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Thread: To PhD or not to Phd?

  1. #31
    Spanish_Vicente sledger's Avatar
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    I don't think anyone who hasn't done a doctorate in two entirely distinct fields (i.e. almost everyone) would be able to even begin to credibly answer that tbh.

    Even within disciplines the nature, scope, aims, and methodology of projects can, and often do, vary wildly. So comparisons of let's say one law PhD to another are pretty futile. Everyone experiences the process differently and will encounter different problems, and have a different attitude re: how best to solve them.
    Last edited by sledger; 19-06-2019 at 07:49 AM.
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  2. #32
    International 12th Man Kirkut's Avatar
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    I finished my master's degree in mechanical engineering from a university which is not Ivy League but has a positive reputation for engineering. I specialized in thermodynamics and heat transfer and have decent MATLAB skills. While applying for jobs related to my area of interest I discovered that most jobs either needed 5-7 years of experience or a PhD with lab work being dedicated to heat transfer in lithium ion batteries and IC chips, although my resume is not very inadequate I felt that I need to work on my skills more and considered PhD as an open option.

    My probable supervisor gets funding for his lab from US Department of Energy and US Air Force. He has a very positive reputation and I have good relations with him (which rules out the possibility of him bullying me). But then I was confused if my reasons for considering a PhD made sense or not?

    After reading truly great answers here I would again give it a deep thought before taking the big step. Really thank you all, it's impossible for me to multi quote everyone but all experiences shared here have been very helpful.

    Do not hesitate in sharing more anecdotes here about your PhD experience!
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  3. #33
    Spanish_Vicente sledger's Avatar
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    No problem lad. It's nice to have something to respond constructively to for once. Gives me a chance to break from making glib remarks and facile comments.

    I hope whatever choice you end up making is the right one for you and works out. Despite the rather negative tone of my earlier posts, if I encountered someone who was super determined and really felt it was the right thing to do I would encourage them to do so 100%. The trouble, of course, is that rarely does one encounter such a person, and for all others the advice must be "avoid".

    I will have a think to see if I can recall any other hopefully useful or amusing anecdotes.
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  4. #34
    Request Your Custom Title Now! Uppercut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sledger View Post
    I don't think anyone who hasn't done a doctorate in two entirely distinct fields (i.e. almost everyone) would be able to even begin to credibly answer that tbh.

    Even within disciplines the nature, scope, aims, and methodology of projects can, and often do, vary wildly. So comparisons of let's say one law PhD to another are pretty futile. Everyone experiences the process differently and will encounter different problems, and have a different attitude re: how best to solve them.
    The job markets are totally different. Business/Finance>>>hard science>>> liberal arts, generally speaking. In my field getting a postdoc was a career-maker; in hard sciences they’re mostly frustrating stop-gaps.

    The country matters a lot too. If you’ll be US-based you’re less likely to have the aforementioned funding issues, but you’re also looking at a much longer PhD.
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  5. #35
    Request Your Custom Title Now! Uppercut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sledger View Post
    No problem lad. It's nice to have something to respond constructively to for once. Gives me a chance to break from making glib remarks and facile comments.

    I hope whatever choice you end up making is the right one for you and works out. Despite the rather negative tone of my earlier posts, if I encountered someone who was super determined and really felt it was the right thing to do I would encourage them to do so 100%. The trouble, of course, is that rarely does one encounter such a person, and for all others the advice must be "avoid".

    I will have a think to see if I can recall any other hopefully useful or amusing anecdotes.
    I think the right advice is almost always ‘avoid’. If it’s right for them they’ll probably disregard your advice anyway.

    Any reason why CW has so many PhDs? Seems crazy disproportionate.

  6. #36
    Spanish_Vicente sledger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uppercut View Post
    The job markets are totally different. Business/Finance>>>hard science>>> liberal arts, generally speaking. In my field getting a postdoc was a career-maker; in hard sciences they’re mostly frustrating stop-gaps.

    The country matters a lot too. If you’ll be US-based you’re less likely to have the aforementioned funding issues, but you’re also looking at a much longer PhD.
    That's quite interesting actually. Post-docs in law are very uncommon. I don't know anyone who is either doing one or has done one.

  7. #37
    Spanish_Vicente sledger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uppercut View Post
    I think the right advice is almost always ‘avoid’. If it’s right for them they’ll probably disregard your advice anyway.

    Any reason why CW has so many PhDs? Seems crazy disproportionate.
    I was thinking this the other day, but I think they are a more common qualification than one might ordinarily expect. I think we often assume that everyone who gets one either wants to work as an academic or something relatively high-powered or whatever. But in my experience there are quite a lot of people out there who do one just for their enjoyment of the subject, but never have any intention to do anything with it, nor are they interested in using the title etc.

    Met a bloke the other day who runs a small art shop and has a PhD in earth sciences for instance. A bloke I knew a few years ago had a PhD in international financial crime and worked as a green keeper on a golf course. These sorts of things are not common I guess, but there are a surprising number of seemingly random people out there like this.
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  8. #38
    International 12th Man Kirkut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sledger View Post
    No problem lad. It's nice to have something to respond constructively to for once. Gives me a chance to break from making glib remarks and facile comments.

