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Advice on potential PhD study.

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    Hi all,

    I am a first time user of TSR and am looing for some advice/guidance on postgraduate study. I am a full time secondary school teacher and teach History - I have all of the requirements of that position to fulfill - marking, teaching, reports, meetings etc.. But I would very much like to get involved in academic research again - I hold a BA Hons History degree and PGCE.

    I am considering studying for a PhD part time whilst continuing to teach/work in my role as a teacher full time. I have no real knowledge or experience of the commitments of a History PhD and what would be expected in terms of my commitment.

    I am looking for advice from anyone who is in a position to comment on how likey or possible it would be to study for a PhD whilst working full time.

    I have made contact with a university and potential supervisor but am unsure as to whether to commit to the undertaking.

    Thank you in advance for any help or guidance.

    HLF.
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    I don't have experience as a teacher, or history, but the advice I would offer is to be brutally honest about the amount of time you have available in the week considering work and domestic commitments including such things as commuting.

    I know many people that do postgraduate part-time (with module or weekend attendance) and find it extremely difficult even with the fixed points-of-reference caused by attendance requirements.

    Doing a PhD is likely to be much more self-driven, and if you are anything like the teachers in my family, then you are already overworked. How about a sabbatical ?

    TBD
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    Thank you for you comments - they are useful to think about.

    My commitments in school are mostly contained within school hours - I do not work at weekends or in the evenings and I have free periods across my timetable and obviously, the school holidays.

    My anxiety comes from not knowing what a PhD would require of me in terms of commtiment time-wise and whether that would fit around teaching as well.
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    I was a secondary teacher until 2010, when I left to pursue postgraduate studies full time. I too had a BA and a PGCE, and so I had to do a Master's first. I'm just wondering why you are talking about going straight onto a PhD? That's very unusual in the humanities, you know.
    Lots of people do an MA part-time whilst teaching full-time. You'll get to do a small-scale research project as part of that, which will give you a fair idea if the PhD is for you.
    Good luck!
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    You'll need a Master's in History before starting a PhD Not sure many unis would take you on without one for a PhD... Also doing a PhD part time is a massive undertaking, especially as they eat into the soul so quickly
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    Thank you again for your comments. I am very fortunate in that I have found an institution which is willing to accept my application for a PhD without having completed an MA.

    I am particularly interested, if you would be kind enough Steb7, to share your thoughts on the ability of a secondary school teacher to work a 21 hour period fortnight and pursue PhD study or if that seems too much pressure what a suitable timetable would be like in terms of hours.

    My school is being supportive in discussions and accomodating my possible studies but I am finding it difficult to really gauge how likely it is for me to pursue both teaching and research at the same time. The PhD would be research into a historical field and not related to education or my profession and I appreciate that would divide my time also.

    Any further advice you can offer Steb7, would be really appreciated.

    Thank you.
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    Congratulations on finding an institution which will take you on straight away.
    I suspect you would find it difficult to work and study full-time; I assume you weren't thinking of doing that, but were thinking instead of doing your PhD part-time? That would be quite possible; a History-teaching colleague of mine at school did exactly that. It did take her about 8 years though. That doesn't mean it would take you that long, but it might.
    It's not just doing the research, you see. You will have to develop your skills in conducting research; generating and analysing data, getting to grips with relevant, and sometimes irrelevant theoretical frameworks and epistemologies. All this will take time. I don't know what programme of support in this area your institution has planned for you; if it has nothing, and you haven't had a go by doing a Master's, then you'll be finding your way more slowly.
    To be honest, I think this is going to be a case of 'suck it and see'; no-one can tell you better than you know already what your personal capacity is. It's going to be tough, but it's a very rewarding thing to do.
    By the way; you say that your PhD has nothing to do with education, but I'd be very surprised if you didn't become a better teacher by the end of it all. However good you are now at analysing sources, reflecting on meaning, synthesising information, contextualising knowledge within a field, etc, you'll be even better at it after your PhD.
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    Thank you, Steb7. That has made me feel really positive about things. I wavered yesterday and wondered about going back a stage and completing the MA first but having found somehwere where I am able to bypass a year (in my case, two years as I would be studying part time) then it seems a good opportunity to as you say, 'suck it and see'.

    The Professor who might be available to supervise has said he would be able to provide advice on research methods and help in that area. I assumed that would be sufficient?

    Thank you again.

    HLF.
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    If I've made you feel more positive, I'm hesitant to undo my good work. All I will say there is that on my PhD course, everyone has to do at least six compulsory modules in research methods in year one, and get over 60% in each to progress. That's for those who already have a Master's. For those who don't have a Master's, they have to do a full MSc in research methods. That's quite a jump in expectation from 'having a monthly chat with my supervisor about my methods'. That said, a history PhD may require a narrower range of research skills than one in education (you're never going to need to conduct a focus group with a pile of documents!).
    Don't start worrying yet; I think what you need to do is ask your supervisor if s/he can put you in contact with a student s/he is currently supervising, so you can get a better idea of what range of skills you need to learn, and if it is possible given your commitments. And if your supervisor is any good at methodological input.
    Good luck!
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    (Original post by HLF)
    Hi all,

    I am a first time user of TSR and am looing for some advice/guidance on postgraduate study. I am a full time secondary school teacher and teach History - I have all of the requirements of that position to fulfill - marking, teaching, reports, meetings etc.. But I would very much like to get involved in academic research again - I hold a BA Hons History degree and PGCE.

    I am considering studying for a PhD part time whilst continuing to teach/work in my role as a teacher full time. I have no real knowledge or experience of the commitments of a History PhD and what would be expected in terms of my commitment.

    I am looking for advice from anyone who is in a position to comment on how likey or possible it would be to study for a PhD whilst working full time.

