/r/AskAcademiaUK

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For questions about academia specific to the United Kingdom. /r/AskAcademia is a helpful resource for finding out more about academic life, pathways into and within academia, and other general questions, it is very often centred around US based academia and therefore not always relevant outside of the US. This subreddit will therefore function as a counterpart to /r/AskAcademia, one that is specific to UK based professional academic life.

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Questions and Discussion for Academics

This subreddit is for discussing academic life in the United Kingdom (UK), from undergrads to professors, and for asking questions directed towards people involved in academia from any respective field.

Acting as a counterweight to the US focused /r/AskAcademia this subreddit will seek to be a place for discussion of academia within the UK specifically. Posts and comments invoking critical thinking and healthy discussion are welcome however please maintain focus on academia as much as possible. Questions about history, philosophy, science, etc. that are unrelated to their position within UK academia should be directed to their respective subreddits (e.g. /r/AskHistorians )

Questions and information about working in industry are also very welcome. Industry is an important part/sidestep to academia and is therefore certainly welcome for discussion here too.

RULES:

  • Posts should be a question (open-ended questions allowed), or point of discussion, about UK academia that seeks to gain further information from others or provide further information for others.
  • Posts should contain sufficient information to allow other users to effectively answer your question or partake in your discussion. Some examples of what to include may be your career/academic stage, subject discipline, the institution/s you're affiliated with, specific context to your problem.
  • Questions and information about work in industry is very welcome, though please try to keep it somewhat relevant to academia and not solely focused on industry. Mods may delete posts which do not provide enough context.
  • Personal rants are not allowed. However there is a fine line between critique/criticism and ranting and so posts will have to be judged on a case by case basis. Try to keep posts as constructive as possible.
  • Links to elsewhere are allowed, but please keep it somewhat related to UK academia and if needed comment on the information you've shared. Examples of links may be things like news, journal articles, university pages, etc. STRICTLY NO SELF PROMOTION OR ADVERTISING

CONDUCT:

Please post and comment as if you would when speaking within an academic setting. That doesn't mean wholly formal, however a standard of decency and decorum is very much appreciated.

If a reasonable person wouldn't say it to a professor/colleague/conference speaker/student they don't know well, it's probably over the line. This includes off-topic and unproductive discussion as well as rudeness. Disagreement is completely fine, encouraged even, when there are different perspectives to share. If an idea is a bad one, please do tell someone that it is in no uncertain terms. Avoid ad hominem attacks, treat people online broadly as a reasonable person would treat a relative stranger in person, and help us out by reporting any posts which fall foul of this policy.

Current and former undergraduates, graduates, PhDs, post-docs, professors and laymen are all welcome!

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/r/AskAcademiaUK

5,798 Subscribers

2

Any clinical lecturers here?|

I mean specifically NIHR clinical lectureships.

How did you make a success of it? The 2 years max you get is quite tight!

Can you take things at your own pace? PhD was a massive stress branching academia and clinical training etc. keen to just focus on research and see what happens rather than be bound by too many deadlines

0 Comments
2024/06/15
18:46 UTC

1

Received offer letter for a research intern role at an elite UK university but with no funding

5 Comments
2024/06/15
16:45 UTC

0

Zotero style for the British Journal for the History of Science

Hello,

I'm looking for the Zotero style for the British Journal for the History of Science. I had no luck in https://www.zotero.org/styles and thought one of you might have already need to find / create one.

Thanks!

3 Comments
2024/06/14
11:48 UTC

2

What if anything is implied by allocated supervisor being from a different research background?

If a student is accepted to a doctoral programme in a humanity/social science proposing X and assigned a supervisor without background in X (when others with background in X are in the faculty), as a generality does this imply anything?

For example does it mean (a) the decision-makers liked your application, but probably aren't endorsing and want to steer you away from X? or (b) the decision-makers are happy with your research proposal, including X, and there's no negative implication to be drawn despite the allocation of a supervisor without background in X?

5 Comments
2024/06/14
10:13 UTC

2

Industry experience before academia

Hello everyone, fairly new to UK academia here. I have a lot of industry research experience in machine learning in the US before starting a UK Phd. I am considering an academic career, preferably but not necessarily in the UK. I am getting a sense that the industry experience would be nearly disregarded and I am expected to start over as a regular PhD taking the postdoc route. Is that correct? Or is there a way to leverage my prior experience, which is very relevant to my field?

