Our Chair of the BSC Postgraduate Committee, Claire Davis, shares her thoughts on the PhD process towards submission. Claire is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in Criminology at Nottingham Trent University and is in the final stages of her PhD on police leadership.
Some Reflections on the Journey to Submission
So… the thesis is submitted, and here is a different sort of writing…
The PhD comes from you. No one does the reading, the hard thinking, the long writing. When you’re sick, no one can cover your work for you. It’s you, it’s yours. You create it, you craft it, you master it.
And that ‘it’s all you’ comes with pressure. High expectations of ourselves. Can I do this? Is this enough? What the heck is an original contribution to knowledge anyway? But the PhD is a slow, evolving process and it’s this on purpose. As a first year PhD student, you’re not dropped into your final year expecting to have the confidence and knowledge. You grow and get there slowly. The process is designed to build you to this. Trust the process, it’s a process of building.
And because it comes from you, it’s up to you to celebrate the good bits. That celebration doesn’t always come from the process, sometimes it has to come from you. Remember your ‘I did that well’ moments, the unexpected ‘yes’ moments, the ‘I deserve to be here’ moments. Take them in, store them as keepers. They are the currency to draw on through the PhD journey.
One of the things I’ve learnt through the PhD process so far is the kindness of people. People who give and support because they believe in you and your work. To do the PhD well, we need people. Other people see the strength and resilience in us that we don’t see in ourselves. People to share the excitement of post-it-noting your findings chapter (yes, it was a moment of inspiration!), people to explain what a Venn diagram is (with accompanied illustrations), people to catch the sight versus cite oversights, people to take an impatient four-year-old to play at lunch. So many people have helped in maybe little but hugely encouraging ways and in daily (how many phone calls are acceptable in a day?!) going the distance ways.
People make the PhD easier. Find and keep hold of your people.
We don’t always tell our stories of what brought us to the PhD, we don’t always share our histories. But they are our strength and our determination. Our histories give us our bounce-back-ability, our get-back-up-again-ness, our ‘I can do this’. I am forever inspired by the journey of people to get here, their resilience, their grace, their desire and commitment for better. Believe in you. Others see it and think of you as a superhero.
Our job is thinking, the big and difficult kind of thinking. I am fiercely proud to be part of a community of postgraduate researchers who are doing such important and meaningful work. Your work matters. Believe in yourself. Because how you got here, who you are, what you do and how you do it, is absolutely incredible!