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Programs For those who have or about to complete your phd

  1. May 7, 2012 #1
    do you think you're an expert on your field? or just about as competent as your advisor?

    like i just want to know how it feels, i spent lots of hours on this one computer game , i can sort of feel what's like to be very good at one thing. i wonder if that's how you feel after completing a phd? obviously the ceiling is much higher in academia. but, i'm asking because i'm about to leave school, i still hope to have a phd one day, the sad thing is that, i'm not very focused right now and need a break from school. i can handle the material for my master program, but i feel like i'm not learning much at all. i guess, my question is, how long does it take you to become one of the best?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 7, 2012 #2
    Both answers are NO.
  4. May 7, 2012 #3


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    I believe I have become relevant in the narrow subfield of my field that is all. I am able to do research in it, and others' have communicated, and emailed me with regards to my papers. That is all.
  5. May 7, 2012 #4
    To the first, not really.

    To the second, in certain narrow areas related directly to my thesis, I'm probably significantly more competent than my advisor. In terms of broad understanding of the field, not at all.
  6. May 7, 2012 #5


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    When I had just completed my PhD I was an expert in the problem I was working on. I knew more about the problem and methods for solving it than most people in my field and was generally on par with others that were working on it.

    An analogy I might draw is that doing the PhD was like paving a road. You make your way down the road inch by inch, sometimes having to repave over the bumpy parts. By the end you know that road really really well. But you don't know too much about the roads through the rest of the city. You know some general stuff about them, because you know the road you worked on really really well and most roads are fairly similar.

    Supervisors have paved more roads, so they naturally know more of the city.
  7. May 7, 2012 #6
    that is a very good analogy, i think i get it now thanks
  8. May 7, 2012 #7
    This: http://matt.might.net/articles/phd-school-in-pictures/

    I think a lot of people have described it well above...

    I just defended a couple of weeks ago. I felt like I could answer the questions my committee asked me well, and I'm very confident in describing my specific tiny area of research. But that doesn't even mean I feel like an expert in my major (nuclear engineering), or the more specific subfields either... only when you get down to your very specific topic do you feel like one of the most knowledgeable people in the room.

    Don't expect to feel like you have all the answers when you get your PhD, but you do learn a lot about how to figure out answers to interesting questions.
  9. May 8, 2012 #8
    1) Yes. They will not give you a Ph.D. unless you are an expert in your field. Now whether or not you *feel* like an expert is a psychological issue (i.e. google for the imposter syndrome).

    2) In the particular topic of my Ph.D., I know more than my adviser. There are lot of things that my adviser knows more about than me, and that's a function of the fact that he is older than I am.

    It actually doesn't feel like that. Once you climb one mountain you realize that there are about a dozen more mountains that you weren't aware of.
  10. May 8, 2012 #9
    One should always know more about the subject of PhD thesis than anyone else in the world. However, I do not think that this makes the person a master of the field. Just the particular (sub)subfield... Building mastery takes years of hard work, that's why one usually would not be better than his/her supervizor in the whole field.
  11. May 8, 2012 #10
    How long does it take you to become one of the best, it depends on one merit. I think merit is the main thing for to be a successful one.
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