cm's timeline

CM had been a pharmaceutical representative, research assistant and teacher, prior to completing her PhD in 2005, aged 33. When her partner’s job was relocated to the UK she moved here with their children. She obtained a fixed-term position as a senior researcher at a research-intensive university and joined the UK study 5 months into this 18 month contract. She was deliberating an academic career. She was a non-UK national and English was not her first language.

What struck us about CM’s story was: 

Relocation challenges and work-life balance. 

Understanding her institutional context and gaining independence. 

Getting tenure/permanence and networking challenges  

 

Post-PhD

 

Year 3

Post-PhD

 

Year 4

Post-PhD

Year 5

Post-PhD

 

Year 6

Post-PhD

 

Year 7

Post-PhD

 

Year 8

 

Post-PhD

 

Year 3

...

Research was cross-disciplinary, combining technical knowledge with social science thinking.

Began to forge a reputation in a new, upcoming field through conferences, publishing and applying for funding.

...

Disliked the term ‘post-doc’ as it signified something short-term.

Did not see herself as an academic because she did not have tenure.

Tension between spending time on necessary but disliked domestic activities and enjoyment of her job.

Found it hard to distance herself from work even when on holiday.

...

Wanted to stay in UK as children were settled; was foremost a partner and parent.

...

Plans uncertain as financial security of family were priority.

 

Post-PhD

 

Year 4

If partner’s work in UK ended then family would move – her salary couldn’t support them.

Obtained new two-year contract with possibility of an extension.

Wanted long-term job security, perhaps a tenured academic position.

...

Took more initiative for research activities and more responsibility for her group.

Realised needed to be more proactive, take a lead.

...

Excited by working in her field, its new and cross-disciplinary nature, and gaining reputation in her area.

Isolated as no colleagues in her discipline, recognised didn’t network enough.

Found it difficult living and working in a different culture and language.

Struggled to understand how the university, and academia in the UK, worked.

Sensed research staff seen as ‘second rate’ employees, with limited salary and promotion opportunities.

Family meant she is ‘inflexible’, if offered a post she could not move them to new location.

Shortlisted for tenured position at another university.

Shortlisted post would be a great position, ‘academic’, and interesting.

 

Post-PhD

 

Year 5

Family had mixed feelings about whether to move or stay in UK.

Received job offer of lecturer post in an ‘interdisciplinary institution’ outside UK.

Position would be ‘A good job and good place to be’; prospects in UK not good.

...

Co-led a project (not as PI), published, presented, reviewed journal articles, organised a conference; co-authored because not confident with her English.

Presenting elicited feedback; reviewing aided better writing; organising conference raised her profile.

Considered speech therapy but could not find what she wanted.

Not teaching, discouraged by poor student feedback on her speech, and lack of time.

....

...

Supervised Masters students who have research projects.

Interesting, learned new things, chance to publish with students as co-authors.

Personal and work management hard but would be different when children became ‘more independent’.

...

Had flexibility as researcher over when to work; ‘intensive’ time now building her future.

 

Post-PhD

 

Year 6

Moved back home, ‘complex decision’, culture change a ‘shock’ needing time to adjust.

Newly created lectureship in university back home - teaching, administration, some research; enjoyed it.

Could shape role how she wanted; likely to become permanent post in four-five years.

...

Obtained 3-year funding and hired researcher to continue research and collaboration with former UK colleagues.

Reputation of funding source gave her sense of ‘prestige’.

Work-family time management still a huge task; partner less available owing to increased work commitments.

Worked full-time 6 days a week.

....

...

Visited former UK colleagues, organised another UK-based conference; continued to publish.

Needed a network and to raise her visibility; permanence judged on papers and publishing, not teaching – advised herself to play the system.

...

More confident about being independent, making decisions, what to work on.

Regretted lack of role model to assist her academic development.

 

Post-PhD

 

Year 7

Long-term issue of time management and family-work balance would not ‘get easier’; extended family and nanny helped with childcare.

Job was more routine, easier.

Shaped focus of the field for herself, her research assistants and the university – followed her own interests.

...

Undertook new courses (‘challenging’); publishing, presenting, supervising research students, community work, two new research projects.

...

Missed the UK and her friends there but did the right thing in moving – felt more secure back home.

Funded project now in 2nd year: obtained research assistant in UK, planned conference paper together.

Isolated in current location, wanted to maintain contact with former UK colleagues.

...

...

Hoped to contribute to national policy or planning in the long-term.

 

Post-PhD

Year 8

Children were older so she had slightly higher ‘degrees of freedom’.

Continued to teach, conduct research, supervise students, publish, submit grant applications, attended conferences abroad.

Felt secure in her position.

...

Involved with national research community and two local research consortia..

...

...

Still collaborated with former UK colleagues.

....

 

What struck us

Relocation challenges.

Work-life balance.

Understanding her institutional context.

Gaining independence.

Getting tenure/ permanence.

Networking challenges .

your

Story

Funding:

Follow us:

  • Researcher Identity
  • Researcher Identity
  • Researcher Identity

contact us

Partners and collaborators:

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