We all worry whether or not our doctorates will pay off. The costs of PhD study are high and it is rare for a researcher’s career path to be clear and guaranteed.
When we decide to do a doctorate, we offer up our time and intellectual creativity. If we want our doctorates to make an impact in our academic field, secure us that lucrative job offer or get us that much sought-after research position then we must use this time and intellectual creativity to solve a problem.
Most doctorates will take 3 to 5 years to complete and as a result foresight is required in order to be confident that the problems we are dealing with today will still be there when our submission deadlines approach.
So, no matter at what stage of your doctorate you find yourself, it is always a good time to stop and ask two fundamental questions:
1) What is the problem that I am trying to solve?
2) Will this problem still exist beyond my thesis deadline?
As I write this post I feel confident that I can answer these questions.
You might also be confident about both answers. Or you may have lost sight of your research problem. If you are struggling to answer question 1 you need to adjust focus. Take a short break or a step back and look again at your research through fresh eyes. Perhaps get a friend or colleague to read your work – the insight of someone who has distance from your project is often the most revealing.
When you are confident in the problem you are trying to solve and you can say YES this problem will exist when I submit my thesis then you can be confident that your doctorate will pay off.
 I am researching collaborations in emerging social enterprises. In a world of political, economic and social change, social enterprises are seen as an innovative response to help solve problems such as extreme poverty, homelessness and a lack of access to education. Social enterprises work in collaboration with governments, non-profit organisations and/or businesses. My research will look at these collaborations in order to form a better understanding of how they work. This new understanding will directly inform the policies of governments who decide to support social enterprises.
Do you agree with Heba? Are you able to answer her questions? Share your answers with us by replying below…