The Unwritten Rules Of Phd Research 2nd ed


Title: The Unwritten Rules Of Phd Research 2nd ed
Authors: Marian Petre, Gordon Rugg
Edition: 2
Finished Date:
Rating: 4
Language: English
Genres: PhD
Level: Entry
Publishers: Open University Press
Publication Date: 2010-02-01
ISBN: 978-0335237029
Format: Pdf
Pages: 320
Download: Pdf


keep in touch with what is going on in the area of research

  • grapevine
  • reading the journals
    • the lead time for journal papers is about 2 years
  • conference


  • present the work
  • socialize and build social networks
    • usually ove a drink in the bar
  • find out about research which is no more than 1 year old
    • recent
  • meet colleagues from around the wold


  • 2 capacities
    • someone presenting work
    • someone who is not presenting work
    • several main roues into presenting at a conference
      • publish sth. and have a vague idea about a conference
      • a desire o see exotic place at someone else’s expense
        • more focused research into possible venues
      • a desire to get a paper into a particular conference
        • because it is te main conference for this field
    • call for papers

      • specify
        • which types of paper will be accepted
        • state the guidelines for each type of paper
        • deadline
      • usually include

        • full papers
          • full-sized papers
        • short papers
          • short papers
        • abstract for papers
          • may be full or short
        • posters
          • where you stand in the lobby at coffee and lunch breaks next to posters
            which you have previously prepared, describing your work
      • remember

        • if your abstract is accepted you will need to write the paper at some point
        • posters

          • most of people who do ask questions will
            leave you with a faintly uneasy feeling

            • they’ve asked questions to demonstrate
              their own greater knowledge of he field

            • they are strange individuals

    • after funding is proved
      • arrange travel
      • accomodation
        • hotel
      • sressful
    • before conference

      • pay attention to

        • attendees list

          • who’s on the list that you’d especially like to meet
          • are they giving a paper
          • is there someone attending the conference that you know
            and who could introduce you?

          • is there a particular question you’d like to ask that researcher
            which you could address in an email

            • hey may not answer
            • if the question is interesting they might
              be more prone to give a bit of time to meet
        • the sessions and the paper titles
          plan your attendance

          • which sessions are not to be missed?
          • when are here openings for conversations?
          • who is the first contact you want to target
    • once have conference pack
      • find a suitable quiet corner
      • continue planning about which sessions to attend
      • usually good idea to attend the plenary sessions
      • not need to attend every talk
        • sometimes a strategic conversation over coffee with the right researcher is more valuable than a paper session
    • each night
      • kim or read the papers for the sessions you plan to attend the nex day
      • have a look at the papers for the other sessions
        • you may meet their authors at coffee
      • check you plan for the next day
    • each day, take your proceedings to the sessions
      • refer to papers for clarification
      • annotate the papers
        • if the authors add information during the presenation
        • sth. specifically resonant with your own work
      • work out questions to aks
      • have sth to do if he session is a dud
        • read other papers
      • pay attention to what makes good speakers good
        • bad speakers bad
    • what you get out is related to what you put in
      • more likely to make good connections
        • stay engaged
        • seek conversations
        • keep track of information
    • much of the ‘real’ value of a conference isn’t derived from the sessions
      • come from conversations in the bar
      • bar also serve non-alcoholic drinks


  • 3 main reasons for attending conference
    • forutune
    • glory
    • good of the discipline
  • good conference
    • bring in a substantial profit to he instituion involved
    • bring fame and power (within research circles at least ) to the academics organizing it
  • well-planned conference
    • revitalize an area of research which has gone stale
    • start a new area of research
    • if you want to achieve one of 2 things above, start a conference
  • problems

    • how to attract enough people to make the conference viable
      • standard solution
        • invite some key speakers, whose talks will be a significant attraction
          • summarize the current state of he field
          • suggest some really ineresting new ideas
        • a nice location
      • classic solution
        • publish he conference proceedings
          • an added enticement is to strike a deal with a journal editor to publish the best papers
            in a special issue of the journal
  • department gives funding to transportation in this order