2 Comments
2024/06/14
06:35 UTC

6

Got interview for Assistant position, but Associate level was just advertised. Do I have options here?

Hey all!

I applied for a job a few weeks ago for probably the lowest teaching position as a "Teaching Assistant" in [Language]. I've been invited for an interview (yay), but two days before I recieved the confirmation email they posted a call for "Teaching Associates" in [Language].

In terms of career progression, the Associate level matches what I have done previously and I meet all the essential and desirable critera - like I did for the Assistant position. Both jobs are for the same department and also for the same university (of course).

I have not been to the interview yet, obviously, but my preference is for the more senior position for many reasons.

Should I apply to the second position? If so, do I mention this to anybody? Should I contact the hiring manager and explain my situation?

I have no idea what to do in this situation really.

1 Comment
2024/06/13
19:12 UTC

7

How many firsts do you award?

I'm external examiner at a Russell Group uni, final year UG, social science. This year, in their final year units, 20-50% of students received 1sts, with an average of about 36% per unit (to be clear, that's the % of 1sts per unit, not per student). I would be interested to hear how this compares with your experience. I tend to give 1sts to around 25% of the assessments I mark, so maybe I'm being too strict.

37 Comments
2024/06/13
12:43 UTC

1

When is the best time to submit a paper to a journal?

Cross posted to r/AskAcademia

For context, I’m in public health.

I’ve only submitted 1 paper to a journal so far in September and received a response in March. I’ve revised and resubmitted it in May and the journal hasn’t even re-invited the reviewers for their feedback.

I know the field is struggling with the peer review process and needs some sort of overhaul due to it just being unsustainable. It’s just a frustrating process now.

I’ve got another manuscript now that looks to be completed by July/Aug. But would that be a good time to submit to a journal for the fastest turnaround time? Looking at this journal’s papers I’ve seen that submission in July looks to be only accepted in February and published in May.

Are there particular times/seasons in the year that would be easier to get a peer reviewer and a faster response?

5 Comments
2024/06/12
21:35 UTC

11

What does business casual mean?

Hey lovely academic community. I'm off to a conference soon that specifies 'business casual' for dinner. Not my first conference-rodeo, but as a working class neurodivergent person social norms are stressful and I'm overthinking it. Dress and boots? Dress and cute sneakers? Dark jeans and shirt? Help me please!

9 Comments
2024/06/12
20:41 UTC

6

ESRC funded PhD and Pregnant. Maternity leave advice needed.

I am pregnant and I'm due to start an UK based ESRC DTP (fully funded) in October. I found out that I was accepted in April and then found out I was pregnant in May. I'll be 3-4 months in to the PhD when baby arrives and, due to very random and chaotic circumstances, will need to take maternity leave for 6 months.

I have read through all the policies related to pregnancy and maternity and it isn't a problem to take that time off in "writing" but I am genuinely concerned about how that actually looks in practice. I.e. stigma attached, the treatment from supervisors etc. I'm just really nervous about it!

My first year is set up to go and I can easily get a fair bit done whilst I'm on mat leave so as to not leave a sour taste in anyone's mouth.

With my daughter I was back in academia (3rd year of my UG) 10 days after having her as I'd just use a body wrap, strap her on me and head off to lectures. I'm essentially thinking I can do the same with this but will need to take the 6 months of maternity leave as a "fall back" incase anything is difficult/different with this pregnancy.

Keen to hear from anyone else who's completed their PhD pregnant/ with a newborn. I'm in no way disillusioned, and recognise it will be difficult, but I love a challenge.

Any advice or thoughts would be amazing.

17 Comments
2024/06/12
18:49 UTC

0

PhD fully funded opportunity

My friend looking for highly motivated PhD student. If anyone interested, can apply using link below,

https://www.cranfield.ac.uk/research/phd/scalable-digital-twins-with-advanced-machine-learning-integration

0 Comments
2024/06/12
18:31 UTC

6

Why are so many universities now asking for a taught masters and either an MRes or MPhil as prerequisite for a PhD?

Every higher ranking departments I looked at, now require a taught masters and progression from their own 1-2 year MRes or 2 year MPhil to get into 3-4 yr PhD, taking the total number of years up to 7, after BSc. This was not at all the case about 6 years ago when I could get in with just a taught masters and finish writing up within 3 years.

What caused this change recently? Are UK universities trying to mimic USA PhDs?

