Theplanetarygirl
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I ask mainly cause I'm "almost" confident of figuring out the gaps in the science and what can be done to close in on them (I have proposed something of my own and the professor feels it is worth giving the idea a shot) but as far as the more technical parts are concerned (like using a software to get data) I'm not sure of myself. How often does one get assistance with the methodology in an MSc Res and would it be advisable to take on this opportunity I've got? (Want to do a P.hD. further).

Should I go for it even though I feel I don't know enough or haven't got much experience and should take up courses?
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NovaeSci
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What topic are you looking at covering? I really did like the look of MRes for a foundation ready for PhD. Half the price, too! I'm only early in my studies, but researched the hell out of courses haha. It may be worth speaking to your potential academic advisor regarding any doubts you have.
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Theplanetarygirl
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(Original post by NovaeSci)
What topic are you looking at covering? I really did like the look of MRes for a foundation ready for PhD. Half the price, too! I'm only early in my studies, but researched the hell out of courses haha. It may be worth speaking to your potential academic advisor regarding any doubts you have.
Hey, thanks for replying! Umm, so, I'm looking at Earth Sciences. I could take lectures or seminars but that's optional. I'll be working on my project (on Martian landscapes and its terrestrial analogue) for my MRes. I also have another choice of doing another MSc of 2 years where I have a year of courses and then another year for the thesis (I've already done one MSc in my home country). I'm confused! I feel like I'll get more time to build a better application for a P.hD if I have more time.
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TheTakers
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I did a Masters by Research which was entirely research, i.e., no taught components whatsoever. I believe this is what you are referring to when you say MRes (which is half taught modules, half research). If so, it is very challenging and taxing - my supervisors say it's more stressful than a PhD! However it is entirely worth it. You rapidly develop skills and it is the perfect taster for a PhD. It also looks best on a CV for PhD applications.
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Theplanetarygirl
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(Original post by TheTakers)
I did a Masters by Research which was entirely research, i.e., no taught components whatsoever. I believe this is what you are referring to when you say MRes (which is half taught modules, half research). If so, it is very challenging and taxing - my supervisors say it's more stressful than a PhD! However it is entirely worth it. You rapidly develop skills and it is the perfect taster for a PhD. It also looks best on a CV for PhD applications.
Hi! Thanks for the perspective. The one I am going into is purely research based. No taught components. Though, I've completed an MSc before in my home country, I'm a little confused on whether I should take up an MRes in the UK or a two year MSc in Europe (Sweden). There are times when I feel I don't know enough and should learn more through another MSc, to be at par with the students abroad or atleast when I start with my P.hD.

I definitely want to get into a P.hD. after this. The MRes seems exciting but again it seems daunting as well. I can take courses during the MRes but what if i can't manage with how much research I need to be doing for my project! I have also been offered a teaching assistantship by my supervisor. Any advice?
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TheTakers
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(Original post by Theplanetarygirl)
Hi! Thanks for the perspective. The one I am going into is purely research based. No taught components. Though, I've completed an MSc before in my home country, I'm a little confused on whether I should take up an MRes in the UK or a two year MSc in Europe (Sweden). There are times when I feel I don't know enough and should learn more through another MSc, to be at par with the students abroad or atleast when I start with my P.hD.

I definitely want to get into a P.hD. after this. The MRes seems exciting but again it seems daunting as well. I can take courses during the MRes but what if i can't manage with how much research I need to be doing for my project! I have also been offered a teaching assistantship by my supervisor. Any advice?
Ah yes, that sounds like an MbR (Masters by Research) rather than an MRes - I don't say this to be pedantic but rather when you come to PhD applications, the Masters by Research is far more impressive!

