Where to start?

Perhaps I should start by introducing myself and the reason behind the name of this blog. My name is Sherran, I live in Cape Town, and I am hopefully going to have the title Dr in front of my name by April next year. I am currently completing a PhD in Higher Education Studies and I am editing my first full draft at the moment, It’s an exciting stage to be at after what seems like months and months of work. This has been, is still, a journey full of ups and downs and highs and lows, and I have written about many of them in my own research journal, and in emails to friends and my supervisor, and I have talked my lovely husband’s ear off at almost every opportunity. This blog is partly his idea.

You see, I have read a few ‘guidebooks’ on writing a PhD, looking for magic tips and hints that will make this often-difficult and lonely journey suddenly easier and smoother. But I have yet to find one that really talks to me, a working mum, with a full-time job at a university that does not allow support staff to take research days or study leave. I have done this all, with the exception of 3 months earlier this year, part-time, managing and often failing at a constant balancing act between work, my children, my husband, my PhD and, last on the list, me (!). So, while I do acknowledge that there are many useful and helpful guidebooks out there – I am in no way trashing their contribution to the field of writing about writing a PhD thesis and some have helped me – I am also acknowledging my own personal sense of a gap in this field. A gap into which many part-time students who have to keep working and raising kids and being married or divorced or separated or, or, or… may fall. I think there are more and more part-time students with full-time lives doing PhDs now, as academia has shifted in the last perhaps ten years or more towards demanding that academic staff have PhD degrees or be in the process of getting one where a Masters degree used to be an acceptable entry-level qualification for a lecturing post. I think there is a need for writing on the PhD process or journey that acknowledges the struggle that the PhD often presents for these students.

This blog is part contribution to this field, and part personal project. I enjoy writing, and I seldom get to do so creatively anymore. This blog, somewhat selfishly, is a space for me to muse and scribble and reflect on aspects of my own PhD journey. But my hope is that those of you who read it will like doing so, and may even recognise parts of your own journey in my story. I hope you will find a fellow traveller here who can perhaps offer some advice, empathy or encouragement. Some of the posts will be about where I am currently and some retrospective, and there may even be a few guest posts along the way. I welcome comments and feedback. Happy reading! 🙂

2 thoughts on “Where to start?

  1. Bernie says:

    Hooray Sherran! I agree – your blog fills the gap of the part-time study, full-time working Ph.D. scholar. Some days I am so exhausted from my full-time teaching that I can’t even bring myself to go into the study and work on my Ph.D. – just too tired. Then there’s all the marking and admin and meetings etc that fill up a lecturer’s day. Good on you! I look forward to reading your musings. Strength to your virtual pen.

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