Edit: thank you for all of your thoughts and responses, I was venting.

14 Comments
2024/06/12
15:27 UTC

2

Finished undergrad with mediocre grades. How realistic is it to pursue a PhD?

For some background I finished my undergraduate degree with a high 2.1, notably with a first in my dissertation . I ended up doing quite poorly in my exams, especially in my third year resulting in this outcome. I recognise now that I was sorely lacking in motivation as I lost interest in my module choices. However, my dissertation project really revived my passion for the subject again and I poured my heart and soul into that. I totally fell in love with work again but it was a little too late to pick myself up again in the rest of my modules.

Fast forward to now, I am planning to start my masters this September and I cannot wait to get back into the swing of things again. I have deliberated the idea for almost two years and if things go well with the masters, I would love to pursue a PhD. My concern now is how much of a hindrance my past academic performance will be when the time for applications come. I’m painfully aware how steep my competition will be but I would really like some insight into this and how realistic my ambitions are.

Do I even really stand a chance at landing a PhD programme, let alone a funded one?

19 Comments
2024/06/11
22:21 UTC

0

[UK] How can I study a fourth A-Level after Year 12?

I am currently studying at Sixth-Form in Year 12, and have chosen A-Levels in Maths, Art and Religious Studies. While I enjoy all three and my grades are good, I recently came to the realisation I would much rather study Physics at a university level than anything else my current choices would allow. As far as I'm aware, in order to do this I would need to study Physics at A-Level.

Other than teaching myself the content and taking the exam, how could I do this? Ideally my goal would be to study at a reputable university, but is this impossible since I would be doing the A-Level a year late? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

4 Comments
2024/06/11
19:47 UTC

15

Fully funded PhD in St Andrews or no funding for Cambridge PhD?

Basically what the question says. I’m at St Andrews now and have been offered a full scholarship but I also got into Cambridge though wasn’t offered funding. Will staying at St Andrews really impact my prospects in academia once I graduate in comparison to what they would be if I went to Cambridge?

I’d have to get out another student loan for the Cambridge PhD, so I probably won’t go for that. I guess I just want reassurance that I’m making the right decision staying in St As and not limiting my career’s prospects. I guess the fact I got a scholarship will also help in applications, too…!

44 Comments
2024/06/10
21:07 UTC

8

USS pension scheme

Hello,

I am moving from Canada to the UK. I have the option of transferring my Canadian pension into my USS pension scheme. My UK employer informed me that transferring any benefits into USS pensions scheme would be in the USS Investment Builder (USS IB) section and not USS Retirement Income Builder (USS RIB) section. Should I transfer my Canadian pension into the USS Investment Builder or leave it in Canada? What would be the advantages and/or disadvantages (including in terms of tax) of doing do? FYI I have EU and Canadian citizenship and I don’t intend to return to Canada.

Thank you!

6 Comments
2024/06/10
18:14 UTC

1

Bayes business school vs UCL

Which would be better for MSc Management, in terms of rankings some say UCL is better, and a few say bayes is better, I’m so confused which one of the two to choose, any ideas?

3 Comments
2024/06/09
03:35 UTC

10

How much does a PhD student need to know to teach?

I'll be starting a DPhil in Law in October and looking at the profiles of current PhD students at my institution (Oxford, but it's the same at others I've looked at) I wonder how so many of them (most of them) are able to teach one or sometimes multiple sub-topics.

I understand that the teaching will mostly be or have been to year one undergraduate level, but still - and this is probably my anxious-perfectionism speaking - I imagine that you need broad and deep knowledge and extremely good recall of so much (!) information in order to teach even that level (including to respond to questions etc). I feel that I could manage to cope with the difficulties in developing and constructing my own PhD, but the prospect of teaching gives me a massive sense of imposter syndrome.

12 Comments
2024/06/09
00:59 UTC

5

Reason for trouble getting interview at a university?

Hi,

I am in the social science / public health / medical field.

I am looking for a teaching/research position (lecturer, ass. prof, etc.) at a UK university.

I have a good number of publications (including a book), I have good experience teaching with good student evaluations, I have a teaching certificate, I contribute to administrative work.

I seem to have all the things, but I am not getting any interviews at the moment. Recently I got cut by at the HR stage for a job I thought I was really suited for which surprised me.

One thing I lack, is I do not have a lot of funding (only a little).

Is that holding me back or is it just a tough market at the moment?

