If we get rid of ‘PhD student’ titles, should we scrap others too?

Should we stop using the title of PhD student? This was a blog topic covered recently. The blog raised some good points, but the take home message was that many 'PhD students' don't fit the traditional student mould. Some are older, some are already employed and completing PhDs part-time. It was also pointed out that PhD students fulfill roles in departments that are above the status quo for a typical student role.Does this matter? Likely…

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Life at a teaching focused institution is not ‘easier’ – some examples of why

This morning I read the blog at Small Pond Science entitled "Really, faculty jobs in teaching-focused institutions are not inherently less stressful or easier or more balanced".I enjoyed reading this blog because it is true and it reflects my current status. It also speaks to a larger misconception that is often held by other academics, non-academics, administrators and students. I completely agree with the sentiments in the article - being a faculty member at a…

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What does it mean to be a citizen?

A few weeks ago, I attended my Canadian citizenship ceremony. Applying for citizenship, learning the history and attending the ceremony, it was all a truly fascinating experience from so many different perspectives.This blog seems particularly relevant at a time when Trump is proclaiming that birthright citizenship should be abolished in the USA.So, what does it mean to be a citizen? If you live in a country that is relatively safe, wealthy and democratic, you probably…

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Fantastic beasts and how to fake them

Fakery. Confabulation. Malingering. Denial. Lies. The English language has around 112 words to express deception in one form or another. We've all done it. Most likely as children where we would quickly be scolded for such mistruths. Even then, as young children, we usually recognized the risk of being caught in a lie. So, what makes a person, who should otherwise be perceived as 'reputable', create fabrications at a global scale?Over the past few days…

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I got nominated for Canada’s Favourite Science Blog! (So, please vote for me).

I got nominated! This is pretty amazing!For starters, I don't blog that often, I don't have thousands of followers on Twitter and I am not a long-established prof with a legacy of high-impact papers that people 'should' listen to. Relatively speaking, I'm just a regular ECR (early career researcher) trying to do some cool stuff, keep my head above water and throw a life-ring to others along the way. I have no idea who nominated…

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What are the (personal) odds?

Many people publish a Shadow CV of sorts, including Jeremy Fox at Dynamic Ecology and Manu Saunders at Ecology is not a dirty word. Jacquelyn Gill at Contemplative Mammoth advocates for the idea but hasn't published one yet - tsk tsk! Personally, I really liked the post by Jeremy Yoder about time to tenure track.The Shadow CV is supposed to illustrate that life isn't all peaches and cream. It serves as a reminder that for…

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Is my wagon broken? – Talk about academic mental health

Over the years I have seen a number of friends/colleagues suffer through tough times, uncertainty and poor mental health.We all know that mental health is an important topic yet it so often goes unspoken or ignored. There is this ridiculous stigma that the speaker will appear ‘weak’ or ‘unbalanced’, or perhaps even seen as a ‘whiner’ who should just ‘deal with it’. There is also the problem that it often makes listeners feel uncomfortable –…

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What to expect when applying for academic jobs: selection panels versus endurance tests

This is not a blog that tells you how to do well in an interview. Those can be found in many other places (e.g. here and here). Rather, this blog is for highlighting differences in procedures and expectations between regions/countries that you may end up interviewing for. For example, do you do a one hour interview with four people or a three-day interview with an entire department? (Plus, Manu Saunders over at Ecology Is Not…

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Is a European PhD comparable to a North American one?

It’s a common question. A REALLY common question!Many countries throughout Europe and the Southern Hemisphere (e.g., Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Singapore) have 3-year PhD programmes (or programs for the US spellers). Meanwhile North Americans typically opt for 5+ years. Why is there such a difference, and is one system better than the other?https://academia.stackexchange.com/questions/3503/is-it-true-that-it-is-easier-to-obtain-a-phd-in-europe-than-the-us-on-averageThe irony of it allObviously, European countries were producing PhD degrees before North America but, back in the 19th century, those…

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PART III – Thoughts on grant review and making it better

By Jasmine Janes, Manu Saunders and Sean TomlinsonLast month we posted a two-part blog post about the peer review of grants. In part onewe asked if peer review was ‘fair’ and if it could be made better for ECRs. In part two we highlighted and discussed some of the ways that people have suggested improving the grant review process. Finally, we asked you - the greater research community - what your experiences, thoughts and feelings…

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