The 2009 PGR Induction included an ‘expectations’ session for each of the Schools in the Faculty. In a rapidly changing academic environment expectations of PhD students across the UK varies widely, depending on the individual, the discipline and the institution. The expectations sessions revealed a number of priorities for the successful completion (or output) of a research thesis and these were echoed by academics during the Humanities New Academics Programme. It will suffice here to mention only a few of the priorities which came out of those discussions and which strike me as being some of the most important:
- The production of an excellent thesis
- To develop a publication profile
- To successfully develop academic and professional networks
- To manage working relationships
- To have an awareness of one’s discipline and research environment
- To attend national and international conferences (and to present academic papers)
- To have an appreciation of interdisciplinarity and collaboration
- To have the ability to transfer knowledge through teaching and/or public engagement initiatives
- To have an intellectual identity
- The capacity to undertake reserach leave and/or fieldwork.
This list is by no means exhaustive and, for many PGRs, most outcomes depend on the expectations of and relationship with the supervisor(s) and their ability to provide constructive feedback, sound advice, schedule timely meetings, and provide a framework for completion.
For those of you who are new to the PhD, I thought it would be useful to share a couple of links which ought to help clarify what your own expectations of the PhD are, and also to appreciate how these might change over time:
http://www.kevinmorrell.org.uk/PhDTips.htm – this site is primarily aimed at those doing a PhD in the Social Sciences but I think many of the tips apply across the board.
http://www.humanities.manchester.ac.uk/tandl/documents/ClaireStocks_SupervisorAwareness2slides.pdf – these slides detail what students in the Humanities @ Manchester expect from the PhD process (aimed at Supervisors)