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Burn baby burn (what to keep)

I completed my PhD (of 7 1/2 years) just over 12 months ago and I had images in my head of gathering all of the associated paperwork and burning them as soon as I'd graduated.

This hasn't happened - I've tried several times to throw things away and although I've got rid of the odd folder I'm struggling to reduce the amount of paperwork. It sounds like I'm answering my own question but I haven't looked at ANY of this for years but having lived, breathed and battled PhD, I'm finding it really difficult.

In terms of what sort of paperwork this is, it's mainly 'keepsakes' as opposed to being data, lots of conference packs and information sheets. My study was ethnographic so I have stacks of notebooks with handwritten field notes.

(This isn't about data protection as all relevant data is being stored for the necessary period required by university ethics.)

If I'm really honest about it - I have this nagging fear that something further will be asked of me in the future - like someone could challenge my PhD data and I'd have to go back to my notes.

This isn't to mention the 100's of GB's of backed up data over several hard drives.

So my question was how ruthless have people been?

I've also kept lots of undergrad paperwork.... maybe I've got hoarding issues?!

I've been working as a Research Associate for the past few years and have relocated 4 times and carrying all of this stuff is exhausting!

Any thoughts would be much appreciated!

What am I?

So, I've finally finally come out of the other end of the PhD just about alive. I'd been doing it alongside RA posts for the last 7 years. I hope this is an appropriate forum to discuss this issue.

I've worked for 3 different universities, always for health science /social research type departments, I don't have a clinical background, I have a health sciencey type degree, and a PhD in the role of culture in evidence based practice. Without a PhD I felt that I had to work wherever would take me and have ended up with quite a varied CV without much continuity (qualitative/quantitative data analysis, development of an online survey, recruitment to an RCT, development of patient information)

Until now I've never given any thought to how to describe myself (I left this bit blank on my work twitter!). Now I find it almost restrictive, I am asked this quite regularly in my current role: "Are you a Health Psychologist? Sociologist?, what's your background?"

I struggle with this - what defines us as researchers? At a recent careers workshop I broached this subject and got told to look at my CV and 'retrofit' so that I can talk about a theme to employers.

I wondered if there are any other people struggling with this issue? My colleagues seem to have a stronger sense of identity which dictates which research group they associate with.


Finished PhD but still unemployed

I got to the end of this thread and thought we'd all benefit from an update!