I’ve been attending this seminar called IDERN 2010 for the past few days. It’s the short form for International Doctoral Educational Research Network, bringing supervisors and postgraduate students from all over the globe to discuss about postgraduate studies.

In a lot of ways, I would have like it more if I had attended this before I started my PhD 2 years ago because it would have given me a clearer picture over how and what studying PhD would be like.

I like to quote one of the speakers who said

PhD- you are responsible for the independent research in the field while being properly supervised.

This means that you are responsible for everything you do from the first step onwards, not your supervisor. This particular responsibility I had experienced it first hand, be it being efficient to carry out my study or be it missing deadlines due to personal problems, everything was my responsibility, and I can’t say that it’s not my fault because everything that happen since that day 2 years ago is under my care.

Another particular thing which I just had to quote was this

In the beginning, you would know nothing, and your supervisor will know everything. After 3 years, you will know almost everything and your supervisor, almost nothing

Think about it.

Well anyway, I’ve learnt loads from the seminars held, from dealing with your supervisors to defending the viva. I won’t be sharing any here because it will take a lot of writing space.

Perhaps the only thing I would write about is this.

Postgraduate study is like your undergraduate study, multiplied ten-folds, add-in a few folds of stress and problems, subtracting all the help you may have gotten in your undergraduate years and you’ll find time as a fraction of what it used to be.

So be prepared, my dear juniors who are about to journey down this road. But do remember one thing though, please do have a life while studying because sometimes a pinch of fun allows for more efficient work.

Have fun studying 🙂

Here’s some other things from the seminar that I would like to share: (Sources are in brackets)

The secret life of the PhD student

You’re sitting at your desk ready to start writing; it’s 9.30 a.m. You think, “I’ll just check my emails for 10 minutes and then I’ll get started on my literature review.” You open up your email and find there’s one from your supervisor asking if your draft is ready. You quickly send it to the trash and check the next one. It’s from an honours student in your department saying they can’t find a particular reference and since it’s your field do you know where to find it. You think, “It’ll only take a few minutes, I’ll just do a quick check.” So you log onto to the library electronic journals. Eventually, with a sense of great satisfaction, it’s found and emailed off to the grateful honours student. It’s 10.15 a.m. “Well,” you think, “I may as well just get the rest of these emails cleared”; glassware not cleaned in lab yesterday – send back saying it wasn’t me; astronomical society bash tonight – send back saying sorry, can’t come; interesting reference from co-supervisor –send back saying thanks, and go look up reference – feel very satisfied when found, printed, stapled and put in pile with 40 other articles. It is now 11.00 a.m. “Well, it’s been a busy morning, surely it’s time for a cup of coffee.” You meet a few friends in the coffee room and chat about the latest techniques for grafting boils to blue tongued sleepy lizards. It’s 11.30 a.m. As it’s only an hour until lunch you think there’s not much point in trying to start the lit review now, so you organise some references and put them into Endnote. It’s 12.30 p.m. and, with a sigh of relief, you head off for lunch. At 1.30 p.m. you come back and now feel a little tired, so think ‘I’ll just do something a bit easy until I feel more motivated.’ It’s 2.30 p.m. and another PhD student knocks on the door and asks for help with calibrating her super-sensitive bio-liquid. You are really good at this so you help and, after all, she’s helped you with Endnote in the past. After this you rush back into your office. It’s 4.30 p.m. You’re late, so you shut down your computer, grab your bag and rush out.
Your supervisor walks past and asks you how your day was. You say, “Great – very busy, did a lot”, but you have to rush now because you’re late for a meeting of the Faculty Higher Degrees Completion Committee and you are its representative!

                                                                   (Kearns et al., 2008)

Do inform me if it’s inappropriate to post this here and I’ll take it down.

What is written in the secret lives of a PhD student is really quite true 🙂

And the second one is a comic by Jorge Cham which is also quite true.


Lol. Have an idea what’s postgraduate studies is like yet?