Behind the scenes: the world in which PhD candidates live

Prof. Lou de Leij and dr. Marjan Koopmans initiated the PhD discourse on the Dutch science news- and blog-site scienceguide.nl. In their contribution Dr. Ingeborg Meijer and dr. Inge van der Weijden ask about the world in which PhD candidates are working and living. I think this is a very good question to ask. I am glad to take their line of thinking a few steps further in this reflection.

We want a PhD degree to guarantee Read more

How to get unstuck and enjoy your work despite high pressure & workload?

It has been 1,5 years since Dane successfully got his PhD. Seen on the surface, he appears to be doing great. He has several short term teaching positions and is even creating some consulting business directly from his PhD research. This is quite remarkable, because direct valorization of research is quite rare for a PhD in the Humanities. His former supervisor is confident that his career will turn out allright. The university is happy because Dane’s official status is ‘employed’.

But Dane is not happy with his situation at all. Read more

Successful but unhappy academic: what is wrong with you?

I get it: you are smart. You got a PhD. You landed a tenure track position or even tenure — although you suspect that was due to luck more than intellectual merit. Anyway, from the outside your life look perfectly successful. You have a wonderful partner, your children are doing great, and your academic career is well underway towards professorship. How come your life does not feel so fabulous on the inside? Why do you feel so lonely? Why do you feel different and not understood?  Read more

How to take charge of your hypercritical brain

Laura sits down at her kitchen table. A welcome quiet evening between days filled with parties with family and friends over the holidays. New Year’s Eve: a traditional time of year to look back at the past year and formulate resolutions for the new year. Laura knows the power of being mindful of your successes. She is proud that she submitted her PhD thesis manuscript last year and got approval for it.

As she starts to look to the year ahead, her positive thoughts fade quickly. Read more

Where you do not need your supervisor’s approval for a successful PhD

Enrica struggles to complete her PhD. She started her project 4,5 years ago: she designed it herself, loved it, and was overjoyed when she received a grant that allowed her to study the topic she loved. Now, the project has become heavy. Often she just wants to chuck her computer out the window. She has tears in her eyes when she tells this, but she is also determined to finish.

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One particularly nasty myth about the successful PhD

Tired, Lotte looks down at her notes and then up again to the full version at her computer screen. For the past four days she has been completely submerged in writing this chapter. Her hair is a mess, she slept little and she has not been outside for two days. She has always worked this way, but as she approaches the end of her PhD, the pressure to deliver and perform rises.

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How to escape perfectionism as an excellent researcher

If you want an academic career, you have to excel at so many levels. First and foremost you must show an excellent publication record, with many articles preferably in A status journals. Then there is teaching and supervising students: requires high quality lectures, committed availability, personal feedback, but hardly the time to prepare and deliver. Not to mention being the nice, helpful colleague (or partner, or parent). If you are not up to par with these standards, you fail. At least that is how many early career researchers think.

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Hoe kun je verschil maken in de wetenschap

Verslag van het evenement De Geheimen van Verschilmakers

door Claartje van Sijl
Lang geleden, in een universiteitsstad hier niet heel ver vandaan, was er eens een loopbaandag voor promovendi. “Wie wil er allemaal hoogleraar worden?”, vroeg de hoogleraar en directeur van de organiserende onderzoeksschool. Meteen schoten een paar vingers de lucht in. Ja, hij daar: heeft zelf zijn promotie-grant binnen gehaald, iedereen kent hem, hij spreekt altijd bij landelijke bijeenkomsten, zijn outfit straalt een overdosis zelfvertrouwen uit. En zij natuurlijk: zij is goede vriendjes met die invloedrijke hoogleraar, stapt altijd meteen op hooggeplaatste gastsprekers af en heeft allerlei lijntjes lopen naar verschillende onderzoeksgroepen die nieuwe projecten voorbereiden. Oh, en hij ook: hij weet die professor precies voor zijn karretje te spannen, krijgt altijd leuke klussen toegespeeld en troeft je in vergaderingen af met voorstellen die hij in de wandelgangen heeft voorbereid. In hun boek ’Kantoorgeheimen’ noemen Linda van der Wal en Carla van der Wal hen de bokito, de carrièretijger en de kantoorpoliticus.

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How to get a clue what you can do with your PhD

So you (nearly) got a PhD in the humanities or social sciences. You probably always envisioned a scholarly future for yourself within academia, so you never gave much thought to other options for possible careers. But then reality dawns and academic careers appear not only highly competitive, but also extremely scarce and not necessarily won on the grounds of scholarly merit. Or you have tried and found the academic route was not as desirable or fitting after all. In short: you have to adjust your long held vision and plans. Where to start?

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