A while ago I wrote a response to the Times Higher Education Supplement about 10 Steps to PhD Failure, which I know many of you will have read (and if you haven't, follow the link here).
The writers of that piece have responded in a fair, measured, and positive way to my comments, and the comments of many others on Twitter, especially regarding the attitude around self-funding:
However, they disagreed with what they perceived to me being a bit dismissive of the financial implications of self-funded, quoting me saying: “The most important thing you need is the passion for your subject to get you through the tough times.”
I certainly don't think that passion for a subject should trump the financial difficulties that would lie ahead, and I don't feel that I tried to make that point. Rather, I was trying to argue that if you are going to pursue the self-funded route, it WILL be hard, there is no denying that, but in those hard times loving your subject and being passionate about your work will help to make all the sacrifices worth it.
Yes, we ought to be realistic about what a self-funded PhD will be like, and yes there are those who look back and feel it wasn't worth it. But to highlight those cases again serves as a further deterrent to those seeking to do a PhD in an age when funding in the UK is getting cut at alarming rates.