Wednesday, March 30, 2016

PhD in a fun area, finding a (good) supervisor

I get emails from people asking me to supervise their PhD's (and give them a scholarship and if possible residency etc.... ;-)
Here is my super short answer

Dear D
if you want to have a better chance of being supervised for a PHD here are some suggestions:

1) read the papers which interest you and get a very good understanding of your area. 
- do some more research, 
- look at the research in the last 3 years. 
- what are the key new things ? 

2) Write a summary of the current state of research, what is being done, 
- what the current issues and challenges are. 
- reference them properly (find out what that means if you don't know). 

3) Think about what you would like to research and HOW. 

4) read  the links below

5) contact the academics who are doing the work you want to do, in the area you want to work in.
Send them the summary your wrote in 2) above.
Ask intelligent questions about THEIR research
If and only iff they reply: outline your area of interest in 3) above.

Take it from there.

This should give you a better chance than just asking "please supervise me, here is my CV, I will work hard "

good luck 


Friday, December 11, 2015

Applying for anything, grants, Scholarships....

I love the introduction to this guideline for grants:
it applies to scholarships, grants....anything like that.
or here.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Re: smart way to get scholarships case study:

Ok here is secret #1:
on getting PhD scholarships
The approach was clear: search and find an academic who is interested in what she was interested in, and then talk to that academic, email, and eventually once things progressed enough, fly over and person..... yes in person. In this age of instant communications this is can be a good way....


Please note:  Do NOT use this as a clever TRICK, this is only really going to work if you are genuinely interested in the topic. 

If you are really interested: Read papers on your topic, read papers the academic you are talking to wrote. 
Know what is going on and what is what. 
Academics are usually great at spotting bullshit (they are masters of it, I'm a master of BS myself) and we quickly see what is going on. 

Real skill and real interest will shine through in the end ! 

Try this approach: start with a  full PHD proposal, then keep talking to the academic. In the example case study: Eventually G got funding from the academic's grant, a school level scholarship, which can be given to whomever the school deems most suitable. 

Talk to academics who are doing what you WANT to do. 
That means YOU figure out YOUR interest and and be very specific....
Most academics (including me) are never ever going to go for a 'I want a scholarship and I'll study whatever you want me to" approach.
I bin those emails. Takes me 1 second to hit delete button. 

Well, Ok, perhaps 3 seconds.  

But if a student comes to me with: "I want to research the way true random quantum noise can be used in a micrporocessors can to detect subtle energy using the interference patterns of standing waves and deviations from the 3 sigma average...etc..." then I'll go "By Jove !  This girl/guy knows what s/he wants, ... let me talk to her/him..."
and if she reads papers I suggest, and does her homework and really konws what she is after I'll listen and take if further and if it works out I'll look for money to fund her study. 

In fact: most academics use this approach all the time ALREADY : Academics  keep an eye out for the brilliant Under Grad students who they think would be good at a PhD and ask them before they graduate, '...have you thought of doing a PhD in.... ?"

NB: Most academics have access to "some" money, or their school has and if they can persuade the student is a capable, a good risk, etc.... something might be possible...

This blog is based on a real event.

in your case: what is it YOU are interested in ? in Law, ? or in Legal history or anything. 

You could go to and look for papers and topics that interest you. Then go from there..... - good luck :-) 

Secret #2:

 there  is another secret they don't tell you:
once you have graduated, you can do your PhD in just about anything.
you are NOT restricted to law, you can go into history, into social science, into linguistics, into languages, into entrepreneurship, into art,... (ok you can't do Engineering and sciences or medical stuff, but anything humanities related is fine)

so please : figure out what you really really want to study, and go for that, research it, and write an outline of what you want to
then send it to the academic, ask him:

Dear Sir, I want to study
the cultural interpretations that affect international law. In particular how this can lead to legal complexities as was seen in the Case of ABC VS XYZ in 2003.

I have read the theory of Justin Weber who argues that ....
and also the counter arguments of Michael Smith who takes a more practical approach and argues blahb...blahh...blahh..... .

However my own thinking is that this issue is best addressed by looking at the historical roots of the legal framework. In the case of Vietnam much of that framework is actually French/European modified by Asian values.


your's sincerely

TTTT Schweigen. 

Secret #2b:
this is a minor secret: whatever you study esp if it is unusual you have more freedom and more room to move if you do it in a general discipline.
Example: Women's role under Mao Tze Tung
you can do it under Sociology, but because that is a smaller discipline they have their own fixed way of approaching this topic,
Much better to do this kind of thing in History where you have a much much greater freedom of approach

Saturday, June 23, 2012

writing a thesis is a social thing, not a solo thing, it's a TEAM activity

I don't get it. I work hard. From 1pm to 6am I'm with my computer. I have documents, all I have to do iis read. But I still don't get it. I don't know what to do. Am I......???? . 
Why can't I understand it well then just write?

