clothes made of book jackets. Little piles of my feaces by the photcopier.
I lose focus very easily but then my supervisors are quite hands off and misguidedly trust me to get on with it. Particularly one, who I never actually see. But he is a cunt so it's not so bad.
(I should point out that I'm very lucky here; I've got one supervisor who I see every month or so and puts the fear of God into me every time, and another who is more softly-softly-catchy-monkey but manages to keep me tootling along).
But yeah; the ones who leave you to it, then get all mardy-bum when you've gone off in the wrong direction. Douchebags.
We should, er, probably point out the value of knowing your supervisor well before you undertake a PhD with them at this juncture, shouldn't we?
saying that, my main one is ace and I trust her to get on my back if it's needed because she is very experienced.
i'm sure that's obvious statement #1, but really, it surprised and takes its toll on everyone i know/have known who's done/is doing it. it can (probably) be really rewarding at the end, or at least i'm sure you get a bigsense of achievement and other perks...hmm, i'm not the person to ask really
and what you are used to before, plus your supervisor, subject and university. Basically, apart from a few really stressful stay up all night kind of weeks, mine has been fine so far and less demanding than some jobs I have had before. Saying that, I am sure the last 6 months at least is likely to be a living hell.
On one hand it changes you as a person more than any undergrad or masters can, and I think the real benefits you gain from it are very general, i.e. I don't think I've become an expert an my area, but I have learnt presentation, writing, analytical and problem solving skills that I don't think I would have in a job. I think it makes you massively more employable, for instance financial companies love people with science PhDs because of the way it trains you to think. On the other hand you could find yourself overqualified.
On a negative note, I would say make sure you do it for the right reasons, i.e. think about what you want out it at the end and if its really going to make a difference. Don't do it cause you like the idea of being called Dr!
It can also be very tough working solo, at the end of the day you are responsible for your work and deadlines and you have to be very motivated. It will also become a big part of your life for 3-4 years, and its not like a job where you can just find a new one if you get bored after a year.
So yes, sheer madness, but you could get a lot out of it.
I often say facetiously that I am just doing it to avoid working or whatever but you have to be genuinely interested in research and in your area. I don't have that problem and it sometimes keeps me awake thinking about it. My problem is applying that to action.
(a) You want to be an academic
(b) You want to do some other job where a doctorate will help you and won't make you look over-qualified
In both cases you'll need the stamina to do lonely, self-motivated work on the same (very specific) project for at least three years straight. Unless you can handle that and you could use the career benefit, it probably is sheer madness.
ie not being sure exactly what you want to do but wanting to explore a subject properly, thinking that it won't do you any harm anyway and will be a unique opportunity and another three years of high-level education.
I'm a mish-mash of all three.
If not, don't bother.
If it is science, don't do it
a) for the sake of it
b) because you think it will be easier than "a job"
c) you don't know what to do when you leave uni
You will gain many skills from a PhD and the Dr tag might open some doors, but I think that if you are smart you could achieve more in the 3-4 years that it will take you to complete if (eg)you enter a grad scheme and work hard.
Definately do it if you want a career in accadmia, it's the only way.
Be prepared to work 70 hour weeks and be prepared to make no progress for months on end.
in fact usually quite the opposite
One of my friends didnt leave his lab until 1:30am once. Crazy!
thats was to quakerstoy
ie people I know who have done both usually find a job more demanding. Saying that I have worked a few Friday nights and stayed until 4/5/6am a few times. This is massively compensated by periods of having to do very little and being able to take days/weeks off at the drop of a hat. The flexibility is ace.
Note to blaaast - you might as well do it if it's easier than a job. It pays ok and might open a few doors.
doctorates are peaks and troughs I think. There's often talk of 70 hour weeks and that; but as long as you're working relatively normal hours, that'll usually only happen with big deadlines. It's also, unfortunately, down to the specifics of each PhD (all together "no PhD is the same"). I know someone here who had lots of her PhD done (and the necessary skills to get it) before she even started her 3 years of funding.
And the academia thing is absolutely true. It's the only way to go.
it's just down to perceptions of what your supervisors/examiners think is 3 years worth of work, which is extremely vague.
I've seen PhDs which clearly have had more work put into them than others. Not just length but amount of studies etc.
