What a coincidence that this turned up in my wordpress reader this evening, when it was something on which I have been musing today. I have had a PhD experience that was far less than perfect. I’ve said before that I was prepared for everything to go pear shaped, but not in the first few days. I’ve also commented that my thesis has seen off more supervisors than most people have had hot dinners. Then there was the writer’s block, depression, and of course, the ‘headache’ that landed me in hospital. But I was never close to giving up.

The reason I stuck it out through the bad times was simple: despite all the rubbish (and believe me, there’s been a lot more of that than ever appeared in this blog), I’m doing something I love.


We hear a lot these days about people quitting the PhD – they have institutional difficulties, experience appalling discrimination, have serious supervision troubles, struggle with funding. These are dreadful experiences and we do need to hear about them. We also hear quite a lot about how hard the PhD is and the struggles to get finished. I don’t want to dismiss any of this discussion. It’s all important, right and necessary. However, I worry that the narratives about the awful sometimes outweigh the more optimistic. I do think that maybe we need to hear more about what makes people hang in and what helps them finish.

Now I need to say here and now that I don’t think that starting a PhD and not finishing is necessarily a problem. I’ve seen people who didn’t need the PhD for their careers, and in the end couldn’t justify the amount of time…

View original post 720 more words