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Agency and Networking

in Researcher Career Development

ERASMUS + Researcher Identity Development


Career Paths

Role: academic professional

Mike worked for many years as an administrator for educational programmes in a North American university. His work involved international work and he began a PhD in the same Canadian university where he worked since he felt the degree would give him greater legitimacy in working with the international partners. He intended to work full-time while doing the degree part-time. He joined the Canadian study in the fifth year of his PhD and graduated several years later when he was 41. He and his partner had children during the time he was in the study.

What struck us about Mike’s story was

  • Managing childcare (personal)

  • Lack of thesis progress and managing full-time work while doing a PhD (work experience)

  • Did PhD to gain legitimacy in position and after PhD, wanted to change jobs due to poor climate but financially not possible (career thinking) 

Katherine, a UK national, held a BA degree and worked as an auditor prior to beginning her PhD. Katherine chose PhD work in order to advance her knowledge of the field, and pursue intellectual interests. She joined the study during her second year of doctoral work, as she was busy with data collection and analysis. As a doctoral student Katherine experienced a change of supervisors, took an industrial placement linked to her funding, and later interned at an open science organization while completing her thesis. On graduating at age 26, Katherine was working full-time across two positions, four days a week as a research project coordinator in a university and one day at an NGO where she had previously volunteered. She hoped for a job in the field of open science.

What struck us about Katherine’s story was: 

  • End of long-distance relationship, and beginning of new relationship (personal)

  • Lack of interaction with original supervisor, acquiring a new supervisor when original supervisor left, industrial placement work (work experience)

  • Desire to work in open science and promote research (career thinking)


Woman Tutoring Child

What struck us about Hannah’s story was

  • Family considerations and her partner’s health (personal)

  • Financial burden of doing a PhD and not being able to do the work she desired (work experience);

  • Seeking the job she desired and changing job to match her expectations (career thinking)

Hannah was a health care professional before starting her PhD which was funded by grants from a Research Council and the university, and employment income. She joined the UK study whilst writing up her thesis in her final year of doctoral study; she graduated that same year aged 40. Hannah envisaged pursuing a ‘hybrid’ career in which she could maintain her practice and do research. She had a partner and three children.

Bridget had worked for many years as an academic professional in a North American university where she oversaw a research collection and provided pedagogical support to those using it. In the early 2000’s, her job was expanded to include community engagement. She very much enjoyed this new aspect of her work and intended to remain in it. She started a PhD part-time when she was in her mid-30s to expand her knowledge and become more effective. She continued to work full-time, while also raising a family. She joined the Canadian study in 2007 in her second year of doctoral study.

What struck us about Bridget’s story was 

  • Time pressures and family responsibilities during degree (personal) 

  • Lack of supervisor support and wanting to stay in same job (work experience) 

  • Doing degree to be more effective in work (career thinking)

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Researcher Identity Development (2020).

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