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Researcher Development

Researcher Development

Coming to the end (anxiety about the future)

Coming to the end of research degree can be both a joyous and stressful experience. As you haul yourself over the finish line, you may be exhausted or plagued by anxieties about the future.

If you’re biggest concern is ‘What next?’ (and you’re ready to scream at the next person who asks you that question), then check out our course on Career Planning or speak to one of the university’s Career Advisors: email or go to My Career Zone, to book an appointment.

If you want to think about how you prepare yourself for the end of your research degree, you could check out these guest blogs on the Thesis Whisperer: ‘How not to run off the end of the PhD cliff’,  ‘What it’s like to be finished’ and ‘The Post PhD Blues’.

Will I ever get a job?

Why is academia so hard?

What if I don’t finish in time?

What if I run out of money?

What do I do now?

Have I made a terrible mistake and I’m wasting my life?



It’s not all stress and horror: here are some things people love about being a research student:

“I love how my research feels like I’m doing something important and that answering these questions might impact the quality of future environments. It also allows me the flexibility to adapt my research based on new information and the time to develop other skills, like teaching and internships in policy and industry, so that I can gain a wide range of skills for my life post-education.”

Paige Robinson, Biosciences PhD in Ecotoxicology, specializing in the epigenetic effects of toxic pollutants on fish.

 “I love doing field work and getting to spend time working closely with artists and participants. I feel like I’ve met (and keep meeting) some amazing people through research and practice, and experienced incredible things. I love being able to manage my own timetable rather than being stuck in a 9-5. Even though a PhD is hard, it is also a great opportunity to spend years working on something that you deeply care about and set your own agenda.”

Chloé Bradwell, PhD in Drama, researching the cultural value of performing arts for people living with dementia

“My PhD has given me the time and space to work on just one project that I’m interested in, and to take up lots of other interesting opportunities like teaching and science outreach. Time I definitely didn’t have in my previous standard research job!”

Debbie Kinsey, PhD in Medical Sciences, researching museum programmes for people with dementia

“I love doing a PhD because it is a legitimate way of focusing on something purely for myself. I absolutely love my research and it is important, as well, but the main driving force is my desire to know all of the answers.”

Charlotte Spence, PhD in Classics and Ancient History researching the conceptions of the dead and the Divine in curse tablets

“I’ve loved my PhD – doing a PhD has given me the opportunity to research something that matters deeply to me, has given me the springboard to enter the career I want to embark on, all whilst meeting like-minded people who I now count as some of my closest friends.”

Charlotte-Anne Chivers, PhD in Rural Social Science, researching the efficacy of farm advice surrounding diffuse water pollution from agriculture

“I loved the freedom to be creative, to be self-reflexive. The encouragement and guidance for experimentation. The sources I have had access to because of it (e.g. books, workshops, performance events, socializing with experts, traveling for research.)”

Nazlıhan Eda Erçin, PhD in Drama, researching artistic, somatic, phenomenological & auto-ethnographic explorations of body, gender, ethnicity and language

“I love finding things that might help people in the future- in my case teachers. I have loved doing participant interviews. I really enjoy thinking about things in a different way and having an academic debate about it – either with my supervisors or students and ex-students.”

Alison Pearson. PhD in Education, researching what sustains teachers who stay

“What I loved about doing a PhD was when I was engaging critically with previous studies and finding new or different areas to focus and examine in my own research. In that moment, I realised that I am on the right track. Because most of the time I was thinking and asking myself: Is what I am working on a PhD? But when I found a different area, I said to myself ‘Yes, this is what PhD is about!’”

Zubir R. Ahmed, PhD in Middle East Politics, researching ethnic and sectarian conflict

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