Today we hear from PhD candidate, P. H. D. Candy-D’Ate* who gives us the lowdown on the True Cost of PhD Research. This is essential reading for anyone about to prepare a grant application!
When I applied for my doctoral funding you asked me to submit a detailed proposal setting out the costs involved in undertaking my research. It recorded line items such as “paper” and “travel”. In retrospect, this proposal was naïve and reflected my inexperience as a researcher. I am now writing to update my proposal and ask for additional funds for expenses that have arisen and that I will need to meet to complete my research. The items are set out below. This budget is for the 30 weeks remaining in my candidature.
|Item||Purpose||Number||Cost per item||Total|
|Coffee||Upper – required for functioning during day||30 bags of high strength beans||$7||$210|
|Wine||Downer – to offset effects of coffee, required for sleep||40 bottles||$18 (I’m a graduate student, I can’t drink the really cheap stuff)||$720|
|Physiotherapy||Repair arm damaged by transcribing interviews||2 sessions||$60||$120|
|Massage||Recommended by physiotherapist and enthusiastically accepted by researcher||20 sessions||$40||$800|
|Yoga||Maintenance of mental and physical well being||20 sessions||$15||$300|
|Chocolate||Maintenance of mental well being||30 blocks||$3||$90|
|Running shoes||Reduce negative effects of chocolate to physical well being||1||$150||$150|
|Hairdressing||Disguise rapidly multiplying grey hairs||5||$150||$750|
|Brian Johnston||Practical strategies for slowing the rate of grey hair accumulation||6||$15||$90|
|Fancy keyboard||My productivity will definitely increase if I have a very expensive keyboard that sounds like a typewriter||1||$250||$250|
|Mouse||Previous mouse wore out from too much clicking (yes, seriously)||1||$60||$60|
|Electricity||For clothes dryer because I don’t have time for housework but I still need clothes||100||$1||$100|
I trust you understand how essential these items are and look forward to your positive response.
P. H. D. Candy-D’Ate
*Still not her real name
Last week in the Blog with No Name we heard from two awesome entrants from the 2013 3MT (see the 2013 final here) and a dodgy one from the 3MT from years gone past. This week I made it my mission to explore the rules and to give you a few tips so that you can make the most out this cool opportunity.
Who is eligible to enter?
Master’s Candidates currently enrolled in a thesis worth 90 points and Doctoral Candidates currently enrolled in a doctoral thesis. Candidates whose theses are under examination are eligible.
How many entrants do we need to make this an awesome contest?
The 3MT is a great event but it’s also an expensive event. To make it viable we need real engagement from the thesis community. So, please join in; it’s totally worth it!
At a minimum we need 100 entrants in the heats to have a superb final and to give the Aussies and the rest of New Zealand a run for their money
For the Christchurch, and Wellington heats, we need at least ten contestants in the heats to make the Dunedinites quake in their boots. For the Auckland (Distance) heats we’d be happy with less; but come on North-Islanders; this is your chance to engage with the thesis community IRL and to score a free trip to Dunners!
Daniel Wee, 2013 3MT Winner
What could I win?
We know that it can be hard to find grants to travel to conferences, support fieldwork or fund experiments. So as well as spot prizes in the heats there is some serious pay-off in this contest to help support your research.
The Divisions provide a $500 research grant for the winner of the heats (thanks, Divisions!).
The Graduate Research School and Marketing and Communications will provide a $1000 research grant to both the winner of the Master’s and the winner of the Doctoral sections in the 3MT final in Dunedin. GRS will provide a $500 research grant to the winner of the crowd favourite. (Thanks GRS and M & C!).
But wait, there’s more!
Winners of the out-of-Dunedin heats will get flown free of charge to the Dunedin final.
Courtesy of the Graduate Research School, the winner of the Master’s section will receive a trip to compete in the Inaugural Masters 3MT Inter-University Challenge in Auckland and the winner of the Doctoral section wins a trip to Queensland to compete in the Trans-Tasman Competition.
When is the Dunedin Final?
Wednesday 26 August.
When are the national/international competitions?
Inaugural Masters 3MT Inter-University Challenge: Auckland 10 September 2015
2015 Trans-Tasman 3MT: Queensland 2 October 2015
Are there any specific rules for the presentation format?
- A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted. No slide transitions, animations or ‘movement’ of any description are allowed. The slide is to be presented from the beginning of the oration.
- No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted.
- No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
- Presentations are limited to 3 minutes maximum and competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.
- Presentations are to be spoken word (eg. no poems, raps or songs).
- Presentations are to commence from the stage.
- Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through either movement or speech.
- The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.
What are the judging criteria?
Communication style; was the thesis topic communicated well to an intelligent lay audience?
Comprehension; did the presentation help the audience understand the topic?
Engagement; was the audience left wanting to know more?
What do past judges say make a great 3MT presentation?
