Post PhD change of research interest ?


Hi all: I am halfway through my PhD in Philosophy. But of late, I've been wondering whether after doing PhD in a particular area of a discipline,can I switch my future post PhD research to some other areas of the same discipline, or would my expertise would always be considered from the perspective of my PhD topic area? Lets say if i am working on a topic in Ethics, and later on after PhD my interest shifts towards Philosophy of science or logic? Would love to know your thoughts on the issue. :)


======= Date Modified 27 May 2012 16:44:29 =======
Simple answer is yes you can. Getting a PhD qualifies you as a researcher and you are able to change interests after. Though doing so can be difficult, because you would be starting from an earlier stage, and if you are looking for employment would need to convince an employer to take you on focusing in the new area. Easier if you have a flexible lectureship for example.

My husband's PhD (computer science) was in a very niche theorem proving area. Post PhD he switched to work in space technology research. Ok it helped he had an astronomy BSc(Hons)! But it was still quite a big shift. But possible because of the skill set he had programming-wise from previously, and an employer willing to take him on in the new area.


Hey there! Yes, it is possible- it is quite possible to use your research skills and knowledge in a different subject. I switched topics straight after my PhD. Whilst I am still broadly in the area of clinical psychology research, my clinical group, topic, and aims of research are completely different. Of course you might be competing for a post-doc with people who already have experience in that subject area, but it's not impossible. I didn't expect to even get an interview for my post-doc, but they said that they had been interested in me mainly because of my publication record throughout my PhD and obvious dedication to clinical psychology research in general. I have had to work hard to get to grips with a completely new set of literature etc, but it's been worth it! Good luck with it! KB



I'm going to dissent slightly as I work in a similar discipline to you and think it works differently for us because we have to write our own proposals for postdocs and apply directly to lectureships post-PhD. Unlike the examples below for science, you will almost certainly need to get your first job and publications in the field of your PhD. To try to claim expertise in a different field without publications / teaching experience to back it up, is likely to be a non-starter simply because the job market is so overcrowded that universities have no need to take chances. Once employed hoewver, while you might need to keep teaching Ethics (as I understand it's popular with undergrads) you can gradually shift focus without a problem, so long as you keep generating strong publications. The way most people do this is to find ways of linking the two areas initially and then move across.