Thinking of going back into PhD - help and advise needed.



Hoping that everyone is well and is looking forward to Christmas. I used to post on this forum around six months ago and gained some valuable advice from fellow prospective doctoral students whilst I was undertaking the first stage of my 1 + 3 ESRC award (in an MRes). I made the decision to come out of the PhD programme (thus before starting the actual PhD) last September having submitted my MRes. In short, I'd suffered from a prolonged period of depression, that had been exasperated by the loneliness and isolation that can often result from undertaking a PhD. This was at a Russell Group institution so there was a lot of pressures in relation to strong research skills.

Taking some time out, I've been teaching on a sessional basis (on a fairly lucrative rate) at the local institution (a former polytechnic) where I did my MSc (obtaining a distinction in the process). As much as anything this has given me the opportunity to re-assess and align my goals to both my PhD topic and motivation behind doing it. In short, I am a teacher - thriving on engagement with students, and I prefer to teach older students. The PhD, as much as anything, was my passport (albeit not a guarantee) into my career. I sincerely don't see myself as a full time researcher (as would be required working full time at a Russell Group institution). Moreover, I enjoy research, though would see myself researching possibly .15 of a full time contract, with teaching and management commitments filling up my schedule. Maybe I'm mad to want to teach - who knows?

The institution I'm working at are keen for me to undertake a PhD there. The topic is transferable (in the sense that investigating the student experience is pertinent to both Russell Group and former poly institutions) and, if anything, I think it's more appropriate to a teaching focused institution. There are scholarship opportunities available, though a distinction in masters, a masters in research, and, importantly a research unit being set up within the school to investigate the SE certainly lend themselves well.

Before getting carried away with myself I suppose I'm asking for advice. Will I be placing myself in the same situation as before? A major plus point, is that the depression has been managed (through medication and such like) to the point that I'm actually enjoying the academic world again, though potentially this is because I don't have as much pressures as before.

Any advice, at all, is appreciated.

S x


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Your circumstances sound favorable and will put you in good stead for doing a PhD. The important question still remains: why do YOU want to do a PhD? You have to have a very good reason that will carry you through those rainy days and ensure you stay motivated. Also, if you decide to do a PhD once again, do take time to select you proposed research topic carefully: the more manageable, and better suited, your topic is to your interests and skills, the better your chances of success.
No one can of course make the final decision other than you, but it might help if you try to identify those elements of your last experience that contributed the most to your feeling pressurized and to finally giving up. Can these be definitively avoided this time around?


Quite simply you won't know until you try. Go for it.


only if you satisfy two conditions - 1. Get reliable partner n have kids(if naturally possible) 2. do it fast(2 years max) dont fight war of attrition.