This is just a short blog, but after reading Pat Thompson’s blog about what is a good day, I began to think about the differences in what a good day might be for a PhD student, as opposed to the author’s perspective as a professor of education. While obviously not wishing to speak for all PhD student’s, I’ve outlined some things which make a good academic day for me.
This post fits nicely with Aoife’s last posts, documenting the good and bad things about doing a PhD. One of the key challenges in doing a PhD is acknowledging the difficulties, and overcoming these. Focusing on the good times, and the positives can help you get through the tougher times.
Examples of good academic days:
- When I finally complete a task I have been worrying about and actually feel like I did it well
- When I am recommended a book or an article and it ends up being really helpful and I spiral into a useful rabbit hole of other books/articles
- When I am in conversation with someone about my research/ when writing / when reading and it finally clears something in my head I’ve been working through for a while
- When I really enjoy a conference or a seminar and I feel like I have gained something from it/ or have contributed to it
- When I explain my research to someone inside academia and their opinion helps shape a new perspective on it
- When I explain my research to someone outside of academia and we have a really interesting conversation about it which similarly gives me a new perspective on it
I’ve spoken to a few PhD students about the almost institutionalized feeling of struggling. Sometimes it feels like you cannot say that you are having a good day, week or month. This kind of martyrdom is dangerous to individuals and to academia more broadly. If you’re really enjoying your research and you feel on top of everything, you should feel comfortable saying so, so please do. There are enough hardships so we should enjoy the highs too.