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Showing posts with the label PhD

Reader career question 01: Eradicating poverty with a PhD and/or UN job?

One of the numerous advantages of the blog is that I do receive interesting career- and study-related questions from readers around the globe.
With their permission I will publicize some of the queries and share my nuggets of wisdom from my response...comments and further questions welcome!
I would be grateful if you can advise me on my dilemma.

I’m (from a Middle Eastern country) 33 years old banker with excellent experiences in investment banking and credit risk. I have always been disturbed by the extreme inequality and poverty in the underdeveloped world but unfortunately I haven’t had any opportunity to join a development agency. I looked for a connecting point where my professional experience in the financial sector and my interest in development can meet. So I earned an MSc in Development Finance (…) in 2012. I enjoyed the debates on the development very much and I produced excellent essays during my study. Again, the degree hasn’t helped me to find a development career. So I’m …

Are journals hindering creative academic writing & engagement with research?

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tl;dr (for those who find blog posts on academic publishing too long)
The focus onopen access publishing’ and ‘better academic writing’ may be overrated when it comes to fostering creative writing, public engagement with research or finding cures to eradicate poverty because the commodity of academic journal articles has limited value outside a relatively narrow circle of academic insiders.
In addition to advocating for more open access publishing we should think outside the box of a particular written genre to ensure that the goals we envision to achieve are truly met in today’s digital world.
And sometimes not publishing another article at all can be the part of the solution, too...

For quite some time now, there has been a debate in the academic sphere about the future of academic journal article publications that more or less focuses on questions around access, namely on publishing these articles under various ‘open access’ options. Aaron Swartz was maybe the most prominent activi…

IDS/VSO action research PhD opportunities on 'Valuing Volunteering'

My colleague Joanna Wheeler from IDS sent me a message this morning about a fascinating action research-based project that the IDS Participation, Power and Social Change Team and VSO-UK are going to implement jointly as a series of PhD projects. There are more details below and an even more detailed research design outline is included as well.
But before you get too excited, let me stress that this project does *not*, I repeat: NOT!, come with a scholarship to undertake a PhD at IDS/University of Sussex.
VSO will cover the fieldwork under a normal volunteer contract but every candidate will have to secure funding for her/his PhD fees (approximately £3,500 for EU citizens and £9,000 per year for everybody else). If you are still interested I suggest that you get in touch with Joanna directly, ideally including your CV and a statement why you would be a good candidate for the project. But please read the complete information first:
Valuing Volunteering
Valuing Volunteering will use syste…

Academic socialisation, publishing and Tyler Cowen

Tyler Cowen shared some basic rules for academic publishing in a video two weeks ago. I was a bit disappointed, because it appears that he took a very conservative stance on the subject, not mentioning the 'political economy' of publishing that is often part of the process. He seems to follow a purely scientific model where a high-class paper will be reviewed by high-class reviewers leading to high-class feedback and in the end to a high-class publication on your CV. This is not going to be a rant suggesting that there are secret networks of power and mafia-like structures when is comes to getting into the publishing circles, but my experience so far is that in addition to good, high-quality research you need the right amount of luck, take advantage of unexpected opportunities and be prepared to learn that publishing does not take place in an unbiased, purely scientific bubble where only 'the best' research is going to be published. Cowen's talk reminded me a bit o…

Some reflections from an academic job interview non-dialogue

I was surprised when I was invited to an academic job interview to a university in the North of the UK. Although the department appeared to be focussing on International Relations and Security Studies they were looking for a lecturer on conflict and development. A good friend of mine was also invited so I knew from the beginning that I was not the only potentially fig-leaf anthropologist or qualitative researcher; we were five candidates in total from a range of well-known UK development studies departments. However, there was no preliminary phone interview and in the end the experience turned out to be quite frustrating, though shedding at least a few insights into recruitment practices at highly ranked British universities. The 20-minute presentation of my research in front of a group of about 15 staff members went well, but there were literally two short questions afterwards because of time constraints (friends in the US told me about 30 minute presentations and a thesis viva-like …

Should I consider a PhD in International Development Studies?

After the Economist’s piece on the (non-)value of doing a PhD and some comments later (e.g. Prometheus doesn't read the Economist (I like the slightly cynical dichotomy between ‘civilians’ and the ‘academic insiders) or the '100 Reasons NOT to Go to Graduate School' (they are only halfway through so check it out regularly in the future...) I had an interesting conversation with a prospective PhD student a few days ago.
This was not the first time that I had been approached about doing a PhD and I always try to be as frank as possible, even playing the ‘devil’s advocate’ when it comes to the complicated ‘should I or shouldn’t I?’ decision-making process. At the end of our conversation I sat down and tried to summarize a few important and generic points from the point of view of doing a PhD in Development Studies and in the UK.
I understand that every case is different and involves a range of motives, options and rationales, but there a few important questions and topics t…

Can Nepal escape the ritualisation of international peacebuilding?

This is a presentation I prepared and recorded with Camtasia for a conference in Kathmandu in July that I could not attend in person. The conference was entitled

Conflict, Transition and Possibilities for Peace in Nepal: challenges to engagement, practice and scholarship. The whole video is about 35 minutes long and covers four key areas:
What is ritualisation and why does it matter engaging with peacebuilding?The transnational work- and lifestyle of peacebuilding in the context of post-conflict Nepal The local discourse of engaging with peacebuilding rituals Critical, reflective and creative practice – how to challenge ritualsCan Nepal escape the ritualisation of international peacebuilding?
If you are interested in a pdf-handout or additional information just send me a message and I will share the presentation in a more accessible way.


How peacebuilding has become a ritualised space – An aidnography from Germany and Nepal

There is now an updated and more comprehensive post on the completed PhD project!

This is the abstract of my PhD thesis How peacebuilding has become a ritualised space – An aidnography from Germany and Nepal

This research uses structural ritualisation as an approach to study peacebuilding communities in Germany and Nepal. Based on anthropological and sociological literature a ritual theory framework is used to emphasise the importance of symbolism, liminality and performances for the ethnographic study of aid (aidnography). The analysis of the fieldwork in Germany starts with the peace research community and their workshops, conferences and trainings. Ritualisation processes around acceptable forms of knowledge are the basis on which new policy institutions operate; leaving discourses unchallenged. For example the PEACE network that aims at facilitating learning and knowledge management on peacebuilsing inside German development institutions. Detailed organisational ethnography of the P…