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Tim - PhD experience
Name: Tim
PhD discipline: History/American studies
Area(s) of work: Academic research support administration
Year of graduation: 2000
Date of Interview: 19/06/2008

Now Playing: Tim - PhD experience
Tim describes his PhD experience in relation to his expectations of it.

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So in general what was your PhD experience like?

That's a very good question.

You can come at that from any angle you like

Well I think it started reasonably well I think I was making a reasonable amount of progress and then it just I think I plateau'd I think I reached a certain level of – yeah I suppose a certain level of attainment and then I realised I'd got so far and I think I started to realise I wasn't going to push onto the next level and sort of really break through and start writing world changing articles or anything like that. And I think I got very frustrated and very stuck with that, so I was going to carry on with the PhD which was because of the nature of the PhD it was quite methodical. It was almost, it was quite narrative so it was possible to keep working at it I think without having to really sit down and think what are my great ideas? Which - I probably didn't really have any I think, so again it was a good solid PhD rather than anything particularly sparkling.

Do you think that's quite a common feeling though, that we start a PhD anticipating we're going to set the world on fire and then face the reality that very few PhDs do anything near that?

Mm. oh yeah most (…) we're not, I'm not excessively like that I don't think, or have a sense of my own potential but I think people get stuck and then they sort of start again I think that's the bit where I didn't really make a difference. I never really got beyond the sort of very safe post grad state, I never really felt that I moved onto the next level where I was – where I didn't need sort of special treatment or that's, 'that's a post graduate you've got to be gentle with him, he's going to need a full question' so I never really felt that I sort of kicked on that, I wasn't the sort of the level of an academic. I didn't think I was going to get to that point. Which is a frustration because I think to start with I think I was doing quite well in terms of doing papers and teaching and that sort of thing, I was keeping up with my peers and making quite good progress. And then I sort of got stuck.

Can you identify what exactly it was that made you get stuck?

No, but I think I just thought something would happen that was part of the process and I think I was realising there wasn't that process, or there was no external driver, so any change needed to come from me, or any sort of real step change needed to come from me. And I don't know whether I found that too daunting or what but I just didn't seem to be able to manage it.

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