ks' timeline

KS took her first degree in North America, and then worked for several years in different professional capacities. Wanting something new and challenging, she moved to the UK, leaving a close-knit family, to do her MSc and then changed universities to take a one-year research position after graduating. She joined the UK study in 2008 shortly afterwards. The following year she began her PhD, imagining a research-teaching position as her future, and graduated when she was 35. 

What struck us about KS’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. 

 

 Pre-PhD

 

Year 1

PhD

Year 1

PhD

Year 2

PhD

 

Year 3

PhD

 

Year 4

PhD Year 5

Post-PhD Year 1

Post-PhD

Year 2

 

Pre-PhD

Year 1

Personal life on hold.

Enjoyed collaborative team.

Inspired, exhilarated by research; growing UK network but losing North American one; ‘undercover’ as a researcher without PhD.

...

PI/ supervisor suggested PhD; helped get funding; pragmatic decision since research area not deep interest.

...

 

PhD

Year 1

Saw doing PhD as decision to develop social and academic UK networks.

Started PhD; working alone.

Possibly researcher or research-teaching position in North America.

...

Needed more comprehensive grasp of literature than as researcher; backpedalling to catch up theoretically.

...

...

PI/ supervisor more distant; was PhD the right decision?

....

...

Very destabilised; lost momentum.

...

Critical illness in family; took leave and returned home for 6 months.

...

...

 

PhD

Year 2

Return to UK was a relief; affirmed decision to be there; longest had lived anywhere since a child.

Regained momentum; concerned re supervisors’ lack of involvement; planned field work in North America.

Recognised challenge of finding research-teaching position; trying not to set heart on it; still thinking of North America.

...

PhD meant participating in ‘the industry’ of producing text …also finding a path though readings.

...

Hoping for a husband and maybe a baby (biological imperative).

...

....

PhD

Year 3

Further family illness while doing field work in US; was able to continue work while supporting family.

Field work in North America; extremely complicated to arrange; very isolating; cut off from academic context.

...

...

...

Increasingly saw self as an academic; finishing will be a watershed.

...

Returned to UK; big shift from solitary desk-based work; thriving as enjoyed teaching (way to have legitimacy).

Now prepared to go where the job is.

...

Supervisors still distant but prompt written response and encouragement to network.

...

Gave up on finding a partner; hoping to adopt once in a job.

...

...

 
 

PhD

Year 4

...

Finished 2nd field work in UK; writing, writing, writing; concerned about quality of her research.

...

Met partner which affected job thinking; he was from the UK but prepared to re-locate.

Finishing while reading UK and North American job descriptions (universities, governments);  anticipated rejections.

Applied for two jobs; had 1 interview; mildly panicked since meeting job descriptions expectations seemed inconceivable.

...

Learning to enjoy autonomy given by supervisors.

....

 

PhD Year 5

Post-PhD

Year 1

...

Had viva; concerned about quality, but passed with no corrections; another step on learning journey, BUT also a sense of cliff edge as to future.

...

...

...

Turned down 2 UK offers since informally offered North American research contract; it suddenly fell through, so in a tailspin.

...

...

Upon return to US, started networking madly; offered research position in her hometown.

Returned to home town; happy to be closer to family; partner to follow but not able to work.

...

...

 

Post-PhD

Year 2

Partner followed; felt she had reconciled short-term career plans with personal life and family.

Started postdoc; grateful for a job  connected to PhD; still learning, meeting other researchers and seeing where she might fit best.

...

Very happy BUT unsure how a baby would fit in since she was the only earner (given immigration constraints). Also not sure which side of the Atlantic they would both be happiest.

...

Concerned about putting all her eggs in the American academic basket (given what she had seen of the competitive environment, incredibly high expectations, and limited work-life balance for academics there)?

 

What struck us

Family illness.

Hoping for parenthood.

Dealing with rejection and the solitary nature of writing.

Concern about lack of research positions.

Networking.

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