tdb's timeline

TDB, a UK national, completed a master’s degree prior to beginning doctoral studies in 2009, and joined this during his third year of PhD work. TDB initially chose doctoral work in order to increase his knowledge and pursue intellectual interests. When TDB joined this project he had three peer-reviewed publications and held a master’s degree. He was pursing thesis by publication, and hoped to acquire a postdoc fellowship or research position following the PhD. TDB completed his PhD at the age of 25, and went on to work as a postdoctoral researcher with the same research group, continuing to apply for fellowship grants and work toward a permanent position in academia.

What struck us about TDB’s story was: 

Importance of small group of friends and family. 

High volume of publications, planning research projects based on what would most likely lead to publications that would advance career. 

Focused, consistent desire to work in academia. 

 

PhD

Year 3

PhD

Year 4

Post-PhD

 

Year 1

Post-PhD

 

Year 2

Post-PhD

 

Year 3

Post-PhD

Year 4

 

PhD

Year 3

Enjoyed small group of friends and family.

Worked on data collection and analysis and discussed findings with post-doc, thinking about a future publication; felt like an academic.

Hoped to work in academia, viewing the field as providing a sense of freedom. Alternatively, considered working as researcher in private company.

Liked to spend free time playing videogames and relaxing at home.

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Worked with his main supervisor daily, whom he viewed as important to his research.

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Appreciated feedback from supervisor and reviewers on developing a theoretical model, viewing himself as “not much of a theorist”.

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Worked closely with other research students and postdocs.

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PhD

Year 4

Continued to enjoy leisure activities at home.

Continued to write and publish articles, which contributed to his thesis, though he had trouble motivating himself to complete the last stages of thesis writing.

Hoped to work in research at a UK university.

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Enjoyed working with other academics, which helped to facilitate creativity and develop his research.

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Worked on fellowship application for post-doc positions.

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Completed PhD.

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Despite his large number of publications (20), he attributed the volume to the nature of his research and his supervisor.

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Post-PhD

Year 1

Continued to enjoy reading, browsing the internet, and frequenting pubs in his free time.

Began postdoc position with same research group, in order to continue publishing, which he viewed as “critical”.

Hoped to work as researcher at UK university.

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Associated postdoc salary with being recognised as a proper scientist”.

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Missed his student life and had trouble with motivation.

Viewed the transition from PhD student to post-doc as awkward, as he moved up in the hierarchy and took on new responsibilities.

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Collaborated with researchers in various parts of the world and within his university.

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Drafted research grant applications, recognizing the high level of competition.

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Supervised students, which was slightly intimidating.

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Post-PhD

Year 2

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Engaged in part-time research with an external collaborator in Asia; “collaborations are…difficult but useful part of academia”.

Hoped to get permanent position as researcher at a university; aiming for another post-doc position following current one.

Looked to buy property near the university, as he decided that he wanted to stay near family.

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Hoped to start his own research group, which would allow him to be the corresponding author on publications.

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Publishing remained priority, and he continued to publish a large volume of work.

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Continued to value his free time activities (pub, internet browsing).

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Applied for independent research fellowships and focused on projects that would result in publications versus “high-risk” research.

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He found competition for grants “infuriating”.

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His existing research group expanded, but he did not need to supervise the new students, as his supervisor took over most of the supervision work.

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Often worked alone and felt unmotivated when there was no one to discuss his work with.

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Invited to give first conference presentation and subsequently set goal of presenting at a conference every year, even though he did not particularly enjoy conferences.

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Post-PhD

Year 3

Bought a flat in the area.

Post-doc position extended, co-funded by supervisor and Asian collaborator.

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Continued to collect and analyze data, publish

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Grew network to include post-doc researchers abroad, Asian collaborators, professor at another university, which helped him think about what it might be like to work in another place.

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Began to feel more independent as a researcher as he moved into areas beyond the focus of his supervisor’s work; but also viewed move as “risky”.

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Continued to apply for research grants and felt frustrated that he had not yet received an award.

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Post-PhD

Year 4

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Continued to publish and apply for grants.

Hoped to get a permanent position in academia.

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Planned to move to North America to begin a new post-doctoral position in the following year.

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What struck us

Importance of leisure time (work-life balance).

High volume of publications, planning research projects based on what would most likely lead to publication.

Very focused, consistent desire to work in academia.

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