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What to prioritise in a PhD?

  • #1
    Registered Users Posts: 49 ✭✭✭ Interferon Gamma


    Hi there guys, hoping you can advise me on a dilemma.

    I've been offered* two great PhDs and am struggling to decide which would be the better to commit to. One is in a university here, the other is in a prestigious university in Scotland. Both are good projects with a great potential to publish papers, so the problem is I'm unsure which one to pick.

    Both PIs are renowned for being really nice, the Irish one is very established and has had 15 students come through his lab. The Scottish PI is new, so I'd be the first student in the lab but would I think I'd get great supervision as a result (but the Scottish project area moves very fast, in the past week there were 5 new papers!) but I think I'll get scooped more there.

    Aside from the potential to publish, is there anything else I should factor into my decision?

    Thanks!

    *Second offer is provisional but will be confirmed Monday. Lets just say I've both for the sake of the thread.


Comments



  • Aside from the potential to publish, is there anything else I should factor into my decision?
    Obviously we would need more details before we could knowledgeably advise you.

    "The potential to publish" would be a major factor that would affect my decision, especially in the publish or perish university environment. Have both the PI's assured you of the opportunity to be named in publications in accordance with your research and authorship contributions? Further, do both PI's have a successful track record of peer-reviewed publications, to where their name and institution will increase the likelihood of publication?




  • There are many factors to consider in choosing a Phd, and Black Swan is right in saying that we need more details

    Publication is important - it is very difficult to get a job without publications. For the Irish institution, I would examine the track record of the group. See how many grads have publications.

    Publication is not everything. You should be most concerned about the training. Training gives you the competences to publish. I would maybe see can you talk to others in the field about training.

    And of course there is the issue of funding.

    One other thing to consider is whether you would be comfortable in the location. This is a place you will call home for the next five years. If you are not happy, you will find it difficult to do good work.

    My advice is that you talk to lots of people - I don't mean boardsies - but real people, faculty, students, alumni etc. get a rounded perspective

    Black Swan wrote: »
    Obviously we would need more details before we could knowledgeably advise you.

    "The potential to publish" would be a major factor that would affect my decision, especially in the publish or perish university environment. Have both the PI's assured you of the opportunity to be named in publications in accordance with your research and authorship contributions? Further, do both PI's have a successful track record of peer-reviewed publications, to where their name and institution will increase the likelihood of publication?




  • Realism and completion, I'd say. I know many more starters than finishers. Once you choose, plan!




  • And of course there is the issue of funding.
    Yes, this is also a critical issue to review. What's the PIs track record in grants, and other sources of funding? Is the current funding a single source that will expire (and perhaps leave you without funding), or do they have additional funding sources?

    How many RFPs are they typically submiting per year, and of this, how many are awarded? How many awards repeated from the same funding source?

    In addition to grant funds, are you being offered an RA or TA, partially or totally funded by the university? If so, when does it take effect, upon matriculation or a period of time after? Is this offer in writing, or something that occurred during casual discussions? Without all the terms and conditions specified in writing, their obligation to you may be problematic, especially if there is a problem in funding at some future date.




  • To Interferon Gamma: Yo'ull never know which one was best because you can only choose one. I think that you probably already know which one you're going to take, but you're just looking for reassurance (You seemed slightly tilted towards the Scottish one, presumably in the Uni of Edinburgh or Heriot-Watt University...?).

    Here's my story: I was offered a PhD in Dundalk IT in calcium signaling in the urinary tract. I turned them down after a few weeks because an opportunity arose at the prestigious Depart of Chemistry at the University of York. That turned into a disaster, so I began to desperately look for a new PhD to start and was offered 2 positions: colon cancer research in Liverpool or breast cancer research in Leicester. I chose Leicester and that was a few years ago.

    My point is: You can never know how it'll turn out. Just go with what you are most comfortable with.

    Funding is indeed a big issue now, but only in certain areas of research. Funding is dropping in cancer research, but money in the future will be going into neuroscience and 'brain' research. Anticipating this - and also seeing a huge bottleneck towards becoming a lecturer - I have left the research arena to get a job in the NHS.

    Kevin


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  • Kevster wrote: »
    Funding is dropping in cancer research...
    Slightly off-topic, but funding is dropping everywhere - I wouldn't say that cancer research is disproportionately affected.




  • How well do you get on with both PIs at this point - that would be my deciding factor. A good supervisor is SO important. I've had both sides of the coin and I firmly believe that a good working relationship with your supervisor is paramount to a successful PhD. I know it's difficult to know at this stage how likely it is that you will get on with them, but certainly try and give that some forward thought.

    Best of luck with your decision.




  • 440Hz wrote: »
    How well do you get on with both PIs at this point - that would be my deciding factor. A good supervisor is SO important.
    Good point. OP... Have you spoken to current PhD students (or former graduates) that have been supervised by the respective PIs?


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