What is PhD success and does it imply a deliberate risk for your mental and social health? (1)

dr. Els van Rooi

dr. Els van Rooij

Dr. Els van Rooij investigates PhD trajectories for the Graduate School at Groningen University. In particular, she focusses on success factors in PhD research projects. Key topics are working pressure and mental wellbeing of PhD candidates, as well as social aspects of the academic working environment and the supervisory relationship.

This is an interview with Dr.  Els van Rooij (postdoctoral researcher at Groningen University) by Dr. Claartje van Sijl (independent career coach for academics). The interview was conducted via several emails back and forth. This part, part 1 focuses on PhD success. In part 2 we examine the working pressure that young researchers experience and its effect on their PhD success, work/life balance and mental wellbeing. Read more

How to bring back inspiration into your academic life?

We often use the word “inspiration” to indicate that some superhuman or divine spirit has given us a great idea. But even if you are not spiritually inclined: when we are inspired, we feel like our mind and our heart are synchronised. They strive to achieve the same end and are moving together in a harmonious flow. When we are inspired, we are reminded of who we really are and what we really are to do. Read more

Top 3 reasons why successfull early career researchers risk delay and consider dropping out

The early career phase is a fragile, precarious time in the life of an academic. I am talking specifically about the second half of the PhD period through a postdoc period, up to and including the start of an assistant professorship. It has been said many times that those who consider to opt out of the academic system are more often than not the most talented researchers rather than ‘misfits’ or those who after all appear to lack the ability (e.g. 3 myths about leaving the academy). What, then, causes these talented researchers, who appear to be doing great, to consider quitting academia? Read more

Behind the scenes: the world in which PhD candidates live

Prof. Lou de Leij and dr. Marjan Koopmans initiated the PhD discourse on the Dutch science news- and blog-site scienceguide.nl. In their contribution Dr. Ingeborg Meijer and dr. Inge van der Weijden ask about the world in which PhD candidates are working and living. I think this is a very good question to ask. I am glad to take their line of thinking a few steps further in this reflection.

We want a PhD degree to guarantee Read more

How to stay on track in the high speed rail of academia?

Side by side I walk with Maureen over a carpet of yellow and brown leaves on one of the last sunny autumn days. She is doing well in her academic career. After a postdoc at a renowned university abroad she found a promising research job closer to home. Her publications are coming round nicely and she is positioned very well for the next major grant that will help her establish her own research line.

Yet she struggles. As if she is confessing a weakness she tells me: Read more

How to get unstuck and enjoy your work despite high pressure & workload?

It has been 1,5 years since Dane successfully got his PhD. Seen on the surface, he appears to be doing great. He has several short term teaching positions and is even creating some consulting business directly from his PhD research. This is quite remarkable, because direct valorization of research is quite rare for a PhD in the Humanities. His former supervisor is confident that his career will turn out allright. The university is happy because Dane’s official status is ‘employed’.

But Dane is not happy with his situation at all. Read more