Do you feel stressed and overwhelmed? You are not alone! Recent studies in Leiden, Amsterdam, as well as in Flanders and the US show that about half (!!) of PhD students experience psychological distress. Troubling figures. I was invited to give a talk at Prout’s PhD mental health symposium in Utrecht on how to cope with the high-stress environment academia has become, and how to write a stress-free PhD. In this talk I cover: - The studies showing alarming PhD mental health figures - Why this is a collective problem and has little to do with your capability/ suitability for [...]Read More
Today I talk to Roanne van Voorst about how to build an academic career on your own terms. Roanne is an anthropologist specialized in humanitarian aid, and postdoctoral researcher at the International Institute of Social Studies at Erasmus University Rotterdam. I met Roanne a few years ago, when she took my HappyPhD course with coaching (I am currently in the midst of editing and re-designing the course, it will re-launch in the new year!). One of the topics that came up when we talked was how to use the freedom we have in our academic lives instead of conforming to [...]Read More
There is always a fear when doing academic work that you are not up to the job. That your work isn’t ‘good enough’, that you’re not clever enough, perhaps, to deliver what it takes. But what if you don’t need to be ‘brilliant’? What if it is more about stamina, persevering, sitting with the difficult questions, and keeping at it, pushing your work forward, keeping going one step at a time? What if it is more akin to climbing a hill (let’s not call it a mountain, it’s only a hill and it is absolutely doable, though sometimes it may [...]Read More
I got a message from someone on LinkedIn congratulating me on my 5 year work anniversary: it is apparently five years since I sat down and typed those first words that would develop into the HappyPhD course! Now, five years on, it is time for an update: I will soon be taking the course offline to make space for a new version. When I wrote the course I did it straight from the heart: I had only recently finished my own PhD and all my experiences were fresh. I put every story that might be of help into the course. [...]Read More
I have just finished 'The Slow Professor' by Maggie Berg and Barbara Seeber. It reflects on time pressure and stress in academia, and on how academic life has sped up to such a degree that quality of research, teaching and life suffers. (It was a present from prof. Hein de Haas - do check out our ‘How to Write a PhD’ interview with his tips on productivity and self-care). At one point in the book my jaw dropped: it is the chapter on time management, where a number of books and approaches to the academic schedule are discussed. This part [...]Read More
I like the expression ‘thesis defence’ as it captures exactly what a PhD viva is about: you are defending your work. You are not just presenting, you are defending. Like a sword fight. (A friendly one, mostly.) I attended a thesis defence last week, and it reminded me of the first thesis defence I ever went to. My supervisor had advised me to go; my colleague’s work had been very well received, and he considered her thesis a must-read. Much to his chagrin, the defence didn’t go so well. Not because she didn’t know what she was talking about, quite [...]Read More
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