Trinity’s PhD Campaigners Slam New Government Plans for Third-Level

Posted in Governance and administration on June 16th, 2020 by steve

Ireland“Trinity’s PhD workers’ rights group has denounced a new draft programme for government for its failure to promise a new department for higher education, arguing it represents a ‘failure to show a strong commitment to our youth’ …” (more)

[Emer Moreau, University Times, 16 June]

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NUIG postgraduates launch petition for ‘fair working environment’

Posted in Governance and administration on May 21st, 2020 by steve

Ireland“NUI Galway’s Postgraduate Workers Alliance launched a petition this week calling for ‘a fair working environment and Covid-19 response’ for PhD and post-doctoral researchers at the university …” (more)

[Kernan Andrews, Galway Advertiser, 21 May]

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Virtual Thesis Defense

Posted in Teaching on March 27th, 2020 by steve

“PhD students defending their dissertations must do so remotely right now. Could videoconference defenses become the new normal? ‘Can you move the computer closer?’ asks a disembodied voice. ‘Because we see a lot of roof.’ ‘Ah, I think it looks much better’, another invisible person says a few minutes later …” (more)

[Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed, 27 March]

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Teaching assistants debate strike at PhD townhall meeting

Posted in Governance and administration on February 6th, 2020 by steve

Ireland“PhD students have expressed their anger during a townhall meeting this evening at a decision approved by College’s finance committee to cut the pay of casual staff who work as lab demonstrators. The decision to cut pay was temporarily reversed on Tuesday at a meeting of the finance committee, and a final decision has been deferred to a future meeting …” (more)

[Finn Purdy, Shannon Connolly and Madalyn Williams, Trinity News, 5 February]

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PhD student awarded €13,035 damages against NUI Galway over final ‘viva’ exam delay

Posted in Legal issues on January 17th, 2020 by steve

Ireland“A PhD mathematical student has won his action against NUI Galway over a delay in scheduling his final ‘viva’ exam, which delayed his graduation and damaged his employment prospects. Isaac Burke (27), of Castlebar Co Mayo, who represented himself in the proceedings, was awarded damages of €13,035 by Judge Raymond Groarke at Galway Circuit Civil Court for breach of contract …” (more)

[Eavan Murray, Independent, 16 January]

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Time for PhD supervision

Posted in Teaching on December 29th, 2019 by steve

“Some aspects of academia show great international variation. There is one on which I haven’t found any good data, and hence thought I’ll ask the crowd here so that we can gather our own data, even if it will be not very scientifically collected. The question is this: if you are a university teacher/professor and your department awards PhD-degrees, do you get any official time allocated (or time-compensation) for PhD supervision? …” (more)

[Ingrid Robeyns, Crooked Timber, 29 December]


Postgraduate and ‘casual’ teaching staff are taken for granted by Trinity

Posted in Governance and administration on December 4th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Contrary to popular belief, teaching and lecturing at university by no means automatically guarantees secure employment, ample time to pursue research, and a cosy office in which to do it. Over the past decade or so, especially since the recession in 2008/09, Irish universities, and indeed universities throughout the world, have begun to rely more and more on hourly paid or temporary staff to cover tutorials, seminars, lectures, and lab sessions …” (more)

[Trinity News, 3 December]

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SIPTU and USI launch charter for better rights and conditions for postgraduates

Posted in Governance and administration on October 31st, 2019 by steve

Ireland“SIPTU and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) have launched a Charter of Rights and Conditions for Postgraduates which calls for a living wage, better access to supports and training as well as other improvements for those who carry out teaching and other work in third level institutions across the country …” (more)

[SIPTU, 30 October]

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Trinity’s PhD Students Face a Litany of Issues. They Must Pick Their Battles

Posted in Governance and administration on October 29th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“If anyone was in any doubt about just how bad conditions are for PhD students working and studying in Trinity, they’d have had them dispelled – firmly – last week. At the first meeting of Trinity’s new PhD campaign group – set up to fight for the rights of PhD students – those in attendance spilled a litany of beans …” (more)

[University Times, 28 October]


Trinity PhD workers rights group to be established

Posted in Governance and administration on October 19th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“A Trinity PhD workers rights group is being established to advocate for the recognition and protection of working rights of PhD students in Trinity and other Irish universities. Among the group’s central aims are the recognition of PhD students as workers, with contracts and full employee and collective bargaining rights; an end to unpaid teaching; and PhD stipends based on the living wage …” (more)

[Aisling Grace, Trinity News, 18 October]

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Former Trinity lecturer accused of plagiarism by student

Posted in Legal issues, Research on September 9th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Adebola Adedimeji, a former Trinity lecturer, failed to defend his work in court after being accused of plagiarism by his former thesis supervisee, Annette Rochford. Rochford, a clinical nurse specialist, has accused Adedimeji of presenting her research as his own on two separate occasions …” (more)

[Jessica Hobbs Pifer, Trinity News, 8 September]

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‘I’ve had enough’ – Trinity PhD student writes to minister demanding rent subsidy

Posted in Life on September 4th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“A Trinity College Dublin (TCD) student has penned a letter to the minister of third level education claiming that PhD students are forgotten in Ireland. The letter asks for an accommodation subsidy to be provided to students as the maximum stipend of €18,000 per year makes living in Dublin difficult to afford …” (more)

[Gabija Gataveckaite, Independent, 3 September]

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Sausage Machines in the Academic Lab

Posted in Life on July 22nd, 2019 by steve

“There was a bit of a spat over Twitter last week regarding how many hours students (and postdocs) should be expected to do at the bench. This originated in a tweet from a professor of chemistry but I don’t think it is necessary to go through the exchanges in any detail. Suffice it to say that the originator believed that it was impossible to ‘do world class science in 38 hrs per week’. Others challenged him that work-life balance was important, amongst other complaints …” (more)

[Athene Donald’s Blog, 22 July]

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PhD student has monthly grant cut by €400 over Google Maps calculation

Posted in Governance and administration on July 12th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“A PhD student will have her monthly grant cut by €400 after a shorter route to her university was calculated via an unnamed road on Google Maps. Niamh Dillon, who is in the second year of her PhD at the University of Limerick, will see her Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) grant cut after the awarding body calculated a shorter distance for her to travel to university …” (more)

[Jess Casey, Irish Examiner, 11 July]

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What is this ‘anti-PhD’ attitude about?

Posted in Life on May 15th, 2019 by steve

“Lately, more and more students want a non-academic job when they finish their PhD. Anecdotally, some graduates seem to be experiencing the PhD as a barrier to employment, not an enabler. In fact, I’ve heard so much negative talk about how employers react to PhD holders over the years that it seemed important to start looking at this phenomenon more closely …” (more)

[The Thesis Whisperer, 13 May]

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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]

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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]

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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)

[, 30 December]

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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]

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‘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,

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