- Explain your research clearly
- Avoid unnecessary jargon and complicated or fancy-schmancy terms
- A really eye-catching slide
- Passion and enthusiasm
- Don’t just rely on the fact that your research will save lives!
- Treat the presentation as though it were a musical performance; consider tempo, pauses, and crescendos
- Three minutes is over fast so less is definitely more here
- Use real life examples and analogies to show why your research is significant
- Remember this is supposed to be fun so most of all, enjoy the ride!
What are you waiting for?
Click below to enter the appropriate heat:
Claire Gallop, Graduate Research School
Panda B. Ear delivers his 3MT on Eudaimonia: A Philosophical Treatise on the Nature of the Good Life for Ailuropoda melanoleuca
I have entered the 3MT twice in my long and varied career as a PhD candidate. The first time I simply wanted to see what this thing was all about. The second time was because the then Doctoral and Scholarships Manager, Chris Stoddart sent me a charming but slightly <hugely> guilt-inducing email asking <pressuring> me to consider entering again. Charm and guilt have always worked on me, so I gave it another go.
In what can best be described as the most heinous miscarriages of justice in the history of miscarriages of justice, I totally lost. Both times! What the?
Despite this dreadful oversight by the judges*, I’m not here to tell you to flag the 3MT!
The 3MT has a bunch of positive spin-offs in terms of raising your research profile, distilling and clarifying your thinking, and fostering communication skills. But even more importantly it is a chance to have fun!
But don’t take my word for it, after all I’m selling this gig nowadays. We asked Daniel Wee (PhD Candidate, Philosophy) and Shobhit Eusebius, (PhD Candidate, Marketing) the hard questions about what it was like to participate in the 3MT.
How many times have you entered the 3MT competition?
Shobhit: Once in 2013.
Daniel: 2013 was the first time I entered the 3MT competition. I was quite fortunate to go as far as I did that year! <such modesty; he won, he won!!>
What (or who!) sparked your interest in entering?
Shobhit: A YouTube video of the finals of a previous 3 MT competition was my introduction to the Post-Graduate culture at Otago. This was in 2011 when I was still in the early stage of trying to decide which University I wanted to study at. While searching for information about the University of Otago I came across this video by chance. I was immensely impressed by the talent on display, and also the variety of graduate research that was showcased. I have always been interested in public speaking so I was inspired by what I saw, and aspired to be able to compete at that level . Once I moved to Dunedin I met, and became friends with Dr. Andrew Filmer a previous 3MT champion, and Otago graduate. I found his personality, and success inspirational, and this further reinforced my ambition to compete in the 3MT.
Daniel: Before the competition I had family and friends regularly asking me what my thesis was about, and I never had a satisfying explanation to give them. They either thought that my thesis had something to do with particular languages, or that it involved conducting experiments on whether children raised away from society could speak! So I thought entering the 3MT would be a motivation to come up with a decent explanation in case I was asked again. I can say it definitely helped!
What did you enjoy most about the experience?
Shobhit: The thrill of competing with some of the most talented Post-Graduates from all across the University delivers an adrenaline rush that is unmatched. The level of competition is so high that even though I didn’t end up winning in the finals I learned a lot from the experience of participating. It is also a marquee event for Post-Graduates at the university so it is an immense confidence booster to feature in it.
The fact that you have only 3 minutes also made me think about my research in a whole new way. Turning lengthy theoretical arguments into succinct single line sentences is an intellectually exhilarating exercise, and also helps you highlight new research ideas or even loopholes in your own work.
Daniel: It was just enjoyable to know that people could understand and appreciate what my research is about. Some people have the misconception that philosophy is inherently inaccessible to the lay person and I like to think that I helped a bit to dispel that idea.
What pearls of wisdom would you provide to anyone interested in entering?
Shobhit: Prepare and practice as much as you can. At the same time remember to have fun; nobody wants to listen to a speaker who is stressed out. Keep it simple, and remember to focus on the “Wow!” factor of your research. Yes, your research does have a “Wow!” factor otherwise you won’t be here at the University of Otago . You just need to look for it, and participating in the 3MT is an excellent way of doing that.
Daniel: My advice would be to practice your speech with people outside your field who can give you honest feedback. I have the benefit of living in a postgraduate community at Abbey College and those of us who were competing in the 3MT that year organised a night when we delivered our speeches to about twenty other postgraduates from various disciplines. The feedback we got was invaluable and made us more confident on competition day.
re we going to be able to persuade you to enter again? (I really hope so, you were so good last time!)
Shobhit: I’ll be back! 😀
Last, but certainly not least, would you prefer to fight one horse-sized duck or one hundred duck-sized horses?
Shobhit: Mmmm, Peking Duck on rice…. Nom nom nom 😛
Daniel: From my experience at the Dunedin botanical garden, ducks are easily distracted by breadcrumbs so I think I would prefer fighting a horse sized duck as long as I have some bread at hand!
