Does anyone really want to read about another student’s PhD ‘journey’?
I was reading Jon Rainford’s blog where he was questioning what he, as a PhD student should blog about. Blogging might be useful for oneself in terms of recording the PhD ‘journey’ (hate that phrase), and for other PhD students to read who are in the year below you to see what to expect. I know that at my university, I have met people around campus who know me through my blog and we had never met in real life before until then. So I do know that blogs can be of great interest and support to others and that is why I write and read them too.
They also said my hair looked better in real life than online.
Although I disagree as my stock photo of me ‘smugly standing on top of a roof terrace in Montreal with my trendy haircut’, I think is my best one and I thought my hair was at its best then too, and it was about 30 degrees Celsius there …high humidity is not a friend of those of us with kinks and flicks.
Anyway, on the other hand, how many blogs can you have out there about the PhD journey? Sometimes you don’t really want to necessarily reveal your work or findings, either because it is work in progress and you don’t want to share it yet, or perhaps you are worried someone will steal your work or ideas.
I have this worry a little bit, because I am using secondary data so anyone can do exactly the same as I have done, although I did create my own variable which I will be sharing for all to use when my PhD is published.
Here is a little sexy sneaky peak at my findings… have a look…. nice isn’t it!
Do you want to know what the above data means? Well, Ok, it means that the 1958 British Birth cohort members who have a degree and were from working-class backgrounds are 7.71 times more likely than the middle-class to have gained their degrees as an older-mature adult (age 43-50 in 2001-2008) than young (by 23 in 1979-1981). Women are 2.81 times more likely than men to have gained their degrees at this age than young. What do you think about that eh?
I am very excited about my project and I think the time is coming for me soon to write something about my work rather than my hair or feelings. Or feelings about my hair. Although I think a blog about the ups and downs of one’s hair when a PhD student would make the most fascinating reading. Someone please feel free to steal and do that idea! Ta!
You’re right in that the ‘PhD journey’ metaphor is over-used, but it also aptly describes what is a long, slow, solo process of self-development. You’ll never experience the same kind of thing again – if you’re full-time, you have the luxury of thinking about more or less one project, all the time. It’s lovely! But after this most of your research will be collaborative and/or fitted in between teaching, meetings, marking, grants, reporting, and ‘stuff’. It’s also important to share your experiences because most PhD students in the humanities and social sciences do 95% of their work by themselves, and it can be quite isolating. The ‘journey’ blogs, tweets and so on allows people to see what other people are experiencing, realise that they’re not the only ones who have these thoughts and struggles, and it’s an experience which is pretty unique to the doctorate, so non-academics won’t fully understand it.
An alternative metaphor for the doctoral experience is gestation and birth, but for some reason this hasn’t caught the public imagination in the same way…