elizabeth's timeline

Elizabeth worked in a skilled service role before returning to part-time study for her first degree and then commenced a full-time PhD in a different subject area. She joined the UK study whilst in the third year of her doctorate; she graduated the following year when age 45. Elizabeth envisaged a career in a research role with no teaching commitments. After graduation she worked in part-time and consultancy roles as she sought a permanent appointment. She had two teenage children with her long-term partner and was concerned for her ageing parents. During the study she was diagnosed with a chronic illness and defined herself as living with disability. 

What struck us about Elizabeth's story was: 

How health issues and family considerations shaped her choices.

Writing and intellectual contribution, and balancing job hunting, part-time and consultancy work. 

Employability and seeking the work she desired. 

 

PhD

Year 3

PhD

Year 4

 Post-PhD

 

Year 1

Post-PhD

 

Year 2

Post-PhD

 

Year 3

Post-PhD

 

Year 4

 

PhD

Year 3

Domestic commitments as a mother and partner; practical and emotional support for teenagers taking national exams.

Often under time pressure, yet enjoyed PhD work. Felt a sense of belonging in the academic environment.

Decided to wait until post-PhD to hone her publishing skills.

...

Challenged by working with her male PhD supervisor who showed less interest in her work than her female supervisor.

...

...

Worked part-time as a research assistant for her father (an academic).

...

...

...

Hoped to become a researcher, but not a lecturer.

 

PhD

Year 4

Suffered from health issues.

Thesis work was focused on producing a strong theoretical framework.

Wanted a career with no teaching; hoped to move to a research role with a friend at a different university.

...

Employed part-time in research work not directly related to her PhD topic.

...

...

Sought writing support from a friend and her female PhD supervisor.

....

...

Had not presented her work at conferences or written for publication.

Saw her dislike of public speaking as an important restriction.

 

Post-PhD

Year 1

Children’s independence increased yet ageing parents meant future caring commitments had to be considered.

Applied for several research jobs. Limited her job hunt geographically as did not want to leave ageing parents.

Goal remained a secure, full-time research position; wanted more certainty and security from her work.

...

Worked on thesis corrections.

Aware of the importance of publishing to boost employability.

...

Applied for research funding and was awaiting outcome.

....

 

 Post-PhD

 

Year 2 

Diagnosed with a chronic illness and defined herself as living with disability.

Employed in 1 year part time researcher role. Enjoyed high level of autonomy, yet felt isolated within the institution.

Disappointed the job was not providing opportunities for the future.

...

Completed some consultancy, which she found fulfilling.

Enjoyed the small consultancy team and saw this as a possible future; adamant she did not want to teach.

...

Was co-authoring a book with her father.

Ambivalent as to whether the PhD had been worth the effort.

...

...

Kept health issues secret at work as afraid this would impact employability.

 

Post-PhD

Year 3

...

Self-employed researcher with one day of guaranteed work per week.

Would have preferred to be employed in an institution as a researcher.

Despondent with job hunting; concerned she was not judged not on merit for jobs but on the basis of her visible disability.

Job hunting for a researcher role. Obtained interviews, but no offers of employment.

Anticipated research jobs and funding being more plentiful as the economy improved.

Appreciated the hardships her father had faced to obtain an academic job.

Working on a paper based on her PhD research; planned to write several papers with friends and colleagues.

....

 

Post-PhD

Year 4

Health improving on new medication; so more energy to devote to work.

Working with her father akin to an apprenticeship model to develop skills and networks.

Thought it important to have someone close to guide her into 'real world research'.

...

Writing and producing papers from her thesis materials.

...

As a result of experiences as a researcher had become active politically.

...

....

 

What struck us

Health and disability.

Parenting and caring commitments.

Writing and intellectual contribution.

Balancing job hunting, part-time and consultancy work.

Employability and seeking the work she desired.

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