The best paper I read during my PhD!

By Seán Mac Fhearraigh PhD

By the end of my PhD I was looking for some inspiration on what to do next. Not original I know! But like all PhD students coming to the end and writing up, knowing what career lies ahead can be a huge unknown. Should I post-doc? Should I look for a job with a pharma company? Get a job in scientific sales? Patent law? Consultancy?

My biggest goal was to get a position that was in line with the work I had done throughout my PhD and find a position that I could continue to grow and feel like I was achieving something. This can be hard when looking for a position outside of academia as your expectations and the potential reality you face are unknown.

Just as I was writing up, I luckily came across this paper by Doug Green, “Stress in biomedical research: six impossible things.”. For me this paper was a game changer and relayed some of the philosophies I had on science and gave me an insight into what thoughts maybe be required in order to achieve a goal within science or in a new field. This can be either a new job with a company or looking to post-doc in a new lab.

After reading the paper, I knew I wanted to continue on to carry out a post-doc and had my sights set on Cambridge. After looking at all the available positions on the Cambridge University careers page I came across an advert for a post-doc in the Department of Genetics working in the laboratory of Dr. Viji Draviam. The post-doc was to focus on Kinetochore-Microtubule attachment, a dream move after carrying out a PhD in mitosis.

After reading Doug’s piece I knew that if I wanted to get this position I would have to read more than 100 papers to be considered by Viji to join her lab. So this is what I did, I sat down and extensively read through the field of the kinetochore microtubule network and chromosomal alignment.

The hard work paid off! My interview was a pleasure as I was comfortable to talk about the field and could give deep insight into kinetochores.

The paper by Doug goes into some other philosophies of research which will definitely be applicable to your life as a PhD, Post-Doc, PI or your career to come.

You can read it here:

Read the paper here!

I would be delighted to here your thoughts!

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