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Monday, November 14, 2016

Part-time PhD students do it better: three unspoken truths | Times Higher Education

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Doctoral students who downplay their part-time status forget that they excel in key ways, says Rebecca Gelding , part-time PhD student at Macquarie University.

Photo: iStock
Today, I’ve made a resolution. I will no longer use the word “only” when telling people about my PhD, as in “Oh, I’m only part time.”

It is a subtle word but it has a connotation that part time is somehow lesser or not as good as full-time (it’s not), that it’s not a big deal (it is), or that it doesn’t take a lot of effort (it does). I realise that I’ve been doing it unconsciously from the very beginning but I am going to start using a new vocabulary when describing my PhD.

You see, being part time isn’t easy but there are plenty of positives about it that simply don’t get discussed much. So, if you are a part-time student/academic, or considering going part time, this post is for you. It’s my defence to those who don’t understand why someone might choose to go part time. I hope that it starts some rethinking among other part-timers too, that we perhaps begin to reassess how we view our status: that part time is better than full-time in a lot of ways.

Time to be better networkers 
Some things take the same amount of time regardless if you are a full- or part-time student (ethics approval, paper review and publication, grant reviews, etc). Think about it – a paper that takes six months from submission to publication in a full-time load becomes the equivalent of three months from a part-time perspective. You’ve just saved yourself three months!

Recently, I read that scientists are increasingly expected to add “sales executive” to their list of job descriptions (as if project manager, administration, writer, teacher, etc, were not enough). But developing your “brand”, or even simply getting to know who’s who in the zoo – both in your field and in your institution – takes time.

This is one of the biggest advantages I see for part-time PhD students that so many don’t seem to take advantage of. We are around for so many years, we have more opportunity to meet with people; at conferences, seminars and especially on social media.

We can get to know the people in our respective fields of interest and become known as well – “Oh, you’re the one who studies x and y at the University of  Z – I’ve heard of you”.
Use the time that you have to stand out from the crowd and develop your network.
Read more... 

Additional resources
Starting a PhD might feel like beginning a journey into uncharted territory, so having a clear sense of direction in the first 100 days is vital, explain Kevin O’Gorman and Robert MacIntosh. Here, two Heriot-Watt University professors share their to-do checklist with new PhD students. 
Source: Times Higher Education

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