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On Becoming a Dr

It has been four years almost to the day since I started out as a fledgling PhD student. As of the 5th October, I am officially (and finally) a Dr. 

It has been a long six months since my VIVA. I was awarded major corrections, somewhat to the surprise of my supervisor. This essentially amounted to a difference in academic opinion and approach. I have no issues with being peer reviewed or receiving criticism on my research. However, I was left somewhat with the feeling that I was being forced to “do it their way” or not receive my doctorate. 

Having worked tirelessly for three months to get the corrections done (ten A4 typed pages of them no less!) I can now say that, for the most part I am happy with the corrections made. The structure, after some rearranging, is much better and, whilst not my instinctive way of arranging such a large piece of work, is certainly no worse than the original layout. 

All corrections made were received without further issue and without the need for a second VIVA. The external examiner even stated that he was ‘impressed’ with the revised thesis. PhD win. 

Facing the future

So now what? I have spent pretty much every waking minute of the past 4 years thinking about my research. Even when working part time for six months and waiting three months for my VIVA, the creature that is my thesis has never been far from my mind. Now it seems as though there is a large portion of my mind that is suddenly unoccupied 24/7. I know I will not be the first PhD student, or should I say recent Dr, to experience such odd loss, however this doesn’t help me in this bizzare transition period. 

I have been working as a freelance archaeologist for the past 18 months on and off and will, for the immediate future continue to do so. Luckily there is work available with a local unit at least until Christmas. However, I still face some questions:

  • How should I go about publishing my research? Which journal/s? 
  • How should I break down 80,000 words into manageable journal articles, by time period or theme, or as one within the other?
  • Perhaps most crucial to my survival- how am I going to acquire money!? As I said, the immediate future is dealt with but I face the daunting prospect of turning the Doctorate I have worked so hard for into an actual career. I have hopes of building on my freelancing experience and establishing my own archaeological unit in the next year or so – no small task. Bring on plenty of tedious report writing. 

So, what have I learnt from the last 4 years? I am good at my job. I enjoy teaching students and the general public about history and archaeology. Pottery and landscapes are not universally interesting to all humankind (much to my surprise). I am ambitious and am going to make serious attempt at being a successful archaeologist and at creating a successful archaeological company. Having a blog is an excellent procrastination technique. 

On becoming a doctor has made me think back over my time as a research student (don’t worry, you won’t need tissues, the experience hasn’t quite turned me into a sentimental wreck). It gave me the opportunity to broaden many of my own horizons as well as those of volunteers and students in some small way. I have worked with a host of great people. Whilst not all great at the practical fieldwork, they were all lovely volunteers and I certainly couldn’t have achieved the extent of my research without them. 

So, whilst the freelance career continues, I hope to turn my research into mildly digestible journal articles and who knows,  maybe even a short book. Perhaps I may even acquire a Tardis and start calling myself The Doctor.