PhD in the times of coronavirus, worth it?

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username5263178
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I've been accepted on a PhD program in History and I will be self-funding.

I know that, unlike those who work in scientific research and require lab contact, all a history researcher needs to physically do is access library archives. Yet, as someone who is aiming to penetrate a competitive market (academia) later on, I'm afraid that starting a PhD in the times of coronavirus will not add anything to my competitiveness but will subtract from it. In other words, I will not be able to give/attend conference talks, I will not be able to properly interact with and benefit from my supervisor, I will not be able to meet people along the 1st year PhD journey who could potentially influence my future and who could serve as a great addition to my network, etc.

In the end, the decision is mine but I'm here seeking different opinions on the matter that would shed light on things that I'm oblivious to or that would modify my sense of direction after critically taking your views into consideration.

What would you do if you were faced with a similar predicament?
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by 2cool4$kool)
I've been accepted on a PhD program in History and I will be self-funding.

I know that, unlike those who work in scientific research and require lab contact, all a history researcher needs to physically do is access library archives. Yet, as someone who is aiming to penetrate a competitive market (academia) later on, I'm afraid that starting a PhD in the times of coronavirus will not add anything to my competitiveness but will subtract from it. In other words, I will not be able to give/attend conference talks, I will not be able to properly interact with and benefit from my supervisor, I will not be able to meet people along the 1st year PhD journey who could potentially influence my future and who could serve as a great addition to my network, etc.

In the end, the decision is mine but I'm here seeking different opinions on the matter that would shed light on things that I'm oblivious to or that would modify my sense of direction after critically taking your views into consideration.

What would you do if you were faced with a similar predicament?
I think people need to be careful of viewing this situation as an inevitable fall into the slough of despond. Humans are generally pragmatic and problem solving - or enough of us are that problems get solved.

So the people that want to put on conferences will find ways of doing that. The process will be different, but there will still be one.

And someone was bemoaning the loss of personal contact with famous/prestigious people at ad hoc lectures etc. I'm not so sure that's what the experience will be. For example, I've been to plenty of lectures by international names, and I've even stayed for the hob-nobbing afterwards, but whether or not I could have been more socially confident and managed to get close to them, in conversation with them, make a positive impact, or exchange emails - I never did! However, my College is now putting on a series of lectures by various political/media people via Zoom. I can easily submit a question to be answered, I don't need to jostle for attention and catch the speaker's eye in a Q&A session afterwards, I just need to ask a decent question. And then I can easily track down an email address afterwards and start a conversation with them later 'Hi, I was the person that asked the question about X in your Zoom lecture at Y last week. I thought it was fantastic and.....' To me it seems that my access to visiting speakers has improved under these conditions.

Quite different if your PhD requires labwork of course, but the first year of a PhD is often very library focussed, and frankly nearly all resources are available online, and my Uni's library is bending over backwards to deliver resources, massive investment in e-books, journal access etc.

And PhDs rarely have deferral options, I'd not necessarily want to face the increased competition next year.

I'm not saying it's going to be better starting under Covid conditions, but I'm not convinced it's the total disaster and impossibility some seem to be forecasting.

(To be clear, my experience comes from having done a PhD previously, and doing an MPhil this year that have been impacted)
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username5263178
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(Original post by threeportdrift)
I think people need to be careful of viewing this situation as an inevitable fall into the slough of despond. Humans are generally pragmatic and problem solving - or enough of us are that problems get solved.

So the people that want to put on conferences will find ways of doing that. The process will be different, but there will still be one.

And someone was bemoaning the loss of personal contact with famous/prestigious people at ad hoc lectures etc. I'm not so sure that's what the experience will be. For example, I've been to plenty of lectures by international names, and I've even stayed for the hob-nobbing afterwards, but whether or not I could have been more socially confident and managed to get close to them, in conversation with them, make a positive impact, or exchange emails - I never did! However, my College is now putting on a series of lectures by various political/media people via Zoom. I can easily submit a question to be answered, I don't need to jostle for attention and catch the speaker's eye in a Q&A session afterwards, I just need to ask a decent question. And then I can easily track down an email address afterwards and start a conversation with them later 'Hi, I was the person that asked the question about X in your Zoom lecture at Y last week. I thought it was fantastic and.....' To me it seems that my access to visiting speakers has improved under these conditions.

