Posts

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 stop working hard when I have to revise a paper urgently?

“Since my holiday I have been at work again for a couple of days. I notice that I start to work really hard when I have to do stuff that I find annoying. Chores like writing the final report for NWO, or revising a manuscript. I know I have to do it, and I have a deadline. Automatically I stop working soft, because if I work hard the chore will be done sooner. But with the way I am currently tackling these chores, afterwards I am exhausted and have a headache. How can I stop working hard in such situations?”

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What nobody tells you about being a good academic

A little apprehensively he approaches me as I am getting my coat after a workshop on Working Soft in research. Quietly he asks: “How do I improve my focus and manage my stress? Call me Chris. I work in this open office space with 12 fellow PhDs and Postdocs. When I read, write, or analyze data at my computer people often interrupt me. I like to help my colleagues out, but I also need to finish…”

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How to start working softly in science in 4 steps

With a harassed look Mireille stows some papers in her bag that she is going to grade tonight. A smile fleets across her face: “Did I tell you I am pregnant?” She has just started a temporary teaching position, where she is to do a big introductory course and a somewhat smaller advanced bachelor intensive. She is also planning to write her NWO VENI grant application in the same period, hoping she can create a job following her maternity leave. How can she keep calm and preserve the mental space she needs for developing her new proposal?

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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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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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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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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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The number one tip against stress in your PhD

Be honest: as a PhD or PostDoc, how often do you get to work outside, somewhere green, where you can feel the sun shine, the wind blow, hear birds, smell flowers or fall leaves? When do you get to see and experience some nature? For most of you the basement lab, the library, or even your computer screen define your daily working environment.

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A Taoist tip for doing research

Sometimes when you are trying to focus on a research puzzle, or when you open up a document to write that methods section you have been avoiding for a while, you may notice your mind flittering everywhere in stead of concentrating at the task you sat down to do. This constantly happened to Chris* as he was finishing his thesis. So he came to me and asked: “How can I create more focus and improve my motivation in this final thesis stage?”

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