How Hard Is It for a University to Revoke a PhD?

Posted in Governance and administration on January 18th, 2017 by steve

“Monica Crowley backed out of a job in the Donald J Trump administration this week following reports that she had plagiarized parts of her dissertation. But whether her Columbia University PhD could be in jeopardy is another matter …” (more)

[Tom Hesse, Chronicle of Higher Education, 18 January]

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Limiting PhDs creates the wrong kind of elite

Posted in Governance and administration on January 5th, 2017 by steve

“Whether or not you’re entirely convinced by the figures on casualisation recently publicised by the UK’s University and College Union, it is beyond dispute that increasing numbers of PhD graduates are being forced into short-term, insecure work to sustain their academic careers. There simply are not enough permanent jobs out there for all those qualified to do them …” (more)

[Tom Cutterham, Times Higher Education, 5 January]

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Undervalued, Overworked, Taken for Granted: PhD Students Issue Damning Report on ‘Exploitative’ Working Conditions at Queen’s

Posted in Governance and administration on October 26th, 2016 by steve

UK“Tuesday evening saw the launch of a highly critical report issued jointly between the University and College Union and the Students’ Union of Queen’s University. Entitled ‘Undervalued, Overworked, Taken for Granted: A Report on PhD Working Conditions’, the publication urges a reform of ‘exploitative conditions’ placed upon academic staff amidst a backdrop of university marketisation …” (more)

[Niall Coleman, The Gown, 26 October]

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Queen’s University: Some PhD students ‘earn less than minimum wage’

Posted in Governance and administration on October 26th, 2016 by steve

UK“Some PhD students at Queen’s University are being paid below the minimum wage, claims a report from the University and College Union (UCU) and Queen’s Students’ Union. The report is based on data on work and wages …” (more)

[BBC News, 26 October]

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A Comparison of Males and Females with a PhD by County in Ireland

Posted in Research on September 24th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“Yesterday I showed a chart detailing how the counties of Ireland differ in the number of people resident in each county who hold a PhD by percentage. Today I want to compare the gender balance/imbalance in each county …” (more)

[Careful With That Axe, Eugene, 23 September]

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Which is the smartest county in Ireland?

Posted in Life on September 22nd, 2016 by steve

Ireland“If the percentage of people in an area who hold a PhD is a measure of how smart a county is, then look no further than the 2011 Census Small Area Population Statistics (SAPS) for details. I downloaded the figures for the overall population of each county, and the numbers of men and women in each county who hold a PhD ….” (more)

[Careful With That Axe, Eugene, 22 September]


Wanted: more qualified PhD students for life sciences

Posted in Teaching on July 29th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“Highly qualified graduates, and plenty of them, are central to sustaining Ireland’s life sciences success. But how to get them? ‘There is an ever-increasing need for ever better graduates’, says Mark Ferguson, director general of Science Foundation Ireland …” (more)

[Sandra O’Connell, Irish Times, 28 July]

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What’s the point of the PhD thesis?

Posted in Teaching on July 6th, 2016 by steve

International“Doctoral courses are slowly being modernized. Now the thesis and viva need to catch up. On the morning of Tom Marshall’s PhD defence, he put on the suit he had bought for the occasion and climbed onto the stage in front of a 50-strong audience, including his parents and 6 examiners …” (more)

[Julie Gould, Nature, 6 July]


The High Price of Getting a PhD

Posted in Life on March 26th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“A PhD is a Doctor of Philosophy degree, one of the highest academic honours. In this context, philosophy does not refer to studying the subject of philosophy but refers to its Ancient Greek origin, philosophia – the love of wisdom. Indeed, this is what drives many PhD students toward pursuing their doctorate – a love of their chosen field …” (more)

[Aoife O’Donoghue, University Times, 26 March]


I was a terrible PhD supervisor. Don’t make the same mistakes I did

Posted in Teaching on March 24th, 2016 by steve

UK“British doctorates are hard to supervise; they’re not similar to any other type of education. There is no reassuring structure of courses and exams, only the need for a thesis. Research points to high levels of depression among PhD students …” (more)

[Sian Townson, Guardian, 24 March]


UL launches plan to become research powerhouse

Posted in Governance and administration on January 12th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“The University of Limerick will more than double the number of PhD candidates it enrols over the coming five years – just one of a number of ambitious targets set in a new research strategy …” (more)

[Dick Ahlstrom, Irish Times, 12 January]

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Bad PhD supervisors can ruin research. So why aren’t they accountable?

