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Programs PhD in theoretical physics in Europe. Concerns and Ideas.

  1. Jan 22, 2008 #1
    Greetings to all! As deadlines approach for PhD applications, I'm pretty confused about where to get my PhD and the implications of my choice. I'd really like to hear some opinions on my dilemma.

    Firstly, I'm currently in a MSc program somewhere in Europe and estimate to graduate on the forthcoming summer. I haven't been proposed to continue my studies in my country yet, but it is very likely to happen so. Thus, the following dilemma arises.

    On the one hand, I can start my PhD studies here, with a quite prominent supervisor. Not a really big BIG name, but recognizable enough, at least in some degree. I've discussed with his current PhD fellows and heard the best for his attitude towards them, his great skill of collaboration and help aiding. There also exist approximately 3-5 publications for each one of them in about 3 years. Hence he possesses the two major characteristics I've been searching for my potential supervisor: (i) sufficient academic career and matching with my research interests and (ii) great collaboration spirit.

    From my point of view, a PhD supervisor is the person that learns one how to actually do research on his own. As far as I understand, this is the most crucial point, thus giving extra credits to the person I'm referring to. The disadvantages of this particular choice of mine have to do with the country I live in. There is a great possibility that I don't get paid at all, at least for one or two years, which is awful. Furthermore, the academic environment is somehow isolated from the rest of the world, which is also awful. No conferences are being made (1 in two years approximately), no lectures are being given by visiting academic staff etc.

    On the other hand, I could move into a more academically healthy environment, find a great team to work with, or a bigger name to supervise me in my thesis, while the funds may come more easily, at least after the first year. The great disadvantage of this option has to do with the person/people I'll be working with. Having no clues at all about one's ability to collaborate with seems a little bit scary to me. After all, it's meaningless to be supervised by a big name in a prestigious university while getting no motivation and help at all. Especially at the PhD level, where one is supposed to learn the skills needed to proceed to a research field himself.

    If it isn't clear from the above, my ultimate goal is to do research/work in an academical position. Therefore, if I choose the first option, I'll definitely jump into an another country for a postdoc position. In that case, though, I'll have acquired the desirable skills to stand on my own (as far as one can after obtained his/her phd), and work under very different conditions.

    That is almost all! I'm looking forward in hearing other's opinions, please, share them if you wish so! Thanx!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 22, 2008 #2


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    I don't think a "big name" is that much of an advantage, if any! I would imagine that if you have a "big name" supervisor, then his time will be divided amongst many other people, and thus you will have less chance to see him. I don't really know what to advise you: if you want to go out and explore other countries, then do that, but if you want to stay in a place you are familiar with, then stay at your institution.
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