Thursday, September 23, 2010

Phd Retreat

UCT Centre for Higher Education Department (CHED) and the National Research Foundation (NRF) are cosponsoring a PhD Retreat for second year PhD students from all faculties at UCT. We've spent two days talking about the lonely PhD journey, our PhD experience, writing advice and our career opportunities.

Some well-known UCT lecturers shared their PhD journeys and its rather nice to know that not all journeys go smoothly. One lecturer described a PhD as a "series of predicaments" and anothers advice was to "fake it til you make it".

Something for people to think about: What is your PhD metaphor? Mine is a Cape Town city centre road network, with its one way streets, circles, roadworks and no signposts. Regulated chaos :)

For those of you writing a thesis, try write your abstract according to the following:

Once upon a time researchers believed that... (literature review)

But then I thought that maybe ... (aims)

so what I did was ...

and I've discovered that ...

which [has] changed the way that we ...

I thought this set a completely inappropriate tone for thesis writing or paper writing but its meant to be the structure for an abstract, others disagreed and thought it was wonderful. The engineers seemed to agree with me.

Dr Albert van Jaarsveld (CEO of NRF) gave a very interesting talk on creating a "knowledge economy" and the plan of the NRF to create more PhD students every year. I also discovered that the NRF has a science and technology initiative in high school which Umonya may be able to partner with.

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