mike's timeline

Mike worked for many years as an administrator for educational programmes in a North American university. His work involved international work and he began a PhD in the same Canadian university where he worked since he felt the degree would give him greater legitimacy in working with the international partners. He intended to work full-time while doing the degree part-time. He joined the Canadian study in the fifth year of his PhD and graduated several years later when he was 41. He and his partner had children during the time he was in the study. 

What struck us about Mike’s story was: 

Managing childcare. 

Lack of thesis progress and managing full-time work while doing a PhD. 

Did PhD to gain legitimacy in position and after PhD, wanted to change jobs due to poor climate but financially not possible. 

 

PhD

Year 5

(Part-time)

PhD

Year 6

(Part-time)

PhD

Year 7

(Part-time)

PhD

Year 8

(Part-time)

Post-PhD

Year 1

Post-PhD

Year 2

Post-PhD

Year 3

 

PhD

Year 5

(Part-time)

Had 1st baby with his partner, another PhD student; needed to balance share of childcare alongside work and study.

Worked on  PhD proposal.

Continued full-time work; without the PhD felt ‘discounted’.

...

Supervisor brilliant, but Mike responsible for calling meetings, yet put these off; ashamed at lack of progress.

...

 

PhD

Year 6

(Part-time)

...

...

Remained in current job; hoped for research and teaching after graduation.

Experienced financial difficulties; partner understanding since also doing PhD.

Completed comprehensive exam (1)

Took leave from work.

Continued childcare sharing.

Sacrificed participation in wider academic life to progress PhD.

....

...

Needed stronger structure and more supportive committee to complete.

...

(1) Comprehensive exams (demonstrating depth and breadth of knowledge) are a required element of most North American PhDs. They must be completed successfully before doing a thesis proposal defense (which is similar to a transfer of status).

 

Had second child; partner completed PhD.

Up against university deadline; external motivation to finish.

...

...

Only way to finish was to do PhD full-time; otherwise throwing away all the years of work.

Arranged nearly year’s leave of absence to work on thesis; granted since study related to his work.

PhD

Year 7

(Part-time)

 

...

On leave, wrote thesis; sought out supervisor more and got wanted help.

Directorship of unit came up, but didn’t apply since felt without PhD wouldn’t be considered.

Looked forward to spending time with family, enjoying the summer.

Completed degree.

...

PhD

Year 8

(Part-time)

 

...

Struggled to get back into routine after leave.

...

...

Felt excluded due to changes made by new director during his absence.

Regretted not applying for directorship.

Post-PhD

Year 1

 

Post-PhD

Year 2

...

Did not have good relationship with Director.

...

...

No longer encouraged to do research or international work, things he enjoyed.

...

Third child on the way.

...

Considered seeking another position, but decided against since he needed security.

 

Post-PhD

Year 3

Took parental leave for third child.

...

...

Needed to stay at same institution to ‘repay’ leave.

Still in same position but not happy.

Actively seeking other administrative positions in other departments; potentially could lead to a demotion.

...

...

Worried that PhD getting stale; he had missed the boat.

 

What struck us

Managing childcare.

Lack of thesis progress.

Managing full-time work and doing PhD.

Did PhD to gain legitimacy in position.

After PhD, wanted to change jobs due to poor climate but financially not possible.

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