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PhD student Martin's story

Martin is 35 years old and has been a full-time PhD student for three years. He tries to write and publish articles but feels uncertain about the peer-review system and finds it subjective. Even if he gets positive reactions from his supervisor, other researchers and reviewers, he sees no guarantee that the reviewer reading the article next time will recommend that it should be submitted. He would like to have clearer guidance with this, but feels that he is exposed to demands from an impersonal and in parts arbitrary system.

Martin says that he is a little behind in writing articles which will form the main parts of his dissertation and sees two reasons for this. Firstly, he changed supervisor after one year. When he was accepted as a PhD-student, he had quite a clear idea of what he would like to do, within an area and with a method that were relatively new and not researched at his institution. Many of the senior researchers, including his supervisor, encouraged him.

In retrospect, he can see that there was a lack of a real critical review of the texts that he produced. Because of this, he lost his way among different perspectives that did not allow him to develop his research. With his new supervisor, this is much better and he often gets constructive criticism on the text that he presents.

When it comes to supervision, Martin and his supervisor have quite a liberal arrangement and they meet when Martin feels that it is needed. This means that for the most part, supervision takes place when Martin asks for it. In general, he is pleased with this, he can plan his work, the supervisor is close at hand all the time and he gets the help he needs. However, there have been times when a more structured supervision with deadlines would have been preferred. Even though he feels deadlines and structure would be helpful, he is not sure that he would feel good working under such pressure.

Secondly, he has taught university courses, which has taken a lot of time from writing on his dissertation. He realises that teaching is defined as voluntary, but that is not really his experience because he needs to teach for reasons which are related to both finances and experience. Martin is keen on getting experience, on prolonging his financing and on gaining his qualifications and feels that he is already behind in his work.

This has become a vicious circle where more teaching takes more time from writing. Since he is not a very experienced teacher, he has to spend a lot of time preparing himself to feel secure in front of the classes. His supervisor does not really want him to teach that much, but thinks that it is up to Martin to decide.

Contact person for Advice for doctoral supervisors

Margareta Jernås
Phone: +46 (0)31-342 94 33
Send e-mail to Margareta

These web pages were created by Silwa Claesson and Gina Wisker.

Page Manager: Olof Siverbo|Last update: 10/16/2014

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