Category Archives: PhD


A friend sent me a blog last Friday on the importance of find time for leisure, both for personal well-being but also for work productivity. Funnily enough, I worked until very late on Friday on a thesis chapter, so didn’t read it until the Saturday morning…

Working so late is actually a rarity for me. I have done it twice in the last year, and in both cases it was simply because I felt in a particularly productive mood, and had nothing too urgent the following day that would suffer from me being more groggy than normal.  Continue reading ‘Busyness’

The blog so far

We’re now at the end of the academic year. Undergraduates have gone home, staff have gone on holiday or more likely are writing articles, books and presenting to conferences. Me? The department building is getting refurbished, so I’m working from home.

Quite a lot has happened to me since I started my PhD last year. I’ve presented a proper paper at an academic conference for the first time, and then had that paper accepted for publication. I’ve officially graduated from my Masters degree. I’ve had ten months of PhD study, writing about party organisation theory, party system theory, and designing a questionnaire for distribution. I’ve also started and maintained this blog, and I’d like to share some thoughts about it has evolved so far, and how it might continue to evolve. Continue reading The blog so far

Supervisions, and the ‘fear’

I have a full meeting about my thesis with my supervisors roughly once a month. We chat and discuss my research more often than that, but every month is our ‘structured interaction’, as it is known. In this blogpost, I want to discuss how my supervisory meetings have evolved since I started my PhD in September 2013, and the changing ‘fear’ as the ‘supervisee’. Continue reading Supervisions, and the ‘fear’

Publishing academic work

Newcastle University’s Politics department hosts a professional development seminar series. The series is very useful, offering helpful advice to postgraduate students across a range of issues, from setting up a research radar, to getting funding for your PhD, to publishing your work and getting a job in the academy, there are many things that postgraduates might want to know more about, but are not sure where to start. For more info, click here.

Today’s seminar was titled ‘Meet the editors: getting advice about publishing from the journal editors in Politics‘. Newcastle is fortunate at the moment to have four members of staff in the Politics department that edit academic journals. Martin Coward and Kyle Grayson edit Politics, Alistair Clark is one of the editors of the British Journal of Politics and International Relations, and Anthony Zito is one of the editors of Enviromental Politics. Together, they offered their advice to postgraduates in the seminar, and I’d like to post some of their thoughts on this blog today. Wherever I can, I’ll try and group them into specific sections. I’ll refrain from attributing specific ideas to specific people, because I think they all concurred with each other sufficiently to make that unnecessary. Whilst all of the comments below are helpful and important, I do not take any credit for them. This blog is written with postgraduate students in mind. Continue reading Publishing academic work

What happened before the PhD?

Here it goes. The first substantive post of what will become quite a long blog by the end of my PhD (click here to find out more ‘About Me’).

It seems to me that a good place to start would be to revisit (briefly) what brought me to do a PhD. As I noted in my ‘About Me’ page, I also did my BA and MA in Politics at Newcastle University. However, this hasn’t been some seamless journey towards PhD study. As a 17 year old thinking about universities, I was in no position to make a well-informed decision. My parents were fantastic, ferrying me around to various open days and talks, but they hadn’t gone to university (I was the first in my family), so they were as clueless as me at the start. In the end, I chose Newcastle University because it felt right: it had a very good reputation, it was (and is) a member of the Russell Group, they valued local students, and everything seemed to fit from then onwards.

Continue reading What happened before the PhD?

About Me

My name is Craig Johnson, and I am a first year PhD student in Politics at Newcastle University. The purpose of this blog is to give an insight into the life of postgraduate students at Newcastle. Alongside many others (see here for blogs from others students in Politics), I’ll be blogging roughly once a month about my experiences and insights, and hopefully some of it might be useful to whomever chooses to visit.

A quick bit about me: I am 22, and originally from County Durham in the North East of England. My BA and MA were also in Politics at Newcastle University, and for the next 3 or so years, I’ll be here for the PhD. My research focuses on the potential for co-operation between the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties within British politics. My interests revolve around the aspects of British politics related to that.

I’ll blog about things related to my research, but also about things relating to my subject area and the nature of my study. Suggestions for blog posts are always welcome. If you’re wondering why I’ve used the blog name #phdchat, it’s because this is a regular hashtag on Twitter for people to post things that might be of interest to fellow PhD researchers.

That’s it for now. Feel free to follow me on Twitter or on Academia, or check back here for future blog posts.