Skip to content Skip to main navigation

News

Skilled legal advice with
accessible & personal attention

Five things you should know before you enrol in a PhD program

By anuevents - 20 July 2013 13

Online event/webcast

Tuesday 30 July, 7-8pm

Thinking of doing a PhD? Then this online session is not to be missed.

Dr Inger Mewburn (aka the Thesis Whisperer), Director of Research Training at ANU and author of How to tame your PhD, will discuss five ways to set yourself up for success in your PhD and beyond. She will cover the following and more:

1. Reputation is everything! The PhD is the modern-day generic degree. It doesn’t matter so much what topic you choose but where you do it

2. Why choosing a research-led institution is a no-brainer

3. Tell-tale signs that a university has a fundamental ‘PhD student life support’ system in place, what this is and why it matters

4. How to select your supervisory panel: three key considerations

5. Networking is king! How to position yourself post-enrolment to make the most of online and offline opportunities.

Inger will speak for thirty minutes and then take questions.

Spaces are limited. Register now!

Enquiries: graduate.studies@anu.edu.au

What’s Your opinion?


Post a comment
Please login to post your comments, or connect with
13 Responses to
Five things you should know before you enrol in a PhD program
pajs 11:41 am 22 Jul 13

c_c™ said :

IrishPete said :

I think the idea of a PhD is to train you to be a researcher, not just in your specific topic but more generally (but probably not outside a broader field that your topic fell within).

It’s also the bit of paper that qualifies you for an academic position, unless you are one of the many people who somehow manage to get those positions without a PhD, despite the jobs being advertised as “PhD essential”.

Bitter? Moi?

IP

It might depend on the area in a university, but since when was a PhD necessary for an academic position? Perhaps that’s just an assumption people have?

The current head of the ANU Law School (who has the title of Professor) only has a Masters.

The current ANU LLB/JD Sub-dean (who also holds the title of Professor) only has a Masters. Amusingly, he teaches a course with a younger member of the academic staff who does have a PhD, and he is in every way a superior educator.

Both of the ANU’s lecturers in Administrative and Public law have only a Masters. One of them serves as convenor for the courses and also co-wrote the Oxford textbook on Administrative Law.

Three of the international law academics, one of whom served as an ad-hox judge on the ICJ, only have Masters. Only the fourth has a PhD.

I think you are missing a key point here about the requirements for higher degree supervision and what that earns the university and then the school or department. Much of the pressure or ‘requirement’ for academic staff to have a PhD is that it is needed to allow that staff member to supervise PhD students. There can be some wiggle room with non-PhD supervisors officially having a ‘support’ type role (like associate supervisor), but solid research schools want big throughput of doctoral students, which means staff with doctorates.

While I now work in a fairly different area to that of my PhD, it was an excellent training in a lot of different skills, not just those connected directly to research. I’d done a Masters first though, in a place (UQ) that tried to use the combination of the two higher degrees, back-to-back, to approximate a good North American doctoral program. Good in principle, but if the scholarship fnding arrangements are for 3 or 3.5 years, then it can be a slog, financially, to do that kind of training.

milkman 7:31 pm 21 Jul 13

Having a PhD is good and all, but in a lot of real world industries it doesn’t really mean a lot in terms of employment.

WilliamZ 6:25 pm 21 Jul 13

Interesting thread that probably won’t be read by anuevents. Plus, I would be skeptical of PhD advice coming from a university as a promotional event rather than from a potential supervisor. The truth (if there is one) is
that universities have become dysfunctional in Australia, especially with respect to research-based postgraduate degrees. Each successful postgraduate completion yields its host university a lot of money in the form of a block grant. While this may seem like a good thing, instead, the current funding formula promotes a factory mentality at universities. This is further magnified by a quicker completion time. There is little regard from universities for the quality of the PhD product. Likewise, the RTS funding scheme funds an inordinate number of “stupid” projects with little regard for the merit of the project or whether the PhD student when finished will be able to obtain a good job inside or outside of academia. Individual professors can be very different in their outlook and most helpful. If you want a fast PhD, and not leave Australia, by all means stay here. If you want a career-shaping event (and can’t find a rigorous, supportive mentor here) that may take 4-5 years, look for someone in the U.S. or Europe who is doing cutting-edge research. With enthusiasm, good recommendations, and a little luck, you might find yourself on an overseas flight with, given Australia’s poor support of basic science funding, a career that only brings you back here to visit friends and family

Diggety 6:01 pm 21 Jul 13

#6. How to avoid procrastination and stay focussed on the research topic.

