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Life as a PhD student: identity, tools, hurdles, and supervisions


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This presentation gives a brief overview of what can make your PhD student life easier. It focuses on steps within the PhD journey, possible hurdles, provides links to some useful tools, and it zooms in on the human factor (peers, supervisors).

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Life as a PhD student: identity, tools, hurdles, and supervisions

  1. 1. Identity, tools, hurdles & supervisions: a PhD journey of an older, non-native English speaking PhD student Inge (Ignatia) de Waard
  2. 2. What drove me to it? • Hitting a (glass) ceiling (“is this were I will spend the next 10 years?”) • A pledge once given to my granddad (“en dan ga ik een doctoraat doen”) I just had to…
  3. 3. What formal schooling did I have? • No formal credits at the time of acceptance, but experienced (passion) • Just doing it: mobile learning projects since 2006, organised MOOC 2011, 2012 on mobile learning. • Took up Master’s: Master in Education track @Athabasca University, Canada A high school adult, winging it High school Professional experience Just Do It
  4. 4. Hindsight Understanding the benefits of collaborating, sharing and being open to new information/feedback Lacking structure (writing, academic speaking) and theoretical background (methodologies, evaluation tools, theories) Build on strengths Attract & learn new skills
  5. 5. First, and more steps • Keep an eye out for PhD scholarship calls, mostly Jan/Feb: send a proposal (example of a proposal here) • Identifying a subject: passion! • Write a probation report (& mini viva) – 10 months into your research (example here) + progress reports (every 6 months). Write proposal and application Identify your subject Pilot study – probation report + mini viva Main study Write thesis chapters Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite Viva (oral examination)
  6. 6. Language • English is my 4th language: exercise (in international settings, with high quality language apps) • Extra layer: academic language (academic language guide here) • Students with money use professional language editors. We can do it!
  7. 7. The importance of side-kicks/PhD-peers • Finding PhD role models (similar age/method: Jacqueline Bachelor) • Identifying partners in crime (Ronda Zelezny-Green, Michael Sean Gallagher: co-writing, support)
  8. 8. Organise: 4 things that make PhD life easier • Choose research that inspires you: intrinsic motivation and passion • Build a PhD thesis in the cloud (chapters that will be part of actual thesis) for easy access • Keep shared notes of supervision meetings (e.g. progress reports) • Use bibliographic tools/reference managers (e.g. Mendeley which is free, or Endnote paid software)
  9. 9. Supervisors: your core team • Guidance (subject matter, steps to take, additional training) • Filtering out your own BS (needed) • Knowledge by experience (framework, methods, connecting to people) • Keeping you on target (thank you Mike Sharples & Agnes Kukulska-Hulme)
  10. 10. The supervisors My experience: • Year 1: • weekly supervisions: clear actions, feedback => result: get probation report / pilot study started (ethics clearance) • Presentation opportunities (1000 £ / year) • Year 2 & 3: • bi-weekly supervisions: support and guidance setting up main study (data collection & analysis), methods Different supervisors, different experiences: mutual understanding, give-&-take (research papers, visibility, academic rigor)
  11. 11. Post-graduate opportunities • Conferences (your discipline, high impact… network, write papers, learn to speak in public), e.g. Work-In-Progress (WIP) • Workshops (career development early researchers, field specific ws) • Lectures (on- and offline) • Review papers (Just Do It)
  12. 12. Unforeseen circumstances influencing PhD • Moving to another country • Change in identity
  13. 13. Moving with family to UK • Becoming the Other • Isolation (partner): voluntary work in charity shops (Red Cross, Oxfam). • Country specific differences: e.g. cost of child care (toddler/pre- school: 700 pounds per month for 3 days/w); high rental cost • Family costs covered by scholarship fee?
  14. 14. Identity change Established Practitioner PhD student Early/senior researcher?
  15. 15. Beyond the PhD?!!! AAAHHHHH • Where to go next? A team/network that suits your persona, a job that makes you tick, with opportunities, fitting your life (family/balance) • How to find a job? In academia: your network (social media), funding • What to do? Get your stars out (CV, strengths), Work Out Loud (open science rules: e.g. blog, slideshare, academia/researchgate)
  16. 16. Give me the hard data! • Fee: 14000 GBP per year (3 years, with exceptional grant extension for personal/health reasons) • Additional 1000 GPB per year for travel/attending conferences (posters and/or doctoral consortiums for early work, short/full papers later on) • Thesis: approx. 75000 words (all in) depends on department • PhD-structure templates per discipline (humanities, social science…) • Viva: supervisors + 1 internal + 1 external examiner (normally UK- based) – different from other EU doctoral defence.
  17. 17. Last hurdle PhD Comics by Jorge Cham (also great procrastination)
  18. 18. Questions, networking… 18 E-mail: ingedewaard (at) Blog: Twitter: Publications: Presentations: linkedIn: Talk to me right here, right now!