How Research Works

Things I wish someone had told me when I was applying for PhDs

Applying for a PhD is often one of the first steps in a career in research, but it can be a very opaque process. Luckily for us, an anonymous author has offered a list of advice they wish they’d been given when they were making their applications. The advice is based on their own experience applying for PhD positions in the UK.

Events, Places and People

Faces of ESLR: Mason Youngblood

When I started my PhD at the City University of New York in 2015, I had my heart set on studying the behavioral neuroscience of birdsong. The following year my PhD advisor, David Lahti, invited me to collaborate on a […]

How Research Works

Surviving the Viva: PhD defences remembered

The PhD viva (or defence) is likely one of the most stressful moments of many academics’ professional lives. What’s worse is that this rite of passage doesn’t even follow the same format across institutions or countries, making preparing for your viva even more difficult. Will it be a public or private defence? Will you make corrections before or after defending? Will you be faced with internal or external examiners, and how many? To shed at least a little light on the experience, Cultured Scene asked early-career researchers who studied in a variety of countries to explain how their defence worked, and to offer advice to students preparing for their own defence.

Events, Places and People

Faces of ELSR: Samin Gokcekus

I actually find it difficult to write pieces like this one because my interests are very broad. I believe that any topic can be interesting if you take the time to understand it, and I hope to spend the rest […]

Events, Places and People

Faces of ESLR: Jonathan St-Onge

I just started a PhD in computational social science at the Centre Marc Bloch in Berlin. My research focuses on so-called echo chambers, but I am also interested in fragmentation of online public spaces more generally. The idea of echo […]

Events, Places and People

Faces of ESLR: Ahana Fernandez

Language, more than anything else, defines human nature. Language appears to be unique in the animal kingdom and, thus, the question of how and why language evolved is one of the most fascinating research questions for me. However, it is […]


Prestige: Simple, maybe, but not easy.

The concept of prestige in social learning can be difficult to address, and even more-so in the context of scientific practice. But a rumination of The Prestige as presented in Christopher Nolan’s film brings some resolution to conceptual tensions and inspires some real magic worthy of the term.

Research during a Pandemic

Research during a Pandemic: ECR perspectives

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it a host of challenges for everyone. At Cultured Scene, we were particularly interested in how the pandemic and resulting quarantines and lockdowns have affected early-career researchers. We asked academics from different fields and at different stages of their careers the same six questions about how the pandemic has impacted them.