Why Should I do a PhD?

My 4 Key Reasons for Starting a PhD.

As you may have supposed from my last few posts, I’m very aware that the decision to complete a PhD shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s a big commitment and a challenging one at that.

I’m pretty sure that my own journey isn’t going to be entirely smooth sailing but when is life smooth sailing? You might as well be going through the motions whilst working towards something significant at the same time, right?

With the sheer amount of negative information I have found about PhD’s online, I am hoping that this is going to be something akin to Googling your medical symptoms or what’s wrong with your car, in that you always get the worst possible scenario.

So, to balance out the negativity and before I actually formally start studying and possibly have more negative things to say about the process, here are my own, positive, reasons for completing a PhD.

1. The wish to focus intently on one topic and to discover something new.

By the time you are thinking about taking on a PhD, you will likely have developed a keen interest in your research area or have developed a notable amount of work experience in an area that you now wish to specialise in. Likely, you will also thoroughly enjoy undertaking research; if so, then a PhD is the perfect opportunity to combine your passions.I have loved the process of research throughout Undergraduate and Masters study, my research dissertations were my favourite part of the courses. I was only disappointed during my Masters that I was not able to dedicate my time as fully as I would have liked due to working in a challenging service with young people with ASC alongside.

Also, whilst I had explored my research interests to some degree, I didn’t feel like I had found my niche. It was following my role with children and young people with learning disabilities and ASC that I felt truly inspired and sure about the route that I wanted to take.

2. To contribute something significant to your field.

The whole premise of a PhD is that you further the current knowledge base of your chosen field. This illustration by Matt Might depicts this very nicely! Personally, I feel motivated to contribute something significant to the realm of developmental psychology. Having experienced and witnessed the challenges that individuals with ASC, their carers and families face, I want to be involved in something that can alleviate the difficulties, enable their communication and hopefully boost the quality of life for the whole family.

3. To achieve something meaningful and noteworthy:

Not only will a PhD allow you to contribute to your field but it will enable your own personal and academic development. I wish to push myself academically and to develop practical skills that will help me in the future. I think such an achievement is not merely academic but personal as well, in the display of resilience, perseverance and initiative.Some people may feel that they have had enough of study after 4 or 5 years of higher education; however, I don’t feel satisfied that I have reached the stage that I would like, or the stage that I have the potential to reach. Enter: the PhD.

4. The next natural step in the academic path:

Whilst the ‘step ladder’ of academia should not be the only motivation for embarking on a PhD, it is the next natural step after a Masters course.

For me, I do not yet feel fulfilled in my academic career and feel that there is more that I can learn and more that I want to do. If you have a thirst for knowledge or feel motivated to contribute towards a certain topic area, then a PhD does become a natural next step.

What are your reasons for starting a PhD?

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