(Could crap on about this problem for hours and hours, and hours and hours. Hours, hours, hours and hours….)

c_c™ 3:28 pm 21 Jul 13

IrishPete said :

urchin said :

c_c™ said :

Law is a bit of a different animal than other disciplines. In most if you don’t have a PhD you have no chance at a continuing appointment. Not at all a justified approach (particularly given how little is required to get a phd) but that is the reality for most–but not all–disciplines.

Indeed. Law may be a different beast, or maybe those people referred to got in before they changed the rules to not let anyone else in without one.

I think I have found the backdoor way in, but I’m not going to tell anyone else.

IP

Perhaps, but I’d be surprised if the trends are in favour of requiring a PhD. With the budget cuts and broader shift towards casualisation of academic positions, I can see a time when many academics will have had neither the time nor the motivation for job security and income to have bothered with a PhD.

Not sure that’s such a bad thing. Two of the most abysmal lecturers I’ve had have been PhD recipients, while four of the best across Arts and Law haven’t been (including the one who wrote the authoritative Oxford textbook on one subject). Perhaps that’s not surprising when even the folks selling PhDs describe it as a “modern-day generic degree”

IrishPete 11:56 am 21 Jul 13

urchin said :

c_c™ said :

Law is a bit of a different animal than other disciplines. In most if you don’t have a PhD you have no chance at a continuing appointment. Not at all a justified approach (particularly given how little is required to get a phd) but that is the reality for most–but not all–disciplines.

Indeed. Law may be a different beast, or maybe those people referred to got in before they changed the rules to not let anyone else in without one.

I think I have found the backdoor way in, but I’m not going to tell anyone else.

IP

urchin 11:57 pm 20 Jul 13

IrishPete said :

I think the idea of a PhD is to train you to be a researcher, not just in your specific topic but more generally (but probably not outside a broader field that your topic fell within).

It’s also the bit of paper that qualifies you for an academic position, unless you are one of the many people who somehow manage to get those positions without a PhD, despite the jobs being advertised as “PhD essential”.

Bitter? Moi?

IP

i do understand what you are saying but i don’t think that it is possible to separate being a “researcher” from being intimately knowledgable about your discipline. being a researcher is not a discrete skill. it is embedded in having the necessary knowledge and background to effectively contextualise and analyse what you are researching. at least if one is to operate at a level to make reading whatever that person writes a meaningful endeavour.

i agree heartily with your bitterness. it is a shame to see truly brilliant and creative people be excluded because they don’t possess a piece of paper. in that case, however, either get one of those pieces of paper (it’s honestly not hard) or publish like a madman.

i have to wonder at the ANU’s media strategy with advert, though. reputation is everything? i always thought that, when getting a phd, the advisor was everything… it’s really depressing if this is the reality of postgraduate studies at the anu… my advice to any ambitious academic-to-be – apply to a strong US institution. you’ll get world class training, a full scholarship and a stipend sufficient enough to keep you from starving (just barely, but still). they lose heaps of money on each phd they produce (in the humanities, at least), so they do their best to make sure each one counts.

urchin 11:50 pm 20 Jul 13

c_c™ said :

IrishPete said :

I think the idea of a PhD is to train you to be a researcher, not just in your specific topic but more generally (but probably not outside a broader field that your topic fell within).

It’s also the bit of paper that qualifies you for an academic position, unless you are one of the many people who somehow manage to get those positions without a PhD, despite the jobs being advertised as “PhD essential”.

Bitter? Moi?

IP

It might depend on the area in a university, but since when was a PhD necessary for an academic position? Perhaps that’s just an assumption people have?