    • published proceedings plus special issue
      Priority: 1

    • published proceedings only
      Priority: 2

    • no proceedings
      Priority: 3

good advice for PhD

  • practice listening skills
    • patience
  • meet people and strike up friendships

    • best way
      • over moderately sober conversations in the bar,
        with people who are willing to talk to you
  • 1st time to present paper

    • reduce the stress

      • get some experience at public speaking before you go

        • departmental seminars
        • try running unofficial postgraduate seminars at which
          you present your work to each other in a constructive,
          supportive atmosphere

          • persuade a wise and supportive member of staff to come along
            and give constructive criticism can be very helpful
      • co-author with supervisor and persuade your supervisor to give the talk
        with a promise hat you will do the talking next time

        • learn from your supervisor’s xperience
    • commission
      • you what you’re doing at your second conference
      • guest speakers’ commission is to entertain or dazzle he audience

get the most out of networking at a conference - a checklist

  • strategies for covering conferences of different sizes

    • small
      • aim for comprehensive coverage
        • talk to everyone here
    • medium

      • aim to talk to as many people as possible
        but target those doing related work
    • large

      • make advance arrangements to ensure contact with key people,
        and focused targeting during the event
  • make contacts at the conference

    • use activities
      • workshops
      • working groups
      • tutorials
      • ‘birds of a feather’ session, first-timers’ events
    • present a paper
      • introduce you to everyone in your audience
    • ask a good question

      • others who find your question interesting may introduce themselves to you,
        and the author will be more likely to remember you
    • attend demonstrations

    • if you hear a conversation that’s really interesting,
      stand visibly on the periphery until you get a chance to make a contribution
      ( a short question or a joke is good )
      or aks if you may join the group

    • get your supervisor or an existing contact to suggest people
      and make introductions

      • make early conact with a key person
        • someone on the committee
        • someone well established in he eara
      • be around when they make contact with others
      • aks them to make introductions
    • talk to the person sitting nex to your in a session
      • ask a question about the last presedntation
    • make it a habit to have lunch with different people every day
    • make connections for other people
      • refer to oher conversations and work and be ready to make appropriate introductions
    • when you’re in a conversation,
      avoid “sounding off” or entertaining people with your opinions
      i’s much more effective to phrase ideas as questions rather than statements

    • have ‘cocktail party introductions’ worked out and ready to mind

      • brief description of who you are and what you’re researching
    • take business cards and write some specific information on the back that
      will help your contact recall you conversation

    • when you take someone else’s card,
      write down where you met them and
      some characterizing idea or expertise that
      will help you remember them in six months

  • following up

    • conference contacts tend to have a high attrition rate
      but making contacts is still worth it if you make one good,
      lasting connection

    • always keep the promises you make

      • do send that paper, or email that information
    • follow up great conversations with a thank-you email
    • invite good contacts to your institution
      • perhaps to give a talk
    • if you didn’t get a chance to speak to an author during the conference,
      do it via email afterwards

So you want to do a PhD?

Priority: 1

What is a PhD?

  • a PhD

    • a demonstration of research competence through dissertation
      • mastery of your subject
      • research insight
      • respect for the discipline
      • capacity for independent research
      • ability to communicate reuslts and relate them to the broad discourse
    • reflect
      • competence
      • professional
      • greatness
    • postdoctoral
      • on-the-job training
      • no implication that the PhD is then end of your education or training
    • involve
      • do a substantial chunk of research
      • write it up
      • discuss it with professional academics
      • practical level
        • higher pay scale
        • recognize by other countries, too
        • admitted to membership of the academic clan
          • treated differently if you have a PhD
          • a distinct feeling of having become ‘one of us’
      • PhD changes you
        • critical thinking
        • a different way of thinking
          • for example
            • project assignment to undergrates
              • PhD
                • how to conduct research
                • the students need to learn critical thinkin gksills valuable for later life
              • nonPhD
                • industrial placement
                • the students need to be equipped to find jobs
    • some concepts not found in other books

