Alexanderh
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I want to apply for several funded PhDs this year. How do referees react to being asked to support several different PhDs (they are all in the same discipline very broadly... but are pretty different in terms subject matter) all at once? I have found that its hard enough getting them to support just one so I am worried about alienating them...

For some context: I got a masters from 5 years ago and am desperate to get back into academia/research. I have been working in the field of my discipline for 6 plus years. I have seen at least 4 PhDs that I would like to apply for and have applied for one already, and got my references. That leaves 3.

Are my potential referees likely to say: "oh he's just applying for everything... that's strange and unfocussed, I'm much less likely to support him" or "yeah sure! No problem!"?

Thanks!
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Keele University
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(Original post by Alexanderh)
I want to apply for several funded PhDs this year. How do referees react to being asked to support several different PhDs (they are all in the same discipline very broadly... but are pretty different in terms subject matter) all at once? I have found that its hard enough getting them to support just one so I am worried about alienating them...

For some context: I got a masters from 5 years ago and am desperate to get back into academia/research. I have been working in the field of my discipline for 6 plus years. I have seen at least 4 PhDs that I would like to apply for and have applied for one already, and got my references. That leaves 3.

Are my potential referees likely to say: "oh he's just applying for everything... that's strange and unfocussed, I'm much less likely to support him" or "yeah sure! No problem!"?

Thanks!
Hi Alexanderh!

I wouldn't worry. Funded PhDs are very competitive so most applicants will apply for more than one. I applied for two - with the same school and at the same university - and I had friends who applied for three or four schemes.

As long as your PhD applications are roughly in the same field (both of mine were in eighteenth-century literature for example, although with somewhat different texts and themes as the focus), I would hope most referees will recognise your dedication to securing a PhD place as opposed to thinking that you are unfocused or uncommitted!

Hope that helps but if you've got any other questions about the PhD application process or PhD life then do let me know!

Amy
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Reality Check
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(Original post by Alexanderh)
I want to apply for several funded PhDs this year. How do referees react to being asked to support several different PhDs (they are all in the same discipline very broadly... but are pretty different in terms subject matter) all at once? I have found that its hard enough getting them to support just one so I am worried about alienating them...

For some context: I got a masters from 5 years ago and am desperate to get back into academia/research. I have been working in the field of my discipline for 6 plus years. I have seen at least 4 PhDs that I would like to apply for and have applied for one already, and got my references. That leaves 3.

Are my potential referees likely to say: "oh he's just applying for everything... that's strange and unfocussed, I'm much less likely to support him" or "yeah sure! No problem!"?

Thanks!
It's normal to apply to several projects - no-one just applies for one PhD. I think the bit that worries me in your post is, 'I have found that its hard enough getting them to support just one'. Most academics are more happy to give their ex-students references for further research, so is there a particular reason you can think of why your referees are being reticent?
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Alexanderh
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(Original post by Reality Check)
It's normal to apply to several projects - no-one just applies for one PhD. I think the bit that worries me in your post is, 'I have found that its hard enough getting them to support just one'. Most academics are more happy to give their ex-students references for further research, so is there a particular reason you can think of why your referees are being reticent?
I'm not sure really, I was a good student and got decent grades so its a bit of a mystery to me too. I didn't go out of my way to be friendly or to network and I would describe my relationship with my supervisors as pretty neutral.

It might be the time that has gone past. 5 years ago I they supervised me for 9 months... and in that time they have had numerous other students to supervise.
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Reality Check
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(Original post by Alexanderh)
I'm not sure really, I was a good student and got decent grades so its a bit of a mystery to me too. I didn't go out of my way to be friendly or to network and I would describe my relationship with my supervisors as pretty neutral.

It might be the time that has gone past. 5 years ago I they supervised me for 9 months... and in that time they have had numerous other students to supervise.
Yes, maybe. Did you speak to your supervisors in person/telephone or request references by email?
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Alexanderh
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(Original post by Reality Check)
Yes, maybe. Did you speak to your supervisors in person/telephone or request references by email?
By email.
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Reality Check
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(Original post by Alexanderh)
By email.
I think that's part of the problem. I appreciate that things are different now regarding face-to-face meetings, but I'd always recommend wherever possible that you arrange to meet the person you're asking for a reference from in person for a quick catch-up and to request that they act as your referee. Not only does it jog their memory as to who you are (and you'd be surprised how many students academics can remember, particularly if they were good), but it engenders a bit more of a willingness on the part of your supervisor.

All this information isn't much good to you now, though. I'd recommend that you don't worry about applying for multiple projects, as this is perfectly normal: a fully-funded position is always going to be super competitive, and all referees know this.

Good luck with your applications.
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