By Dalia Gala
There are many urban legends related to the transfer of status at Oxford, including many horror stories and many terrorised students… So, in order to make your transfer easier for you, I want share my experience!
First of all: what is transfer of status? It is the 1st milestone during your PhD, usually completed during the 1st year, or the beginning of the 2nd year, although it depends on the course. For my course, which is DPhil in Biochemistry, I was expected to complete it 10 months into my degree but ended up doing it 13 months after the start because of the pandemic.
The purpose of the transfer of status is to assess the viability of your project. For a research project, it is going to depend on how well thought out your experiments are, and if you have any preliminary data to support your ideas. For a humanities project, students usually hand in some writing which they have already done, like one of the chapters of their future thesis.
In my transfer, I presented background literature which supported my experimental ideas. I also presented a plan which I prepared with my postdoc which summarised what I want to do in the next 2 years, as well as all the experimental results I had so far.
I got assessed harshly for my transfer, and you might be assessed harshly too. It is not to discourage you or tell you that your project is bad – the transfer panel just wants to make sure you won’t go into a dead end and get stuck, which would result in your project failing.
When preparing for transfer of status, here is my best advice:
· Choose a panel who understand your background and your field well to avoid being asked unnecessary/irrelevant questions
· Read your literature! I cannot stress that enough – you will be asked about the details of why you are doing this research and the methods you want to use, so make sure you understand these
· Practice your presentation with your colleagues and supervisor during the lab meeting, and ask them to ask you difficult questions to prepare to be questioned by the panel
· Remember the big picture – when answering questions, don’t appeal to the details of the project, rather, to the general importance and overall impact of your project
Good luck with your transfer!
Keep your eyes peeled for another perspective on this from TOG ambassador Tiffany tomorrow!