Quite different if your PhD requires labwork of course, but the first year of a PhD is often very library focussed, and frankly nearly all resources are available online, and my Uni's library is bending over backwards to deliver resources, massive investment in e-books, journal access etc.

And PhDs rarely have deferral options, I'd not necessarily want to face the increased competition next year.

I'm not saying it's going to be better starting under Covid conditions, but I'm not convinced it's the total disaster and impossibility some seem to be forecasting.

(To be clear, my experience comes from having done a PhD previously, and doing an MPhil this year that have been impacted)
Hey,

Thank you so much for contributing your views on the matter.

I agree with you that people will try to find the efficient ways in order to circumvent the effects that coronavirus has on education but it seems that this could also be a contributing factor to how busy the lecturers will be and how hard it will become to connect with them as a result.

I say that meeting people at ad hoc lectures has been something that I've encountered success with before, especially seeing that my research subject is considered to be a niche area which results in a fair bit of excitement once you find someone else who reads about the same stuff. But I do agree with you that a lot of the time, these people prove inaccessible when there are many attendees or if they are running around trying to get other things done.

It's certainly interesting that you seem to have found a benefit here in your communication with visiting speakers! I used to do that through email while I was doing my MA degree post- conferences and seminars. Sometimes I managed to get a coffee invitation for the next day! This is the part that worries me. Coronavirus could also extend into Year 2 of the PhD and I will have to miss out on all of these opportunities sadly...

True, PhD programs do not have a deferral option but I think my supervisor has shown a great deal of interest in working with me. I'm not sure what will happen here or whether some students will be competing with me on the available supervision slots that he has if I choose to re-apply.

There's a lot to think about and consider, I'm glad there's a bit of time to do that.

Again, thank you for your response and I will be taking what you said into consideration
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PhoenixFortune
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(Original post by 2cool4$kool)
I've been accepted on a PhD program in History and I will be self-funding.

I know that, unlike those who work in scientific research and require lab contact, all a history researcher needs to physically do is access library archives. Yet, as someone who is aiming to penetrate a competitive market (academia) later on, I'm afraid that starting a PhD in the times of coronavirus will not add anything to my competitiveness but will subtract from it. In other words, I will not be able to give/attend conference talks, I will not be able to properly interact with and benefit from my supervisor, I will not be able to meet people along the 1st year PhD journey who could potentially influence my future and who could serve as a great addition to my network, etc.

In the end, the decision is mine but I'm here seeking different opinions on the matter that would shed light on things that I'm oblivious to or that would modify my sense of direction after critically taking your views into consideration.

What would you do if you were faced with a similar predicament?
I started my PhD back in January, before coronavirus had begun seriously affecting the UK, and I already had multiple conference places planned for this year. Most of them have now either been rescheduled for 2021, or are now being conducted online - not ideal, but still something I can make the most of, and put on my CV.

I am lucky in that I worked with my supervisor during my MA, so I already know her well and how she works. I haven't been able to meet my second supervisor in person, but we've had discussions on Teams, which are fine given my early PhD stage.

My university (probably like many others) has implemented forward planning procedures, so if restrictions go on into 2021 and beyond, then PhD students have options to alter their methodologies/research questions, apply for an extension, ask for a suspension of their PhD until times are easier etc. Again, not ideal - if you have the option to hold off on starting, or know that your project won't be dramatically affected by coronavirus restrictions, then you could have a think about what you'd prefer to do.
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(Original post by PhoenixFortune)
I started my PhD back in January, before coronavirus had begun seriously affecting the UK, and I already had multiple conference places planned for this year. Most of them have now either been rescheduled for 2021, or are now being conducted online - not ideal, but still something I can make the most of, and put on my CV.

I am lucky in that I worked with my supervisor during my MA, so I already know her well and how she works. I haven't been able to meet my second supervisor in person, but we've had discussions on Teams, which are fine given my early PhD stage.

My university (probably like many others) has implemented forward planning procedures, so if restrictions go on into 2021 and beyond, then PhD students have options to alter their methodologies/research questions, apply for an extension, ask for a suspension of their PhD until times are easier etc. Again, not ideal - if you have the option to hold off on starting, or know that your project won't be dramatically affected by coronavirus restrictions, then you could have a think about what you'd prefer to do.
Thank you so much for your contribution!

I can see that you highlight some complications which I might also encounter especially those that affect the CV. I can imagine how hard it must be to build up one's CV from a single desk.

