So you think you want to do a PhD…?
You have a bright idea for a research project. You have made contact with a number of academics who could potentially supervise your work. You have investigated sources of funding. You have looked into the processes for all the applications. You have collated all the documents and information that you need. You are now about to take your first big step and submit your applications.
While you wait for the outcomes of these applications, and before you make the final decision to embark on a PhD, you may want to read the following articles and learn a little bit more about the risks and potential costs of going down the PhD pathway. [Think of this as a ‘consumer warning label’ before you purchase the very costly (in time, finances and health) product of a Ph.D. education/experience.]
- What is life like as a PhD student?
- The path from PhD to an academic career
- So you really want to be an academic…? What is life an academic likely to be…
- This is a ‘laundry list’ that is phrased in a reasonably neutral manner
- The “underbelly” of life as an early-career academic
- More gloomy tales of life post-PhD
- Sordid details of managerialism in a modern university environment
- Managerialism in another modern university environment
- Managerialism leads to mental health issues for those being managed, i.e. the academics
- The many invisible and largely “unrewarded” things that academics do
- A catalogue of the stresses and competing responsibilities that drown an academic today
- Fixed-term employment contracts are now the norm for early career academics in the UK, and I’d say the same is true in Australia. Not only is fixed-term employment insecure, but it also present challenges to long term planning and development that is generally required of research and research writing/publication.
- Another article on the casualisation of the workforce in the UK
- … and things can get really, really bad in the US.
This is, sadly, one of the best snapshot of the current state of the higher-education sector in English-speaking countries that I have read in recent times. For a critical (damning?) evaluation of the contemporary university in Australia (UK and USA), read this. The state of the academic job-market has given birth to a series of articles, collectively known as “quit lit”, written by discouraged aspiring-academics:
Rather than to discourage you, the information on this page is provided in the spirit of helping you make an informed decision. A caveat emptor if you will.
If you do decide to sign up onto a doctoral programme, here are some handy tips for your PhD experience: