How NOT to do a PhD #1: Full Time

In discussing my writing up plans with my supervisor yesterday, we also chatted about the overall journey of my PhD. I commented that I should write a book on how not to do a PhD. Instead of a book, I thought I’d blog about it in installments.

It goes without saying, that some of the things that have been obstacles to my PhD will not be relevant to other people, and everyone works in different ways. Some of the obstacles are of my own making, some are down to my personality and the way I work, and others are more random.

So the first problem with my PhD was one that I hadn’t really expected to be a problem. Having completed a BA full time, then an MA full time, starting the PhD full time was a natural progression. It turns out that doing a research degree full time is a very different experience to doing a taught degree full time, however. It started pretty well, I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do (a theology of music) and got reading. And reading. And reading. The first term or so went well, and I was starting to get some ideas about where it was going. The first year is pretty much lots of reading and a little bit of writing. Which is very samey and means looking at the same four walls all day, every day. For me, not having to leave the house turned into cabin fever.

I needed something else in my life other than the PhD. I still socialised, went out to the same groups, but as these things tend to happen on evenings and weekends, it is not the same as having something to get up for in the morning! For me, full time is not the way to do a PhD. So after the first year, I suspended for a year, and went back to it part time. I do as much work per day after I’ve been to work for a full day as I would do in a full time day.

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