monika's timeline

Monika, single, English as another language, had worked professionally for many years before doing her PhD in North America. She lived a two-hour commute from the university and continued to work part-time during the degree for financial reasons. She joined the Canadian study in 2006 in her third year of her PhD. She imagined a local research-teaching position given she was caring for her elderly parents, and completed the degree when she was 49.

What struck us about Monika’s story was: 

Ongoing stress and parental care. 

Issues with supervision feedback and working to deal with financial issues during the degree. 

Not having publications so not competitive and teaching part-time the only academic work she could get. 

 

PhD

Year 2

PhD

Year 3

PhD

Year 4

PhD

Year 5

PhD

Year 6

 Post-PhD

Year 1

Post-PhD

 

Year 2

Post-PhD

 

Year 3

 

PhD

Year 2

Parent ill and hospitalised; slowed PhD  progress.

Comprehensive exams(1): “symbolic milestone”.

Working part-time because needed income.

(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 defence (which is similar to a transfer of status).

 

PhD

Year 3

Parent died.

Collected data; completed first draft of thesis for committee.

Struggled to find time for PhD given work schedule and teaching.

...

Involved in student governance; got to know students and academics she had not previously.

...

...

...

Taught undergraduate course in her areas.

 

PhD

Year 4

Experienced constant fatigue and tiredness.

Revised thesis; ‘starting the process of ending the PhD’.

Realised work isolated her from academic community.

...

...

Still attracted to academia environment but ‘dehumanization of work conditions’ not appealing.

 

PhD

Year 5

 

Doing the degree along with work and family care ‘very challenging for health’.

...

...

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Epistemological disagreement with supervisor about thesis argument; finally, ‘disciplined myself’ to do the work.

...

...

...

Offered job but not local so refused it.

 

PhD Year 2

Post-PhD

Year 1

Caring for parent, so experiencing considerable stress.

No time to try and publish from PhD.

No time to apply for jobs.

...

Completed thesis though ‘could not do the thesis as I wanted’.

...

...

Continued working part-time.

....

Diagnosed with illness.

Stopped part-time work.

Offered courses to teach.

 

Post-PhD

Year 2

Caring for parent, but some time for social activities.

...

...

...

Taught a graduate course and had PhD paper published; started writing a book.

...

...

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Applied for academic positions locally, invited for 1 interview, but not offered position; realized lacked publications.

 

Post-PhD

Year 3

...

Taught 3 courses in different universities with good student evaluations.

...

...

New publication.

...

Not able to look farther afield for positions due to parental care.

...

Applied for 2 academic positions locally; not called for interview; job market uncertain; lot of competition.

 

What struck us

Stress.

Parental care.

Issues with supervision feedback.

Working to deal with financial issues.

Teaching part-time the only academic work she could get.

Not having publications so not competitive.

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