A thesis is like a cake, you mix the ingredients, and then let it sit and rise,
just reading and then writing is not the answer, you need to have the ideas, the key ideas of what you really wanna say, else you just repeat and summarieze other's thoughts.
the cake takes time.
For moths now, you tell yourself you don't have time, you want it done asap,
= no time for cake to rise,

You need to have a clear idea of WHAT it is you want to say, then say it.
reading is  step 1, totally required, totally neccessary.

To get the idea of WHAT you wanna say: you need to talk about it with others, student or supervisors.

You try to write it on your own,
thesis, and scholarship is NOT a solo activity, it is a TEAM thing
- supervisor and student debate it,
- student and other students debate it - look at it, find the weaknesses, then student strengthens and changes it - Yes YOU write itbut you need a social group to talk to about it.

Not your fault, but you have not had that social aspect of thesis writing,
so you try to do it solo, possible but damn hard.

So no, you are not stupid,
just stresssed, and under stress things take even longer, and more difficult,

Accept that you will be late, and get a lifestyle your body likes, not all night shifts plllllllleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease
your body needs sleep.

if you ever do another thesis:
- supervisor you can talk to, who listens and has real advise
- clear topic and reserch questioin
- social support - ie. other students, a scholarly environment,

are the KEY for a good thesis writing setting

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

do I need a one page summary of my CV ?

A quick question. Do we really have to condense our resume to one page?

after 5 years working then not easy to do that

the term 'resume' means a summary. You don't need to include everything in your resume. You only need to give the information that your potential employer needs to get an idea about you, your best aspects, so to say. For the rest, you can tell them in an interview. Remember, the purpose of a resume is not to get you a job. It is to get you an interview.

It depends on what position you are applying. You will not send one page of resume when you are applying for a manager position for example. CV or resume is important for you to impress the protental emloyer and make them want to call you for an interview. I suggest not include every little thing in the resume and not try to make it long but include important things and make it longer than one page. ( Note to student who just finished school: Do not worry if your resume is short but make sure you have selling point in there. Maybe you can strongly mention about your academic background and if you have got good graduation GPA, make sure you mention it too. Talk about your internship as well. One page is fine for the fresh graduate.

HR   I was on MANY many interview panels and CV evaluation panels that preceded the interview....

Sorry to say this, but we took about 30 secs to scan the CV's
The idea that anyone actually READS those things make me smile.

Sure, if the summary grabbed us we'd have a closer look.

But the process is often like this(was in my experience:)
"Lets toss out the clear NO's"
scan all CV's for 15-30 secs.

now let's separte into
- Yes
- Maybe
- No
takes 30sec / CV

and so it goes and so it goes.
seleting people is a pain.
should be done fast.

all I lookedfor: is it clear and easy to find the info ?
if YES - does it meet the criteria ?
(3 or 4 key criteria max)

the last few, that are going to interviewed ok we'd read the CV ,sorta... sorta... flick flick flick....

So clear layout,
Clear info is good.

I guess my experience is not that unusual
but I'm older.

The key is simple: put yourself in the shoes of the other side.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

improving my writing - HOW ?

One simple system:

Write simple short sentences.
One clear thought per sentence.
One clear idea per paragraph.

After your wrote it: Read it again.
write the introduction and then the conclusion.
Not at the start, but at the end.

Last trick: DO NOT expect to get it right and perfect
first time.
Accept that you will read it again, edit it.
At least once, probably twice.


Notice how your writing improves.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

to quote wikipedia or not to quote, that is the question - referencing

Luxor -2008
Using wikipedia - to quote or not to quote that is the question

I've received this query:
Am i allowed to quote wikipedia or should I find their sources?

I hear a lot of arguments about using Wikipedia.
Some academics say it is fine to use it, others will not tolerate it.

The real issue a little different:

Basically: you can quote anyone and anything there is no limit to this.
The key in academic writing is to clearly state who you are quoting and where and what.
i.e. full references.

But the question is really: is Wikipedia  an adequate authority ?
For general background and introduction to a topic it is excellent.
I personally like it and use it a lot

The core question is really:  What is the best source to support my argument ?

if you are going to argue seriously for an idea you need to go to serious authorities.
ie.: you can't base your serious PHD research about micro-controllers or diabetes on THE AGE newspaper, MX magazine or wikipedia.
In others words you can't say: "its true because it's in "THE AGE" or Women's weekly, or Wikipedia, you need to go the the appropriate authority and source.

If you are looking for an introduction to a topic Wikipedia is great.
When I had to quickly get up to speed on chip design, leakage currents, etc... Wikipedia was excellent in giving a good introduction.
If I'm going to do breakthrough research I can't base my arguments on Wikipedia, I would use the original sources.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

most effective study skills

interesting list of things to do to study most effectively

some of these I have done automatically and intuitevely others I have learnt from this post....