Advanced search
Name: Victor
PhD discipline: Archeology
Area(s) of work: Archeology and academic research
Year of graduation: 1999
Date of Interview: 08/06/2008

Victor - PhD experience
Victor recalls the highs and lows of his PhD.

What was the PhD like? 

Again very hard work. One thing I will say about a PhD – it is quite interesting, I've just had one of our current PhD students in who is a bit down at the moment and it is mountain moments and trough moments and it is a very up and down process. There are very exciting times and there are times you just get totally exhausted and very, very depressed. It is basically because you are working on one thing, you have got to be very obsessed about it, and you are working on your own most of the time. If you have got a good supervisor it's great. I mean, I was fortunate to have probably one of the best supervisors in archaeology in the country he was very interested in what I was doing. But you are still very much on your own, you know, it is a very lonely process.

I know of people who have actually become ill, people who do drop out because the pressure is just too much they burn out.

What do you think that pressure is?

I think a lot of the pressure you create yourself from a lack of confidence in yourself. It is your first time at working at this sort of academic level, at such a high level, and I certainly wasn't that sure of myself and a lot of current PhD students who I talk to I think they feel like that as well they are not really sure you know of things. And where the greatest help does actually come from is from your supervisor. And we do advisory panels for all the PhD students here, I think they are once a term, and having an advisory panel you know as a support mechanism. How much support a department can give it is very difficult; everybody is so busy. But no I think most of the pressure does come from ourselves.

And then what were the upsides? What did you enjoy?

The upsides I got to live in a tent for two summers in Northern Scotland and just travelled round looking at sites. Also finding the best cafés and the best pubs and the best restaurants and it was just great fun doing the fieldwork. For me personally it is why I enjoy research – getting a load of data in. It is a hard slog analysing that data, going through it, but then when you have made all your databases and done all the hard work coming up with the results, all the patterns start emerging and that starts getting very exciting as well. That is the exciting part of the research.