There are so many issues here as I read, problems with supervisor, jumping through hoops, cannot think of acceptable topic. The question is--- why do a PHD at all? IS a PHD about meeting supervisor and University criteria? Is it about standing up and declaring you have a PHD? There are many thinking people without PHDs. I find (with others) it depends if your topic is of interest to supervisor eg worms (somebody will tell me that is their topic now---!) and if you yourself are-- and if you meet Uni criteria-- eg they want a quantitative approach for a qualitative study. PHD seems to open doors-- but at what cost?? Some cannot still get jobs even with a PHD. PHD however, does get your work in print more easily and enable you to speak at conferences but you also need practical skills.Yet those without PHDs- or even Degrees- have much to say, being thinking people. With a PHD, individuals still need to listen to others who do not possess one. Great work has been done even without a PHD throughout history.Possessing a PHD does not mean you have read everything about that topic--- I have wonderful classic refs from 20years ago that few are aware of but still relevant-- becuase the same things are occurring today. The question is why??
Indeed-as I sit here on my Sunday morning with masses of administrative work to do this weekend for my actual full-time paying job-and guiltily thinking of the couple of hours put aside later today for lit review section for part-time PhD, I wonder this myself-however, I will give a list of reasons that work for me:
1 Because-if you like sports analogies- it is the ultimate research study marathon-and some people like running marathons.
Yes many very fit people exist who do all sorts of sports and never run a marathon-they live and die marathonless without feeling deprived-but some people really like running marathons and there will always be these people.
2 It trains your mind in a specific and very disciplined way. Yes you can be extremely intelligent, well educated, highly creative and considerably productive in society and personal life without doing a PhD-perhaps even moreso in some cases-but some of us want that specific, disciplined and focused training in a school of thought.
3 If you want to publish in reputable journals, you pretty much need one or need to be working towards one. I can spot the PhDless article contributer a mile off in my own profession and accompanying professional literature. Not that what the authors say isn't interesting, creative or compelling but it is often a little less rigorous in its applications and its approach.
4 It formally qualifies you as a bonafide researcher-maybe one at ground floor level-but an independent researcher nevertheless.
5 The qualification can help you if you wish to offer your services as a consultant, advisor, mentor, academic or leading professional within and without your specific workplace.
6 It is a very worthy achievement or accomplishment in itself.
These reasons work for me...although, God knows, I will be glad when the whole thing is over...now back to some very boring but essential admin planning for my workplace for next year.
I'll come back to you on this and expect a vigorous defence of what I consider a very personal life choice.
It is 2.15 am in the UK and I've a canny few beers in my system. So it's bedtime and not the time to answer this.
Besides, my other half has other things on her mind. :-)
======= Date Modified 14 Oct 2012 11:10:59 =======
In my line of work, education, the journals often have two types of article submitted (or maybe three). There are the academic papers submitted either by academics or by teachers who are studying research masters and doctorates (usually with the co-authorship of a supervisor and a university affililiation attached)-these are usually peer reviewed or appear only in peer reviewed journals and they demonstrate or outline carefully the methodology used behind the claims that have been made-and when they make further claims as to how the research might be applied, they qualify precisely the parameters of that application. So while they might show a limitation in scope for an outcome, such as say- 'this works specifically for gifted teenagers who have self worth issues stemming from poverty and childhood neglect in the UK', while it only applies to such a group, you can feel fairly confident that the study's claims would apply indeed to any such teenager fitting this description. (I'm just making this example up-so don't take it too literally).
But professional journals (which also publish academic papers) also include papers by practitioners, which are often by teachers or teacher leaders and they can be very lively, commenting on current practice or espousing enthusiastically an approach that can be taken by teachers or educators. They may make vague claims at the end, which are more of the sort such as, 'while our results are still a little inconclusive, we did find that our participants, all seemed much more engaged and wanted to learn more about this sort of approach.' They are great for rousing enthusiasm and generating ideas and creative sparks (especially for tired teachers, who need a bit of a pep start) but can be a bit limited in their scope and application if they are the only thing backing up some teacher or head of faculty's new program for the year, as they provide limited data and evidence and may not have a rigorous methodology behind their claims-which can be very loosely linked to the 'inconclusive-but generally positive' results. (I tried not to be too wordy here-but it's been a a tussle between brevity and clarity I fear!).