The current head of the ANU Law School (who has the title of Professor) only has a Masters.

The current ANU LLB/JD Sub-dean (who also holds the title of Professor) only has a Masters. Amusingly, he teaches a course with a younger member of the academic staff who does have a PhD, and he is in every way a superior educator.

Both of the ANU’s lecturers in Administrative and Public law have only a Masters. One of them serves as convenor for the courses and also co-wrote the Oxford textbook on Administrative Law.

Three of the international law academics, one of whom served as an ad-hox judge on the ICJ, only have Masters. Only the fourth has a PhD.

Law is a bit of a different animal than other disciplines. In most if you don’t have a PhD you have no chance at a continuing appointment. Not at all a justified approach (particularly given how little is required to get a phd) but that is the reality for most–but not all–disciplines.

EvanJames 10:01 pm 20 Jul 13

IrishPete said :

I think the idea of a PhD is to train you to be a researcher,

Used to be that degrees from universities were about education, not training. And used to be that PhDs were to push forward the boundaries of human knowledge. That’s before we destroyed our tertiary system and the population commenced its march to Idiocracy.

c_c™ 4:55 pm 20 Jul 13

IrishPete said :

I think the idea of a PhD is to train you to be a researcher, not just in your specific topic but more generally (but probably not outside a broader field that your topic fell within).

It’s also the bit of paper that qualifies you for an academic position, unless you are one of the many people who somehow manage to get those positions without a PhD, despite the jobs being advertised as “PhD essential”.

Bitter? Moi?

IP

It might depend on the area in a university, but since when was a PhD necessary for an academic position? Perhaps that’s just an assumption people have?

The current head of the ANU Law School (who has the title of Professor) only has a Masters.

The current ANU LLB/JD Sub-dean (who also holds the title of Professor) only has a Masters. Amusingly, he teaches a course with a younger member of the academic staff who does have a PhD, and he is in every way a superior educator.

Both of the ANU’s lecturers in Administrative and Public law have only a Masters. One of them serves as convenor for the courses and also co-wrote the Oxford textbook on Administrative Law.

Three of the international law academics, one of whom served as an ad-hox judge on the ICJ, only have Masters. Only the fourth has a PhD.

IrishPete 3:56 pm 20 Jul 13

I think the idea of a PhD is to train you to be a researcher, not just in your specific topic but more generally (but probably not outside a broader field that your topic fell within).

It’s also the bit of paper that qualifies you for an academic position, unless you are one of the many people who somehow manage to get those positions without a PhD, despite the jobs being advertised as “PhD essential”.

Bitter? Moi?

IP

poetix 3:39 pm 20 Jul 13

I found that jolly little description of what a PhD student should look for inutterably depressing.

urchin 11:46 am 20 Jul 13

if a phd is generic and the topic doesn’t really matter, is there any real purpose to getting a phd? it’s a research degree that is supposed to identify you as an expert in your particular field, so i would have thought that the topic is very important.

i do think that aussie unis are being very short-sighted with their devaluation of phd’s and making them the new master’s degree. in an attempt to generate more funding (that is why they want phds so badly) they take almost anyone. as there is no coursework component it is exceeding difficult (& unusual) to get an under-trained student up to par & have them write a meaningful thesis within the 3 years allotted. with such cases, the student lingers on and on until the advisor finally finds a “sympathetic” panel to get under-performing students across the line before they go on to a career that has little or nothing to do with the field they have done research in. is this not a phenomenal waste of resources?

in the US you are typically looking at 4 years undergrad + 2 years Master’s degree (or an extra year on the PhD as you do one as you go) + 5 years phd (3 years coursework+1 year fieldwork + 1 year writing) for a total of 11 years.

in Aus, if you do a 3 year undergrad + 1 year 1st class honours you can go straight into PhD and get it in 3 years. Total of 7 years.

not saying all US phds are good and all aus phds are bad, but when you look at the numbers, the aus phd training seems a bit anaemic.

Related Articles

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Top
Copyright © 2017 Riot ACT Holdings Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.
www.the-riotact.com | www.b2bmagazine.com.au | www.thisiscanberra.com

Search across the site