PhD thoughts

The place to ask about degree courses, conversion courses, masters, PhD or other qualifications. Discuss specific courses, their pros and cons, the content, the application process, different institutions, how to fund them, etc. Includes advice if you have a 2:2 and questions on transcripts
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thedreadpersephone
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PhD thoughts

Post by thedreadpersephone » Sat Feb 22, 2020 7:54 pm

Hi, I've been away from the psychology world for a few years but always found this forum helpful before. I've very recently had thoughts of pursuing a PhD in psychology with the vague aim of some kind of academic career. Has anyone out there done a PhD or in the process of and wants to share their experiences?

My background is that I graduated from the MSc conversion course at Glasgow University back in 2009 :shock: I then spent several years volunteering and looking for jobs with the aim of eventually applying for the doctorate in clinical psychology. At the height of this I managed to get an AP interview, I also interviewed for the CAAP, but was unsuccessful in both. I then had a baby and spent much longer than planned as a stay at home parent. My child is now almost 4 and I'm finally finding time to consider my future. I feel I've lost the urge to go for the doctorate and perhaps more importantly, speaking to clinical psychologists I know about the day to day work, I'm not finding the job personally appealing either. I'm also tied to a particular area and don't drive which I know will be an issue. My local university does research into psycholinguistics which would be a good fit for me as my first degree was in English language. I had the research part of my MSc dissertation published in a journal so I'm fairly optimistic about my writing up skills but less so in my very rusty statistics.

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Spatch
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Re: PhD thoughts

Post by Spatch » Sun Feb 23, 2020 2:55 pm

I would ask anyone about their motivations to do a PhD, and consider what they hope to get out of it. In contrast with DClinPsys, the bottleneck with PhDs begins once you actually are awarded your doctorate and you start looking for permanant posts. The pyramid is fairly brutal if you want to go down the straight academic route, with fewer and fewer posts the further you go from Phd->post doc->Lecturer->Senior Lecturer->Reader->professor. The lower down posts are often temporary (like APs), with many very bright and motivated scholars all gunning for those few academic jobs. Plus if you are woman with family there is the whole leaky pipeline issue: https://beacon-center.org/wp-content/up ... peline.jpg

However, if you take it for an experience in itself, its a good way to get a lot of indepth knowledge in one tiny area and learn to be an independent researcher. It can be lonely and tough, as you are pretty much on your own trying to either develop a field from scratch or trying to master something that few else will have written about. If you do it in the right area, there are a lot of transferable skills to other industries (hardcore stats tends to have lots of takers in data analytics for example).

The number one rule is to look for a good supervisor, as this can make or break that 3-5 years. I can't stress that enough.
Shameless plug alert:

Irrelevant Experience: The Secret Diary of an Assistant Psychologist is available at Amazon
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Irrelevant-Expe ... 00EQFE5JW/

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maven
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Re: PhD thoughts

Post by maven » Sun Feb 23, 2020 3:11 pm

You also need to check that you can get enough funding to make it viable, and a supervisor you get on well with and hold in high regard, in the right geography, whilst studying a topic you will find sufficiently interesting to maintain you through 3-5 years of study and writing a book worth of thesis!
Maven.

Wise men talk because they have something to say, fools because they have to say something - Plato
The fool thinks himself to be wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool - Shakespeare

thedreadpersephone
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Joined: Fri May 25, 2007 5:04 pm
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Re: PhD thoughts

Post by thedreadpersephone » Sun Feb 23, 2020 3:37 pm

Thanks both, that's a much needed dose of realism! I definitely need to think more about what comes after.

lingua_franca
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Re: PhD thoughts

Post by lingua_franca » Tue Feb 25, 2020 9:00 am

I did a PhD and have been successful in finding continuous academic work afterwards, although as Spatch says, these have all been short-term contracts (the three-year fellowship I have now is the longest contract I've held). To take the full-time posts I had to move cities. For the zero hours teaching gigs I had to commute a pretty long way. This is the norm for young academics, and it isn't realistic to expect that you will be able to quickly find permanent work in the university where you did your PhD.

To strengthen your chances, I'd recommend looking for a funded project with a clearly interdisciplinary nature (so something that would enable you to seek jobs in, say, psychology, linguistics, and education departments). I would not do it at all if relocating is off the table.
"Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
- A.A. Milne.

thedreadpersephone
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Joined: Fri May 25, 2007 5:04 pm
Location: Glasgow

Re: PhD thoughts

Post by thedreadpersephone » Wed Feb 26, 2020 1:32 pm

Thanks Lingua Franca, good to hear your experiences. Relocating isn't going to work for me as we've only just settled in an area where my partner has a permanent job. There will be school etc to think about soon too. I could potentially commute as we're fairly central in Scotland but it would make childcare tricky. Lots to think about!

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