May 12, 2015

PhD Submitted

So, four years after I first started the PhD at Warwick, I have submitted the thesis and will have my viva this summer.

April 06, 2015

Some scholarly fun

I just came across a fascinating book review from 1953 Clarence D. Long on The Structure of Labour Markets (Reynolds, 1951): it is basically a dialogue, one that I assume the (genial!) reviewer had with a hypothetical other. Could it be a Brechtian play a la Galileo? I'd watch it. A flavour:

"Have you read Reynolds' new monograph on labor markets? Quite a stimulating book."

"I've been seeing it mentioned lately; what's it about?"

"Well, its subtitle is 'Wages and Labor Mobility in Theory and Practice.' As a matter of fact, one of its chief findings ought to interest you men of theory. Workers do not, it appears, attach overwhelming importance to the wage rate."

[... the fun continues]

In other news, I'm citing an article by Mumford et al., and have to constantly stop myself from typing Mumford and sons. I don't even like Mumford and sons.

May 23, 2013

Is It Better to Work for a Large or Small Company?

Writing about web page

A Lifehacker reader asks: Is it better to work for a large or small company? It was so exciting to see what is sort-of-almost like my research question discussed on the Internet that I felt compelled to blog about it. It's an interesting issue to consider as over a third of graduates work in small or a medium-sized business.

HECSU blog - graduate employment by business size
Source: HECSU Blog

Lifehacker's advice highlights some of the pros and cons for each, summarised below.

The large companies have structure, perks and internal career development going for them, but the downsides include a slow pace of change, not knowing all the staff, and being stuck in a team of depressing people. Lifehacker acknowledges that this last point can occur in any company, but maintains that it can be more damaging in a large one.

On the other hand, in smaller companies your success can be more visible, they are more flexible, and you are likely to do a variety of tasks. The flip side is that your failure is also visible, the perks are smaller, and there may be no clear way of dealing with complaints.

I thought that this was quite an interesting question, because it assumes that size affects how people work. But is it all a matter of size? Some of the comments point out that how well a company is doing and what the managers are like also affect work. It's quite interesting to read the discussions and the readers' own experiences, which elaborate on some of the points in detail.

Without wanting to jump too far ahead of my own research, similar themes are emerging from interviews with Futuretrack graduates, and I am looking forward to analysing the data.

Have you worked in a small or a large company? What have your experiences been like? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

March 26, 2013

Open Access?

The first time I had come across the 'open access' publishing/repository concept was during a meeting of the 'Researchers of Tomorrow' cohort at the British Library, some time in 2009. Now (at time of writing), the entire UK system of academic publishing is about to change towards open access as the default publishing option, and it's not exactly a unanimously supported decision. This blog post focuses on the implications of open access for PhD research and is based mostly on my own experience.

The web page for Researchers of Tomorrow reports, as some of the study's key findings, that

Open access [...] appear[s] to be a source of confusion for Generation Y* doctoral students, rather than encouraging innovation and collaborative research.

And that

Access to relevant resources is a major constraint for doctoral students’ progress. Authentication access and licence limitations to subscription-based resources, such as e-journals, are particularly problematic.

*In this case, born between 1982 and 1994.

The majority of us, the study participants, all PhD students, had not really heard of open access until that 2009 meeting. We were not sure what it meant for quality control, peer review, prestige and impact/REF-related aspects of the publishing process. We had the opportunity to discuss open access with publishers, RCUK representatives and other stakeholders, but in my opinion some confusion still remained. There was also an awareness of open access publishing being stigmatised, with some participants reporting that their supervisors would not approve of such a research output over publishing in high-impact non-open access journals.

However, as we met up and discussed our various concerns both formally and informally, what emerged was just how wide the disparity was between journal subscriptions and access to research resources at different universities. People reported not having access to the right journals, or only having access after a certain embargo period, having to wait weeks for items from inter-library loans, paying for a paper based on the abstract and then finding that it was not useful, having to travel to London from all over the UK to use the British Library, and asking colleagues to get articles from sources to which their own institution was not subscribed. This chapter of the Researchers of Tomorrow report discusses these findings in detail.