Would you have started your PhD had you known that this was how it's going to be? And will you be considering a temporary suspension of PhD studies if things become worse in the future?

I'm very sorry that you're having to deal with things that are beyond your control and I wish you well on the rest of this PhD journey.
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by 2cool4$kool)
Thank you so much for your contribution!

I can see that you highlight some complications which I might also encounter especially those that affect the CV. I can imagine how hard it must be to build up one's CV from a single desk.

Would you have started your PhD had you known that this was how it's going to be? And will you be considering a temporary suspension of PhD studies if things become worse in the future?

I'm very sorry that you're having to deal with things that are beyond your control and I wish you well on the rest of this PhD journey.
I think the other things you should consider are competitiveness and alternatives.

Next year there will be twice as many people vying for the same number of PhD places, cp. Are you still going to get an offer.

But perhaps more important - what are you usefully going to do in the year in between? If you are lucky, you've still got a job, or 80% of salary. But you are highly unlikely to be networking or reading around your subject as effectively as you would be on the course, with the Uni resources. If you are in the fortunate position if being able to use the spare year productively, that's fine, but it seems few will be able to do that. If you are just going to mark time - what's the point?

Difficult decisions, but I don't think the decision not to attend is as clear as some people (in other parts of TSR) are suggesting.
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PhoenixFortune
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(Original post by 2cool4$kool)
Thank you so much for your contribution!

I can see that you highlight some complications which I might also encounter especially those that affect the CV. I can imagine how hard it must be to build up one's CV from a single desk.

Would you have started your PhD had you known that this was how it's going to be? And will you be considering a temporary suspension of PhD studies if things become worse in the future?

I'm very sorry that you're having to deal with things that are beyond your control and I wish you well on the rest of this PhD journey.
Luckily I've managed to do a couple of CV-building projects whilst at home, but that was just luck that the projects were online anyway and planned before coronavirus was even thought of. Papers for publication are also possible to write from home, which is something else to think about.

My project isn't affected yet, as I'm still in the literature review/planning phase, so I probably still would have started regardless. I don't know what the future holds tbh; at least two of chosen methodologies cannot be done with social distancing in place, so I may need to think about my options when the time comes. It is always possible that I may need to suspend, or get an extension in order to do everything I have planned.
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(Original post by threeportdrift)
I think the other things you should consider are competitiveness and alternatives.

Next year there will be twice as many people vying for the same number of PhD places, cp. Are you still going to get an offer.

But perhaps more important - what are you usefully going to do in the year in between? If you are lucky, you've still got a job, or 80% of salary. But you are highly unlikely to be networking or reading around your subject as effectively as you would be on the course, with the Uni resources. If you are in the fortunate position if being able to use the spare year productively, that's fine, but it seems few will be able to do that. If you are just going to mark time - what's the point?

Difficult decisions, but I don't think the decision not to attend is as clear as some people (in other parts of TSR) are suggesting.
You raise an extremely valid argument. That's definitely something to consider and will be a major point in the criteria that form the basis of the decision making process for all PhD applicants.

Aren't the PhD places dependent on the supervisor's availability rather than a quota set forth on the departmental level though?

I'm contemplating to read around my subject in the meantime as I never found a suitable job and I moved back in with my parents but you're right I'm sure it won't be as effective doing those readings when I'm not under the pressure and while not having access to university resources. But the entire point is the self-funding! I'm not sure my family will be comfortable spending money on an online education. They're very traditional people, it's up to them at the end of the day and I will be guilt-ridden over spending their resources unwisely.
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(Original post by PhoenixFortune)
Luckily I've managed to do a couple of CV-building projects whilst at home, but that was just luck that the projects were online anyway and planned before coronavirus was even thought of. Papers for publication are also possible to write from home, which is something else to think about.

My project isn't affected yet, as I'm still in the literature review/planning phase, so I probably still would have started regardless. I don't know what the future holds tbh; at least two of chosen methodologies cannot be done with social distancing in place, so I may need to think about my options when the time comes. It is always possible that I may need to suspend, or get an extension in order to do everything I have planned.
That's great! Consider yourself lucky then.

Thank you for raising the point over the possibility of writing papers for publication. It's good to look at the optimistic side of staying in to actually get these done as we all know that published articles play the biggest role in future job applications in academia.

In all cases, I wish you well again and stay strong
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(Original post by 2cool4$kool)
You raise an extremely valid argument. That's definitely something to consider and will be a major point in the criteria that form the basis of the decision making process for all PhD applicants.

