As I have come to realise over the past couple of years, progress in academia is unlikely without a PhD. And as a rather ‘grown up’ person of maturing years, this is more true than ever, especially for posts of any worth or purpose. Several years in academia has taught me one crucial lesson: never rely on any career development progressing from reasons of earned merit or proven success. We all know that gets us nowhere!
So hard choices now fill my horizons – do I leave and take up other work, probably more interesting but less well paid, or do I stay and make best use of what is potentially available to me here in the land of University. Even at my age, a PhD holds strong attraction, as I am intensely self motivated. But it is a large undertaking, and is still no guarantee of any career progression because we all know that academic careers work in completely arbitrary ways, usually dependent on the mood of the faculty head or team leader.
I have two main choices for PhD topic: Social Connectivity and Content Grouping Development, with an onus on education, or something I’m calling The (Digital) Content Rights Network ©, dealing with digital rights management and potential monetisation mechanisms for all ‘actors’ in that sphere. After much thought and note making, plus some research, I’m certainly favouring the latter.
My best bet to get the PhD paid for by my university is to go for something that they feel they have clear ‘expertise’ in, so finding a suitable supervisor will be the main challenge here, for either topic. I will need all sorts of experts to gather information from (for whichever topic I choose), but they are not supervisors, and would often not be university people either. I would look to a supervisor to have an overall knowledge plus a strong grasp of how the topic makes best fit with academic expectations, but not have expertise in the field as such, however I fear this is not how the university will see it.
Many reading this may know that I’ve been seriously considering moving abroad, or at least spend a major part of each year away for some time now. This is still my aim and in my field one can work anywhere. Doing a PhD under such circumstances might prove very suitable for this kind of life and provide meaningful work which even though badly paid, would be more satisfying than my current status quo.
I’d be interested to know other people’s thoughts on any of this. It’s a hard set of choices to make on your own.