That was back in 2009. I’m not sure how much attitudes to open access have changed, but there are different concerns being raised and different open access models being proposed: pay-to-publish (‘gold’) and open after an embargo period (‘green’). Among the main concerns about the move to open access publishing is the source of funding that would otherwise come from journal subscription fees. The BSA (British Sociological Association) receives just under half of its income from journals (Network BSA magazine, Spring 2013). But the costs/funding changes associated with the proposed open access policies in the UK and the implications for the kind of research which gets published and by whom are not entirely clear.

However, as PhD fees are broadly similar, and as RCUK studentships do not differ in their value by institution, I think that it is deeply unfair that some students have worse academic resources than others, based purely on their institution’s journal subscriptions. From the PhD perspective, a move towards more good quality research articles being freely available is a good move. What kind of open access publishing model is the ‘best’ kind of model remains to be seen.

Related websites

Warwick Researcher Life Blog:

Warwick - Open Access: What's in it for you?:

Nature - Pros and Cons of Open Access:

Taylor & Francis Open Access Survey - Initial Findings:

February 18, 2013

A little note on CIs

Writing about web page

Confidence Intervals are pretty mega, but sometimes it can be difficult to create a graphical representation showing a point estimate (e.g. the mean) and the corresponding confidence interval.

Fortunately, this Scottish Health Survey web page has a nice summary explaining what CIs are, and a further explanation as to how to graph them in Excel.

For CIs in Stata, the following might be useful:

But you may need to prepare the data in Stata before running the syntax.

February 08, 2013

Stata syntax surprise

Here are two bits of syntax that have truly facilitated my life.

When faced with a load of survey variables to clean or recode or regress, the long-winded way is to do them all individually.


regress var1 iv1 iv2 iv3

regress var2 iv1 iv2 iv3

regress var3 iv1 iv2 iv3

Needless to say, it stops being fun after about var5.

So the solution is to set up a little macro. Say there are 7 variables we want to regress using the same regression model.

forval x=1/7 {

regress var`x' iv1 iv2 iv3


It's so beautiful!

But wait! What if your variable doesn't have a number? What if it's vara varb varc vard etc?

There is another beautiful loop.

foreach x of new `c(alpha)'{

dis "x'"

regress var`x' iv1 iv2 iv3


This loop will cycle through the aphabet. If you have variables from a to k, it will stop at k.

And these two little loops have revolutionised my syntax.

They can be used with anything!

My next mission: to find out how they can be combined.


Internet credits for the alpha loop:

Other useful stata sites and things: (love the syntax walkthroughs) (love the annotated outputs)

Publication-ready tables: try tabout outreg/outreg2 and estout

October 19, 2012

Universities and Employability: The power of PR

Writing about web page

Over the past few weeks in my literature search the notions of university engagement with employability and the importance of PR and marketing in recruitment cropped up here and there (specifically in this 2002 esru report by Purcell et al).

Just today I noticed a poster which nicely illustrated how universities can combine PR with graduate employability.


It's part of a campaign by Aston University to show that their graduates are attractive to employers. This campaign is interesting in several respects.

Firstly, it is an example of how some universities, competing for students who are in turn selecting HEIs on the basis of the return (salaries) on their investment (£9000 per year in tuition costs and additional living expenses*), respond to the current HE and labour market climate. Secondly, it is also an example of how universities are justifying the costs of HE to potential students and to their families, tapping into the ‘successful graduate job’ mantra. And thirdly, it is especially interesting from the perspective of gender representation in media and advertising.

One of the aspects of the poster which struck me in the thirty seconds of a train stop at Banbury station was the depiction of a male graduate as parody of a model photoshoot, as well as a slight association with Fructis, a (popular?) hair product in the 1990s. In an advertising culture saturated with suggestive images, mostly of women, it is refreshing to see such explicit parodies. To use analytical jargon, it’s a bit lol.

Upon further googling I found a few more posters:


The juxtaposition of these images of graduate employees in professional jobs (suggested by the shirt and tie attire) with 'attractive' for employers in the context of parodies of adverts with suggestive sexual imagery (hot under the collar, suggestive eyebrow, obvious wind machine etc) implies that while sex sells, lol also sells.