Aren't the PhD places dependent on the supervisor's availability rather than a quota set forth on the departmental level though?

I'm contemplating to read around my subject in the meantime as I never found a suitable job and I moved back in with my parents but you're right I'm sure it won't be as effective doing those readings when I'm not under the pressure and while not having access to university resources. But the entire point is the self-funding! I'm not sure my family will be comfortable spending money on an online education. They're very traditional people, it's up to them at the end of the day and I will be guilt-ridden over spending their resources unwisely.
The number of PhD places is dependent on a) the original financial plan ie to meet the target income for the budgetary unit, b) the capacity of collective resources ie library, desk space in the department, accommodation etc, many of these are uni wide, the figure of a will have been agreed by the uni 18 months beforehand, and c) the capacity of the Supervisor.

The most visible to the candidate is the Supervisor. If you've got an offer now, you've got a Supervisor - you aren;t necessarily in complete competition with the whole of the new applicant cohort (but you never were for this year either) you are in competition for the 2, 3, 4 places the Supervisor has. So if you've got a very niche topic, you may face more competition that a more general topic that two or three members fo staff could supervise. A bird in the hand ....

I take your point about self-funding, but I'm not sure the value is appreciably less. I think the chances of people drifting and never getting the PhD, then looking back in 20 years and thinking 'I held that offer, but what if I'd taken it up?'' is the counter point.
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(Original post by threeportdrift)
The number of PhD places is dependent on a) the original financial plan ie to meet the target income for the budgetary unit, b) the capacity of collective resources ie library, desk space in the department, accommodation etc, many of these are uni wide, the figure of a will have been agreed by the uni 18 months beforehand, and c) the capacity of the Supervisor.

The most visible to the candidate is the Supervisor. If you've got an offer now, you've got a Supervisor - you aren;t necessarily in complete competition with the whole of the new applicant cohort (but you never were for this year either) you are in competition for the 2, 3, 4 places the Supervisor has. So if you've got a very niche topic, you may face more competition that a more general topic that two or three members fo staff could supervise. A bird in the hand ....

I take your point about self-funding, but I'm not sure the value is appreciably less. I think the chances of people drifting and never getting the PhD, then looking back in 20 years and thinking 'I held that offer, but what if I'd taken it up?'' is the counter point.
Unfortunately, I don't get to decide the value but my parents who were born in the 60's. I'm going to have to raise some valid points for them to be convinced enough as I don't have the funding myself. I'm not happy with waiting another year but I might just have to if I don't find enough reasons to compel me/them to go through with it.

This has certainly been very enlightening. Thank you for the time you've set aside in order to answer this, I appreciate it
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(Original post by 2cool4$kool)
Unfortunately, I don't get to decide the value but my parents who were born in the 60's. I'm going to have to raise some valid points for them to be convinced enough as I don't have the funding myself. I'm not happy with waiting another year but I might just have to if I don't find enough reasons to compel me/them to go through with it.

This has certainly been very enlightening. Thank you for the time you've set aside in order to answer this, I appreciate it
Oi! There's nothing wrong with being born in the 60s!
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(Original post by threeportdrift)
Oi! There's nothing wrong with being born in the 60s!
:sogood: oops!

There really isn't though, I'm merely highlighting their attachment to traditional approaches. My father has never had to touch a computer in his life! Imagine me trying to explain all of this online stuff to him :K:
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I'd go for it and make the best you can of the situation. 3port has covered pretty much all of what I was gonna say
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artful_lounger harrysbar mnot _gcx Reality Check you guys have commented enough and in quite reasonable ways on PhD and other postgraduate questions in this forum. Any views of your own?

Feel free to tag other members if you want. I am liking how lively and enlightening this discussion has been so far with threeportdrift and PhoenixFortune.
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(Original post by gjd800)
I'd go for it and make the best you can of the situation. 3port has covered pretty much all of what I was gonna say
Another one on the 'go for it' team!

That is true I suppose.

Unless I find a something productive to do in this year, it would be quite pointless to postpone. And as PhoenixFortune previously pointed, I can use the time to start working on publishing some papers! This idea really stuck in my mind when they mentioned it.

Would you say that the benefits of finishing off the PhD earlier outweigh whatever physical interactions I would be sacrificing?

What if for example I choose to spend the year learning a new language which is also an asset for a researcher, would your stance still hold the same?
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I think you're right. You've all contributed differently to this and you all raise some very interesting points to consider.

