Wednesday 30 March 2022

Months Spent Applying for PhD - Not Getting Funding


From October 2021 to March 2022 I have been dedicated to applying for a PhD, specifically for one at York University with Dr. Fiona McNab as supervisor. The project was titled “Understanding the Limitations of Working Memory and the Role of Attention Using Games” and was intended to look into unique mechanisms found during distraction in delayed and maintenance conditions. The four studies in the project would have used games participants would play.

I secured a place, but regretfully did not get selected for the two studentships I applied for. I did not get short-listed for iGGi, however I did manage to get to the final interview with the departmental studentship, though there were only six places for the fourteen people interviewed and sadly I was not among the chosen six.

Few things I have learnt over the last couple of months:

  1. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket - to be fair I already knew this, but couldn’t find any more eggs and was under a lot of stress in daily life

  2. There are in fact opportunities out there - got to talk to people, I only found out about iGGi thanks to a Linkedin message I sent to my undergrad course director where she let me know that exists.

  3. More about my research interests - at the end of my undergraduate degree I had the vague idea of “technology and psychology”. Now I have a stronger grounding in memory, attention and further knowledge of how technology and games can be used in research. 

  4. Work more in parallel - wait this is just no. 1 again but without eggs 

  5. Basics of UNITY and have became reacquainted with C#

I do feel the UK lacks much support for people in my situation, I think they expect you to have all the answers from your parents or something. Plus the meagre offering student finance has for self funding, whereas in other countries that might be a more viable offering.

Going forward I know I must expand my reach and apply for as many studentships and funding opportunities as possible. One of the questions that plagues me is whether I should take a masters first. I get mixed responses, with various PhD graduates being staunchly for or against. Personally I never really wanted to do a masters, I know I want to do a PhD and was interested in research, I know how to gain knowledge, find answers and with my work experience between study I know I am a strong candidate compared to many fresh masters graduates. If I were to do a masters it would likely be the Cyberpsychology MSc at Wolverhampton though I would love to consider places further-a-field if money allows. Of course there’s more I can do currently and I am certainly appreciative of any advice people have for ways to increase my chances for funding. Whilst I search for work I am hopeful for a research assistant position at a university or company.

I do believe the project I proposed, although used games, was lacking a more game centred focus that is the best fit for iGGi, so I am going to work on a new proposal that considers player reputation systems in online games and communities, as that is something I am quite interested in. As well as that I will be sure to re-submit my current proposal for departmental studentships next year and consider others as well. There’s also an interesting project happening in Southampton about human factors and autonomous vehicles.

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