Posted in Teaching on December 14th, 2015 by steve

UK“PhD students’ relationships with their supervisors are pivotal; not only in terms of producing a good thesis, but ensuring academic and professional development. But while PhD candidates’ work is regularly checked by supervisors, it is far less common, to have formal checks made on the supervisors, with students assessing their performance …” (more)

[Guardian, 11 December]

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Ageism claim over mandatory PhDs settled

Posted in Legal issues on December 10th, 2015 by steve

UK“A lecturer who claimed he suffered age discrimination when his department made it mandatory for all new staff to have a PhD has agreed an out-of-court settlement with his former employer …” (more)

[Jack Grove, Times Higher Education, 10 December]

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2015 ‘Dance Your PhD’ results

Posted in Life on November 25th, 2015 by steve

Switzerland“The overall winner of Science’s ‘Dance Your PhD’ contest is researcher Florence Metz of the University of Bern in Switzerland. Metz, who only had 3 weeks to turn her PhD thesis on water protection into a dance video, put together a team to incorporate salsa, acro-yoga, and hip hop into the performance …” (more, video)

[Donisha Adams, Science Careers, 24 November]

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Irish university strips student of PhD following investigation

Posted in Legal issues on November 22nd, 2015 by steve

Ireland“Maynooth University has revoked a former student’s PhD following an investigation into the circumstances that led to two previous retractions in the Journal of Biological Chemistry …” (more)

[Retraction Watch, 20 November]

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Mass-produced PhDs lie at heart of Russia’s ‘plague’ of doctoral fraud

Posted in Research on October 4th, 2015 by steve

Russia“The extraordinary scale of PhD fraud in Russia can be attributed to the reproduction of near-identical doctoral dissertations within universities, a new study says. With more than 3,500 falsified theses identified by the anti-plagiarism group Dissernet in the past two years, PhD forgery is now an ‘integral part of Russia’s statehood’, rather than a ‘fringe phenomenon’ …” (more)

[Jack Grove, Times Higher Education, 4 October]

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Publishing PhD papers ‘improves a university’s profile’

Posted in Research on September 30th, 2015 by steve

Ireland“Publishing PhD dissertations on a university’s website can help to improve its global reputation for research excellence, an international conference has heard. About half of the 1.36 million downloads of research papers from Dublin City University’s (DCU) open-access research portal so far are doctoral theses, explained Lisa Looney, its dean of graduate studies …” (more)

[Times Higher Education, 30 September]

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Traditional PhD supervision ‘under threat’ from commercial thinking

Posted in Teaching on July 28th, 2015 by steve

UK“The traditional role of a PhD supervisor as an academic ‘sparring partner’ is under threat from a new business-led model of doctoral education in which students are viewed as ’employees’, a study claims …” (more)

[Jack Grove, Times Higher Education, 28 July]

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Should PhD students be classed as employees?

Posted in Governance and administration on July 16th, 2015 by steve

UK“Two early-career researchers go head-to-head to argue for and against changing the status of PhD researchers to fully-fledged university employees …” (more)

[Tom Livermore and Jamie Gallagher, Guardian, 16 July]

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Doctoral programme enrolments fall 9% in five years

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on June 24th, 2015 by steve

Ireland“The number of students enrolling for PhD and other doctoral programmes has dropped by 9% in the past five years, new figures show, prompting calls for more financial support for postgraduates …” (more)

[Joe Humphreys, Irish Times, 23 June]

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