Make your PhD work for you part time

Make your PhD work for you part time

Working on my new book Kay Guccione And John RainfordDiscuss how part-time doctoral students can cope and succeed while doing part-time doctoral studies.

“I work part-time” is a refrain we often hear from doctoral students, as if their way of learning is inferior to those working on a full-time doctoral thesis. In our future book Thriving in part-time doctoral studies we challenge this narrative and show research doctors how to reclaim the unique value of part-time education. We also present insights on how to excel at it drawn from our practice and research in many conversations with part-time doctoral students.

However, we agree that getting a part-time doctoral degree also often means juggling many different responsibilities, roles, and personalities. Some researchers will work on how to combine studies with paid work, while others may combine care or health with their research. In fact, despite some of the collective problems we attribute to part-time teaching, each researcher has their own reasons for working in this mode. This means that we often don’t have the ability to put together a simple list of “what works” for this diverse and very busy group of people. With this in mind, we have developed a book that provides a personalized perspective on what it means to thrive and succeed, to help people reflect on their own circumstances and challenges, their assets and resources, and to guide their path in the best possible way to achieve their goal. their.

In the process of developing the guidelines and activities we wanted to offer, we spoke to many part-time doctoral students and gathered a range of different experiences in the field. Blog Part Timethat accompanies the book. Some of these personal stories have been condensed and included in the book to show the variety of experiences and strategies others have used to get their PhDs. In eight detailed chapters, there are five overarching messages that we have used to formulate our guide to help everyone at any stage of their part-time journey:

1. This is your journey, so decide what’s important to you.

Every PhD is a bit of a journey into the unknown, but it has room to create your own custom development experience. Brian and Guccione Previously, we found that doctoral students who actively pursue different opportunities and ideas found that their travel experiences were more rewarding. Therefore, it is important to consider your options when planning your itinerary while studying. Taking the time to map out what you want from a PhD, beyond “qualifications,” can pay dividends in the long run.

2. Planning helps, but plans change and that’s okay.

Planning can make us feel like we have control, but equally, when a plan falls apart it can cause insecurity and anxiety. Research is messy and often takes a lot of time to think and rethink, as well as certain processes and bureaucratic hoops. We find that Elizabeth Day describes planning as “objective solutions to a subjective problem‘ is useful here. Once you understand that you can plan, but your plans need to be adaptable, it can help shift the focus from what went wrong to how to make the best plan for the next steps. A holistic approach to planning that includes research, work, and life as part of a mix can lead to much more realistic plans that are suited to your specific circumstances.

3. Embrace life on the sidelines

One of the biggest challenges for a part-time research doctoral student is trying to reconcile their sense of identity. This is where professional, academic, and personal identities can feel like they’re competing for importance, which can make you feel like you don’t belong anywhere else. Tutkal and colleagues framed this “never fit” feeling as “being in the Borderlands”. Instead of seeing it as a flaw or failure, using the unique perspective of being in this position can help you see things from a new, more subtle and complex perspective. The ability to exist in multiple communities can make a big difference in the development of your research project. For many people, this may be a frontier area of ​​professional research, but for others, it may be a unique perspective that your life experience helps bring to doctoral studies.

4. It’s not a solo endeavor

Working on a PhD can feel like isolation, and it’s important for your research and your mental well-being to challenge the myth that it must be a solitary journey. Working remotely, limited time with managers and colleagues, and doing research as part of other commitments can exacerbate isolation. This means that the work of a part-time research doctor will pay off if you consciously think about how to create vital support networks – create your own support squad. In this book, we help you understand who your personal, professional, and academic allies are and how to attract them into your networks. Staying connected remotely can be tricky, but social networks can be used effectively for this, in addition to making the most of your cohorts and communities.

5. Breaks help you stay on track.

Research work, with its potential to never feel truly “completed,” plus the limited time frame for doctoral research, which means we’re always chasing success and fixing failure, can become all-consuming. Add to that other commitments and you can easily fill your waking hours with hard work. We urge you not to let research take over your life. A good long-term strategy involves establishing (and resetting) a steady pace of work. Ensuring that you plan for some downtime and give yourself time to think is vital to keeping you motivated, enthusiastic, and successful. Taking a break for a while, you can help you make more progress in the long runand we ask you to consider that the preservation of your health and well-being must be of paramount importance.

If these ideas seem useful in theory, but understanding how to apply them in practice seems difficult, Thriving in part-time doctoral studies may I help. Our book is full of examples and practical exercises that you can use alone or with academic advisors and colleagues to help you get the most out of your PhD, regardless of your planned itinerary or desired goals. If you prefer to connect with others working on your PhD, you can read more personal stories and share your own experiences at Blog Part Time.

The content created on this blog is for informational purposes only. This article represents the views and opinions of the authors, but does not reflect the views and opinions of the Impact of Social Science blog (blog) or the London School of Economics and Political Science. Please see our comment policy if you have any concerns about posting a comment below.

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