    I have made contact with a university and potential supervisor but am unsure as to whether to commit to the undertaking.

    Thank you in advance for any help or guidance.

    HLF.
    I have done a masters largely in historical research part-time with full-time career and I am looking at doing a PhD.

    I think the key things are:-

    How physically close are the archives in which you wish to work and when are they open? Late night/Saturday opening plays a big part otherwise you are only studying in vacations.

    Do you have access to a decent research library (not necessarily your own institution's) within reach, for the same reason?

    What are the time commitments for research methods etc courses? If you have to turn up to a research methods seminar every Tuesday for a term, that will have a huge impact on your career. Note that the IHR offers week-long research methods courses which if you are lucky might coincide with school half term.

    How flexible is your supervisor over supervisions? There is no reason why your supervisions can't take place somewhere convenient to the BL rather than in Aberystwyth or Exeter.
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    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    Note that the IHR offers week-long research methods courses which if you are lucky might coincide with school half term.
    There's only one true methods course and it relates far more to how to use specific archives, than actual 'how to research' training.

    I'd ditto the checking of opening hours of archives, obviously depending on what area you're hoping to research. Bar Kew, the BL and the Bod, I don't many places that are open on Saturdays.

    I've had two years off between finishing my MA and starting my PhD (started in Jan) and as a full time student with no other commitments, it is hard work.
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    (Original post by apotoftea)
    There's only one true methods course and it relates far more to how to use specific archives, than actual 'how to research' training.
    That isn't quite right.

    http://www.history.ac.uk/research-tr...esearch-skills
    http://www.history.ac.uk/research-tr...rical-archives (I think you are referring to the second one on this list)
    http://www.history.ac.uk/research-tr...d-palaeography
    http://www.history.ac.uk/research-tr...torical-skills




    I'd ditto the checking of opening hours of archives, obviously depending on what area you're hoping to research. Bar Kew, the BL and the Bod, I don't many places that are open on Saturdays.
    Quite a number of local record offices open on Saturdays. Of course they don't just have sources for local history but often have the papers of people who played on the national or international stage.
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    I would not recommend anyone take a PhD part time. It is a serious commitment and not one that should be taken lightly. You will to focus to do it properly.

    My general rule is: Do one thing well rather than two things not very well.
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    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    That isn't quite right.
    I'm well aware of what the IHR offers and again some of those courses are not actually about research as such but I get what you're saying. Plus some of those courses are only useful if they relate to your research. So it entirely depends on what area you're researching. I spent 7 hours in research training on Wednesday and only 20mins was relevant and helpful to what I'm doing. I'd have been better off emailing the person who ran the session to ask specific questions whilst spending the day in an archive.

    Quite a number of local record offices open on Saturdays. Of course they don't just have sources for local history but often have the papers of people who played on the national or international stage.
    I know that too. But unless the research relates to those people or the subject collections on offer, again it doesn't help the researcher. You can't choose a thesis idea solely based on what the archives that are open on Saturdays offer in terms of sources. You go to the archives that relate to what you want to do, and if that means researching in a different region then so be it. My supervisor would laugh his head off if I said 'oh well I can't go to Belfast because it's not local'.

    (Original post by HLF)
    x
    In terms of research/working hours, I'm expected to do a 40 hour week as a full time PhD student. A friend is doing her's part time alongside working 3 days a week, but in parts actually seems to be doing more work than I am. If you can balance it, you might be ok, one assumes your teaching is timetabled and is the same every week or on a rotating basis? A routine really helps so if you can dedicate certain days to research and certain days to work then it might be do-able.

    I'm always surprised by those doing PhDs part time as it's such a huge commitment. Said friend has already said they hope to go full time ASAP. I could ask her how she's finding juggling the two if you wanted?
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    (Original post by apotoftea)


    I know that too. But unless the research relates to those people or the subject collections on offer, again it doesn't help the researcher. You can't choose a thesis idea solely based on what the archives that are open on Saturdays offer in terms of sources. You go to the archives that relate to what you want to do, and if that means researching in a different region then so be it. My supervisor would laugh his head off if I said 'oh well I can't go to Belfast because it's not local'.
    Not solely, but the subject matter of my research is rather heavily influenced by the fact my principal archive is 5 minutes walk away. It means I can pop in at lunch time. Even if there isn't time seriously to read anything, merely calling for material for the purpose arranging a reading plan is worthwhile. If you are a part-timer these things matter.

    I only wish the IHR did an intensive week on Latin palaeography

    I'm always surprised by those doing PhDs part time as it's such a huge commitment. Said friend has already said they hope to go full time ASAP. I could ask her how she's finding juggling the two if you wanted?
    I suspect I will be finding out, but in my case it will be largely scaling up my masters research
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    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    I suspect I will be finding out, but in my case it will be largely scaling up my masters research
    I posted that for HLF's benefit, not your's
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    (Original post by apotoftea)
    I posted that for HLF's benefit, not your's
    Of course
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    Wow! Thank you everyone for such useful comments. I am so pleased I posted on this forum, it has been invaluable to me - thank you.

    I am hoping to research and write on an aspect of Nazi Germany - so that means visiting archives and locations in Europe. I figured this is not a huge issue as a teacher as I have plenty of holiday opportunities and weekends to visit.

    The Professor who has agreed to supervise is located in London but lectures in the South West. I live just outside of London and we have agreed that it would be possible to meet in London rather than travel to the South West.

    With my current understanding and from the comments you have all kindly left I feel that teaching is a profession in which I would be able to manage my time effectively whilst undertaking the PhD part time. I don't intend to set myself an unrealistic target - if it takes 7 years + then so be it.

    apotoftea - it would be very helpful if you were able to enquire from your friend about how they find the time commitments. Thank you.

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