Disturbing the Universe

David L Clements, science and science fiction


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PhD Secrets: The Snake Fight Portion of your Thesis Defence

A friend elsewhere pointed to this. It contains deep truths about PhD vivas.

Q: This whole snake thing is just a metaphor, right? 
A: I assure you, the snakes are very real.

 

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Stinking Fish Time Again

Once again my funding council wants me to enter details of ‘impacts’ their funded research has through a system called ResearchFish, and once again the inadequacies and time wasting nature of this thing become instantly evident.

For publications, it doesn’t use the standard astronomy paper repository so, if you want an accurate reflection of your publications, you have to do it by hand.

For outreach events, the specifications are so proscribed that it is impossible to describe major events like the Royal Society Summer Exhibition.

If you go to a lot of conferences they want details, right down to conference website, for every one.

This is taking the metrics fixated culture of ‘research management’ too far, so far, in fact, that anyone trying to fill this thing accurately would not have time to do any research.

The people behind it have built a system that is guaranteed to fail in its aims of measuring the ‘impact’ of research, not that I think such a thing is measurable anyway, at least not on the year to year timescales our #expletivedeleted# political masters wish.

This stinking pile of aquatic intestines can go screw itself.


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IQs in Academia

IQ tests are not a particularly great way of measuring intelligence – for one thing, you can learn how to do them. But it is nevertheless amusing to look at this compilation of IQ scores by academic subject (I presume these scores are for students in these subjects not academics).

I’m looking smug because Physics comes out on top. Not that this means anything of course.

  • 130.0 Physics
  • 129.0 Mathematics
  • 128.5 Computer Science
  • 128.0 Economics
  • 127.5 Chemical engineering
  • 127.0 Material science
  • 126.0 Electrical engineering
  • 125.5 Mechanical engineering
  • 125.0 Philosophy
  • 124.0 Chemistry
  • 123.0 Earth sciences
  • 122.0 Industrial engineering
  • 122.0 Civil engineering
  • 121.5 Biology
  • 120.1 English/literature
  • 120.0 Religion/theology
  • 119.8 Political science
  • 119.7 History
  • 118.0 Art history
  • 117.7 Anthropology/archeology
  • 116.5 Architecture
  • 116.0 Business
  • 115.0 Sociology
  • 114.0 Psychology
  • 114.0 Medicine
  • 112.0 Communication
  • 109.0 Education
  • 106.0 Public administration

A pity pay rates don’t follow the same hierarchy.

Other commentary on this can be found here.


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Tips for potential PhDs

I’m away celebrating my Dad’s 85th birthday this weekend, so not much time for blogging. However, since my link to R’s ‘why you shouldn’t do a PhD’ remains a popular post here, I thought I should also link to a couple of posts by my friend and newly minted head of English at Anglia Ruskin University, Farah Mendlesohn’s posts on getting a PhD place and finishing a thesis. Farah’s not coming from a hard science background so some things are different (eg. in the sciences you usually do not choose your thesis subject but get given something to work on by your supervisor) but there is much that is transferrable across the disciplines here.

PhD students, PhD supervisors, and those looking for a PhD place can learn a lot form these posts.

Tips for Getting a PhD Place

How to Finish your PhD