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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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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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Why the course coordinator sighs with relief

Flushed, Annette turnes away from her computer. She just checked the enrollments for the new courses of the graduate school. So many new PhD candidates, and they come from everywhere across the globe! The graduate school has been successful from its start and keeps growing. Just last month Annette agreed with the dean to focus their attention this year on guarding the quality and progress of current PhD projects, rather than aiming to increase the international visibility of the graduate school and attract even more potential PhDs. She has created a well balanced and attractive set of courses for all PhDs of the graduate school, but she now seems to become a victim of her own success.
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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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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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