    I hope whatever choice you end up making is the right one for you and works out. Despite the rather negative tone of my earlier posts, if I encountered someone who was super determined and really felt it was the right thing to do I would encourage them to do so 100%. The trouble, of course, is that rarely does one encounter such a person, and for all others the advice must be "avoid".

    I will have a think to see if I can recall any other hopefully useful or amusing anecdotes.
    The bold part. That is the reason why I'm highly likely not to do one because I'm not motivated, I'm seeing PhD as a means to get me skills relevant to the jobs I'm applying to and as already mentioned here by many that is not a good reason to do a PhD. Also the opportunity cost is very important to consider.

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uppercut View Post
    The country matters a lot too. If you’ll be US-based you’re less likely to have the aforementioned funding issues, but you’re also looking at a much longer PhD.
    The Doitchies want you to get in and gtfo after 3 years but that’s 3 years of work, contract is over, then many supervisors will expect you to begin thesis write-up. Aware if that’s the case elsewhere?

    Quote Originally Posted by sledger View Post
    I was thinking this the other day, but I think they are a more common qualification than one might ordinarily expect. I think we often assume that everyone who gets one either wants to work as an academic or something relatively high-powered or whatever. But in my experience there are quite a lot of people out there who do one just for their enjoyment of the subject, but never have any intention to do anything with it, nor are they interested in using the title etc.

    Met a bloke the other day who runs a small art shop and has a PhD in earth sciences for instance. A bloke I knew a few years ago had a PhD in international financial crime and worked as a green keeper on a golf course. These sorts of things are not common I guess, but there are a surprising number of seemingly random people out there like this.
    My landlady has a PhD in engineering and property is her full time profession. Isn’t the world kinda having a glut of people at least attempting a doctorate anyway? At least in the sciences? If so, sort of furthers the idea that you should only do it if you want to.

    To be honest, dunno if any of us are revealing the Crown Jewels here. The most concrete advice comes once you sign up and start, I reckon.

  10. #40
    Spanish_Vicente sledger's Avatar
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    To some extent I suppose that is how I saw it as well. So I guess the questions are, will the PhD make a significant difference to your ability to get these jobs, and are you super determined to get said jobs?

    If the answer to either of these is not "definitely yes", then safe yourself the aggravation.

    Edit: @ Kirkut
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  11. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kirkut View Post
    The bold part. That is the reason why I'm highly likely not to do one because I'm not motivated, I'm seeing PhD as a means to get me skills relevant to the jobs I'm applying to and as already mentioned here by many that is not a good reason to do a PhD. Also the opportunity cost is very important to consider.
    Huge, tbh. For 5 years, you won’t (likely) be networking in your non-academic field, skill building, making cash, travelling for fun, having many outside interests nor investing in a family if that’s your aim. Those are potentially serious losses.

    Personally, I seriously compromised my future earnings doing a doctorate. As I said, no regrets but that’s a reality.
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  12. #42
    Request Your Custom Title Now! Uppercut's Avatar
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    Yeah there can be a major personal cost to being stuck somewhere for a fixed period of time, at the end of which you’re very likely to be forced to move on.
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  13. #43
    International 12th Man Kirkut's Avatar
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    When it comes to building skills there are online learning resources like coursera, edx and udemy. Of course they do not provide hands on skills like a dedicated lab work does in a PhD but it's not a bad option than half heartedly entering an unknown territory with a possibly huge opportunity cost.

  14. #44
    International Coach trundler's Avatar
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    I've always flirted with the idea of getting into academia. Where I live, there aren't many (virtually none) opportunities in fields I'm interested in. I've been thrown off the idea because of what I've read here over the past year and I don't think I'm dedicated enough to go all the way with a PhD. Yet I very much feel I have the temper for it. I must admit that I know **** all, however. Great thread Kirkut, I'm of no help but I was curious.

    Can you get anywhere in a field like linguistics without a PhD? Is teaching all there is?
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  15. #45
    International 12th Man Kirkut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trundler View Post
    I've always flirted with the idea of getting into academia. Where I live, there aren't many (virtually none) opportunities in fields I'm interested in. I've been thrown off the idea because of what I've read here over the past year and I don't think I'm dedicated enough to go all the way with a PhD. Yet I very much feel I have the temper for it. I must admit that I know **** all, however. Great thread Kirkut, I'm of no help but I was curious.

    Can you get anywhere in a field like linguistics without a PhD? Is teaching all there is?
    Linguistics may be a popular career in the future when sophisticated AI is to be designed.

    I have zero knowledge in computer science but see if this is of any help - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chomsky_hierarchy

    P.S.: I hope you find this useful: https://www.hrtechnologist.com/artic...-career-in-ai/
    Last edited by Kirkut; 19-06-2019 at 05:14 PM.
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