1319's timeline

1319

1319, a North American, was working part-time at a multi-national corporation in North America when he decided to begin the PhD. Before the doctoral program, he had achieved Bachelors and Master’s degrees, and decided to pursue a PhD in order to increase his knowledge of the field. He was writing his thesis from home in North America while taking care of his family when he joined this study, having returned after several years in the UK. During the thesis writing phase, he quit his job to focus on finishing the PhD, and began a start-up to earn money to fund his studies and support his family. Following the PhD, which he completed at age 51, 1319 took a one-year teaching and research position at a university in North America, and was striving for a career in academia.

What struck us about 1319’s story was:

Commitment to family that impeded work on thesis, writing up thesis from North America.

Perceived supervisors as distant and disinterested in his PhD topic, experience of revision and resubmission of thesis.

Desire to work in academia contrasted with practical concerns about finances that led to seeking work in industry.

 

PhD

Year 5

PhD

Year 6

PhD

Year 7

PhD

Year 8

Post-PhD

 

Year 1

 

PhD

Year 5

Acted a caregiver to his family, which took away from time on his thesis.

Focused on finishing thesis and under pressure to complete from university, after receiving two extensions.

Hoped for work in academia, perhaps a research fellowship, but also planned to apply for jobs at companies.

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Worked part-time at corporation to fund doctoral studies.

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Decided to quit job based on advice from advisors, which was “huge financial risk”; feeling stressed and worried.

Felt disconnected from his department and university and worked “in isolation”, which made him feel like a “real researcher” but also led to loneliness and procrastination.

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Felt that because his supervisors did not specialize in his particular area, his work was not of interest.

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Found it difficult to maintain motivation and deal with administrative problems while being far from university.

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Noted that supervisors “completely uninterested…in personal goals” and their effect on his thesis.

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PhD

Year 6

Continued to care for family, and noted that family obligations often took precedent over thesis.

Continued to work on thesis, and felt he knew “what the answer [to the research question] is, and…wants to tell everyone else in the world”.

Hoped to work in academia but in the short-term felt it would be more realistic to apply for corporate jobs due to financial reasons, possibly at company he worked at previously.

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Contacted by a researcher at a corporation regarding a previously published paper, which made him feel like “expert”.

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Submitted thesis.

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Completed viva and examiners required major revision and resubmission.

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Was worried about thesis rejection but remained passionate about research question.

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Invited to present at a different university, which made him feel like an academic.

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PhD

 

Year 7

 

Continued to experience stress around thesis, and just wanted to finish.

Continued to meet supervisors via Skype for feedback, and felt he had more support from supervisors than before.

Hoped to find work in industrial position, and contemplated getting a professional degree at some point.

Felt bogged down by family commitments.

Resubmitted thesis.

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Sudden death of family member.

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Concerned about finances—“out of money”.

Worked on revising CV based on feedback; its focus was too academic for the industrial positions he wanted.

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PhD

Year 8

Continued to care for family, and concerned that family obligations take away from thesis progress.

Began his own start-up after being frustrated in job due to “culture fit” (his older age).

Did short-term work in consultancy through start-up, but did not view it as long-term career.

Out of money and needed work.

Passed thesis with minor corrections and worked on the revisions.

Wanted a combination of industry work and part-time academic research position.

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Networked, attended seminars, co-authored a paper.

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Received short-term contact for his consultancy and worked remotely from home.

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Decided to look for additional work.

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Post-PhD

Year 1

Home flooded, which required time for clean-up.

Continued to interview for jobs, and found he was treated better having obtained the PhD.

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Continued to care for family.

Got one-year contract to teach and research at a nearby university.

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Applied for new non-academic job.

Hoped for job outside academia that fit research interests.

 

What struck us

Balancing family commitments and thesis work.

Distant supervisory relationships, difficult thesis revisions.

Desire to work in academia balanced with practical concerns about finances that led to seeking work in industry.

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Researcher Identity Development (2017). This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License