      • provide a useful structure for
        • what you are trying to do in a PhD
        • understanding how things work in the big picture
      • dissertation vs thesis
        • thesis
          • the argument that you propose as a result of your research
        • dissertation
          • the written document which describes your thesis
        • dissertatio is often referred to as ‘the thesis’
      • cabinet-making metaphor

        • thesis

          • demonstrate that you have
            all the skills needed to be a research in your own right

            • make a skill list
              • masterery of formal academic language
              • familiarity with the relevant literature in the discipline
              • knowledge of the main data colletion techniques
              • adherence to the standards of rigour
              • more in Ch3
              • persontal interest in the eara
                • personal interest is usally taken for granted by examiners
              • ethical importance of the topic
        • most of the skills below assume that your work will be located within a single discipline
        • interdisciplinary
          • choose a ‘host’ discipline, then import the concepts from the other discpline into the host discipline
        • skills
          • the quality of output hinges on the quality of the questions
            • why it is asked
            • how it is asked
            • how it relates to other questions and knowledge
            • what might constitute and answer
            • proof
              • ariculation of the motivation and significance of the question
              • situation in existing literature
                • coverage and limitations of existing and competing research
                • awareness of where your work fits in relation to the discipline
                • what it contributes to the discipline
              • identification and critique of alternative approaches
          • demonstration of competent academic language
            • good communication relies on understanding the conventions of the community
            • proof
              • correct use of technical terms
              • attention to detail in punctuation, grammar etc.
              • attention to use of typographic design (white space, layout, headings styles) to make the text accessible
              • ability to structure and convey a clear and coherent argument, including attention to the use of ‘signposting’ devices such as headings to make structure accessible
              • write in a suitable academic ‘voice’
          • knowledge of background literature
            • background
              • prior thinking
              • prior knowledge
              • prior evidence
              • prior practice
            • how it shapes your own research
            • proof
              • seminal texts correctly cited, with evidence that you have read them and evaluated them critically
              • references accurately reflecting the growth of the literature from the seminal texts to the present day
              • identification of key recent texts on which your own PhD is based, showing both how these contribute to your thesis and how your thesis is different from them
              • relevant texts and concepts from other disciplines cited
              • organization of all of the cited literature into a coherent, critical structure, showing both that you can make sense of the literature - identifying conceptual relationships and themes, recognizeing gaps - and that you understand what is important
          • research methods
            • demonstrate appropriate knowledge and comptetence in choosing and using research methods
            • knowledge of the main research methods used in your discipline, including data collection, record-keeping and data analysis knowledge of what constitutes ‘evidence’ in your discipline, and what is acceptable as a knowledge claim
      • distinction between instrumental and expressive behavior

about this book

main problems in 2 cateogries

  • ‘big picture’ knowledge about how the academic system works,
    and why it works that way

    • classic career path in academia?
    • why is academic writing so dry?
    • Why do some people get lectureships in good departments
      before you’ve finished their PhD,
      whereas others are still struggling to find any job 10 years after their doctorate?

    • What counts as a “good” department anyway, an why?

  • crafty skills
    • usually low-level skills, normally viewed as not sufficiently important to be
      worth mentioning in textbooks – tricks of the trade which are usually taught
      informally by supervisors or other mentors


  • from start to end
  • end to start

important thing keep in mind

  • discipline vary
    • use word “usually”
    • quality in a CV
  • concepts remain the same



  • do the best research possible with the minimum of wasted effort
  • use your research as part of your career development
    and self-development

author’s credentials

  • PhD
  • publicatio of various journal papers
  • encyclopedia articles
  • advanced research felllowships
  • journal editorships
  • refereeing for major journals and fund-giving bodies