• Posted by Konstantin 01.09.2008

    There is no easy way to explain why would a person, who has spent 11 years at school, 4 years at bachelor's and 3 years doing master's studies, then decide to enter PhD studies, risking yet another 4 years of his life, if not more. Unlike the case with the bachelor's or master's, there does not seem to be any social pressure encouraging to get a PhD. Neither is there much economical motivation, because getting a PhD does not guarantee higher pay. Finally,  although the PhD degree is indeed a damn cool thing to have, it is doubtful whether people possessing it enjoy life more than all the rest do.

    Nonetheless, PhD is a required attribute of anyone aspiring for the academic career, and is regarded as a qualitatively higher step on the education ladder. So, the question is, what makes this qualitative difference and what issues should one focus on most during the 4 years. Here's my initial guess:

    Your doctorate studies did not go in vain, if:

    1. You can generate a publishable paper in a month, a really good paper in 2-3 months,
    2. You can write a convincing grant/project proposal and you know when and where to submit it,
    3. You have realistic but useful ideas for future work and research,
    4. You know how to supervise/direct/collaborate with others and be actually useful at it,
    5. You know the most important people in your field, and they know you,
    6. You are good at lecturing or other kinds of oral presentation,
    7. You know what to do after you defend.

    I'm sure there's something missing, but this list has some aims complicated enough already. Hopefully, this blog will help me with points 3,5,7 of the above agenda as well as keep reminding of the fact that I don't want to loose my 4 years for nothing. It's day 1 today. 1460 days left. Yay!

    Posted by Konstantin @ 7:08 pm

    Tags: , ,


    1. Swen on 01.09.2008 at 20:46 (Reply)


    2. Mark on 02.09.2008 at 08:41 (Reply)

      7: postdoc in a warm exotic country 🙂

      1. Konstantin on 02.09.2008 at 16:28 (Reply)

        Good idea, but, correct me if I'm wrong, there seems to be a disturbing negative correlation between the warmth/exoticity and the scientific quality/funding. In Europe, for example, all these marvellous mediterranean countries seem to donate their brightest minds to the somewhat northern regions, not all of which are that warm and exotic. The mysterious and exotic countries of the East, both middle and far, are in their majority quite "unscientific".
        So what's left? US, Australia, Japan?

        1. Mark on 02.09.2008 at 22:14 (Reply)

          mmm, malta? israel? taiwan? and aren't your 3 enough already? all you have to do is take 2-3 months to generate a good paper, go to a good conference, meet a good professor and produce a good impression.

          and besides, who said anything about doing science? 4 years should be enough to get fed up. required postdoc skills: и.б.д. + making coffee. or in case of japan -- tea

          1. Konstantin on 02.09.2008 at 22:34 (Reply)

            OK. I think I have to rewrite my list now:

            Your doctorate studies did not go in vain if:
            1. You got fed up.
            2. You are good at и.б.д. (I.H.A., imitation of heavy activity) and making coffee.


            1. Mark on 03.09.2008 at 06:47 (Reply) (Comments won't nest below this level)

              see, show this to Swen -- only 2 points, we simplified it! 🙂 and besides you'll have a bonus point: in 4 years you'll point at the enormous wide and deep comment trees in your blog and proudly say that you still remember those trees as acorns.

              actually your 2-item list isn't for completing a phd program, it's for getting admitted to a postdoc position. and there's no PhD requirement 🙂

        2. H on 06.09.2008 at 08:48 (Reply)

          Singapore, Hong Kong. California. Australia.

          Southern Europe is not really tropical, or exotic...

          1. H on 06.09.2008 at 08:50 (Reply)

            And if just want exotic: China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, USA, Canada, Israel.

            1. Ilja on 07.09.2008 at 10:18 (Reply) (Comments won't nest below this level)

              ...or North Korea.

    3. Phil lloyd on 29.09.2017 at 13:45 (Reply)

      So Mr. Konstantin,
      Did you succeed....now 9 years later...
      I was reviewing your article on money, and was wondering if you could suggest a reviewer for my idea for a better world society:
      Only Sharing in a small community,.no trade barter exchange just share!


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