Any guesses?

Edit: Thanks for everyone's comments.

11 Comments
2024/06/08
23:07 UTC

2

How important is geographical mobility?

Hello!

To keep it brief, I'm eyeing up a PhD in humanities at an RG university with a view to building a career in academia.

But I've got two children (and a home), and would not be okay with disrupting their education and stability in life to chase career opportunities around the UK.

Let's fancifully assume I produce a compelling thesis and am well thought of by the faculty.

How credible is it to hope to develop my career without having to relocate relatively quickly post-phd?

I'm under no illusions that higher education, particularly in non-STEM areas, is under enormous financial pressure. I am aware of job insecurity and phenomenal competition from outstanding candidates for a diminishing number of opportunities.

For context, I finished my MPhil (Cambridge, so glorified MA) in 2017 and have a reasonable, if a bit unfulfilling career in Westminster politics and the civil service. As much as I enjoyed Cambridge and benefited from the environment, it's not an option for family reasons.

13 Comments
2024/06/08
21:39 UTC

5

Cutting contract from full time to part time - seeking advice.

I’m thinking about cutting my contract from full time to 3 days a week to free up space for looking after myself and my family. I do child care during the week (wife works a less flexible job) and I’m finding it unbearably stressful to juggle both. Most people have recommended against going part time on the basis that I will be end up working just as much but getting paid less. I think that might be true of working 4 days out of 5, but with a 3 day week I reckon a certain threshold of responsibility is passed, and it’s easier to mentally detach. My mortgage is nearly paid off, wife enjoys her job and earns well. I think taking a few years to reduce my workload, find time for exercise and be more emotionally available for my kids will pay dividends in the long run. Aiming to go back to full time when the kids are a bit older.

TLDR: thinking about going part time. Interested to hear your experience if you’ve done the same !

4 Comments
2024/06/08
18:49 UTC

1

Using Dr after marriage

Greetings Redditors! I've recently completed my PhD and will graduate next month ☺️ however, I am also getting married in October. Can I automatically use my Dr title with my new married name? Or is there some kind of process I have to go through to get the title "transferred" to my married name? Also (don't laugh) do I have to officially change my title by deed poll or no?

Thanks in advance for helping a neurotic gal out! 🫶🏻

7 Comments
2024/06/08
11:44 UTC

2

University of Leeds vs University of Glasgow

Hi all,I got accepted into Advanced Computer Science (Artificial Intelligence) MSc in University of Leeds and COMPUTING SCIENCE MSc in University of Glasgow.

I have gone through course offerings and attended offer holder events and liked both Glasgow and Leeds. I'm struggling to decide between choosing Glasgow and Leeds.

Which university is better for computer science. My primary goal is to pursue research in AI after graduation. So which program would be better for my goals.

From an employability POV (for an international student), which one is better?

Which has a better international reputation if I want to pursue a job/research outside UK?

I'd appreciate any kind of insight!

1 Comment
2024/06/08
10:44 UTC

19

My sad PhD studentship story

Hello everyone! I just wanted to share what happened to me and see what you think about it. If you have any advice, feel free to share.

Last week I was awarded the SWWDTP but I will have to decline it because I found out that my lead institution wouldn't cover the difference between home and international fees. I honestly didn't remember reading this information anywhere on the website and I couldn't check because their SWWDTP website is no longer available (I still have the link but if I click on it it says "information currently unavailable" or something along these lines). Therefore, I emailed my proposed supervisor without receiving a direct answer: she cc'ed the PGR Director of the department. In the meantime, I also sent a query form through the uni website. After a few days, since I didn't receive any reply (my proposed supervisor disappeared, the PGR Director didn't reply at all, the query form was still unanswered), I decided to use the chat tool of the uni website. Finally, someone confirmed that the difference wouldn't be covered. However, no one has been able to send me a link where this policy was stated. They kept sending me the Funding search page but, as I said earlier, it doesn't matter because the SWWDTP page has been deleted.

I was thinking about calling the postgraduate admissions office to get to the bottom of it. It's not that I am hoping that they will eventually cover the difference. I know that I will have to decline the offer. I just want to know if it was actually stated on the website and I didn't see it. At least, before declining this amazing and probably once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I would know it was my fault choosing this university as my lead institution.

Sorry for the long post.

  • A very disappointed almost PhD student.

