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Student Stories

Student Stories

Blogs and vlogs from students of the University of Edinburgh


Reading Time: 2 minutes

…by Greg / from the UK / PhD Precision Medicine / 4th Year

Current status. Location: Edinburgh, UK. Weather: Grey. Beverage: coke. Currently reading: Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry & The Logic of Scientific Discovery by Karl Popper.

I’m Greg, and I have been a scientist for the last nine years. I’m studying for my PhD in physiology. I am writing my thesis at the moment, but this blog is all about what comes next.

To be precise, this is about what I think will help my next steps. I have not secured my next position yet, but I hope this blog can help me focus on what is significant and what I need to do. I think the most challenging aspect for any PhD student at the end of their PhD is the amount of writing we have to do. It is a difficult thing to do at the end of my studies, but I don’t think there are any real ways to reduce it at an earlier stage.

Currently, I am writing feedback for marking, writing these blogs, my teaching portfolio, my paper, my other paper, two abstracts, my thesis and job applications. That is a lot of writing. My writing efficiency starts to drop after about 500-600 words per document and, at best, I can do three documents per day (excluding review/editing work) so it will take some time to work through all that writing.

Many of the things listed above are about much more than writing. For example, thesis writing involves a lot of formatting, design and editing while job applications require a lot of research. Marking is largely about reading and evaluation while I find paper writing to be a perseverance challenge more than anything else!

Writing job applications is an interesting experience. Every few years when I write them again, I am constantly surprised by how much of my time is required even before I get to discuss the role with another person. I think that this, more than anything else, makes the process more frustrating that it needs to be. It is one thing to have your CV rejected but another thing entirely to spend your Saturday completing competency tests only to be rejected on the last one. How much can a perspective applicant take from that process? I’m unconvinced about them! Perhaps the most pleasant surprise is that a number of positions are available for me to apply for. I look forward to applying and hope to get some positive feedback!

I have spent a lot of my time over the past year learning French. I am far from fluent, but I am gradually seeing progress. I have more tenses, I can express myself in the past, present and future, and a wider vocabulary than 6 months ago but I still find conversations challenging. Part of my challenge is learning two varieties of French and sometimes the word choice is very different. For example, “mantlepiece” is two different words in French and Canadian French. This is a skill I want to keep developing over the next year because it enriches my life and I’m pleasantly surprised at how useful knowing a second language can be.

You can find out more about my life in Edinburgh and science on my Twitter @endothelin1 and about my career on LinkedIn here.

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