Poppleton-style PhD

October 28, 2005

Laurie Taylor's description of the "full PhD experience" in his University of Poppleton column of October 7, is a pretty accurate descrip-tion of the progress of my daughter's own doctoral research.

It was surely only the limited space available on the back page that caused Taylor to omit the occasion when the Blue-Eyed Boy walked off with the crucial turnip-counting equipment for several months (with the permission of the super-visor).

And perhaps Taylor did not know that the viva was jeopardised by the inaction of the Registry Office, which kept the resubmitted thesis on its shelf for three months, only informing the head of department after several interventions by my daughter.

I had naively assumed that the energetic support that is given to research students that Ihave experienced in the field of biomedical science - where there is mentorship, training in transferable skills, progress milestones, exposure to colleagues and rivals at conferences and encouragement to publish - would be reflected in all fields at all institutions of higher education in the UK.

I would have been somewhat less surprised if my daughter had been studying philately at the University of Poppleton, the source of Taylor's document, but I was deeply shocked to see something resembling the "mushroom treatment" of the 1970s meted out by a science department in a well-established red-brick university.

E. A. Carrey Senior lecturer in medical education University College London Institute of Child Health London

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