I jumped into my MbR straight after my BSc and have fared fine, as have the rest of my cohort, so I have no doubt that you will perform exceedingly well having had the extra MSc time under your belt! The MbR will be by far the better taster of what PhD life is really like. Taught modules do not prepare you really for what pure research is really like! It is one thing to do lots of smaller assignments that have been set for you and a whole other thing to manage an entire project and push the boundaries of knowledge. An MbR too will lead to a publication, which is always advantageous for PhD applications. I struggled with the same doubts before my MbR thinking I didn't know enough, but anything I didn't know I learned (and had the time to learn) on my MbR. I actually believe I've learned more than what I did during my bachelors, because what I have learned is directly tailored to what I am interested in and to what I need to become an academic in my field. I actually feel like the expert now in something which I don't think I would otherwise have had doing a taught masters.

In the UK, doing an MbR has you taken more seriously than an MSc student by academics. I have had a tonne of networking time (including international connections) and I have been able to charm my way onto bigger projects. I spoke about a lot of my experiences in additional academic work in my PhD interviews which helped me secure offers! The personal relationships you build with your supervisors also leads to stellar letter of recommendations which are critical for being competitive for funded PhD positions.

Essentially, I would heavily recommend the MbR. Anything you do not know, you will be able to either teach yourself, ask your supervisor, or sit in on lectures offered by the university. I ended up not needing to attend any course during my MbR, and I put in about ~40 hours a week on average for my MbR (I recommend treating it like a 9-5). The teaching assistantship is great if you feel you can handle the extra commitment, but if you are unsure whether you can handle the workload then don't worry about it - it doesn't matter for you at this stage.

Hope this all helps! Feel free to ask any questions if needs be. I am still doing my MbR in physical geography so we have some environmental overlap here I think!
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Theplanetarygirl
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(Original post by TheTakers)
Ah yes, that sounds like an MbR (Masters by Research) rather than an MRes - I don't say this to be pedantic but rather when you come to PhD applications, the Masters by Research is far more impressive!

I jumped into my MbR straight after my BSc and have fared fine, as have the rest of my cohort, so I have no doubt that you will perform exceedingly well having had the extra MSc time under your belt! The MbR will be by far the better taster of what PhD life is really like. Taught modules do not prepare you really for what pure research is really like! It is one thing to do lots of smaller assignments that have been set for you and a whole other thing to manage an entire project and push the boundaries of knowledge. An MbR too will lead to a publication, which is always advantageous for PhD applications. I struggled with the same doubts before my MbR thinking I didn't know enough, but anything I didn't know I learned (and had the time to learn) on my MbR. I actually believe I've learned more than what I did during my bachelors, because what I have learned is directly tailored to what I am interested in and to what I need to become an academic in my field. I actually feel like the expert now in something which I don't think I would otherwise have had doing a taught masters.

In the UK, doing an MbR has you taken more seriously than an MSc student by academics. I have had a tonne of networking time (including international connections) and I have been able to charm my way onto bigger projects. I spoke about a lot of my experiences in additional academic work in my PhD interviews which helped me secure offers! The personal relationships you build with your supervisors also leads to stellar letter of recommendations which are critical for being competitive for funded PhD positions.

Essentially, I would heavily recommend the MbR. Anything you do not know, you will be able to either teach yourself, ask your supervisor, or sit in on lectures offered by the university. I ended up not needing to attend any course during my MbR, and I put in about ~40 hours a week on average for my MbR (I recommend treating it like a 9-5). The teaching assistantship is great if you feel you can handle the extra commitment, but if you are unsure whether you can handle the workload then don't worry about it - it doesn't matter for you at this stage.

Hope this all helps! Feel free to ask any questions if needs be. I am still doing my MbR in physical geography so we have some environmental overlap here I think!
Thanks a lot for the advice!

I mean, it does make complete sense for me to take up the MbR since I have already completed an MSc. A lot of my seniors and professors are saying very similar things, that I'd learn more through a research program as I already have a very specific subject area that I'm interested in, on a very specific topic. However, it's just really scary! It's going to be super demanding - horribly anxiety prone, and the MSc option just seems safer. There's also this strong feeling of excitement when I think of doing the MbR but the fear takes over! To top it up, being an international student, I'm very anxious about settling and getting on with my project in full swing - everyone at the department I'm headed to seem so good at what they do, I feel pretty pathetic.

