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Here is a little quiz that anyone asking themselves the question ‘why am I doing a PhD?’ will enjoy, courtesy of football fanatic and PhD Georgina Harris.
It’s pre-season, and for those of you doing a PhD, it’s seems an apt time to reflect on your studies and consider those important questions. No, not ‘why am I doing a PhD??, it’s taken over my life’ or ‘why do all the best ideas pop in to my head at 2am?’, but ‘which of these PhD football teams fits you best, and can you guess who they are?’
Why am I doing a PhD? Which football club best describes you?
You’re at University, not a top university, but a university all the same. You’re not naturally gifted, but you’ve worked damn hard to get where you are. Many thought you would fail the first year, but here you are still mixing it with the best. Your methods are dull but your research is functional; you’ve got a system, it’s tried and tested and it works for you. You hang on every word your Supervisor says, his earthy tones ringing in your ears, and you carry out the research plan to the letter.
The Research Council have granted you how much? You’ve ploughed how much money in to one project? You’ve recruited the best academic in the field and assembled a team of well thought of research assistants to help you achieve your goal, but that place as top guest speaker at that European Conference is still alluding you. If only that quantitative data had pulled through. Damn that new system that’s superseded SPSS, what’s is called again, VAR or something?!
Against all odds, you made it to the PhD! People have been banging on about your potential for some time and now you’ve finally enroled. It’s safe to say your supervisor has been enjoying his summer, he was last seen roaming the streets of Stocksbridge with a bottle of champagne in each hand chuntering about chip butties. However, like you he’s new to this level of academia and he’s not just here to make up the numbers. He will give you the platform to go to conferences and take on the views of established academics and really enjoy putting them in their place. Every journal article accepted in this coming academic year will be a bonus.
Your head is in a spin. You don’t know whether you’re coming or going. You’ve had three Supervisors in the past three years each with different research ideas and philosophies. It feels like you’re on a supervisor merry go round, but you put up with it as the research grant is healthy and the institution is fairly prestigious. Despite the chopping and changing you’ve actually performed fairly well this year. Your PhD is coming along steadily, and you’ve even managed to win a European Research Award from the ERC. Fantastico!
Read also: Should I do a PhD? 5 Reasons for and Against
Many thought you would struggle after the dizzy heights of winning Student of the Year early on in your PhD, yet you’ve actually grown in to a well respected researcher in your own right. After the euphoria of winning died down, and your charismatic, anecdotal Supervisor was replaced by a man resembling Mike Bassett (albeit short-lived), the masses predicted that you would crash and burn. Whilst you’re not crème de la crème; you’re not quite mixing it with the big boys at European Conferences, but you have blossomed in to one of the leading researchers in England. You’re a force to be reckoned with in academic circles. Supervisory drama doesn’t seem to have halted your progress and with a man who has a large painting of himself to greet him in the hallway of his own home, you’re well placed to start banging on the door at European Conferences demanding to be let in to the party! One of your Colleagues may even join you, he’s no stranger to a party or two, I believe there’s even a song about it.
You’re all style over substance. You present so elegantly at conferences that many fail to realise the research you’re presenting is actually useless. The top end of your research shows some promise, but you haven’t put the work in behind it to make it credible. You have a decent research following; Giles, Tarquin, Julian and co, but they have been known to throw their humus out the pot when the hypothesis doesn’t go in their favour. You’ve undergone a change in supervision that had been on the cards for a while. Whilst you recognise the commitment and dedication to your research by the previous supervisor, standards went down like a bottle of cheap French plonk and he was no longer deemed fit for purpose. Your new supervisor had all the promise of a top shelf rioja, but has so far contributed the equivalent of a ready made sangria to your research. Nevertheless, you head in to the new academic year full of promise.
You’ve done it, you’ve only gone and secured the most sought-after supervisor in your chosen research field. His experience, knowledge and attention to detail are second to none. The respect he commands by fellow academics is to be admired and you can’t wait to start working with him. Oh no, wait, I can see his P45 sitting on top of your research proposal in his tray. The girls in the Academic Office say he’s had some sort of spat with the Vice Chancellor and he’s left the University in the lurch. Apparently, he was last seen boarding a flight to Alicante after securing a position as a waiter at the Benidorm Palace. Do not fear though, the VC is on the phone as we speak trying to recruit one of the universities previous academics to take you forward, oh hold on, I think I’ve just overheard him say ‘never again’. Some bloke currently working at the University of Sheffield is available though, I think he used to attend your university and is keen to return. He speaks the local dialect.
Here we go again. You’ve been here before and dropped out, but you’re back to give it another go. This time you’re under the guidance of someone who is as invested in the project as you are. He has loved this subject since he was a boy and is very determined to see this PhD published. He’s recruited a second supervisor to help guide your project, someone who has only just finished his studies who you will be able to relate to and benefit from his experience of mixing it with the best in academia. Rest assured, the second supervisor will be present at your graduation, obviously in full academic dress, holding your award aloft!
Your publication record is outstanding, particularly in European Journals. You’re not universally liked, in fact your actively disliked in your own country and parts of Italy, but this isn’t your fault. People approach your university with trepidation as your research following often gather outside making their admiration for your work known via the medium of flares and missiles. You submitted a paper to the Research Council for their annual awards and came a very close second to a Spaniard. It is believed in some quarters, mainly Croxteth and Bootle, that you should be awarded a trophy for this as you scored the highest points total for someone coming second….ever! Your supervisor likes the sound of his own voice as much as he likes a good bratwurst and a Paulaner. You go in to the final year of your PhD determined to win that research award, whilst other academics are looking forward to sitting back and watching you fail…again!
Read also: How you can write your PhD faster
You’re self funded at a small university and you’re used to fighting for everything you have. You’re more than happy to play dirty, in fact you’re encouraged to do so by your supervisor. Your supervisor is well respected in academic circles and you wouldn’t be surprised if he was poached by one of the bigger universities in the near future.
Let’s be honest, you’ve scraped on to year two by the skin of your teeth. Readers have been known to fall asleep reading your research, and you’ve cost your Supervisor his job at the University. A bloke who has spent most of his Academic career in Sweden has agreed to take you on, not because he has much faith in you but because he wants you on his CV! Why are you doing a PhD again?
Your research awards cabinet is as prestigious as they come. Under the guidance of the best professor in the business your reputation soared. You had research followers from far and wide, including China and the far east, but mainly Surrey. However, when the oracle of research retired, you struggled. You were no longer dining at the top table at the European Conference. The days of eating prawn sandwiches with the European elite of Academia are gone. You have a new supervisor ‘at the wheel’ who is spending the summer re-evaluating your work with a view to cutting out the dross.
Have you worked out which football club is which? Head on over to this post for the answers!
Disclaimer. This post is unashamedly littered with author bias