Category: PhDchat

Mental health risks in research training can no longer be ignored

Graduate research candidates are the powerhouse of research in universities, yet many have reported feelings of isolation, burnout, and career uncertainty. Karen Barry reports on a study of Australian research candidates which found that increasing numbers are suffering from heightened levels of depression, anxiety, and stress, often citing reasons related to academia’s general work processes, such as writing or publishing […]

A scientific paper shouldn’t tell a good story but present a strong argument

A recent Impact Blog post extolled the benefits of using a storytelling approach when writing a scientific paper. However, while such an approach might well make for a compelling read, does providing an arresting narrative come at the expense of the reader’s critical engagement with the paper? Thomas Basbøll argues that the essential “drama” of any scientific paper stems from […]

A scientific paper shouldn’t tell a good story but present a strong argument

A recent Impact Blog post extolled the benefits of using a storytelling approach when writing a scientific paper. However, while such an approach might well make for a compelling read, does providing an arresting narrative come at the expense of the reader’s critical engagement with the paper? Thomas Basbøll argues that the essential “drama” of any scientific paper stems from […]

How to design an award-winning conference poster

A good academic conference poster serves a dual purpose: it is both an effective networking tool and a means by which to articulately communicate your research. But many academics fail to produce a truly visually arresting conference poster and so opportunities to garner interest and make connections are lost. Tullio Rossi offers guidance on how to produce an outstanding conference poster, considering […]

Five steps to meeting the challenges of maintaining an appropriate writing voice

It’s often said that to embark upon a PhD you must be passionate about your topic. But when it comes to writing up your thesis, being passionate can seem at odds with the need to maintain an academically cool and objective writing voice. Daniel Beaudoin shares five simple steps to keep the “me” in check; including firstly by recognising that […]

PhD students supervised collectively rather than individually are quicker to complete their theses

Given the choice, most PhD students would prefer to receive individual supervision rather than be supervised alongside their peers as part of a collective. This is understandable, given the undivided attention and precise, directly relevant advice one would receive. However, Hans Agné and Ulf Mörkenstam have compared the experiences of individually and collectively supervised students on the same doctoral programme […]

The role of the self in the research process: reflections on researching the REF as a PhD student

In this short, reflective post, Emily Yarrow considers her experiences as a PhD student researching women’s lived experiences of research evaluation in the UK and particularly the anxieties she felt as a junior researcher interviewing very senior, esteemed academic colleagues. It is important to reflect on the role researchers play in the interviewing and data collection process, and also on […]

Writer’s block is not a struggle with your writing but with your thinking. Write your way out of it

Most graduate writers who are struggling with their writing are actually struggling with their thinking. It isn’t a psychological block, but rather the intellectual confusions endemic to the process of communicating sophisticated research. To Rachael Cayley, these confusions are real and can have deleterious consequences for writing, but when we treat these problems as conceptual problems in our thinking we […]

Six academic writing habits that will boost productivity

What’s the secret to a productive spell of writing? Chris Smith shares insights gleaned from interviews with a diverse group of academics, from which a number of common academic writing habits stood out. These range from the simple acts of scheduling and setting self-imposed deadlines, to both formal and informal accountability partnerships and the use of “freewriting” techniques which help […]

Is pursuing an academic career a form of “cruel optimism”?

What does the future hold for PhD graduates? Marie-Alix Thouaille has found that for many the post-PhD transition is characterised by exploitative, often unsustainable working conditions, emotional upheaval, financial worry, and poor wellbeing. Despite this most PhD graduates remain absolutely determined to forge an academic career, unwilling to even entertain the idea of working in another sector. This paradoxical condition […]