funky monkey's timeline

Funky Monkey, in his early thirties, was in the 6th year of his PhD in Canada when he joined this project. Prior to doctoral work, he held a job as a lab tech, but felt that he needed further education in order to advance in his career and provide for his girlfriend. When Funky Monkey joined this study, he was in the process of collecting data. Data collection took longer than expected due to failed experiments. During this time, he married his girlfriend. Though he initially wanted a career in academia, after being in the PhD he no longer saw academia as a feasible career due to the limited number of positions and poor work-life balance. Still, he took a post-doc contract in a nearby university and experienced the same disillusionment as during the PhD. In the second year, he and his partner had a child which made him re-orient his priorities. 

What struck us about Funky Monkey’s story was: 

Reliance on family support; marriage and birth of child.

Trouble with experiments, and pressure to publish. 

Decision to not pursue academia, viewing it as an unrealistic choice. 

 

PhD

Year 6

PhD

Year 7

Post-PhD

 

Year 1

Post-PhD

 

Year 2

 

PhD

Year 6

Volunteered with youth group on weekends, which “ keeps me sane and still connected to the outside world”.

Did not feel like academic when repeatedly doing experiments unsuccessfully.

Hoped to do a post-doc after PhD, but did not plan to pursue academic career; instead, considered research in private sector or in government in order to have work-life balance.

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Edited manuscript and discussed results with supervisor.

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Received support from family, but it also “add[ed] a lot of pressure” when family and friends asked about graduation.

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Felt “isolated” and “kind of behind” because he’s still studying and friends have jobs, homes, families.

Received advice from other students and supervisor on experiments, and felt like academic when talking with supervisor.

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Did not feel like an academic when he attended seminars and felt that others were more knowledgeable.

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PhD

Year 7

Received encouragement and support from family.

Worked on thesis and met with supervisor for feedback on writing, feeling he was “not a very good writer”.

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Received feedback related to thesis from peer, supervisor, and other university staff.

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Hoped to work in industry or government agency following post-doc.

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Completed thesis defense and degree after 6.5 years, which “felt like something was done…like everything is lifted off my shoulders”.

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Post-PhD

Year 1

Noted that the PhD “kind of pushes back some personal things…it makes you question was it worth it…; concerned about future.

Began academic post-doc at hospital, which was not “initial intention” but is “good training”; lack of jobs in industry in nearby.

Hoped to be researcher or administrator in higher education, private sector, or government; not interested in academia.

Relocated within country.

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Reluctant to move far from home; “quite attached to…family”.

Feels pressure to publish; pressure to do what is “publishable” versus “real science” that should be driven by publication.

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Read and reviewed literature for publication; sought feedback from supervisor, who was “slow” in responding.

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Returned to PhD lab to do confirmatory work for publication.

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PhD publication accepted, which might help with job applications as he had been told he needed more publications.

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Post-PhD

Year 2

Spent time with family and friends.

Taught and attended lectures; worked with other post-doc on his team and post-docs from other labs.

Hoped for career in administration or industry, doing some research.

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Did not see academia as realistic given competition and funding.

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Received help trouble-shooting experiments from colleagues, though he wanted to ask supervisor; did not feel like academic when experiments didn’t work.

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Child was born, which changed his priorities to family and providing for them; feels he has “two jobs”.

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Reflected that he had not found the same “passion” that other researchers seemed to have about their research.

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What struck us

Reliance on family, birth of child.

Trouble with experiments, pressure to publish.

Decision to not pursue academia, viewing it as “unrealistic”.

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