I will definitely be needing a foreign language upon graduation to tackle my subject effectively, by the way. Seeing that the language center at the university will be closed during the first year then this is another year deducted from learning a language. I was hoping I could learn it this year and I actually was until everything shut down; I had to move to self-learning which has its own set of pros and cons. I'll perhaps have to email the language center at the university to find out whether they'll be delivering any online material or not.

I doooo follow. You're absolutely right!! And in all cases no one said that an academic career is what I will want to pursue once I'm done with the PhD. A lot of things can change and a lot of hidden doors can open.

Concerning funding, I don't unfortunately... I will be self-funding and this also contributes to why I am extra vigilant with where the resources go and whether they will be utilised efficiently. The availability of the supervisor might change though so I'd need to talk to him about that since I would really like to work with him specifically, I chose him out of around 10 respondents who affirmed that they will be able to supervise me. I felt comfortable with him and I like the direction that he's set for my research.

I hope you know how helpful this reply is to me, you've shown me a new perspective, thank you so much
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(Original post by 2cool4$kool)
I've been accepted on a PhD program in History and I will be self-funding.

I know that, unlike those who work in scientific research and require lab contact, all a history researcher needs to physically do is access library archives. Yet, as someone who is aiming to penetrate a competitive market (academia) later on, I'm afraid that starting a PhD in the times of coronavirus will not add anything to my competitiveness but will subtract from it. In other words, I will not be able to give/attend conference talks, I will not be able to properly interact with and benefit from my supervisor, I will not be able to meet people along the 1st year PhD journey who could potentially influence my future and who could serve as a great addition to my network, etc.

In the end, the decision is mine but I'm here seeking different opinions on the matter that would shed light on things that I'm oblivious to or that would modify my sense of direction after critically taking your views into consideration.

What would you do if you were faced with a similar predicament?
So whilst im aware humanity PhDs mostly rely on archives, I have no idea of the day to day disruption coronavirus causes humanities.

As a current STEM PhD, this has been a really frustrating time and it has slowed down the progress of my work, although im hoping to minimise the long term impact of this (but its really too hard to asses the impact on my work just yet). But if you are doing a humanity based PhD and your going to be just starting I think the impact will be far more minimal as you can focus on reading around your field for the first couple months intently anyway.

Will coronavirus impact your ability to get a get a job in academia afterwards? maybe, too early to say, but remember your really asking what is the post-doc/junior lecturer market going to be in 4 years time, honestly by then I think academia jobs will have recovered, it may be a different market with long term implications but I certainly wouldn't put your future on hold for that just yet.

Ability to network & conferences. I really don't know how this will effect academic conferences, I think next year will also be affected but longer than that who knows, eventually they'll get going again. I think they'll be a bigger move to "online conferences" this will inevitable have an impact on networking, but I suspect this just expedite what is happening anyway. One of the good things about coronavirus is the amount of mini online conferences I've seen pop-up where I can join a presentation by a researcher showing something interesting, ive started tuning into some I would never have looked at due to having more time during the week. I think networking in general always got to fall on you, you can still email people, use Microsoft teams/linkedIn/researchgate etc. so if you want to you can find a way.

Interacting with supervisor, I haven't had a problem, I just message mine on microsoft teams then we schedule a meeting normally within 24/48 hours. I think it helps that I had a bit of FaceTime before corona, but are actual meetings aren't too different, and sometimes people are actually more helpful as people go to the effort of making a powerpoint to screen share for meetings where no one would have bothered to normally.

Ultimately, no one really knows the long term implications on PhDs, but if it were me id still do it if you want to, the earlier into a PhD the easier it is to mitigate against this sort of thing, so in many respects at least you know the situation before you start. I wouldn't put my life on hold if I didn't have to.

(The only factor worth mentioning is you are self-funded, if this affects your intended income to live for the next couple years then that will obviously be a factor as well...)
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(Original post by mnot)
So whilst im aware humanity PhDs mostly rely on archives, I have no idea of the day to day disruption coronavirus causes humanities.

As a current STEM PhD, this has been a really frustrating time and it has slowed down the progress of my work, although im hoping to minimise the long term impact of this (but its really too hard to asses the impact on my work just yet). But if you are doing a humanity based PhD and your going to be just starting I think the impact will be far more minimal as you can focus on reading around your field for the first couple months intently anyway.