Speaking of my supervisor, he seems nice but I got a - I'm doing this work for you - last time when I was unsure about the name of the author whose paper I had cited in my proposal and he had to look into that. What will it be like when I actually start!?

My confidence is in having a fair idea of what I'll be doing for my project having proposed a project of my own idea and I'm happy the professor sees it's quite worthwhile to put his time into this. In terms of gaining knowledge in my specific area of interest I'm actually happy about that part but again wouldn't I learn more (tools and topics from other areas in earth sciences to study my topic) in case of an MSc? I might also get to do an internship if I take up the MSc.
It's so amazing to talk to someone from such a closely overlapping field! Have you used ArcGIS for anything? I'll have a fair amount of using that and 2 other software's, one of which I'll have to train myself in cause my profs don't know much about that one (craterstats). That seems like another problem because that software's all up to me.
I have used Arc before for my MSc but I had a lot of spoon-feeding then and frankly that's done more harm than good in the long run. I know very little about Arc, what if I'm absolutely rubbish and just very disappointing - where the profs go like "you should be knowing at least this". And frankly what if I want to do a PhD on a similar topic but with tools and theories from a very different area (I'll be doing landscape evolution and tectonics for MbR but what if I want to get into geodynamics for my PhD studying a similar topic)? Wouldn't an MSc help in this?

Thanks again for reading and helping me with this! Really appreciate it, I'm literally taking forever to decide!
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TheTakers
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(Original post by Theplanetarygirl)
Thanks a lot for the advice!

I mean, it does make complete sense for me to take up the MbR since I have already completed an MSc. A lot of my seniors and professors are saying very similar things, that I'd learn more through a research program as I already have a very specific subject area that I'm interested in, on a very specific topic. However, it's just really scary! It's going to be super demanding - horribly anxiety prone, and the MSc option just seems safer. There's also this strong feeling of excitement when I think of doing the MbR but the fear takes over! To top it up, being an international student, I'm very anxious about settling and getting on with my project in full swing - everyone at the department I'm headed to seem so good at what they do, I feel pretty pathetic.

Speaking of my supervisor, he seems nice but I got a - I'm doing this work for you - last time when I was unsure about the name of the author whose paper I had cited in my proposal and he had to look into that. What will it be like when I actually start!?

My confidence is in having a fair idea of what I'll be doing for my project having proposed a project of my own idea and I'm happy the professor sees it's quite worthwhile to put his time into this. In terms of gaining knowledge in my specific area of interest I'm actually happy about that part but again wouldn't I learn more (tools and topics from other areas in earth sciences to study my topic) in case of an MSc? I might also get to do an internship if I take up the MSc.
It's so amazing to talk to someone from such a closely overlapping field! Have you used ArcGIS for anything? I'll have a fair amount of using that and 2 other software's, one of which I'll have to train myself in cause my profs don't know much about that one (craterstats). That seems like another problem because that software's all up to me.
I have used Arc before for my MSc but I had a lot of spoon-feeding then and frankly that's done more harm than good in the long run. I know very little about Arc, what if I'm absolutely rubbish and just very disappointing - where the profs go like "you should be knowing at least this". And frankly what if I want to do a PhD on a similar topic but with tools and theories from a very different area (I'll be doing landscape evolution and tectonics for MbR but what if I want to get into geodynamics for my PhD studying a similar topic)? Wouldn't an MSc help in this?

Thanks again for reading and helping me with this! Really appreciate it, I'm literally taking forever to decide!
I completely understand the anxiety! It is something I went through too. The jump to MbR is a big one but you can definitely do it. Picking the safer option lets us stay in our comfort zones which won't help you in the long run with a PhD! The MbR is a near-identical experience to a PhD so you get to understand the trials and tribulations you will face early on which will give you a headstart in the PhD. Research is full of things not going right and having to change directions so don't worry about this with regards to your MbR.

In the first month of my MbR as with everyone else in my cohort, we all experience a settling in transition. Nobody expects you to immediately have a plan and know what you're doing! My first month was spent dabbling about in literature and trying to get a grip on what I needed to know, and learning key skills for my project - part of this was GIS!