These posters are in vogue with the current age of parody on the Internet, evident in memes and viral content, encouraged by the ease with which texts (in the broadest sense, including images, sound etc) can be cut up and repackaged to create new meanings.

Finally, using parody for photos of male and female graduates as part of the campaign is definitely a step towards equality in media representations of gender, at least in some sense of the term.

*Yes, it isn't paid upfront, and yes, the story is a bit more complicated.

July 09, 2012

Interview tips

I was just Internetting away and came across this guide for junior researchers interviewing 'elites' (aka VIPs), which has some interesting interview tips. Very useful generally, particularly about the author's own experiences and what he learned from them. Thank you, William S. Harvey.

June 27, 2012

Online lectures and courses – free!

Writing about web page

When I heard that Harvard and MIT created a joint venture to offer free distance learning courses worldwide I had a quick look on the Internet. The JV is in its early stages: currently there is (was?) just one course in Circuits and Electronics, but others will come.*

Yet, without wanting to rain on the 'new' e-distance learning parade or anything, there are already lots of freely available resources, including full courses, from many top universities, conveniently listed here:

Just saying.

I suppose the lure of the Harvard and MITs edX, and similar partnerships, is their high-profile set-up, offering free courses which will give those who are successful a 'certificate', backed by leading higher education institutions. According to this NYTimes article, the 'certificate' is apparently not convertible to any official (educational?) credit, but I wonder whether this might change.

Although it is clearly highlighted that these free e-courses are not equivalent to a bachelor's degree, could they provide some kind of alternative when higher education is increasingly less affordable? People from low-income countries have responded to this development positively. But another question is whether these courses will remain free of charge, or whether some kind of tiered system will evolve, where the basic material is provided free, but to get some actual educational credit one would have to pay.

But anyway. Learning things is always good, so on the whole it looks like these university endorsed e-courses are a good move. Not sure about using natural-language software to assess essays, particularly humanities essays. Also not sure about crowd-sourcing, or peer-assessment if it is the only way of grading work. But in general, I am interested to see what happens. And if I can, I shall definitely look into some of these online resources myself.

*Although the MITx image shows happy Apple users, the Circuits and Electronics course apparently has only partial non-Flash support, so the girl with the iPad may not be getting to fully experience the course content.

An inexhaustive list of free online course databases courses of all kinds for many levels - HE courses, has ability to create course lists and track progress UK thing, yet to offer stuff, watching this space

Generally, The Internet.

April 24, 2012

What do graduates do in small businesses?

Writing about web page

I have a short article in the Spring 2012 issue of Graduate Market Trends reviewing what graduates do in small businesses based on Stage 4 data of the Futuretrack 2005 pilot study.

These initial findings from the Futuretrack 2005 (FT05) Stage 4 survey should be used and interpreted with caution, as the dataset does not have enough observations on which to perform robust statistical analysis. However, this taken into consideration, my analysis very broadly implies that, despite the variation within SMEs, those FT05 graduates employed in SMEs were more likely to report being satisfied with their job than those in larger businesses, particularly with the opportunity to use their own initiative, the relationship with their superiors and with the type of job they actually do. FT05 graduates working in SMEs were also less likely to say that they never used particular skills as part of their job. This raises some interesting questions about what causes these differences and how they vary between SME sizes and across sectors.

I welcome your comments and feedback on this article or graduate skills more broadly. You can email me at d.luchinskaya at or leave a comment here on this blog. Please note that all comments left on the blog are public.


The first-degree graduates in the article are those who said "I completed an undergraduate course and I am no longer a full-time student" in the FT05 survey (n = 186). This excludes people who are currently full-time undergraduate or postgraduate students, and those who have completed an undergraduate and postgraduate courses. When crosstabbed with current main activity, 7 of the 186 were studying in either postgraduate or undergraduate education. I recoded the variable to correct for this, and so the number of first-degree graduates who are no longer full-time students is 179. Of those, 155 were in employment.

The left-hand title on Figure 2 should read ‘SME (0-249 employees)' (p. 16).

The text under the graphs on Figure 2 should read 'In which of the following sectors is your current main employer?' (p. 16).

October 2023

Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su
Sep |  Today  |
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31               

Search this blog


Blog archive

RSS2.0 Atom
Not signed in
Sign in

Powered by BlogBuilder