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

3 myths about leaving the academy

Many academics worry whether they ‘have it in them’ to succeed in academia. Consider Alise. Five years ago she completed her PhD. Her supervisor and colleagues in the field where enthusiastic about her talent for research and the chapters of her thesis have all been published in well-ranked journals.

Alise felt confident and gladly accepted a postdoc abroad. This turned out to be a jumping board for a tenure track position closer to home. She has now been working there for several years, but her confidence and enthusiasm are waning.  Read more

Transitioning into a career after your Humanities PhD – Or how to create an Alt-Ac Philosophical Company

“What are you going to do with your degree in philosophy?” Every philosophy student sooner or later hears this cliché question. And it is not unfamiliar in other fields from Humanities and fundamental sciences. The stakes are even higher after a PhD in said disciplines. Your slim chances at work appear narrowed down to the academic job market. But statistics are compelling: more than 75% of recent PhD holders do not find academic employment. Go figure.

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How to trigger researchers with blinkers into action

“How can I increase the mobility of ‘my’ employed researchers? How do I get them to act proactively? What would you advise”, Yvette asks when I tell her that I help early career researchers with questions about life and career. We are standing in line after the inaugural lecture of Judith Semeijn, Noloc professor of strategic human resource management.  Read more

What Plato can teach you about perfectionism and academic career planning

“I don’t know if I want to be a group leader. If I do this, I want to be a good PI, you know. I just am a perfectionist.” At a brisk pace, Rose walks next to me through the spring forest. A few months ago, she got her PhD in the life sciences, cum laude, and started a prestigious postdoc shortly after. All signs point to a successful career as an excellent research leader. But she hesitates, looking around doubtfully.

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How to make hard choices?

To academe or not to academe?

For many early career researchers this is the hardest choice they faced so far. And it is a big, momentous choice. Especially if you are intrinsically motivated for your topic of expertise and if your research matters to you.

Other hard choices in this stage of building a research career turn on your choice for a place and way to live. What city to settle in? Whether or not to uproot your life to work abroad? Have children now or wait for a more permanent job? These questions seem excellent occasions for agonizing, hand-wringing, brooding, sleepless nights etc.

However, thinking deeper about what makes some choices hard, you can better understand the role they play in our lives and uncover a hidden power each of us possesses to solve them.

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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 mindset and personal attitude influence your employability

Experts on sustainable employability of university employees assume that you are responsible as an individual employee for consciously shaping your own career, while the university as employer should facilitate and support you in this endeavor. This implicit hypothesis emerged in an expert meeting about a research report by dr. Judith Semeijn and prof. dr. Tinka van Vuuren on sustainable employability of university employees.*

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