Will coronavirus impact your ability to get a get a job in academia afterwards? maybe, too early to say, but remember your really asking what is the post-doc/junior lecturer market going to be in 4 years time, honestly by then I think academia jobs will have recovered, it may be a different market with long term implications but I certainly wouldn't put your future on hold for that just yet.

Ability to network & conferences. I really don't know how this will effect academic conferences, I think next year will also be affected but longer than that who knows, eventually they'll get going again. I think they'll be a bigger move to "online conferences" this will inevitable have an impact on networking, but I suspect this just expedite what is happening anyway. One of the good things about coronavirus is the amount of mini online conferences I've seen pop-up where I can join a presentation by a researcher showing something interesting, ive started tuning into some I would never have looked at due to having more time during the week. I think networking in general always got to fall on you, you can still email people, use Microsoft teams/linkedIn/researchgate etc. so if you want to you can find a way.

Interacting with supervisor, I haven't had a problem, I just message mine on microsoft teams then we schedule a meeting normally within 24/48 hours. I think it helps that I had a bit of FaceTime before corona, but are actual meetings aren't too different, and sometimes people are actually more helpful as people go to the effort of making a powerpoint to screen share for meetings where no one would have bothered to normally.

Ultimately, no one really knows the long term implications on PhDs, but if it were me id still do it if you want to, the earlier into a PhD the easier it is to mitigate against this sort of thing, so in many respects at least you know the situation before you start. I wouldn't put my life on hold if I didn't have to.

(The only factor worth mentioning is you are self-funded, if this affects your intended income to live for the next couple years then that will obviously be a factor as well...)
Hey mnot, thank you for your elaborate reply.

One can only imagine the exceeding number of difficulties that a researcher in STEM faces in these times.

I believe the resultant writing impact will indeed be minimal but I was also looking forward to actually meeting my supervisor. It's going to be weird meeting him online for the first time but I guess this is the new normal and we're all adapting in ways that we didn't think were possible.

Are the online conferences you're 'attending' open to everyone? Or are they usually open to specific people affiliated with the university 'hosting' the conference?

So you're also a proponent of 'the earlier you finish, the better', seems like everyone here is saying that! I would've liked a different point of view just for the challenge and to give me more to think about.

Do you happen to know if post-doc positions are usually only for STEM graduates or do they extend to graduates in the humanities as well? I previously thought that those in the humanities become research or teaching fellows at the beginning but then evidence to the contrary emerged the other day which put the entire thing in doubt.
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(Original post by 2cool4$kool)
Hey mnot, thank you for your elaborate reply.

One can only imagine the exceeding number of difficulties that a researcher in STEM faces in these times.

I believe the resultant writing impact will indeed be minimal but I was also looking forward to actually meeting my supervisor. It's going to be weird meeting him online for the first time but I guess this is the new normal and we're all adapting in ways that we didn't think were possible.

Are the online conferences you're 'attending' open to everyone? Or are they usually open to specific people affiliated with the university 'hosting' the conference?

So you're also a proponent of 'the earlier you finish, the better', seems like everyone here is saying that! I would've liked a different point of view just for the challenge and to give me more to think about.

Do you happen to know if post-doc positions are usually only for STEM graduates or do they extend to graduates in the humanities as well? I previously thought that those in the humanities become research or teaching fellows at the beginning but then evidence to the contrary emerged the other day which put the entire thing in doubt.
I wouldn't worry about the online meetings, I was worried at first, but they seem more normal then you would expect, I think you likely will be finding your feet with the supervisor the first 3/4 meetings anyway, its not as good as meeting face to face for forming a rapport but this is much more minor then you would think.

The Online conferences, Ive just been getting email invitations, I don't think anyone is policing attendance but the invites aren't necessarily advertised so only if someone informs you via email but my research group has hosted some and then they've shared invitations from a couple other groups. (i assume other research groups have similar systems but i have no idea). But before Corona my faculty research group always did an excellent job informing me of local events and relevant conferences already, I don't know how this compares, as this is the only group ive ever worked with in academia,

Yes the earlier I finish the better, without compromising quality. I view this as a job, and the faster I complete this the quicker I progress to the next rung of the ladder.

I have no idea how humanities post-docs work or if they were even a thing, I just kind of assumed they were but that might have been a very wrong assumption, in STEM we seem to have quite a few post-docs, its almost a stepping stone for those who want to go into academia.
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