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Doing a PhD: Developing as a researcher

By Daniel Borbely - Posted on 9 September 2020

Daniel Borbely did his PhD in the Economics Department and said the experience really helped him develop as a researcher and getting his research published during his studies - read on to find out more.

I completed my PhD in the Economics Department under the supervision of Julia Darby and Graeme Roy. In terms of research focus, I am primarily an applied microeconomist, researching policy-relevant topics within public economics. My main areas of interest are in tax, welfare, and education policy. I started my PhD in October 2016, submitted my thesis in November 2019, and passed my viva voce in January 2020. During this time, I also took a temporary (six-month) break from my PhD to work under the supervision of Markus Gehrsitz on a Nuffield Foundation funded research project looking at the effects of class size on educational outcomes.  After submitting my thesis, I took part in the academic job market and accepted a position as a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) at the University of Dundee, where I will start work in Autumn 2020.  

Doing my PhD at Strathclyde was a great experience. My supervisors gave me all the support I needed and helped me develop as a researcher. For example, early on in my research progress, they helped me get in touch with researchers and practitioners involved in Scottish/UK policy circles, which allowed me to not only discover and understand better how my research could make real policy impact, but also to build important relationships with relevant stakeholders and data providers. They also helped me through the academic publication process by encouraging me to submit my chapters as manuscripts, advising me on how to pick the right journals to publish in, and guiding me through the revision process. My supervisors’ guidance was invaluable in allowing me to get my research published during my PhD, which I believe greatly improved my chances on the academic job market.  

The Economics Department at Strathclyde creates a great environment to grow as a researcher. There are weekly seminars where PhD students can learn from top-tier international research economists, meet them, and learn from their experiences. Faculty members are always supportive of PhD students and often bring them in to take part in their own research projects. In my case, working with senior researchers, including Markus Gehrsitz and Stuart McIntyre, greatly expanded my econometric toolkit and helped me understand the research process better.  

The Department is also very good at offering teaching opportunities to PhD students. During my time at Strathclyde, I taught small-group tutorials for undergraduate and graduate courses and was also able to teach lectures during the last two years. Gaining some early experience with lecturing was very useful to me both in terms of improving my teaching skills but also in acquiring the necessary experience to obtain a permanent academic position. 

Please click here for more information on research degrees in Economics and here for information on research degrees across the Business School.

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