Posts

12 ways to look at your PhD

You might say that, basically, a PhD is a novel, in depth study of a specific field where the results are written up as a report or book in a series of chapters outlining the literature base, methodology, results and conclusions drawn from your work. You will have one primary supervisor and often a secondary one who will guide you through the process. In reality much of work in a PhD is independent and differs markedly from MSc and BSc teaching degrees.

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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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How to take a punch like a Stoic in academia

Doing science is about researching and then going public with your findings. If you keep your findings to yourself, you are just privately musing, but not doing scientific research. However, going public with your research can be daunting, especially for PhD’s. What to do when you are scared to show your first piece of writing to your supervisor? When you dread nasty questions about your presentation at a conference? Or when you feel ready to quit because you just received stinging criticism from a reviewer on that article of yours with the top results of your research? Here is a bit on how to face criticism without letting it take you down.

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On supervisors

Inevitably you will experience moments during your PhD where things between you and your supervisor do not go as smoothly as you would like. Small wonder: a PhD is a pretty intense project in which you yourself go through a considerable personal development and in which your supervisor has to balance two roles that are hard to combine, that of coach and that of examiner.  Most supervisors know exactly which role to adopt at a given moment, but there will be a day, or days, where e.g. you receive fierce criticism while you actually badly needed a pat on the back.

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Employability at the university

Many employability measures are available at universities, but they are still unknown and underused. This is the result of research by the Taskforce Employability for Academic Education of the SoFoKles fund. Especially early career researchers are in a position to benefit greatly from measures and activities that support sustainable career development. Therefore, I have asked one of the researchers, dr. Judith Semeijn from the Open University, to present the most striking conclusions of this research to a group of coaches, trainers and HR advisors who focus specifically on early career researchers.

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Inequality in academia

These are two sobering figures for the current situation in academia in the Netherlands:

Percentage of women professors in EU countries and the gender distribution in academic careers.

I have written about this before in a post on motherhood and academia. Before the end of year festivities caught up with me was at a symposium of the LNVH (Dutch network of women professors) where I had the pleasure to hear Prof. Curt Rice speak about implicit bias as the key to career differences between men and women. He argued that the confirmation of stereotypes leads us to forming an implicit bias where we, men and women alike, more readily see a man in a high profile function or on track to a professional career than a woman. If you think you are above this implicit bias, take this implicit bias test at project implicit and think again!

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