katherine's timeline

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. 

What struck us about Katherine’s story was: 

Family illness and hoping for parenthood. 

Dealing with rejection and the solitary nature of writing during degree. 

Concern about lack of research-teaching positions during degree and networking to find work. 

 

PhD

Year 2

PhD

Year 3

PhD

Year 4

PhD

Year 5

 

PhD

Year 2

Engaged in a number of non-academic activities, including social groups and volunteering.

Spent time working on experiments in the lab and dealing with setbacks.

Felt lack of collaboration/ communication within lab group and with supervisor.

Considered career in academia.

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Did not need her supervisor for support, but enjoyed talking to postdocs for help with experimental techniques.

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Ended long-distance relationship, which was “pretty difficult”, though they remained “friends”.

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Felt like an academic when discussing lab techniques with colleagues, which was important as supervisor did not organize lab meetings.

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Leaned on family for support, who she was “very close” to, but distance made her feel isolated.

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Worked on research proposal, and relied on supervisor for advice because her experiments had not produced “good data”.

Continued to feel stressed about research proposal, and noted that supervisor feedback was “not very constructive,” though suggested a substantial rewrite.

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Passed proposal defense.

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PhD

Year 3

Spent time with friends.

Continued to work in the lab on experiments, and spent time reading papers.

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Began relationship with new partner, who she drew on for support in addition to her family.

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Considered a career at the open science organization she volunteered for.

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Began work at industrial placement, which she enjoyed much more than her work in the lab due to collaborative atmosphere.

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Supervisor left and was replaced.

Worked part-time on other research at open science organization.

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Felt like an academic when marking essays and tutoring; enjoyed seeing students “understand their lecture material in a new context”.

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Attended a research centre open day and felt like an academic and experienced “sense of community and common interest”.

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PhD

Year 4

Spent time with friends and continued with her volunteer work.

Continued to work on experiments and writing sections of her thesis.

Considered freelance project management, research, and consultancy work immediately after the PhD; interested in advocacy and policy.

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Met with collaborator at another university to discuss methodology in one chapter of her thesis.

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Moved to be near to partner and internship.

Felt like an academic during discussion with colleague because she was “[made] a connection between two projects which might be helpful to the researcher”.

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Arranged a 3-month funded internship with an organization she volunteered with, and actively engaged in networking to find additional fellowships.

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Felt like an academic when a professor she co-wrote an article with said he enjoyed working with her.

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PhD

Year 5

Bought house with partner.

Submitted thesis.

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Felt overwhelmed and “exhausted” writing paper based on thesis and managing her full-time work.

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Got work: 4 d/wk as a university research project coordinator (5 yr contract), 1 day in NGO where she had volunteered and hoped to help it grow.

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Viva passed; worked on minor correction to thesis.

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Hoped for career in open science, also interested in research.

 

What struck us

Relocations.

Relationships in industrial placement as influencing desire to work outside of academia.

Shift of career thinking from academia to open science & policy.

your

Story

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