Which Skills for a PhD Student?

Posted in Research on February 18th, 2019 by steve

“Training of PhD students. It’s a big topic and large sums of money are involved. As I wrote in the autumn, there are concerns about the decisions that are being made. With the recent announcement of 75 new Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) by the EPSRC, the topic is bound to be in the air again. The blog-that-calls-itself UKRI Observatory did its third analysis of what was going on …” (more)

[Athene Donald’s Blog, 17 February]

Tags: ,

Sindy Joyce is first Traveller to graduate with a PhD in Ireland

Posted in Governance and administration on January 16th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“A Co Limerick woman who has become the first Traveller in Ireland to graduate with a PhD, said she has ‘mixed emotions’ about the accolade, as it reminded her of the Traveller community’s long struggle in accessing education …” (more)

[David Raleigh, Irish Times, 15 January]

Tags: ,

How I Spend My Money: A Trinity PhD student on a €6,000 stipend who’s having second thoughts about moving to Ireland

Posted in Life on December 31st, 2018 by steve

Ireland“Occupation: PhD student. Age: 31. Location: Dublin. Salary: €6,000. Monthly pay (net): €500. Monthly expenses: Rent: €700. Household bills: Included in rent. Transport: €24. Phone bill: £10 (so €11.27) …” (more)

[TheJournal.ie, 30 December]

Tags: , , , ,

WIT marks 25 years of research degrees

Posted in Governance and administration, Research on December 28th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“The impact of research and research degrees at Waterford Institute of Technology on the south east region and Waterford city was highlighted on Thursday last. In 1993, Waterford Regional Technical College (WRTC) conferred its first ever PhD graduate. At the time WRTC was the first Regional Technical Colleges to award PhDs …” (more)

[Munster Express, 28 December]

Tags: , , , , ,

‘Changing demographics of scientific careers: The rise of the temporary workforce’

Posted in Research on December 11th, 2018 by steve

Abstract: Contemporary science has been characterized by an exponential growth in publications and a rise of team science. At the same time, there has been an increase in the number of awarded PhD degrees, which has not been accompanied by a similar expansion in the number of academic positions. In such a competitive environment, an important measure of academic success is the ability to maintain a long active career in science. In this paper, we study workforce trends in three scientific disciplines over half a century. We find dramatic shortening of careers of scientists across all three disciplines. The time over which half of the cohort has left the field has shortened from 35y in the 1960s to only 5y in the 2010s. In addition, we find a rapid rise (from 25 to 60% since the 1960s) of a group of scientists who spend their entire career only as supporting authors without having led a publication. Altogether, the fraction of entering researchers who achieve full careers has diminished, while the class of temporary scientists has escalated. We provide an interpretation of our empirical results in terms of a survival model from which we infer potential factors of success in scientific career survivability. Cohort attrition can be successfully modeled by a relatively simple hazard probability function. Although we find statistically significant trends between survivability and an author’s early productivity, neither productivity nor the citation impact of early work or the level of initial collaboration can serve as a reliable predictor of ultimate survivability.

Changing demographics of scientific careers: The rise of the temporary workforce, Staša Milojević, Filippo Radicchi, and John P Walsh. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA published ahead of print December 10, 2018, https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1800478115.

Tags: , , ,

‘A Legally Constructed Underclass of Workers? The Deportability and Limited Work Rights of International Students in Australia and the United Kingdom’

Posted in Legal issues on October 28th, 2018 by steve

Abstract: International students have not traditionally been the focus of labour law scholarship, in part because their central purpose in a foreign country is to study rather than work. It is also generally accepted that there is no special reason to focus on international students as a distinct category of workers. This article attests to the particular vulnerability of international students in domestic labour markets, drawing on a comparative study of government policy and practice in relation to international students in Australia and the UK. Immigration rules in both jurisdictions frame the manner in which international students engage in the labour market during their studies. These rules restrict the hours in which international students can engage in paid work during semester, and if breached can result in the international students being deported from the host country. This has the effect of limiting the job market for international students, increasing the power of employers and reducing the likelihood international students will report exploitative work. Instead of strict work hour limits and deportation for breach, governments should rely on other regulatory mechanisms for ensuring international students are present in the host country for the purpose of education rather than work.

Joanna Howe, A Legally Constructed Underclass of Workers? The Deportability and Limited Work Rights of International Students in Australia and the United Kingdom, Industrial Law Journal, https://doi.org/10.1093/indlaw/dwy021. Published: 24 October 2018.

Tags: , , , ,

PhD theses – drawing attention to the often overlooked articles in open access repositories

Posted in Research on October 28th, 2018 by steve

“Earlier this Open Access Week, university library staff throughout the UK celebrated #ThesisThursday, a day of focused attention on the less talked-about articles in open access repositories, PhD theses. Camilla Griffiths and Nancy Graham describe the work the LSE Library has led to digitise the theses of the School’s doctoral alumni, outlining the benefits of greater visibility, widespread indexing, and robust URLs …” (more)

[LSE Impact Blog, 27 October]

Tags: ,

I’ve just finished my PhD, and now I feel lost without academia

Posted in Life on September 28th, 2018 by steve

“I started my full-time PhD in 2014, and finally graduated this summer after having to extend it for health and financial reasons. I never thought I would succeed, but somehow I managed (even the dreaded viva examination wasn’t as scary as it sounds). For the first month or so after graduating, I basked in the relief and elation, absolved from all that pressure and expectation. But those feelings dissipated quickly …” (more)

[Guardian, 28 September]


I have my PhD, but what is the value of a university education?