Final Update: Thanks to the help of SWWDTP who got in touch with Exeter, I found out that I had been misinformed: the difference will be covered! They were concerned that someone had given me the wrong information. Good thing I didn't immediately reject the offer! However, until I receive the official letters, I won't celebrate hahaha. Thanks everyone for your advice. I really appreciated it.

23 Comments
2024/06/08
06:32 UTC

0

Getting another DTP after dropping out of one BEFORE starting but AFTER accepting

I know starting a phd then dropping out seriously impacts your chances of getting another, but what if I quit before starting? Will i still have a shot at another next year or later if its funded by the same people? Its a DTP in the UK and any future phds i apply for would probably be funded by the same research council, but probably with a different university/group of universities.

4 Comments
2024/06/07
16:55 UTC

5

Can you actually relax during holidays on phd

About to start a DTP PhD, im a keen traveller and like to travel for 3-4 weeks at a time. I get about 4 weeks holiday per year on my phd but wondering if I will realistically be able to travel for 3-4 weeks at a time? Im worried that I'll either not be allowed to take it off in a big chunk, or that when I do take it off, I'll end up doing things I need to get done anyway. I guess I'll need to speak to my supervisor about the first thing (although any insights into how common it is to take holiday in a big chunk would still be appreciated), but im also wondering if you guys actually feel able to relax and not work during holiday? Or if you end up having things to do. Fwiw my project wont involve labwork and a lot can be done remotely.

Dtp answers preferred

Also I know international conferences are a thing but they often dont go to places I want to go (usually big cities and western countries).

27 Comments
2024/06/07
16:05 UTC

1

MaSt in Mathematical Statistics at Cambridge

Hi all, I'm a third year student studying Financial Mathematics and Statistics at LSE, and will be starting Mathematical Statistics at Cambridge in October.

Currently I have a first at LSE. The thing is, I don't know if I'm smart enough to get a first at Cambridge. I'm very hardworking, but I know I'll be competing against extremely smart people, so I'm not sure if I should start looking for a job or accept the offer to study at Cambridge.

If I get a 2:1 at Cambridge, would that reduce my chances of getting a job? That's what I'm really afraid of. Any advice would be appreciated, thanks! ☺️

5 Comments
2024/06/06
22:43 UTC

9

Becoming a university lecturer

Ever since I left university after studying my undergraduate degree (5+ years ago) I've wanted to go further with my studies and eventually become a lecturer. I love the idea of constantly researching and educating others about my specialist field (English Literature). However, I'm concerned with a few elements to it:

  1. I now have a mortgage and other financial commitments - how do I afford the degrees as well? Is there finance to help with this?
  2. Once I complete my studies, how likely am I to get a job as a lecturer? With fields of study being so specific, I'm unsure that there are many vacancies available.

If anyone could offer any advice or point me in the right direction I would appreciate it. Finally decided it's time to pursue my dream career and passion, I just hope it's possible!

13 Comments
2024/06/06
21:42 UTC

1

Best Place to Get Thesis Printed?

I just finished my masters thesis. It's about 80 pages long. I would really like to get it printed and bound in hardcover. Does anyone have any recommendations? Time is not an issue, but I am hoping for something not too expensive as it's really just for my own records. Thanks!

Edit: Thanks everyone for the useful responses!

6 Comments
2024/06/05
15:21 UTC

2

What uni for economics postgrad?

I currently have the following offers (listed on the poll).

I am waiting to hear back on scholarship applications from all three as affordability takes precedence.

I’m very interested in focusing on pure economics but have a specific interests in specializing in econometrics / statistical analysis. For this reason (and this might be a controversial opinion) I’m inclined to accept the offer from Nottingham. Both other courses are general economics, albeit with a quantitative focus; to me it still seems as if the course at Nottingham is more quantitative as it has a dual focus.

I should clarify that my goal post-completion is to pursue doctoral studies (or an mphil providing funding), which is why academic reputation and standing is important to me. I’m looking for pursue RA experience during my masters, and am primarily interested in urban and public economics. I also have a MASSIVE preference for PhD positions in the US; it seems Nottingham faculty is packed with ex-faculty from top tier US universities and a recommendation from them would go a long way.

If you have any specific advice about any of the universities or have gained / are looking to gain academic experience in the field of economics in the UK, feel free to PM me. If you don’t (but just have strong opinions) vote below! 😁

View Poll

0 Comments
2024/06/05
14:28 UTC

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