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

Why academics need to laze around

Let’s face it. As exciting as science can be, sometimes it is just tedious, boring, taxing. When you are plodding through your data, drudging over a pile of exams, or pegging away at your PhD, it is difficult to feel that enthusiastic flow. You are working hard, draining your energy, feeling low. Naturally, you do not want to be in that space of negative energy. So you look for an escape. Read more

How to know when it is time to quit your PhD

Since last summer the situation in Claudio’s lab deteriorated rapidly. His supervisor became stressed and anxious when his case for tenure was denied. The pressure on the entire team is now enormous, even to academic standards. Every Sunday Claudio feels this pit in his stomach when he thinks about the weekly team meeting on Monday. His sleep and digestive system are in total disorder. 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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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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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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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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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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