Posted in Teaching on September 12th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“Four years ago in this newspaper, I wrote an article about falling in love with a man; a man who died in 1677. In March of this year, I wrote another piece about that man, the philosopher Baruch Spinoza. At that point, I was a month away from submitting my doctoral thesis in philosophy, which was heavily influenced by and including Spinoza, and I had fallen out of love with him …” (more)

[Laura Kennedy, Irish Times, 12 September]


Barnacle, Schmidt and Cuthbert, ‘Expertise and the PhD: Between depth and a flat place’

Posted in Teaching on August 30th, 2018 by steve

Abstract: Expertise is under sustained interrogation. We see it in so‐called edu‐scepticism and pessimism about graduates’ apparently diminishing employment prospects, challenges to the role of Higher Education institutions as arbiters of knowledge and post‐truth rhetoric more broadly. This paper examines how the PhD is being discursively positioned in this context. We ask what these changing conceptions of expertise, education and work mean for how PhD‐level expertise is understood. Drawing on a range of sources, from the scholarly to the wider media, we draw together five exemplar models of expertise to expose the transforming ratio between generalist, transferable skills and specialist knowledge. The evident diminution of specialisation raises numerous issues for the PhD as it is increasingly called upon to serve multiple and potentially contradictory needs: an innovation society on the one hand and the discipline on the other. Reconciling the tension between depth and breadth is an important issue for a degree whose hallmark is – or at least has been – depth.

Robyn Barnacle, Christine Schmidt and Denise Cuthbert, Expertise and the PhD: Between depth and a flat place, Higher Education Quarterly. First published: 29 August 2018. https://doi.org/10.1111/hequ.12181.


Why it is not a ‘failure’ to leave academia

Posted in Governance and administration on August 3rd, 2018 by steve

“As a PhD student in my final year, I find it demoralizing and frustrating to be constantly reminded of the bleak job prospects in academia. This dim outlook may well increase the pressure on students and contribute to high rates of anxiety and depression among them …” (more)

[Philipp Kruger, Nature, 1 August]

Tags: ,

Student Grant Scheme Administration – Research Students

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on June 28th, 2018 by steve

Willie Penrose (Longford-Westmeath, Labour): A significant number of people have contacted me about the failure of Student Universal Support Ireland, SUSI, to fund to completion those pursuing doctoral studies in various disciplines. These postgraduate students are eligible to grant aid under SUSI’s criteria. However, it is cut off due to time limits …” (more)

[Dáil debates, 27 June]

Tags: , , ,

Doctoral students

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on June 21st, 2018 by steve

Catherine Martin (Dublin Rathdown, Green Party): To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the number of students in State-funded third level education facilities that undertook doctoral research in 2017 and to date in 2018; and the number of these that were State funded …” (more)

[Dáil written answers, 19 June]

Tags: , , ,

Call the doctor

Posted in Governance and administration on June 19th, 2018 by steve

“In the circles in which I once moved when I was still an active law lecturer, one of the regular questions colleagues from the United States of America would ask is whether, with a JD degree (‘Juris Doctor’), they were entitled to style themselves ‘Dr’. This often led to long discussions about how academic qualifications should be used by their holders to declare their status. I was awarded my own PhD in 1982 …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 18 June]

Tags: ,

Where are the Modest Men?

Posted in Life on June 17th, 2018 by steve

“A hashtag debuting this week has caused quite a stir on Twitter: #immodestwomen. In the wake of a US newspaper deciding not to accord anyone the title of Dr in its articles, unless they were medical doctors …” (more)

[Athene Donald’s Blog, 17 June]

Tags: ,

Postgraduate students likely to experience stress and depression, according to GSU survey

Posted in Life on June 1st, 2018 by steve

“The average PhD student experiences severe stress, moderate anxiety and mild levels of depression, according to the results of a Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) postgraduate mental health survey. The survey was presented by GSU Vice-President Madhav Bhargav at a meeting of the Student Life Committee this week …” (more)

[Peter Kelly, Trinity News, 31 May]

Tags: , , ,

I struggle when hiring academics – because the candidates are too good

Posted in Governance and administration on June 1st, 2018 by steve

“Some employers complain about not having enough good candidates to fill roles. I envy them. Imagine working in an industry where entry-level jobs require ‘world-leading’ research records, where far more people are graduating from PhD programmes than the academy will ever employ. The problem is that nearly everyone on the long list for your new permanent lectureship is amazing …” (more)

[Guardian, 1 June]

Tags: , ,

Irish university sector

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on May 31st, 2018 by steve

“A chara, – Maynooth University has recently announced teaching PhD studentships with waived fees and a stipend of €9,000 per annum. In return, the recipients may be requested to teach up to 455 hours per annum …” (more)

[Eoin Ó Colgáin, Irish Times, 28 May]

Tags: , , ,

PhD students supervised collectively rather than individually are quicker to complete their theses

Posted in Teaching on April 20th, 2018 by steve

“Given the choice, most PhD students would prefer to receive individual supervision rather than be supervised alongside their peers as part of a collective. This is understandable, given the undivided attention and precise, directly relevant advice one would receive. However, Hans Agné and Ulf Mörkenstam have compared the experiences of individually and collectively supervised students on the same doctoral programme and found that collective supervision, during the first year at least, is correlated with significantly shorter times to thesis completion compared to individual supervision …” (more)

[LSE Impact Blog, 18 April]


Mandatory PhD policies lead to boom in academics with doctorates

Posted in Governance and administration on March 11th, 2018 by steve

“The increasing insistence by UK universities for new staff to have a doctorate has helped to drive up the number of academics holding a PhD by more than a third in just six years, new data show. According to the latest figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency, more than half (54%) of all academic staff held a PhD in 2016-17, a rise of eight percentage points compared with 2010-11 …” (more)

[Simon Baker, Times Higher Education, 8 March]

Tags: ,