epsilon's timeline

Epsilon, a North American in his mid-twenties, held Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees prior to beginning the PhD in 2008. He pursued doctoral work because he hoped to work in academia, but over the course of his studies became interested in industry due to the lifestyle demands of academia. Epsilon was in his third year of study when he joined this project in 2010. At the time, he was part of two research groups and held a national fellowship and private scholarship, as well as paid research assistant work. He hoped to find work in Canada, but as he finished, he found a post-doc contract in Europe and took it. 

What struck us about Epsilon’s story was: 

End of funding and financial stress as motivation to finish.

Collaboration with peers, supervisees, clinical collaborators, and supervisor. 

Change in plans from academia to clinical/hospital research. 

 

PhD

Year 3

PhD

Year 4

PhD

Year 5

PhD

Year 6

 

PhD

Year 3

Felt somewhat isolated from his social group due to doctoral work; “not enough time… having a life”.

Presented a posted at Health Research Day, which “reminded” him that people “may be interested” in his work; often felt “detached from the academic community”.

Planned to go into academia, but also considered private or governmental sectors.

Made effort not to work on weekends to avoid “overworking and burning out” as he had in the past.

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Presented at a conference and received good feedback; liked conferences where he can “set up contacts”.

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Felt he struggled with procrastination due to numerous projects.

Met with other students and clinical collaborators, who provided “excellent feedback”;  felt like an academic when exchanging feedback with others.

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Felt there is too much pressure to publish; prefers “quality over quantity”.

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PhD

 

Year 4

 

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Corresponded with collaborator regarding protocols, and felt like part of a community.

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Liked running in the evenings in order to be physically active after working all day.

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Worked with other students, met with a student he supervises and his own supervisor, all of which made him feel like an academic.

Interested in post-doc positions at a hospital or research institute, or research work in government or at a university.

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Attended a workshop where he felt like an academic, as he was recognized by professors and researchers he’d previously met and recognized he was “part of the bigger research community”.

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Noted that he feels more confident about his research as result of going to conferences and workshops; “you meet other people in the field …realize that we [are] on the same page”.

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“Ideal” job would be in clinical research.

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Clinical collaborator relocated, which made meetings more difficult.

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Proofread a thesis by a second language speaker, and felt like an academic because senior students read work.

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PhD

Year 5

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Met with supervisor for feedback to “flesh out the methodology” of a project.

Interested in post-doc positions or permanent position in hospital research.

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Lost large amount of data from server due to technical problem, which slowed his progress.

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Attended top conference in his field, which allowed for networking and “get my name out there”.

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Felt less isolated as he knew more people and has attended conferences where he met others in the field.

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Published a book chapter.

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PhD

Year 6

Motivated to graduate because of finances—scholarship ended, and parents were retiring.

The pressure to publish started to cause him stress.

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Felt conflicted about academia and industry; academia would give more “control” over research but lifestyle not a good fit.

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Served as TA for two courses, which helped him to improve his teaching skills.

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Worked on finishing the last paper for his dissertation, which was previously rejected.

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Hoped for job in Canada, bound post-doc contract in Europe and took it.

 

What struck us

End of funding.

Collaboration with peers, clinical collaborators, and supervisor.

Change in interest from academia to clinical/hospital research.

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