======= Date Modified 14 Oct 2012 20:05:51 =======
If I didn't know better, I'd say you were a poster called The Lord Rowell from a certain football forum with a downer on academia in general. Charmless Man will know who I mean.
You're right in saying there are many people who have achieved much in their field without a PhD or even a degree. They've learnt their skills in the University of life and yes, it is a professional duty to take on board the opinions of others no matter what their backgrounds.
Would I be where I am today without the PhD? I'll be honest that due to a disasterous second post-doc, I have not moved forward careerwise and I am back where I started. The reasons were supervisor issues during my second post-doc that I have gone into elsewhere. So you're comment on supervisor issues being a problem during some PhDs is to a small degree fair comment too.
However, I had very good supervision during my PhD and first post-doc and thus my PhD was experimental and data gathering programme it was meant to be. In otherwords, with reference to current literature in my field I was able via a targeted experimental approach and assessment of the data gathered, I was able to produce an original contribution and generate new information that pushed back the boundaries of knowledge in my field.
A PhD presented me with the best opportunity to do this in the best environment possible. By returning to University and working in a department that had succeeded at the time in gaining significant investment in equipment, I also had access to amongst the best tools possible to examine my generated samples, and collect and analyse the data collected from them. Translated, I got to play with some really sexy kit I'd not have had access to otherwise - fun!!!
In general, University access to literature and other published works is superior to that of industry and other outside establishments, so I was also more able to ascertain very quickly whether the data I was generating indeed constituted and original finding. Additionally, I became more readily aware of others working in my field at other institutions and thus it was not being generated in isolation from these other researchers.
I have seen papers and documents generated by people working in industry and echoing a previous post, I note they have been alot less rigorous with their literature review. There is the feeling with some that they are not aware of the importance of reviewing other people's literature and work, therefore there is the risk that by not being so rigorous they may not be aware of other data that may be of use to their own work. That said, some of these papers are produced by people with PhDs and it is clear they do not have the same access in industry to data that they had when doing their PhDs in University.
Finally, I wanted the challenge of tackling the most difficult qualification there is out there. I wanted to push myself mentally to the limits of my abilities and the PhD offered me the chance to do that. I can relate to the marathon analogy made in an earlier post. Even though things have not worked out the way I thought they would prior to the PhD because of the second post-doc, I have no regrets over tackling the PhD even all this time after it's completion.
I enjoyed the process (well, okay, the write-up was hell), I enjoyed the challenge and would I change my decision if I had my time over again? No way mate. I do not think industry would have offered me the opportunities I had and I have outlined during the PhD years. It allowed me the chance to become a complete researcher. :p
======= Date Modified 16 Oct 2012 15:40:02 =======
No response Carold?
I believe you've read more into the negatives than the positives.
Hi. Thanks for the discussion-- as a thinker, I love discussion; that is all I try to do. We should not all think we are right. Yes, I admit I may have come across negative experiences. However a PHD is not merely about meeting criteria-- what does being rigorous in research mean? I know all about Husserl/Heidegger/ ethnography etc etc. Yet in addition to meeting University and research criteria, we need to be able to think. There are thinkers out here-- without PHD-- that have not met/ have disagreed with set criteria.Yet such thinkers are excluded-- because they do not fit the criteria. What at the end of it all-- is done with the results of research? Why do I meet PHD individuals who quote research-- but are unaware of studies that were done 20years ago--- concluding the same thing? The answer is-- application of results-- not rigorous research.Again, PHD is supported if somebody agrees with the proposition either politically or according to the establishment.
Had another think. We are in the realms of different types of research here. It may be obvious to some-- I am not in a lab. Suppose if you are, you may need to do a PHD to even gain access and support. I wonder how much a the question for PHD of that nature can be determined by the one doing a PHD or are they mainly studentships etc??
(I am qualitative actually- not in lab either).
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