Anything further you’d like to add?
Shobhit: BAZINGA !!
Daniel: Good luck to this year’s competitors!
Thanks, Daniel and Shobhit!
So, if you’re not here to communicate your research to a wider audience, make sure you stay inside your offices and labs and ignore this opportunity to meet fellow students and learn key skills that will set you in good stead for the rest of your careers.
If you believe fun is the enemy of graduate research then please avoid this opportunity to have a massive amount of fun. After all, you could use that three minutes to drastically improve your H-index, to seal that post-doc or to impress your examiner into offering you your own personal chair.
However, if you aren’t three minutes away from securing a Nobel Prize, then take the opportunity to think creatively about your research and have a blast doing it!
The entries are now open for the 3MT for Master’s thesis and Doctoral Candidates. Stay tuned for next week’s post outlining the details on our workshop on Communicating Clearly: the 3MT and Beyond as well as tips from previous judges and more information about the rules and the way the Heats and Finals work and how to nobble your competitors.
I want to enter the 3MT and compete in:
* To be fair, this was no oversight; I sucked both times. But I had a load of fun doing it!
Claire Gallop, Graduate Research School
There are a number of services and people around campus who are there to help make your postgrad experience easier. In what I hope will become a series for the blog, I thought it would be a good idea to hunt out some of these folks and learn a bit more about what they do and how it can help you with your postgrad study. First up, Mike Wright, one of the University Chaplains, and EdD candidate, so in short a busy lad.
Mel: Hi Mike, thanks for stopping by for a bit of a chat about your role as a University Chaplain. Do you want to tell us a bit about your role?
Mike: Hey Mel. Yes for sure! As Chaplains we seek to provide pastoral care and spiritual support to all students studying at the University of Otago, and to do so in a respectful, confidential, inclusive, and non-judgemental way. What does pastoral care and spiritual support include, I hear you say …
For me, pastoral care includes anything and everything that impacts on your life as a student e.g. study pressures, finances, homesickness, relationships, grief and loss, etc.
Spiritual support involves supporting the spiritual dimension of students’ lives. That includes those things that give your life meaning & purpose, or the search for those things. It’s about the source of your creativity; and your relationships and the sense of connectedness you have with yourself, with others, with the planet, and with God/Higher Power/Other…. Spirituality also includes your beliefs & values, it drives your ethical behaviours, and is your source of resilience in times of challenge.
As chaplains, we’re involved in many other things on campus, but pastoral care & spiritual support are the main aspects of what we do.
Mel: Why do you think it is important to have on campus Chaplains?
Mike: We come to University as whole people – and that includes the spiritual. While there are many spiritual people on campus – both religious and not religious, the University chaplains have an official role with respect to spirituality; to support and encourage philosophies and practices of life that lead to wholeness and well-being (hauora). We’re able to engage with and accompany students (and staff) either in one-off conversations, or in more regular on-going support for example University’s new Healthy Campus website.
Greg Hughson and I have a full-time presence on campus (here in Dunedin) and are also available by email, phone, skype, etc., to distance students and students at Otago’s satellite campuses in Invercargill, Christchurch and Wellington.
Mel: Do you think it is important for postgrad students to acknowledge their spiritual side and how can it be of benefit to their studies?
Mike: Yes I do. Socrates (among others) once said “Know thyself”, and “The unexamined life is not worth living” – that includes the spiritual aspects of our lives.
Being a postgrad student is not just about research outputs, thesis writing, and publications. It’s also about becoming a person more fully aware, more fully alive in the midst of the challenging process of postgrad study. Spiritual exploration (either religious or secular) is an essential part of that. As chaplains we’re here to help you with that exploration.
Mel: You are currently undertaking your EdD – how do you balance your study and role as Chaplain?
Mike: With some difficulty! Maintaining continuity of thought and focus is very challenging. At times it’s actually impossible due to the unpredictable demands of my full-time chaplaincy role. I diary ahead blocks of time for writing but these are often consumed by work issues before I can get to them. I do keep trying though, and occasionally succeed!
Remembering that there’s more to life than both work and study is important. Down time to spend with family & friends, to read an occasional novel, and to watch movies is essential. So is regular exercise. I get to the gym as often as I can. It helps to clear my head as much as anything else.
Most important, however, I have an endlessly supportive team of supervisors, and a wonderful support crew made up of family, friends, and colleagues. They keep me going with words of encouragement and remind me of how much progress I’ve already made. They’re all vitally important!
Being a doctoral student for 5 years now has enabled me to connect experientially with other postgrad students in ways I couldn’t have before. Only by going through it yourself can you really understand what it’s like for others.
Mel: Finally, Would you like to fight one horse-sized duck or one hundred duck-sized horses?
Mike: I’d go for one hundred duck-sized horses. Horses are pack animals. I’d turn the leader then have an army at my disposal.