Having a supportive supervisor is important but in the incident you quote, if I'm understanding right, I can understand his perspective if you cited a paper but didn't write the reference - I wouldn't call that a supervisor red flag. Literature management is important and those are easy mistakes you can avoid. You will learn to avoid them too - again in my first month I spent time deciding on a literature review system to ensure I never missed or forgot a reference in my writing and to always find the key papers. Reference managers like Zotero and Mendeley are also really useful for this - again I spent my first month learning all of this!

You may learn more theories and tools from an MSc, but you're not learning to the same depth or skillset as you would in an MbR. Essentially you approach the territory of "Jack of all trades but master of none". You also won't be doing research - so you will miss out on all the learning to be an independent researcher. You teach yourself in an MbR rather than being spoonfed content and answers to already-solved research questions as you are at BSc and MSc. This act of teaching yourself puts you in better stead, in my opinion, to rapidly transition to other research areas in the future. It's important to remember a PhD, too, is PhD training! You won't be expected to come straight in knowing everything you need to know for it - you will learn some stuff, be taught other things, and take classes as needed. One of the PhDs I applied for and was offered was in a completely different field with completely different skills - it really doesn't matter, you will learn! Again, in terms of securing a PhD, those who've done an MbR have a big advantage because they come in as an independent researcher and can respond better to common PhD interview questions.

What would be your motivation behind an internship? Would you do one in industry or academia?

As for Arc, my whole MbR is actually based around GIS! I have experience with both ArcMap and ArcPro products but I don't use them personally because I prefer QGis and other GIS softwares - this is despite that I was only taught Arc at university! The best thing about GIS is that you can Google your problems and ask questions on forums. In my BSc, I had 40 credit modules every year on GIS exclusively in addition to using it for some of my other taught modules. But none of that compares to how excellent I have gotten at GIS because of my MbR. Not only am I an expert now at a specific type of GIS modelling, my technical proficiency in multiple GIS softwares is vast and I can rapidly pick up on new methods because my fundamental understanding of how GIS works is more complete. This is all through trying new things, failing, repeating, and then eventually succeeding! One of the GIS softwares I use my supervisors have never used and I taught myself from beginner to advanced over the year. It really is daunting but totally doable, and you will succeed yourself!
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Theplanetarygirl
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Hi! Apologies for my late response.

Thanks a lot for sharing your experience- it’s quite a relief to know that the whole anxiety part of this is very normal. Although I’m still scared, I have decided to go ahead with the MbR!! I definitely think that just going around doing another MSc would bring about a sort of stagnation to my profile/career and studying subjects that I have no interest in would take away unnecessary time and energy.

Thank you so much for naming some of the literature managers - those will be undoubtedly helpful and save me some embarrassment next time. Though - I did mention all references in my proposal, in my case, I wasn’t sure of the author when asked to recall orally, but that’s just as bad I guess?

As far as the internship is concerned, I’d want to do something in academia, but I won’t have time during the MbR and that’s okay because I’m already working on this project.I just have two last concerns that are continuously bothering me - 1) when you say that I can move onto a PhD involving different set of tools and subject areas - and let’s say I have very little experience in something I’m being offered - would that be a problem? For example - if I wish to study the same subject area of my MbR using geochemistry/programming for my PhD (even though I know very little from those fields) would that be a problem in terms of getting relevant offers for the doctoral position? Wouldn’t an MSc, with the variety of skills I can learn from it (instead of just making it GIS based as in my MbR) be helpful in this? 2) Fifty percent part of my project involves research on Mars - my supervisor repeatedly says he knows nothing about the planet but is happy for me to get this experience in planetary geology given my career goals - red flag?

I am really lucky I have to say to have had your advice on my questions - it’s amazing to know that your expertise is in GIS! Can I please ask - how can I get better at ArcMap (use will mainly be for morphometric analysis)? I feel like I’ll be stuck with figuring stuff out on there and will soon find myself panicking with it. Also, I have a very similar situation - I am supposed to use a software (CraterStats) and my supervisors have never used it but neither have I - so yeah, VERY daunting but I’m going for it!
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