By Richard Parfitt |


With great sadness, this will be my last blog for Pubs and Publications as a member of the committee. It’s possible I’ll be back in a guest capacity, like the force ghost of Obi Wan in Empire Strikes Back, but as far as my regular contributions go this is, as they say, “it”.

I join an illustrious list of recent departees, with all of whom I have had the most wonderful time collaborating despite only having met literally one of them.

For that reason, I wanted to go in a more self-indulgent direction for this blog, but in a way that I think has lessons for all of us who seek to provide advice and guidance for fellow PhD students. I want to briefly go over why I’ve felt this site has such great value, which goes well beyond our modest but growing readership. This is about why we write.

The internet is a dark, crappy reflection of an already crappy set of circumstances for postgraduate students. A brief perusal of the Times Higher Education website or similar provides an immediate set of reasons why academia is awful. Job prospects are slim, stress levels are high, pay is low and antiquated forms of discrimination are rife. On Twitter, this is drilled in further, as the frayed nerves of overworked lecturers and the despondent desperation of those trying to join them filter out in a limited number of characters.

All of the issues that these areas of the internet raise are completely valid. There is so much work to do to stop academia becoming a pyramid scheme, bereft of security and reward and rampant with illness and dysfunction.

However, a clickbait headline and a list of reasons to despair does naff all to help.

That’s where we come in. Where other sites just tell you how stressed you’re going to get, Pubs and Publications helps you to avoid it and cope with it. Where others tell you how expensive field work is, Pubs and Pubs gives you advice on how to make your trip an efficient one.  We give careers advice, viva tips, positive stories of diversity, and reflections on the PhD in the chaotic modern world.

We also do funny memes and lists.

When I think of my favourite Pubs and Pubs posts, all of them acknowledge the problems that exist but they don’t fearmonger like other sites, they give the reader something positive to take away. They help us to make the most of technological tools, of our money and our personal lives. Laura and Fraser’s piece on Remembrance Day remains one of my favourites, tackling an important topic without being all Daily Mail about it and without hopelessly lamenting the public’s lack of historical sophistication.

If you haven’t guest blogged yet, do it now. If you want to know not just what the challenges are, but how to navigate them, this is the blog for you. Postgraduate study can be tough enough without scaremongering clickbait, and you’ll find none here. It’s been an awesome few years guys, thanks for having me.


Richard Parfitt is a historian of modern British and Irish music and politics, and a (departing) committee member for Pubs and Publications.  You can find him on Twitter and on