I'm going for the concise approach. But I'll be wordy with it to make it look like I know what I'm talking about.
Do you want to be an academic then, Dr Jonny Rat? Maybe I can become doctordoctornovocalcords.
end up with only a few studies (4, maybe 5?) I think; which terrifies me, because I used to work in cognitive stuff where everyone does LIKE A MILLION studies and none of them work.
I think I'd like to stay an academic. It's nice. Also, I just the other day spotted that starting research associates/postdocs generally get around 30k. I could handle that for a bit, yes I could.
I thought it was much less than that. It is a nice-ish life I suppose although I'd probably have to get a lot more serious and do a lot more reading.
I think I will have 6 or 7 studies in the end but 2 of those are tiny qualitative studies and 1 is a systematic review.
I got 1000 people for my last study though so it looks like a "BIG study" even though it wasn't. Someone here is doing basically one RCT for theirs.
I probably should have done some work this afternoon rather than discussing it on here.
But I'll probably work for a few years, because 7 years of higher education would be too much for me. I want to do one because I enjoy studying science and I really think it will be beneficial for my career. Plus I know where I want to study (LSHTM). What/where do you want to study?
to take a few years out before thinking about one. It's wise because means you have more real-world experience to draw on. This applies to Masters courses too. If you can do one where you already have experience of working in a related field, then it's much more rewarding.
What do you study? Something sciencey I gather. I am genuinely interested!
so it is essentially psychology applied to health behaviour, and looking at ways of improving public health by understanding the way people make decisions and perceive their health.
I'm specifically looking at ways of using images, particularly medical imaging of the body e.g. ultrasound, CT, MRI scanning to communicate to people about their personal health risks by showing them visible damage incurred as a result of say smoking, drinking, inactivity. Then trying to understand the psychological processes involved.
Good luck with it!
There's no way I'm cut out for a PhD.
It would be a Computer Science based PhD for those that asked.
I got really scared off by a few people before I started mine and it has been much better than I ever imagined.
it sounds like yours has been a holiday.
I don't know if yours or mine is more like the norm, but i wouldn't recommend one for the light hearted.
in that you have to be prepared to work very hard, even if this doesn't always materialise. I think I have been lucky in a sense with mine so far but I still expect the last year to more than make up for it.
I think a lot of it depends on how hard you want to work/feel the pressure to work and how much your supervisors push you. I know people who are working ridiculously hard in their first year and they will probably end up with a big fat PhD but I seem to be broadly on track and haven't had to push myself much yet. But I'll report back at the end!
A lot of this may be because much of the first year in a subject like mine is setting up studies, getting ethics approval etc. or getting up to speed in the subject (I had just completed a Masters so this wasn't so overwhelming) so you can quite easily get away with not doing a great deal (not to suggest that is a good thing).
achieved almost 0.
I virtually gave up but a few results fell into place so I'll be ok. I'm currently writing up but having done the minimum and it's still no fun.
Some of the other students have maintained the work rate for longer and will have a lot to show for it, mostly europeans who start at 25+, having a hefty masters (2-3 years) of reasearch experience already.
But my project is not intersting and I was naive when i started (for all the reason I stated above) and thought it woulb be ok.
My girlfriend had a similarly bad PhD, except hers is interesting so she's carrying on with research and will be working on human genetics in oxford from te summer.
I suppose I was lucky in that I had worked in the department for a few months before applying for funding so I developed the proposal and had an idea what the level of expectations of work would be in the department.
Are you in your third year then? and what is it in?
It's microbiology in Norwich.
It wasn't that bad, I've nearly finished it and have learned a lot. I think being Dr will also help on application forms etc
I think with biology most can write off 90% of the first 12-18 months of reasearch, for some reason experiments just don't work. If that year is in a masters course (in Europe a masters is required to do a PhD) you can hit the ground running, you know what is expected and you've got all the shit lab work out of the system. if that first year is your PhD you have got an uphill battle. This time was enough to put me off research and deflate any enthusiasm for the subject.
try computational biology.
There is and will be a huge demand for people who know how to use computers properly and understand biology.
maybe in your time out you could brush up on the bio side, but don't leave it too long.
Bioinformaticians are very much in demand and pretty well paid compared to normal scientists.